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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(5,763 words)

Author(s): Hurtado, Larry W.
The codex (from Lat. caudex) is the ancient ancestor of the modern bound book. In antiquity, the overwhelmingly preferred book form for literary texts was the bookroll, until the 4th century CE, when the codex began to be the dominant form. The Greek word βιβλίον typically refers to a bookroll. From a much earlier point, however, in ancient Christian circles the codex was strongly preferred. This seems the case especially (though not exclusively) for writings treated as Scripture: Old Testament writ…
Date: 2020-09-21

Codex Justinianus

(3,357 words)

Author(s): Corcoran, Simon
The Codex Justinianus (Justinian Code) is a Roman legal compilation in 12 books containing edited versions of pronouncements by emperors. It was made on the orders of the emperor Justinian I (r. 527–565 CE), known today in the version promulgated in 534 CE. In February 528 CE Justinian set up a commission to recompile the three existing codes of imperial laws (Gregorian and Hermogenian [from the 290s CE], and Theodosian [437 CE]) plus later legislation into a single authoritative collection (Codex Justinianus Constitutio Haec). The commission was given extensive editorial powe…
Date: 2020-09-21

Codex Theodosianus

(3,135 words)

Author(s): Corcoran, Simon
The Codex Theodosianus (Theodosian Code) was a legal compilation issued by the emperor Theodosius II (r. 402–450 CE) in 437 CE and valid in both halves of the empire. It started as a project in 429 CE (Cod. Theod. 1.1.5), intended initially to gather imperial legislation from the reign of Constantine onward into an authoritative collection, after the manner of the earlier Gregorian and Hermogenian Codes under Diocletian (290s CE). The resultant work was then to be edited into a larger integrated…
Date: 2020-09-21

Collatio cum Donatistis

(1,660 words)

Author(s): Bass, Alden
The Collatio cum Donatistis was a three-day meeting held in Carthage between the Caecilianist and Donatist factions of the African church, attended by over 500 bishops, ostensibly to determine which was the “true catholic church.”A verbatim transcript of most of the conference, offering a detailed snapshot of the African episcopate in the early 5th century CE, survives in a single manuscript (Paris BN lat. 1546) derived from an edition made by a certain Marcellus, who added a set of capitula epitomizing the conference (Lancel, 1972b). Summaries are also preserved in August…
Date: 2020-09-21

Collatio Legum

(1,777 words)

Author(s): Frakes, Robert M.
The Collatio Legum Mosaicarum et Romanarum (“Compilation of the Laws of Moses and of the Romans”) is the label given by scholars since the 1500s to a Latin compendium of quotations from the Bible and Roman law that was produced in late antiquity. The medieval manuscripts of the work seem to have forms of Lex Dei (“The Law of God”) as a title, and some scholars prefer that label. While debate continues on many aspects of the work including its dating, identity and location of its author, and purpose, it provides an intriguing example of the interacti…
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,981 words)

Author(s): Nichols, Bridget
The form of short prayer known as the collect is distinctive to the western liturgical tradition. Its earliest form can be traced to 5th-century CE Rome, where it is the opening prayer of the Mass. It continues to fulfill this function in contemporary eucharistic practice, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. What evidence we have about the appearance and development of the earliest Roman collects (c. mid-5th to mid-7th cents. CE) comes from three sources: the Verona Sacramentary, the Gelasian Sacramentary, and the Gregorian Sacramentary. The examples in these collections exhib…
Date: 2020-09-21


(2,884 words)

Author(s): Lovell, Michael
Columbanus, also known as Columba, was born in present-day Leinster, Ireland, to a landowning family of some means shortly before 550 CE. Between the ages of 7 and 14, he received his education at home (Jon. Vita Col. 1.2–3; Bullough, 1997, 1–4). Near the end of his childhood education, Columbanus had a fateful encounter with an anonymous female hermit, who counseled him to go on a peregrinatio – an Irish custom where an individual leaves their homeland and becomes a type of exile, thus losing many legal protections – as a solution to his struggle with his libido ( Vita Col. 1.3; Richter, 2006…
Date: 2020-09-21


(4,708 words)

Author(s): Smith, Eric C.
In its understanding of comfort, early Christianity was both in continuity with Second Temple Judaism and innovative in its claims and uses of the concept. Comfort has a long history in the Jewish tradition, particularly in the Old Testament and Septuagint, and comfort, either human or divine, is evoked frequently in wisdom literature and in prophetic literature. Early Christianity built upon that foundation with appeals to comfort in the New Testament and other writings, as an aspect of the dev…
Date: 2020-09-21

Community Letters

(3,709 words)

