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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Early Christian Churches of the Holy Land

(4,460 words)

Author(s): Patrich, Joseph
The emperor Constantine, encouraged by his mother, Helena, was the first to erect churches in the Holy Land. Earlier Christians did not have a prayer house with distinctive architectural features. Their place of assembly was a domus ecclesiae – a domestic building that was adjusted to serve the religious, administrative, and charitable needs of the congregation. The best known is the Christian community house ( domus ecclesiae), uncovered in the early 20th century in Dura-Europos – a small town of a Hellenized community on the Euphrates, in Syria. But recently…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,568 words)

Author(s): Häkkinen, Sakari
Many of the church fathers refer to a group called Ebionites (Gk ’Εβιωναῖοι; Lat. ebionaei, ebionitae, hebionitae). The designation appears to have first been used of a sectarian movement by Irenaeus of Lyon ( Haer. 1.26.2) circa 180 CE, as part of a refutation of heresies starting from Simon Magus and culminating with Valentinus. Irenaeus, and several church fathers following him, describe the Ebionites as Christians who observe Jewish customs and, for the most part, reject the virgin birth of Jesus (Christ, Jesus, 01: Survey), holding him only as a human being.One of the problems wi…
Date: 2022-09-22

Ebionites, Gospel of the

(644 words)

Author(s): Häkkinen, Sakari
The Gospel of the Ebionites is a modern title given by scholars and refers to a gospel used by the Ebionites (Ebionites/Ebionitism). The gospel has been preserved only in seven fragments in Panarion, written circa 374–377 CE by Epiphanius of Salamis ( Pan. 30.13–14; 30.16.5; 30.22.3–5). Epiphanius quotes the gospel when introducing his readers to a group of Jewish Christians he called Ebionites. Epiphanius got his basic data on Ebionites from earlier church fathers, but both the fact that he had a copy of the gospel, and his detailed pr…
Date: 2022-09-22


(5,686 words)

Author(s): Lee, James K.
Ecclesiology is the study of the nature and essence of the church. Ecclesiology is derived from the Greek word ἐκκλησία/ ekklesía, meaning “assembly” (Acts 19:39). Ecclesiology includes the organization and practices of Christian communities, as well as theological inquiry about the church based upon Christian doctrine and self-understanding. The earliest Christians used images and figures from Scripture in order to express the theological meaning of the church. In the extant literature of early Christianity, there…
Date: 2022-09-22


(4,072 words)

Author(s): Ramelli, Ilaria L.E.
Edessa (ancient Urha/Orhay, modern Urfa/Şanl[i]urfa) is a city close to the River Balikh, a branch of the upper Euphrates. Its most ancient name was Adma, recorded in Assyrian sources in the 7th century BCE. In Hellenistic times, it was named Edessa, after the ancient capital of Macedonia, by Selucus I Nikator in 304 BCE. Under the Roman Empire, Edessa was the capital of Osrhoene, a buffer state between the Romans and the Parthians and, later, the Persian Empire (e.g. Ross, 2001; Edwell, 2008; W…
Date: 2022-09-22

Edict of Claudius

(3,719 words)

Author(s): Keener, Craig
Suetonius reports that Claudius expelled Jews from Rome because of regular disturbances instigated by one “Chrestus” (Suet. Claud. 25.4). Luke, writing earlier, appears to confirm that Claudius expelled Jews from Rome, although he omits the cause (Acts 18:2; Acts, Book of). Suetonius’ brief report, though somewhat more complete than Luke’s, raises a number of questions. How many, and which, Jews did Claudius expel? In what year did the expulsion occur? Who was this instigator known as Chrestus and what were the …
Date: 2022-09-22

Egeria (Aetheria)

(1,527 words)

Author(s): Franchi, Roberta
Probably originating from Galicia in the northwestern corner of the Iberian Peninsula or from Gaul in one of the provinces along the Rhone River, Egeria was a cultured and wealthy noblewoman. According to the Spanish monk Valerius of Bierzo (c. 630–c. 695 CE), she was a beatissima sanctimoniales (“blessed nun”) of an unnamed monastic community (text by Díaz y Díaz in Maraval, 1982, 336‒349). To Egeria (in some manuscripts, Aetheria, Echeria, or Etheria) is attributed a Latin text, the Itinerarium Egeriae ( Travels of Egeria), in which a woman describes her pilgrimage through Eg…
Date: 2022-09-22

Egyptians, Gospel of the (Greek)

(4,954 words)

Author(s): Doran, Robert
Sayings from the Gospel of the Egyptians are quoted explicitly by Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–c. 215 CE). The quotations from the Greek Gospel of the Egyptians all occur within book 3 of Clement’s Stromateis, in which Clement speaks of marriage and sexuality. He debates those Christians who abstained from sexual intercourse even if married, as they rejected both it and procreation. These Encratites (Encratism/Encratites), as they were called from the term ἐγκράτεια (self-control), supported their position by reference to the Gospel of the Egyptians, and Clement sets out to sh…
Date: 2022-09-22