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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Sabbath/Sabbatical Year

(6,541 words)

Author(s): Safrai, Zeev | Tomson, Peter J.
“Sabbath” and “sabbatical year” or “Sabbath year” are closely associated items in some of the pertinent biblical passages, which is why they are dealt with together in this article. This does not imply more than a terminological similarity, however, and in actual practice it concerns two different subjects that require separate discussion.The Sabbath is a central institution in Judaism and a main element of Jewish tradition. As such, it plays an important role also in early Christianity, both as an element of Jewish and Jewish-Christian life and…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,766 words)

Author(s): Svigel, Michael J.
The term “Sabellian” has two distinct but related uses in the early church. Its earliest use refers to the form of modalism of the early 3rd-century CE teacher Sabellius and his immediate followers. Later, the term was used virtually synonymously for modalism in general. Due to the paucity of reliable sources for Sabellius, Sabellianism is usually discussed in broader treatments of modalistic monarchianism of the patristic period (see Bienert, 1993).Origins and History of SabelliansThe earliest accounts seem to associate Sabellius with Rome in the early 3rd century CE (Ps.-Hipp. Hae…
Date: 2022-09-22

Sacramentarium Gelasianum

(1,462 words)

Author(s): Tymister, Markus
The Sacramentarium Gelasianum ( Gelasian Sacramentary) is one of the first known liturgical books of the western church. It is also called the Sacramentarium Gelasianum vetus ( Old Gelasian Sacramentary), since it is one of the sources of the Gelasian Sacramentaries of the 8th century CE. The only surviving manuscript was not the first draft but a copy produced approximately 750 CE probably in the monastery of Chelles, located just east of Paris (Sacramentaries). The manuscript is presently housed in the Vatican Library (Reg. lat. 316…
Date: 2022-09-22


(6,305 words)

Author(s): Ullucci, Daniel
Christianity emerged in a world of sacrifice, not only in the wider context of the ancient Mediterranean, where offerings to the gods where a key part of almost all aspects of family and civic life, but also in earliest Christianity’s proximate context, Judaism of the Second Temple period. Surprisingly, dominant voices within Christianity eventually rejected animal sacrifice while simultaneously creating a theological discourse that presented Jesus’ death, the death of martyrs, the Eucharist, and a number of other things as “true” sacrifice (e.g. Heb 5–9; Ign. Rom. 2, 4; Iren. Haer.
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,148 words)

Author(s): Spronk, Klaas
An elaborately rewritten version of the story of Samson as told in Judg 13–16 is found in Jos. Ant. 5.276–317. Samson is portrayed positively as a prophet and is praised for his courage, his worthy death, and the fact that he persisted in looking for revenge against his enemies. The story of Samson, especially the scene where he fears dying of thirst, also instructs the reader to put trust not in one’s own strength but in God. The writer (usually indicated as Pseudo-Philo) of the Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum is more critical. The fact that Samson is blinded is associated with Sams…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,514 words)

Author(s): Adams Petrin, Anna
Some form of the hymn known as the Sanctus has been a near-universal feature of Christian eucharistic prayers, or anaphoras, since late antiquity. The hymn often consists of two elements. The first, the Sanctus proper, is based on Isa 6:3 (see Rev 4:8). The second, which is known as the Benedictus, is usually based on Matt 21:9. In the Roman Canon, for example, these two elements are found in the following form: 1. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Holy, Holy, Holy Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Lord God of hosts. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. 2. Hosanna in excels…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,289 words)

Author(s): Martin, Céline
The first city of Saragossa, Roman Caesaraugusta, was founded by Augustus in 14 BCE at the place of an Iberian oppidum sited on the right bank of the Ebro. It was capital of conventus and one of the main cities of inland Tarraconensis. Its 3rd-century CE wall enclosure, still in use in the 6th century CE, covered 45 hectares. Certainly owning a fluvial port, although it has not been found so far, its prosperity relied on its crossroads situation, inasmuch as it was a key to the Pyrenees, as well…
Date: 2022-09-22

Sarcophagi, Christian

(3,170 words)

Author(s): Ellison, Mark D.
Sarcophagi were coffins, usually made of stone (the most expensive of marble), or of lead, terracotta, or wood. The term sarcophagus (from Gk sarx + phagein, “flesh-eater”) reflects an ancient belief that certain types of stone had corpse-consuming properties (Plin. Nat. 2.211; 36.131; Juv. Sat. 10.172). However, the primary purpose of a sarcophagus was not to decompose the body but to separate it, house it, and, when sarcophagi were decorated with reliefs, to replace it with a figured expression of the identity, life, and hopes of the deceased (Ewald, 2012, 53).At Rome, sarcophagus …
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,888 words)

