Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries: From Paul to Valentinus

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9780826481023: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries: From Paul to Valentinus

Investigating the rise and shape of the earliest churches in Rome, Lampe integrates history, archaeology, theology, and social analysis. He also takes a close look at inscriptional evidence to complement the reading of the great literary texts: from Paul's letter to the Romans to the writings of Clement of Rome, Montanus and Valentinus. 'I want to learn about the daily lives of the urban Roman Christians of the first two centuries, the realities of their social lives . . . my ultimate goal is to contribute at least one element to a multidimensional interpretation of texts and faith expressions of early Christianity. Peter Lampe

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About the Author:

Peter Lampe is Professor and Chair of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From the Introduction: "Quid Romae geritur?" Thus asked by Minicianus, Pliny found himself engaged in an abundance of matters from municipal Rome. He sat down and wrote to Minicianus a long letter, which even has appendixes. "Et tamen memento non esse epistulam longam, quae tot dies, tot cognitiones, tot . . . causas complexa sit" (Ep. 3.9). When I --- tot dies --- observe the _rst two centuries, it is with changing glimpses: After an introduction concerning the beginnings of Christianity in the city of Rome down to the separation from the synagogue (Part 1), I attempt a topographical overview: In which quarters of the city did the Christians live? Who were their neighbors there? What strata of society existed there (Part 2)? Parts 3 and 4 are two diachronic sections. The _rst examines the general information provided by the sources. Where are the relevant social-historical materials that give general information about Rome's urban Christianity to be found? To what extent do the sources themselves generalize? In the second section I deal with individuals whose names are revealed their names (prosopography). The methodical relationship between special and general will consequently not be undertaken in Parts 3 and 4. I shall not take individual cases from the sources for the purposes of generalizing, of "elevating" them to a representative level (for how could this be done?) but rather color in with concrete information the generalizations with which the sources themselves are concerned. Part 5 contains an overview once more of urban Roman Christianity as a whole from a particular point of view. Although in the area of Old Testament scholarship social-historical research enjoys a decades-long tradition (Alt, Bertholet, Causse, Pedersen, and Weber, among others), it has long stood in the shadows in the histories of early Christianity. My book is situated in a series of site-oriented historical works that have been carried out since 1975 for Syrian Antioch of the _rst four centuries (Meeks and Wilken, 1978; see bibliography), by Theissen (1974) for New Testament Corinth, and by Glzow (1967/68) for the situation in Rome at the beginning of the third century (Callistus). Fundamental to site-oriented historical study is the desire to bring to voice as much of the detailed source material as possible and thus not prematurely to articulate general propositions and theories about the social world of early Christianity. My interest is two-fold. I want to learn about the daily lives of the urban Roman Christians of the _rst two centuries, the realities of their social lives. To seek these people out in their "situation" and to take them seriously is in the first instance a goal of our research in itself, independent of the question of how this situation relates to their theology, to their expressions of faith. Second, regarding the correlations governing social-historical factors, it must nonetheless be asked where ---if at all ---the changing relations between situation and theology can be discovered? My ultimate goal is to contribute at least one element to a reshapable, multidimensional interpretation of texts and faith expressions of early Christianity. This is the only way to exclude a supercial monocausalism, such as is produced by a one-sided social-historical interpretation or, occasionally, is suggested by purely internal theological, history-of-tradition analyses of texts. We face a tour through a variety of material: literary materials, above all, but also epigraphical and archaeological ones are at hand, which often become illuminating only in combination. What is contested with respect to geographical provenance (e.g., the Pastorals, 1 Peter, Luke- Acts, Mark),2 is relegated to the "footnote cellar" with the well-known "cf." at relevant points, so that the results will not be burdened a priori by uncertainty. There is an abundance of sufficiently clear urban Roman sources; and for those other text-complexes special studies are available, as have already been produced for Mark, 1 Peter, and the Pastorals.3Generally there is enough room "upstairs" in the text also for special New Testament investigation independent of the "footnote cellar." At least I will attempt to place the New Testament into the context of broader temporal lines and perspectives.

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