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.

More information:


(6,018 words)

Author(s): Price, Richard
An acrimonious debate over the doctrine of Christ between the Syrian bishops and Cyril of Alexandria (and his allies) was ignited by Cyril’s Twelve Anathemas, issued in November 430 CE, which appeared to the Syrians to be Apollinarian. Relations between the two parties broke down at the Council of Ephesus of 431 CE, where each of them met separately and claimed to be the authentic council. The “reunion” of 433 CE, brokered by Emperor Theodosius II, involved recognition by the Syrians of the depo…
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,754 words)

Author(s): Maxwell-Stuart, Peter
Charm comes into English via French from Latin carmen (song, poem, incantation), which is linked with canere (sing, recite, say in a sing-song voice) and cantare (sing, declaim, chant). The Latin words refer to chanting or speaking words rhythmically, and hence to the recitation of verse, and then to singing. In essence, therefore, a charm is a verbal utterance spoken in a sing-song fashion and is intended to have a magical effect, that is, to cause preternatural change in the natural order of things to achieve an effec…
Date: 2020-09-21


(3,234 words)

Author(s): Smith, Eric C.
Cherubs (or cherubim) are described as a class of heavenly or angelic beings. In Jewish and Christian cosmologies, cherubs are associated with the presence of God, either directly or indirectly, as they are depicted as having active or symbolic presences in diverse theophanic circumstances. Cherubs are among those celestial beings differentiated on the basis of function, as are their frequent counterparts seraphs (or seraphim). They are therefore set apart from and even above other angels, based on their special relationship to the presence of God.Origin of the Word and ConceptCheru…
Date: 2020-09-21


(3,327 words)

Author(s): Rowland, Christopher
Chiliasm/Millenarianism (or Millennialism) refers to a set of ideas and takes its inspiration from Rev 20:1–6, where the saints who had been beheaded for their testimony to Christ reign with him for a 1,000 years (Bietenhard, 1955). During this period Satan is confined so that he would not deceive the nations. What is crucial about this passage is that it looks forward to a messianic reign on earth. This was a widely held view that early Christianity inherited from Jewish eschatology (Scholem, 1971; Saperstein, 1992). Arguably, it was the dominant eschatologica…
Date: 2020-09-21


(3,166 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
The origins of Christianity in China seem to go back to the first centuries CE, but it is very difficult to establish an exact date or even a period, since much depends on the interpretation of the relatively few sources (literary, archaeological, iconographic) at our disposal. A rather Ramelli, I., ed., Bardaisan on Free Will, Fate, and Human Nature, Tübingen, forthcoming. safe indication seems to be offered by Arnobius of Sicca, who around 300 CE states that the Christian message had been prea…
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,498 words)

Author(s): Benga, Daniel
Chorbishop (Gk χωρεπίσκοπος, επίσκοπος τῆς χώρας; Lat. chorepiscopus, episcopus vicanus) is the term designating a bishop who had authority over rural (Gk χώρα or κώμη; Lat. pagus or vicus) Christian communities, whereas a bishop was the religious leader of an urban community (πόλις). This ministry emerged, as can be inferred from documents, in the East between the 2nd and the 3rd centuries CE, in both mainstream Christianity and Montanist and Novatianist milieus (Eus. Hist. eccl. 5.16.17; 7.30.10); the term is mentioned in Christian writings and conciliar documents b…
Date: 2020-09-21

Christianity and Classical Culture

(6,513 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
The reception of classical culture in early Christianity was complex and diversified, depending on times, areas, authors, and the many aspects of the classical heritage that were absorbed and transformed, to various degrees, in Christian culture. The most interesting facets of this reception surely concern literature and philosophy. Most ancient Christian intellectuals who received a thorough literary and philosophical education belonged to the clergy and were presbyters, bishops, monks, or nuns…
Date: 2020-09-21

Christians and Jews, 01: Parting of the Ways

(4,014 words)

Author(s): Tiwald, Markus
When and why the ways of Jews and Christians parted is one of the most debated questions among New Testament scholars. In particular, insights about the pluriformity of early Judaism have set new benchmarks here in the last decades.Early Jewish PluriformityIn earlier publications, it became customary to refer to “pharisaic-rabbinic Judaism” around the beginning of Common Era as “normative Judaism.” Such ideas reflect the ideal of the later rabbis, who tried to date their roots back to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah and saw themselves a…
Date: 2020-09-21

Christ, Jesus, 02: Birth and Infancy Narratives

(6,055 words)

Author(s): Aasgaard, Reidar
Only limited information about the birth and childhood of Jesus can be historically verified, and the earliest narratives have been embellished with elements from the Old Testament and contemporary Jewish and Greco-Roman traditions about events surrounding the birth of famous figures. The oldest references to and narratives of Jesus’ birth and childhood are in the New Testament: in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians; the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John; the Letter to the Hebrews; and Revela…
Date: 2020-09-21

