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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(3,246 words)

Author(s): Luttikhuizen, Gerard P.
“Elchasaites” (or “Elkesaites”) is a scholarly designation for ancient groups of Jews who believed in Jesus (Jewish Christians). They possessed a postbiblical book with revelations that was somehow connected with the name Ἠλχασαι or Ἠλξαι/Ἠλξαιος. The evidence is fragmentary and far from univocal and has given rise to very different source-critical and historical hypotheses.The earliest two sources, the Refutation of all Heresies, composed in about 230 CE by Hippolytus of Rome, and a sermon on Ps 82 delivered by Origen in Caesarea between 240 and 250 CE, …
Date: 2022-09-22

Elements (Stoicheia)

(1,553 words)

Author(s): Roth, Dieter T.
The significance of the term στοιχεῖα (“elements”) in early Christianity arises from its occurrence in seven instances within the New Testament: within the Pauline and deuteropauline literature (Pauline Pseudepigraphic Letters), the term appears in Galatians (4:3, 9) and Colossians (2:8, 20), and the other three occurrences are found in Hebrews (5:12) and 2 Peter (3:10, 12). In several of these passages the meaning is quite evident and unproblematic; however, in Pauline theology and in the Pauli…
Date: 2022-09-22

Eleusinian Mysteries

(2,848 words)

Author(s): Dowden, Ken
The Eleusinian Mysteries were possibly the single most intense form of pagan (Pagan/Paganism) religious practice in the ancient world, making an exceptional offer in particular about life after death. For contemporary Christians they were for these reasons a prime target, but one whose secrecy hampered their criticism. The exceptionality of the final ceremony relative to most ancient festivals is still felt by most modern writers: we hear of no sacrifice but rather of a sharing of the suffering of the goddess Demeter and a striking religious experience.By Eleusinian Mysteries is …
Date: 2022-09-22


(3,118 words)

Author(s): Bos, Anne-Marie
In the first centuries CE, the ascended Elijah was expected to return as herald to (the second coming of) the Messiah. Especially from the 4th century CE onward, Elijah becomes an inspiration for the monastic life, a master who provides a model of life. The earliest Christian iconography combines these traditions by depicting the moment when Elijah ascends and transfers his mantle to his disciple.The Prophet of the Old TestamentAll of a sudden, in 1 Kgs 17, “Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead” enters Scripture. In the books of Kings, he is described as a ze…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,249 words)

Author(s): Alwis, Anne P.
Emilia (Emmelia or Emily) is known as the “mother of saints” since five of her ten children attained sanctity: Macrina Junior, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, Peter of Sebaste, and Theosebia. Her husband was Basil the Elder, and her mother-in-law was Macrina the Elder (Macrina, the Elder and the Younger), both of whom also were regarded as saints. The sources for Emilia’s life are Gregory of Nazianzus’ funeral oration for Basil the Great (of Caesarea), Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Macrina, and the letters of Basil the Great. She is commemorated on Jan 3 and May 30.Early Life and MarriageAs he…
Date: 2022-09-22


(6,565 words)

Author(s): Konstan, David
Judaism and Christianity brought new ways of conceiving emotion in the ancient world. In what follows, selected emotions are compared in the light of their description in classical Greek and Latin texts and in early Christian writings. It is impossible to reconstruct how these emotions were felt in real life, but it is reasonable to suppose that there were significant shifts in the experiencing of emotions as well as in the accounts found in the surviving literature.PityPity is included in all classical inventories of the emotions (e.g. Anax. Rhet. Alex. 34.4–6; Arist. Rhet. 3.19; 1419…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,188 words)

Author(s): Koltun-Fromm, Naomi
Encratism, in ancient Christian scholarship, usually refers to the practice of radical renunciation within early Christian tradition. It often includes sexual renunciation (Celibacy), fasting (Fasting/Abstinence), vegetarianism, and abstinence from wine. There is little evidence for an organized encratite movement; rather, many individual Christians chose to use the Greek term ἐγκράτεια to describe a variety of renunciatory practices that ranged from sexual renunciation for the elite Christian p…
Date: 2022-09-22


(3,198 words)

Author(s): Stępień, Tomasz
Although the combination of en and ergon can be found in earlier writings, the term energeia appears for the first time in the works of Aristotle. Discussing the etymology, he derives it from the term to ergon meaning “deed” or “thing done” (Arist. Metaph. 9.8.1050a.22–23). However, it seems to be an abstract noun from the adjective energos, which means “active,” “effective,” or “busy” (Beere, 2009, 155). Various English terms have been proposed to translate energeia. In some cases, it has been rendered as transliteration “energy” (esp. by Orthodox scholars), or in tr…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,160 words)

Author(s): Gleede, Benjamin
Ἐνυπόστασις is a Greek neologism most probably coined by the 17th-century reformed dogmatician M. Martini (1618, 271) that describes the relationship between Christ’s temporal human nature and his eternal divine hypostasis as “insubsistence”: as the human element in Christ receives its existence from the divine hypostasis and is generated and individualized by it, the presence of a complete human nature does not entail a second “hypostasis,” in other words separate individual existence, in Chris…
Date: 2022-09-22


(1,728 words)

Author(s): Mulligan, Bret
Deacon in Milan and then bishop of Ticinum (modern Pavia), Ennodius gained fame for his construction of churches, composition of hymns, passionate defense of Pope Symmachus (Symmachus [Bishop of Rome]), and service as a trusted emissary of Pope Hormisdas during the latter’s attempts to end the Acacian schism. For his work as bishop and his diplomatic activities on behalf of Rome, we must rely on later sources, but his early career produced a sprawling, chaotic archive of letters, declamations, s…
Date: 2022-09-22