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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(1,662 words)

Author(s): Ferreiro, Alberto
Pacian of Barcelona ( Barcino) was born (4th. cent. CE) and lived in a city that positioned him to be knowledgeable of the developments in the church of the greater Mediterranean. His renown was such that even the far removed (relative to Hispania) Jerome dedicated an entry to him in his famous De viris illustribus (ch. 106), and a second reference in chapter 132. This in light of the fact that Jerome had literally dozens of potential candidates to pick from for his work on prominent men. What is significant is that this brief notice is the only su…
Date: 2019-08-09


(3,743 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Joshua
The name Palestine is sometimes used to describe the geographic area of the eastern Mediterranean region comprising parts of modern-day Israel and the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank (for geographic usage, see Israel). The present entry will deal with the ancient usage of the term Palestine, although at times it will be necessary for comparison and explanation to juxtapose it with the geographic entity Israel.Palestine reflects the Greek form ( Palaistinē) of biblical peleshet ( Prst/Plst of ancient Egyptian texts; Pilišti/Palaštu of Assyrian sources)…
Date: 2019-08-09


(3,493 words)

Author(s): Erlemann, Kurt
The Greek word parousia (Lat. adventus) is an early Christian technical term denoting the coming of the Messiah (Matt 3:10–12) as well as the eschatological coming of the Son of Man or the second coming of Christ (24 times, esp. 1 Thess; 1 Cor; Matt 24; 2 Thess 2; 2 Pet 3). Synonyms are: “the day” (of God, Christ, salvation, judgment; Matt 24:42; Rom 2; 1 Thess 5:2; 2 Cor 6:2 etc.), epiphaneia (esp. Pastoral Epistles; 2 Thess 2:8), as well as apokalypsis of Christ (Rom 2:5; 8:19; 1 Cor 1:7; see Oepke, 1954; Plevnik, 1997). On the parousia of Satan, compare 2 Thess 2:9 (Mell, 2012). Parousia (from parei…
Date: 2019-08-09

Passio Martyrum Scillitanorum

(2,003 words)

Author(s): Hunink, Vincent
The Acta Martyrum Scillitanorum, also known as Passio Martyrum Scillitanorum, is the earliest extant non-biblical Christian Latin text, composed in Carthage and dating from the early 2nd century CE.The short text (counting merely 360 words) records the interrogation by the Roman proconsul Saturninus of a group of Christians from the African town of Scilli, apparently accused of adhering to the Christian religion. It ends with the formal death sentence as pronounced by the proconsul, a public announcement of this death sentence, and a succinct description of the actual execution.Bei…
Date: 2019-08-09

Paul and Thecla, Acts of

(3,714 words)

Author(s): Barrier, Jeremy W.
The Acts of Paul and Thecla is the name given to a subsection of the 2nd century CE Christian literary work known as the Acts of Paul. The Acts of Paul and Thecla highlights the travels of the apostle Paul along with a female traveling companion by the name of Thecla (or Thekla) as they passed through the central Anatolian towns of Iconium and Antioch. The setting for the story presumes that the events are taking place sometime around the middle of the 1st century CE, yet most attempts at historically reconciling this story wi…
Date: 2019-08-09

Paulinus of Pella

(1,798 words)

Author(s): Waarden, Joop van
Paulinus of Pella (376/377–after 459/460 CE) was an Aquitanian landed nobleman with properties in Gaul and Greece, grandson of Ausonius, who ended his life in precarious circumstances due both to a family feud and to his not being able to cope with the disruptive Germanic presence in Gaul. He is the author of an autobiographical poem giving thanks for God’s providence, the Eucharisticos, which he finalized at the age of 83, and putatively also of a short poem called the Oratio. The Eucharisticos makes him one of the best-known Gallic individuals of late antiquity, whose work …
Date: 2019-08-09


(5,885 words)

