Journal of Early Christian History - latest Issue
Volume 5, Issue 2, 2015
Source: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 1 –2 (2015)More Less
In the editorial of the previous issue of JECH (2015), I made the point that a type of slavery discourse is often prevalent in the managerial rhetoric of institutions of higher education, specifically in the language of utility and productivity, which poses numerous problems for the study of Ancient History and Early Christianity. This discourse is a subset of a larger discursive formation that is taking hold of universities, namely neoliberalism. Now, at the time of writing this editorial to the second issue of JECH (2015), towards the end of October 2015, South Africa is experiencing some of the most intense student protests since the apartheid era. The second to last week of October 2015 saw student demonstrations at most state funded universities - on 22 October 2015 many universities were closed (and this close to the year-end examinations). And on this day students also marched to the headquarters of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC) at Luthuli House in Johannesburg, and the next day they marched to the Union Buildings to confront the President. Although it is a very complex matter, the main impetus for the protests was the rising student fees that universities had announced. When the students read their memorandum at Luthuli House, at the top of their list was a request not to increase student fees for 2016, and to start implementing cost-free higher education (which the ANC promised in 2013/2014). It is a difficult but also exciting time for South African, but also international, higher education.
Author Wynand De BeerSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 3 –23 (2015)More Less
In this article a survey is undertaken of the Patristic understanding of the creation account in the first chapter of Genesis, the Hexaemeron. It is introduced with a brief sketch of the scriptural background, particularly its New Testament reception. A number of Greek and Latin Church Fathers wrote commentaries on the Hexaemeron, preceded by the mediating work of Philo with his synthesis of Judaic theology and Hellenistic philosophy. Their insights are elaborated by comments from more recent Orthodox theologians. Although a variety of readings are encountered regarding each of the six creative days of Genesis, all the Patristic theologians agree on the primacy of God as creator, acting through the divine Word (i.e. Christ) and the Spirit; on the world being created and not eternally existing; on both the spiritual-intellectual and material realms being the creations of God, including the human body and soul; and on the continuing, providential care of God for His creation.
Religious violence in late antique Egypt reconsidered : the cases of Alexandria, Panopolis and PhilaeAuthor Jitse H. F. DijkstraSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 24 –48 (2015)More Less
The period of Late Antiquity has long been perceived, and is still often perceived, through the lens of (Christian) literary works, which tell dramatic stories of violence against temples, statues and even 'pagans', and may give the impression that this was a period of widespread religious violence. Egypt, where such stories abound, has often been seen as a particularly good illustration of the pervasive nature of religious violence in the Late Antique world. This article takes a different view. By adopting a theoretical framework on religious violence from Religious Studies and including all the other sources available from Egypt - papyri, inscriptions and archaeological remains - it argues that events were often dramatised for ideological reasons and that, when seen against a general background of religious transformation, religious violence occurred only occasionally in specific local or regional circumstances. This point will be demonstrated by discussing three iconic events that have often been adduced as symptomatic of widespread violence in Late Antique Egypt: the destruction of the Serapeum at Alexandria in 391/392, the anti-'pagan' crusade of Abbot Shenoute in the region of Panopolis around 400, and the closure of the Isis temple at Philae in 535-537.
Source: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 49 –75 (2015)More Less
Augustine's understanding of knowledge is grounded in Christ, the eternal wisdom incarnate. Because Christ is the source and summit of knowledge, one's approach to the fullness of truth must pass through prayer, not least of all its highest form, the divine liturgy. With this point established, we proceed to consider Augustine's exegesis of certain key scriptural passages, in particular Matthew 6 and John 17. In the former, Augustine draws from the Pater Nosterin order to show how he understands the importance of living according to the true meaning of one's prayers, and this with respect to certain key controversies he faced during his episcopate. We conclude by looking at his discussion of Christ's High-Priestly Prayer (John 17), suggesting that Augustine sees here a unique self-disclosure of the inner life of the Trinity, which provides the template for transforming oneself in such a way that one does not simply pray but even becomes prayer.
Accounts of military operations in the histories of the Byzantine emperor John VI Kantakouzenes (1347-1354) : critical remarksAuthor Savvas KyriakidisSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 76 –93 (2015)More Less
This article examines the descriptions of military operations that can be found in the Histories of the fourteenth-century Byzantine emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (1347-1354). Kantakouzenos participated in almost all the military operations he describes. However, this does not mean that his version of events is always accurate. A careful examination of his narrative shows that Kantakouzenos' accounts of battles, sieges and campaigns were shaped by various factors, mainly the author's personal agenda and his desire to justify his role in the military and political developments of the period. Moreover, this article discusses the military thinking of John Kantakouzenos.
