Literary sources on early Christianity in Antioch are limited and also biased (cf. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians), and since the majority of the Roman city is still buried beneath the sediments of the Orontes River, archeology and epigraphy are of limited help; still, the city has re-emerged in recent years and moved into the academic spotlight, though the focus has not been earliest Christianity. This is surprising given the importance of this city for the Christian movement.
This work package seeks to explore questions on the formation of the Christian movement in Antioch: When was “Christianity” perceived as an independent movement (cf. the term Christianoi, attributed to the Jesus movement already in the 40s in Antioch)? What were the social motivations and implications to become a part of the Jesus movement (e.g., circumcision)? Why was Christianity so successful precisely in this metropolis of the East, the third
largest city in the Roman Empire? How did the appeal of the strong Jewish community to the “Greeks” (Josephus, Bellum 7.45) affect the appeal of the Christ groups? What were the effects of the increasing political pressures on the Jews for the Christ-believing community and its rationale to develop and claim a distinct identity?