Author(s): Costache, Doru
The modern capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia, is located in the Balkan Peninsula, on the foundations of Roman Sardica or Serdica, a name that derives from the Thracian population of Sardj or Serdj. The name Sardj was borrowed from one of the Celtic tribes with which the Thracians coexisted. After the 4th-century BCE Macedonian occupation, the Sardj were conquered by the Romans in the third decade of the 1st century BCE. Due to its strategic position at the crossroads of the Roman highways connecti…
Date: 2022-09-22

Sarepta (Zarephath)

(2,024 words)

Author(s): Schwartz, Joshua
Sarepta (Gk Σάρεπτα), also known as Zarephath (Heb. /צרפת ṣārĕfáṯ), was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast between Tyre and Sidon (Jos. Ant. 8.320; Pliny Nat. 5.17.76), located near the modern-day Lebanese municipality of Sarafand. Although less famous than other Phoenician cities such as Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, and Arvad, Sarepta is mentioned in Egyptian, Assyrian, Hebrew, and Greek documents which provide a basic framework for the study of the city. The events that took place in Sarepta, according to the Old Tes…
Date: 2022-09-22

Scala Coeli

(1,309 words)

Author(s): Awes Freeman, Jennifer
The scala coeli, literally “ladder of heaven,” refers primarily to Jacob’s vision of angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven (Gen 28:10–17). In iconography, the essential components include Jacob reclining on the ground, asleep, and one or more angels on a ladder above him. This visual motif is also used to depict the spiritual ascent of souls to heaven.Biblical SourcesNumerous accounts of ascents to heaven are found in biblical and extrabiblical texts (e.g. Gen 5:18–24; Kgs 2; Luke 24:50–52; Acts: 1–12; 2 Cor 12:1–12; 1 Enoch), but the primary source for the scala coeli is the…
Date: 2022-09-22


(525 words)

Author(s): Frisius, Mark A.
Scapula, proconsul of Africa (212–213 CE), is typically identified as P. Julius Scapula Tertullus Priscus, consul ordinaris in 195 CE. A secondary identification is his cousin C. Julius (Scapula) Lepidus Tertullus, one of the consul suffects in 195 CE (Barnes, 1986, 202–203; Birley, 1992, 53). Little is known about the family of Scapula, although it must have had some significance as few former consuls became proconsuls of Africa (Potter, 2010, 297).Scapula was the recipient of a short, open letter from Tertullian, penned after the near total eclipse of the sun on Aug 14, 212 CE (Tert. Sca…
Date: 2022-09-22


(6,919 words)

Author(s): Bray, Gerald
A schism is a division in the church that produces rival bodies of believers. It should not be confused with a heresy, which is a form of teaching that deviates from a generally accepted orthodoxy, though the two phenomena often overlap. Heretical belief often produces schism, but not all schisms involve questions of doctrine, though there was a strong feeling that a division of any kind would lead sooner or later to doctrinal error.The word “schism” comes from the Greek verb σχίζειν/ schizein (“to cut” or “to tear”) and describes a division that has torn apart a church or a …
Date: 2022-09-22

School, Difference Christianity and Pagan Schools

(7,213 words)

Author(s): Urbano, Arthur P.
The English word “school” is rendered by multiple words in the languages of antiquity and denotes several concepts related to pedagogy, learning, and intellectual culture. A school may be: 1.  a location where instruction takes place; 2.  a social group comprising teachers and students, engaged in practices whose aim is to inculcate various skills and knowledge; 3.  a tradition of thought characterized by a particular ideological system and/or methodologies, or; 4.  some combination of the above. In the Greek and Roman worlds, the aim of education was not only to acquir…
Date: 2022-09-22


(2,782 words)

Author(s): Hezser, Catherine
Throughout antiquity, scribes were professional writers of manuscripts and documents (Roberts, 1970; Haines-Eitzen, 2000; Hezser, 2001). Since writing was a technical skill that required special training, it was usually done by professionals who practiced their trade to make a living. In First and Second Temple times, scribes who were experts in writing Torah scrolls were associated with the Temple. The Temple (Temple, Jerusalem) would also have needed administrative scribes trained in writing d…
Date: 2022-09-22
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