Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access Subject: Biblical Studies and Early Christianity
General Editors: David G. HUNTER, University of Kentucky, United States, Paul J.J. van GEEST, Tilburg University, Netherlands, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands.

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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(5,717 words)

Author(s): Henten, Jan Willem
The name Maccabees denotes two groups of Jewish heroes and a collection of books connected with the period during which these heroes were active. The first group concerns the family of the priest Mattathias and his five sons, who started the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 BCE). Mattathias refused to offer a pagan sacrifice in his hometown Modein, which was the starting signal for the revolt (1 Macc 2:15–27). “Maccabee” ( Makkabaios in Greek) was originally the surname of Mattathias’ eldest son Judas (1 Macc 2:4), which probabl…
Date: 2020-04-14

Macedonius (Vicarius Africae)

(1,192 words)

Author(s): Hoover, Jesse
Macedonius (fl. 413–414 CE) was vicarius Africae from at least 413 to 414 CE. Our only sources for his life come from a brief exchange of letters with Augustine of Hippo during this time period ( Ep. 152–155), two of which ( Ep. 152 and 154) were written by him, and a brief reference to this correspondence in Possidius’ Life of Augustine (20). The letters themselves are dated to 413/414 CE based on Macedonius’ discussion of the recently published first three books of City of God (Martindale, 1980, 697). Judging by his promise to reward Augustine for sending him these books by wr…
Date: 2020-04-14


(3,384 words)

Author(s): Kahlos, Maijastina
In Greco-Roman literature, the terms magoi and magi could refer to either the Persian priests or practitioners of magic, and occasionally to both (for the development of the term magoi/magi, see Bremmer, 1999, 1–9). Even the use of the terms magoi/magi was not unambiguously negative, but they could also be used in a neutral or even positive manner (Clem. Strom. 1.15).In general, “magic” and “magician” were labels imposed from outside; people did not usually apply the terms to themselves but rather used all the argumentation available to avoid the label. …
Date: 2020-04-14


(1,243 words)

Author(s): Nicak, Maros
The Hymn of Praise (Luke 1:46–55) represents one of the three cantica in the Gospel of Luke, and within the perspective of the church tradition it is considered as earliest Marian hymn. Magnificat sung by Mary, Benedictus spoken by Zechariah (Luke 1:68–79), and Nunc Dimittis by Simeon (Luke 2:29–32) are as extended poems closely linked to the Old Testament. They can be denoted in general as “declarative psalms of praise,” which depend on a Semitic, most probably Hebrew, original source. Sometimes, the Gloria in excelsis (Luke 2:14) is also added to these three cantica as a fourth hymn. …
Date: 2020-04-14


(2,391 words)

Author(s): Pedersen, Nils Arne
Mani (216–277 CE), the founder of Manichaeism, a religion that is no longer practiced, claimed to receive divine revelations and composed several religious writings. The name “Manichaeism,” however, was rarely used by his followers, who preferred to refer to themselves (e.g.) as “the living generation.”HistoryMani was born in southern Mesopotamia. According to Manichaean hagiography, when he was a little boy, he and his father joined a religious group known as “baptists,” who baptized themselves and their vegetable food and cherished Chri…
Date: 2020-04-14


(3,209 words)

Author(s): Hannah, Darrell
Maranatha first occurs in Christian literature in an authentic letter by our earliest Christian author, the apostle Paul (1 Cor 16:22), and in the Didache. A related phrase occurs in Revelation (22:20). Maranatha is undoubtedly the Aramaic phrase, written in Greek letters, for “Our Lord, come” (in the imperative) or “Our Lord has come” (in the perfect tense). The matter is complicated in that uncertainties remain over the pronunciation of the Aramaic term; the imperative might be represented by either אֱתָא מָרַן or תָּא מָרַנָא. While the perfect is אֲתָא מָרַן, any of the three phra…
Date: 2020-04-14


(2,802 words)

Author(s): Kleinkopf, Kathryn
Marcella (325–410 CE) was born in Rome to Albina and an unnamed father, a descendant of a long line of consuls and praetorian prefects (Jer. Ep. 127.1). Marcella lost her father at an early age and was quickly married thereafter. Losing men in her young life continued, as after only seven months of marriage Marcella’s husband died, leaving her widowed ( Ep. 127.2). As was custom, Albina encouraged her daughter to remarry, not only on account of her youth but also to secure her livelihood ( Ep. 127.2). Cerealis, an older man of consular rank, thus attempted to court Marcella, prom…
Date: 2020-04-14


(960 words)

Author(s): Waarden, Joop van
Marcian (Μαρκιανός/ Markianos; c. 392–457 CE) was the eastern Roman emperor (450–457 CE) who convened the Council of Chalcedon to find a way out of the wrangling between those Christians who preferred to speak of “two natures” in Christ and those who preferred the language of “one nature.”A military tribune, probably from Illyricum, he came to serve as personal assistant of the magister utriusque militiae, “master of both forces” (senior general), Aspar. In 450 CE, after the sudden death of Theodosius II, who left no male heir, he was selected for succession…
Date: 2020-04-14


(1,629 words)

Author(s): Bass, Alden
Marculus (d. 347 CE) was an African bishop and martyr, a victim of one of the first anti-Donatist persecutions. His story was used by Donatists as evidence of Caecilianist collaboration with state-sponsored violence, while for Caecilianists, who viewed his death as self-inflicted, it was proof of Donatist extremism (Donatism/Donatists).Marculus’ biography is known only from the Passion of Marculus, a hagiography written soon after his death (Monceaux, 1920, 74; Mastandrea, 1995 is the best edition). He was a provincial elite with a successful legal pr…
Date: 2020-04-14

Marcus Gnosticus/Marcosians

(1,175 words)

Author(s): Thomassen, Einar
Marcus “the Magician” is described by Irenaeus of Lyon ( Haer. 1.13–15 or 16) as a Valentinian teacher and leader of a community. Later sources are all dependent on Irenaeus; only Hipp. Haer. 6.39–54 offers some additional information on the Marcosians, probably based on oral sources and his own observations (Förster, 1999, 7–53, 153–158). It should be noted that Irenaeus’ report on Marcus and his followers does not extend beyond chapter 16, as is often erroneously assumed (Förster, 1999, 8–13).LifeBiographical details (Biography) about Marcus have not been transmitted, ot…
Date: 2020-04-14
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