Author Janelle PetersSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 94 –110 (2015)More Less
Several powerful women receive praise in 1 Clement. Clement introduces women into the historical survey known from Hebrews. He compares female martyrs with apostles, and he lists Esther and Judith with foreign kings. I argue that Clement's validation of the prayer and prophecy of figures such as Esther and Judith indicates that Clement is not opposed to female leadership, and, indeed, Clement does not forbid women from office in his discussion of the leadership structures of the Corinthian church. Clement's concerns may be connected to the contemporary movement from temporary ecclesial offices to less democratic, permanent priesthoods in Roman Greece. Roman control of Greece increased the importance of belonging to the Greek aristocracy. Corinthian Christian support for democratically elected leaders could be the impetus for Clement's letter. Arguing against Roman Greek priestesses and Christian female leaders on account of their sex is not part of Clement's project. We have no evidence from 1 Clement that the letter, which refers to the Pauline correspondence with churches of Corinth, knows of and adheres to the injunction against female public speech in the Pastoral Stratum of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
Author Adele ReinhartzSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 111 –116 (2015)More Less
The question addressed concerns the texts that may have been read aloud as scripture in the Johannine community, as was the practice in Jewish contexts. It is suggested that the Gospel may have been read aloud in the gatherings of the Johannine community, alongside readings from the Torah. This argument is based on the similarities in the way in which the Fourth Gospel treats the words of Jesus and the words of Torah.
Author Theodore SaboSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 117 –131 (2015)More Less
Ezekiel's imagery of the four living creatures being all eye proved to be a useful metaphor for such diverse characters as the desert fathers, the ascetics of Gaza, Pseudo-Dionysius, and Gregory Palamas. This study interposes between these thinkers the Neoplatonist philosopher Plotinus who used the similar metaphor of all face in his sixth Ennead. In the case of the figures not greatly influenced by Plotinus the metaphor often took on connotations of super sensible glory, dispassion, and watchfulness, but for the figures more affected by him the metaphor referred solely to the first two concepts. This lessening of interpretative riches for Ezekiel's vision was likely due to Plotinus' basic lack of interest in ethical questions.
Author Jan G. Van der WattSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 132 –156 (2015)More Less
The identity of the recipients of 2 John is much debated. Certain key issues complicate the debate, for instance, why does the presbyter mention 'some' of the lady's children who live in truth and not all? Who are the false teachers who claimed hospitality or at least access to the house (church)? Why are these opponents not shown the basic courtesy of inviting them into the house (church) or of even greeting them? These questions and other key issues are addressed and interrelated in order to suggest a possible scenario for the origin of the letter.
Author Eugene BezuidenhoutSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 157 –183 (2015)More Less
In this intriguing book, Karen Armstrong offers a new, unconventional interpretation or meditation of Genesis by investigating and analysing the characters of the role players, including that of God. She starts by introducing the reader to a very important subject: God and human's ongoing efforts to comprehend Scripture.
The Christian Doctrine of the Apokatastasis : A Critical Assessment from the New Testament to Eriugena, Ilaria L. E. Ramelli (Ed.) : book reviewSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 184 –187 (2015)More Less
It is extremely difficult to capture, in the short genre that is the academic book review, the breadth and impact of Ilaria Ramelli's The Christian Doctrine of theApokatastasis. Spanning nearly 900 pages (but only four chapters), this book is the most definitive account of the oft-controversial Christian version of the doctrine of the apokatastasis, or 'restoration/reintegration/reconstitution' - and will probably remain such for a considerable time. In this book, Ramelli has surveyed almost every shred of evidence, Christian but also non-Christian, to account for the doctrine's development and transformation - from the New Testament (although Old Testament literature is also examined) to the beginning of the Middle Ages with Eriugena (accounting for sources in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac). At the same time, the book engages with a huge number of secondary sources on the topic. The book will indeed become a jewel in the crown of books on Patristics, Early Christian Studies, and Christian Philosophy.
Associations in the Greco-Roman world : a sourcebook, Richard S. Ascough, Philip A. Harland, John S. Kloppenborg (Eds.) : book reviewAuthor Christoph StenschkeSource: Journal of Early Christian History 5, pp 188 –190 (2015)More Less
Neben den Mysterienreligionen und den Synagogen Judäas sowie der jüdischen Diaspora ist das antike Vereinswesen eine der Analogien zu den Gemeinden des Urchristentums. Während die ältere Forschung teilweise die Organisation, Strukturen und äußeren Erscheinungsformen urchristlicher Gemeinden von den in der Welt des Neuen Testaments verbreiteten antiken Vereinen ableiten wollte, ist man heutezurecht zurückhaltender. Doch haben eine ganze Reihe neuerer Studien zu antiken Vereinen und neutestamentlichen Gemeinden gezeigt, dass sich der Vergleich lohntund neben der Feststellung mancher äußerlicher Gemeinsamkeiten den Blick für das Proprium urchristlicher Gemeinden unter den sozialen, religiösen und politischen Gruppierungen der griechisch-römischen Welt schärft. Zumindest wird deutlich, vorwelchem Hintergrund das Umfeld des Urchristentums die Gemeinden wahrgenommen und verstanden haben dürfte bzw. sich diese selbst in Anknüpfung und Widerspruch definieren konnten. Der vorliegende Band bietet eine hervorragende Auswahl und Einführung in die unterschiedlichen Quellen zum antiken Vereinswesen ('a broad overview and introduction into the study of ancient associations', xxxvii), die einen schnellen Zugang ermöglichen, umfassende Orientierung bieten und die erwähnten Vergleiche erleichtern ('placing Christian groups within the cultural context of group life in the Roman Empire', 3).