Ephesus became the “melting pot” of early Christianity. Many individuals and traditions are closely linked with the city: disciples of John the Baptist, Apollos, the mission of Paul as well as Prisca and Aquila, the pseudo-Pauline Letter to the Ephesians, Luke-Acts, the Johannine writings including the Apocalypse of John, the Pastoral Letters and finally Ignatius’s Letter to the Ephesians – a remarkable plurality already in the first century CE. In the last decades New Testament scholarship and neighboring disciplines devoted much energy on this metropolis, focusing on early Ephesian Christianity from Paul to Ignatius, on the cultural and religious
diversity, and on individual aspects (e.g., Artemis cult, imperial cult). Early Christian texts are brought into dialogue with the vast Ephesian inscriptional corpus (IEph) and the archeological record of the city. In the face of the factual co-existence of so many “Christianities” amidst a pluralistic religious atmosphere, we have to ask: How did the prophetic-apocalyptic Christianity of the Apocalypse, the sacramental episcopal church of Ignatius, and the liberal-minded Nicolaitans (Apc 2:6, 15) actually live together, what were their social ties and how did they deal with the challenge of a complex “identity management”?
How should we envisage the gradual separation between Jesus followers and synagogal Jews and what was the role of mystery cults in this process? Which locally specific dynamics were relevant in the formation of identity? Which localities might have served as meeting places for the various Christ groups, how were they connected amongst each other and with other local groups?