Philippi appears in the New Testament as the place that Paul visited when he made his first steps to Europe. He purposely passed through the port city of Neapolis and stayed in the territory of the Colonia Iulia Augusta Philippensis. Obviously, Paul developed a unique, cordial bond with the Philippian congregation, which also pertained to financial aspects. For that reason, in recent years a number of comparative studies sought to determine the specific type of relationship between “founder-figure” and “followers” in the light of Greco-Roman social paradigms.
Research in the field of biblical studies increasingly benefits from the publication of the inscriptional corpus of Philippi, but also of the archeological evidence, both of the colonia but also of the surrounding villages. Most evidence postdates the period of ECCLESIAE’s main focus, while it is still valuable for the project’s interest in urban space. Following questions are of primary interest: Of what kind and quality was the social bond between Paul and the Philippians and among the Philippian Jesus followers – given their unique “partnership in the gospel” as well as
the fact that they are not addressed as ekklesia? How can we describe the influence of Philippi’s Romanitas and its imperial cult on both Christ groups and on other religious groups such as the indigenous Cult of the Thracian Horseman and the Bendis cult? What were relevant factors in establishing group specific ethos, e.g., against the backdrop of classical rhetoric, imperial rhetoric, the Roman value system, and the notion of military or civic honor? What was the role of women? What was the social constituency of the first Christ groups?