Author(s): Edsall, Benjamin A.
Within early Christianity, community letters are foundational. Letters sent to specific communities had the purpose of establishing their identity and/or urging them to a certain kind of behavior or belief. These letters took a variety of forms to match a variety of purposes and have varying amounts of overlap with other ancient Mediterranean precedents, and yet they are much more common within early Christianity than among any other known group from antiquity. They are a testimony to the importance of the role of the community as a whole, including the less educated layperson.Epistola…
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,231 words)

Author(s): Schöllgen, Georg
A precursor of the inner ecclesial court and thus also of the legal complaint that is brought forward at this court is found in 1 Cor 6:1–11. Paul states explicitly that Christians should under no circumstances bring their fellow Christians before secular courts. He criticizes that such legal disputes occur at all among Christians and advises the Corinthians to seek the arbitration of a wise man in order to settle these brotherly quarrels within the congregation. Such a ban on instituting legal proceedings before external judges is also attested in Jewish communities (Jos. Ant. 14.235; …
Date: 2020-09-21


(1,455 words)

Author(s): Mateo Donet, M. Amparo
We know of three Christian martyrs (3rd cent. CE) in the Roman Era with this same name, Conon. The first was the bishop of Edessa (evidenced in The Chronicle of Edessa), who laid the foundations of the church of that city and died in 228 or 311 CE; the second, the martyr of Pamphylia who was called “the gardener” (also mentioned as Conan), was executed during the reign of Decius (c. 250 CE), about whom there exist Acts of the Martyrdom, endowed with a veritable worth, and it is these that I will treat in this article; and finally a third, evidenced in the Roman Martyrology, who was executed togethe…
Date: 2020-09-21

Conon of Bidana

(1,466 words)

Author(s): Pilhofer, Philipp
Conon of Bidana is a martyr saint from a village called Bidana, lying close to the city of Isaura in the province Isauria (southern Asia Minor). He became the central martyr figure of his home region in late antiquity. Conon is venerated as a martyr, but according to his Vita, he is, technically speaking, a confessor.Composition and TraditionConon’s martyr acts were composed over a longer period of time in late antiquity. The preserved “longer” text was probably finished during the reign of Emperor Zeno at the end of the 5th century CE (for a similar …
Date: 2020-09-21

Constantia (Flavia Iulia Constantia)

(1,518 words)

Author(s): Stevenson, Walt
Flavia Iulia Constantia (c. 295–c. 330 CE) was the daughter of Theodora and Constantius I, younger half sister of Constantine I, wife of the emperor Licinius (Valerius Licinianus Licinius Augustus) and mother of one son, Licinius (c. 315–326 CE). Constantia’s political influence began with a remarkable diplomatic feat: she fostered peace between her husband Licinius and half brother Constantine through eight rocky years from the rivals’ first war in 316 CE to Licinius’ eventual downfall in 324 C…
Date: 2020-09-21

Constantine I

(6,510 words)

Author(s): Pigott, Justin M.
Constantine was the first Roman emperor to profess the Christian faith. Born in 272 CE in Naissus in modern Serbia, he was the son of an Illyrian military officer, Constantius (Constantius I Chlorus). His father’s appointment as joint Caesar and later Augustus of the West naturally had a profound impact on the course of Constantine’s early life. He received a classical education and was sent to serve in the eastern court of the emperors Diocletian and Galerius. By the time Constantine was elevat…
Date: 2020-09-21

Constantinople, 03: Second Council of (Fifth Ecumenical Council; 553 CE)

(1,587 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
The Second Council of Constantinople in 553 CE was the fifth ecumenical council. The council, indeed, was wanted by Justinian rather than by the bishop of Rome or other bishops. Pope Vigilius had been brought by force from Rome to Constantinople, by the emperor’s order, already in 546 CE. Justinian wanted him to ratify the condemnation of the “Three Chapters” (besides that of Origen, on which see below): Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Ibas of Edessa, accused of Nestorianism. J…
Date: 2020-09-21

Constantius I

(677 words)

Author(s): Lee, A.D.
A native of Illyricum, Constantius I’s family background is likely to have been relatively humble, despite his son Constantine later claiming that Constantius (c. 250–306 CE) was descended from the emperor Claudius Gothicus (268–270 CE). He rose to prominence through military service and was eventually appointed Caesar (junior emperor) in 293 CE, as part of the arrangement conventionally referred to as the Tetrarchy, comprising the two Augusti (senior emperors) Diocletian and Maximian, and the t…
Date: 2020-09-21

Constantius II

(3,112 words)

Author(s): Stevenson, Walt
Flavius Iulius Constantius (317–c. 361 CE) was the son of Fausta and Constantine I, brother of Constans I and Constantine II, husband of Flavia Aurelia Eusebia and posthumous father of Flavia Iulia Constantia II, Caesar 324–337 CE, Augustus 337–361 CE. At his father Constantine’s death, Constantius inherited enormously challenging circumstances. These ranged from balancing imperial power awkwardly divided among him and his two brothers to confronting factions stubbornly divided among the empire’…
Date: 2020-09-21
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