Christ, Jesus, 03: Descent into Hell

(2,976 words)

Author(s): Gounelle, Rémi
The belief in Christ’s descent into hell developed quickly in early Christianity. The descent is usually thought to have taken place between Christ’s death and his resurrection (with exceptions such as Clem. Exc. 18). Hell, in this context, is most often an underground world where the dead arrive after death and where they may be subject to torment. However, in so-called gnostic texts (e.g. Trim. Prot. 36; 43–44; Teach. Silv. 103–104), hell is the created world, as Irenaeus of Lyon pointed out (Iren. Haer. 5.31.2).The descent into hell is part of the undisputed stock of beliefs…
Date: 2020-09-21


(6,098 words)

Author(s): Förster, Hans
Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ. The day of the feast is called repeatedly by Augustine of Hippo  natalis ( Domini), and the day of the birth nativitas ( Christi/Domini nostri Iesu Christi); for a compilation of places where Augustine uses the respective terms to denominate the festival see M. Klöckener (2012, 151). These two Latin words are generic words used for celebrations and birthdays, respectively. There exists no proper name in antiquity to name the feast Christmas. Despite its popularity (attempts to abolish …
Date: 2020-09-21

Christology, 02: Third Century CE

(2,272 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
From the historical viewpoint, the 3rd century CE was crucial to the development of thoughts about Christ both in his relation to the two other persons of the Trinity and in his composition of humanity and divinity.In the early 3rd century CE, Bardaisan of Edessa, a Christian philosopher and theologian influenced by Middle Platonism and Stoicism and well versed in Greek and Syriac, developed a remarkable logos Christology that revolved around the notion of the cosmic Christ (Ramelli, 2009a; 2013b). He elaborated a Middle Platonic concept of Christ- logos as the seat of the id…
Date: 2020-09-21

Chromatius of Aquileia

(1,626 words)

Author(s): Boddens Hosang, F.J. Elizabeth
Chromatius was born around 335 or 340 CE (d. 407 CE), probably at Aquileia, a north Italian city on the Adriatic coast. The town was of strategic importance during the later Roman Empire and an important seat of the western church. Legend has it that the apostle Mark came to the city, although the earliest Christian evidence dates from the 3rd century CE. In the course of the 4th century CE, the city became the chief ecclesiastical center for this region, later known as Venetia and Istria. In 38…
Date: 2020-09-21

Chronograph of 354

(2,022 words)

Author(s): Burgess, R.W.
The Chronograph of 354 is a compilation produced in late 353 or early 354 CE for an otherwise unknown Roman senator by the name of Valentinus. He employed the well-known calligrapher Furius Dionysius Filocalus to copy the text of his manuscript, and Filocalus probably provided the artist(s) for its many illustrations. There can be no doubt that the result was an expensive deluxe codex that was a treasured family heirloom. Apart from the dedication, nothing in this codex was written specifically for this compilation; it was compiled from preexisting works and illustrations.A Descriptio…
Date: 2020-09-21

Church and Empire

(6,766 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
This essay will investigate the relations between the Christian church and the Roman Empire in the patristic age, mainly from the institutional point of view. It will first examine the possible reasons for the persecution of Christians in the empire, vetting the information regarding the  senatusconsultum under Tiberius, attested by Tertullian, by the Acts of Apollonius, by Porphyry or the “pagan” polemicist in Macarius’  Apocriticus, and, indirectly, by Origen. Then, the essay will examine, in chronological order, the sources concerning the policy towards…
Date: 2020-09-21

Church Authority

(1,327 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
The sources pertaining to the early church concur that all church authority comes from God (Ring, 1975, 64). Jesus himself already gave the church all essential rules of discipline during his lifetime. The authoritative mediators and interpreters of these rules are the twelve apostles, insofar as they genuinely witnessed the proclamation of Jesus with their own eyes and ears. God himself caused many of these rules to be written down in the New Testament through the intermediary of the apostles. …
Date: 2020-09-21

Churches of Lyons and Vienne, Letter of the

(3,030 words)

Author(s): Mateo Donet, M. Amparo
This is the acts of martyrs in the form of an epistula (letter; Epistle) written by the churches of Lyon and Vienna, and it was sent to the sister communities of Asia and Frygia in order to inform them about the events of the year 177 CE, that is to say, the martyrdom suffered by the Christians of Gaul on that date and of which the victim was a very numerous group of individuals from those two cities.Authenticity, Date and ContentIn spite of the fact that almost all the historians from Christianity’s first centuries came across this memorable letter and accepted it as authe…
Date: 2020-09-21
▲   Back to top   ▲