Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Biblical Studies And Early Christianity
General Editors: David G. Hunter, Boston College, United States, Paul J.J. van Geest, Tilburg University, Netherlands, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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 The Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity focuses on the history of early Christian texts, authors, ideas. Its content is intended to bridge the gap between the fields of New Testament studies and patristics, covering the whole period of early Christianity up to 600 CE. The BEEC aims to provide a critical review of the methods used in Early Christian Studies and to update the historiography.

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(3,045 words)

Author(s): Hengstmengel, Joost W.
In the early church, labor was a duty as well as a mark of dignity. In his apology, written in 197 CE, Tertullian ( Apol. 42.1–3) states that Christians are idle Brahmins nor Gymnosophists. Far from being infructuosi in negotiis (“unfruitful in business”), they engage in agriculture, arts, and commerce, just like the heathens do. In the apostolic fathers and early church fathers, idleness was a sin. Citing from Prov 6:6–11 that calls for imitation of the diligent ant and bee, the author of the Didascalia Apostolorum (2.63; see Apos. con. 2.8) goes as far to claim that God hates slugga…
Date: 2021-12-14

Laurentian Schism

(1,588 words)

Author(s): Moorhead, John
A schism within the Roman church, the Laurentian schism takes its name from Laurentius, a priest who became the rival of Bishop Symmachus when the two men were elected and ordained bishop of Rome on the same day, Nov 22, 498 CE. The schism apparently ended with the appointment of Laurentius as bishop of a rural see a few months later, but resumed when he returned to Rome, probably in 502 CE, and took up residence in the Lateran, at that time the headquarters of the Roman church. It was only term…
Date: 2021-12-14


(5,532 words)

Author(s): Tiwald, Markus
HistoriographyThe Hebrew word for the Jewish law is תּוֹרָה/ torah. The Septuagint mostly translates this expression with νόμος/ nomos: 193 times out of 223 references; the closest competitor is νόμιμος/ nomimos, which translates תּוֹרָה six times (Abegg, 2001, 205). Already in the Old Testament the meaning of  torah/nomos shows a broad variety of possibilities (García Lopez, 1995, 631). Thus, in early Judaism one should not limit the meaning of “Torah” to the Pentateuch (see the critique of Müller, 1996, 258). The same caveat was entered…
Date: 2021-12-14


(1,977 words)

Author(s): Jefferson, Lee M.
From its inception, Christian art and its creators were interested in depicting the miracles of Jesus. As Christian art developed from the 3rd century CE forward, scenes from the New Testament that featured Jesus performing healings and miracles were the dominant theme. Since early Christian art during these centuries was created mostly in a funerary environment, either on catacomb walls or carved on sarcophagi friezes, some of the most popular subjects from this biblical genre featured Jesus ra…
Date: 2021-12-14

Lectio divina

(3,051 words)

Author(s): Casey, Michael
The noun lectio may be interpreted in two ways. It can refer to the act of reading and, by extension, it can also refer to what is read. Lectio divina can, therefore, be understood as the act of reading the Scriptures, or the Scriptures themselves, a synonym for sacra pagina; usually in a communal or liturgical context.PreparationCoinciding with the crystallization of the elements of the Old Testament (Bible, 01: Old Testament) during the post-exilic period, the community of Israel became recognizably bookish. With the dissolution of structures and t…
Date: 2021-12-14


(2,364 words)

Author(s): Russo, Nicholas V.
Lent is a distinct fasting season in the liturgical year, comprised (nominally) of 40 days, prior to the feast of Easter/Pascha. Despite its widespread observance, the origins of Lent are unclear. The earliest unambiguous references to a 40-day fast before Easter date from the second quarter of the 4th century CE and these sources mention it as an already-established and accepted practice without providing an account of its origins and without indicating how recently it began to be observed. Ove…
Date: 2021-12-14

Leo I (Bishop of Rome)

(2,840 words)

Author(s): Neil, Bronwen
Little is known of Leo’s life before he entered the pontificate on Sep 29, 440 CE. The  Liber Pontificalis relates that Leo was born in Tuscia, the son of a Quintianus who is otherwise unknown. It seems that Leo served as archdeacon under Sixtus III (432–440 CE), in which role he would have received valuable training for the office of bishop. This was a common career path in the papal service. From Sixtus III, he inherited an ongoing major building program within the city and divisions within the urban population…
Date: 2021-12-14