Author(s): Malavasi, Giulio
The Pelagians are the followers of Pelagius, condemned as a heretic in the 5th century CE. This term, however, was not used by any followers of Pelagius, but by their adversaries, such as Jerome ( Ep. 154.3) and especially Augustine of Hippo. At the beginning of the Pelagian controversy, Augustine preferred to keep the anonymity of his adversaries, or to name some of them individually, never using the term Pelagian. For instance, in Augustine’s first anti-Pelagian treatise, De peccatorum meritis et remissione, only Pelagius is mentioned by name, but in a laudatory manner for…
Date: 2019-08-09

Pelagius I

(1,720 words)

Author(s): Neil, Bronwen
Pelagius I (556–561 CE) was long thought to have held the see of Rome from 555 to 560 CE, but the correct dates were established by P.M. Gassó and C.M. Batlle (1956), editors of the sole modern edition of Pelagius’ letters. The confusion over his dates is a sign of the tumult of the times. In the first half of the 6th century CE, socioeconomic conditions had worsened in Italy, as the Gothic war left many dioceses unable to provide for their clergy or others in their district. Nevertheless, 96 le…
Date: 2019-08-09

Perfect Discourse, Excerpt from the

(1,234 words)

Author(s): Bull, Christian
The eighth and final text in NHC 6 is a Coptic translation of an excerpt from The Perfect Discourse, a dialogue between Hermes Trismegistus and his disciples, Asclepius, Tat, and Ammon; this dialogue is said to occur in the inner sanctuary of an Egyptian temple. The full treatise was originally written in Greek around the 3rd century CE, but is only preserved in a Latin translation, commonly known as the Asclepius, which was transmitted alongside the philosophical works of Apuleius of Madaura. This fact led to the now mostly abandoned idea that Apuleius was the La…
Date: 2019-08-09

Persecution of Christians

(6,376 words)

Author(s): Simmons, Michael Bland
Christianity was born in an atmosphere of persecution and hostility. According to the New Testament, Herod attempted to kill Jesus shortly after his birth in Bethlehem to prevent the rise of the messianic kingdom that the prophets of the Old Testament had predicted (Matt 2:13–23). All of the canonical gospels portray an acute hostility between Jesus and his disciples and various Jewish sects of 1st-century CE Palestine. At the beginning of his Gospel, John informs his readers that Jesus was reje…
Date: 2019-08-09

Peter and the Twelve Apostles, Acts of

(3,201 words)

Author(s): Czachesz, István
The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles is the first tractate in NHC 6, written in the Sahidic dialect of Coptic. There are indications that the Coptic text was translated from Greek (Schenke, 1992, 413). The unique style of the writing has prompted different suggestions about its genre. H.-M. Schenke (1992, 414) compared it to Lucian of Samosata’s True Story; A.L. Molinari (2000, 83–92), referring to Macrobius’ Commentary on the Dream of Scipio, categorized it as a fabulous narrative ( narratio fabulosa); M.J. Smith (2002) argued that the text is a parable. According to H.…
Date: 2019-08-09

Peter, Apocalypse of

(2,836 words)

Author(s): Kraus, Thomas J.
Among the Christian texts outside the canon of the New Testament, the Apocalypse of Peter (or Revelation of Peter) has been the most popular apocalypse and one of the most influential texts at all. Its depiction of heaven and the detailed description of hell, of sins and punishment, had a deep impact on apocalyptic texts to follow, above all on Apocalypse of Paul and Dante Alighieriʼs Divina Commedia. The Apocalypse of Peter tells about Peter’s tour of heaven and hell guided by the risen Christ (Greek version) or Jesus unveiling a prophetic description of future ev…
Date: 2019-08-09

Peter (Patriarch of Jerusalem)

(1,781 words)

Author(s): Segni, Leah Di
Peter occupied the patriarchal see of Jerusalem from 524 to 552 CE. Nothing is known of his background except that he came from Eleutheropolis in southern Judea and had a sister, Hesychia, who lived in Jerusalem in the 520s CE (Cyr.Scyt. Vita Sab. 68). He succeeded John III (516–524 CE; Bishops of Rome, Pre-Constantinian), who had been a faithful follower of Sabas and Theodosius, the leaders of the monks of the Judean Desert. From Cyril’s statement that the new patriarch continued showing Sabas the same zealous attendance as his predece…
Date: 2019-08-09