Rebuilt in 44 BCE, Roman Corinth soon flourished, due to its favorable geographical location, fertile coastal plain, and two major ports (Lechaion, Kenchreae), and became the capital of the Roman province of Achaea. As a new Roman colony, Corinth would have had a distinct Roman cultural identity, which was reflected in the cityscape (e.g., new forum, conversion of buildings) as well as in laws and social practices. An important trading town it attracted merchants, travelers, immigrants, and religious entrepreneurs, especially from the east. Corinth’s rapid development facilitated social, ethnical, and religious encounters and – on the downside – led to a strong social segregation.
ECCLESIAE will pick up questions of previous scholarship and add new facets to the overall picture: Who were the “key players” in the Corinthian Jesus movement, what was its social constituency, and how did Jesus followers of different social strata and from different urban quarters interact? How is (the place and culture of) eating linked to early Christian identity construction? How was Christian identity negotiated amidst the plurality of deities and spiritual beings? What role did women play in the congregation? What is the impact of the design of residential quarters in regard to crossing (or reinforcing) social boundaries? What can we know about the earliest meeting places
(e.g., sumptuous villas of influential elite patrons, other domestic or semi-public spaces)? What was the self-understanding of the Jesus movement in terms of its group identity? What can we describe as tangible as possible the social ties in the religious life both in Corinth and its hinterland on the basis of our increased documentary and archeological evidence? How can a socio-linguistic re-reading of Paul’s letters (and later “Corinthian” literature) foster a better understanding of the texts’ allusions to social reality and their communicative strategy, as well as their relevance for Christian identity formation amidst latent and open conflict?