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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(3,385 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: 2019-08-09


(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: 2019-08-09


(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: 2019-08-09

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: 2019-08-09

Marius Victorinus

(3,767 words)

Author(s): Cooper, Stephen
Born in Roman Africa, Gaius Marius Victorinus (b. 281–291–d. after 365 CE) taught rhetoric in Rome under Constantius and was honored with a statue in Trajan’s Forum in 354 CE (Jer. Chron. 2370; discussion of testimonia in Hadot, 1971, 13–34; Mariotti, 1976, 13–18). Shortly thereafter (355/356 CE), Victorinus converted “at advanced old age” (Jer. Vir. ill. 101), suggesting a birthdate between 281 and 291 CE (Travis, 1943). Augustine of Hippo’s depiction of Victorinus as devoted to paganism and an opponent of Christianity (Aug. Conf. 8.2) has been criticized as anachronistic (Ha…
Date: 2019-08-09

Martyrium Polycarpi (Martyrdom of Polycarp)

(2,868 words)

Author(s): Moss, Candida R.
The Martyrium Polycarpi records the arrest, trial, and execution of Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. As a correspondent of Ignatius of Antioch and former student of John the evangelist (Evangelists), Polycarp is viewed by ecclesiastical and scholarly tradition as one of the linchpin figures of the 2nd century CE. The account of his death, likewise, is treated as a foundational document in the history of martyrdom.The martyrdom account offers one of the most developed pre-Decian-period theologies of martyrdom. It emphasizes, and in many cases is the first account …
Date: 2019-08-09

Martyrs, Acts of the

(2,828 words)

Author(s): Moss, Candida R.
By Acts of the Martyrs we mean a genre of early Christian literature that describes the trial and execution of Christian martyrs. These stories provide a reservoir of information about the ways in which early Christian communities interpreted the experience of persecution and the deaths of their members. The Acts of the Martyrs were collected together in antiquity for a variety of catechetical, pedagogical, and liturgical functions, the majority of which involved public reading. The genre is oft…
Date: 2019-08-09
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