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gothicangel
11-17-2011, 11:31 PM
I'm currently working on a WIP set in Rome, 132 AD. I am researching into the practises of Early Christianity at this period of the Roman Empire. It's easy enough getting hold of the documents of Pliny, Tacitus, Justin the Martyr etc; but what I'm looking for is information into the actual act of worship.

Any Christian Historians out there?

L.C. Blackwell
11-18-2011, 08:42 AM
I can't tell you 100%, but here's my best:

The year you're using falls between the Pauline letters of the New Testament and the Patristic writings that include Justin the Martyr. We're between the major persecutions--past Nero, but not yet to Decius and Diocletian (though Domitian was not noticeably kind to Christians either.) It's also the time of Hadrian, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadrian) who was no friend to Christianity, as you can see from the section of the article on the Second Roman-Jewish war.

Based on all that, Christian believers in 132 AD are probably still meeting with some caution in each other's homes, with the kind of worship described in Paul's letters: an informal meeting where psalms are sung and believers share "testimonies" or experiences of God's work in their lives. If there's a letter from an influential Christian teacher, it will be read. If someone has had an important dream or a vision that conveys a message from God, it will be shared. Perhaps a visiting Christian traveler has news to report from another group of believers. Later there may be a simple meal.

One thing to keep in mind is that even in the last years of the life of the Apostle John, the writer of the Book of Revelation (held by some scholars to have been about AD 96), divergence from early Christian teachings was already dividing congregations from one another. Revelation 2:6 refers to the Nicolaitans, who may or may not have been the same--possibly Gnostic--sect that was cited in the 2nd century and taught that "deeds of the flesh do not affect the purity of the soul, and consequently have no bearing on salvation."

Citation: Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, pg. 745. (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1957.)

There's likely to be some concern about heresy, and anyone holding opinions different from the Pauline teachings or the four major Gospels is going to cause real worry and tension in the rest of the group.

Hope this helps! :)

bkendall
11-18-2011, 09:27 AM
How odd is this? I have a plotline in the works about Christians in Rome around the rule of Nero.

As far as your WIP, I would say that the use of scriptures would be important. Acts 17: 10, 11 support this. While it was commendable of Beroeans, it was commonplace among all Christians.

I would also point to this quote: "A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius, no Christian became a soldier." The Rise of Christianity, by E. Barnes, 1947.

gothicangel
11-18-2011, 11:45 AM
I can't tell you 100%, but here's my best:

The year you're using falls between the Pauline letters of the New Testament and the Patristic writings that include Justin the Martyr. We're between the major persecutions--past Nero, but not yet to Decius and Diocletian (though Domitian was not noticeably kind to Christians either.) It's also the time of Hadrian, (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadrian) who was no friend to Christianity, as you can see from the section of the article on the Second Roman-Jewish war.

Based on all that, Christian believers in 132 AD are probably still meeting with some caution in each other's homes, with the kind of worship described in Paul's letters: an informal meeting where psalms are sung and believers share "testimonies" or experiences of God's work in their lives. If there's a letter from an influential Christian teacher, it will be read. If someone has had an important dream or a vision that conveys a message from God, it will be shared. Perhaps a visiting Christian traveler has news to report from another group of believers. Later there may be a simple meal.

One thing to keep in mind is that even in the last years of the life of the Apostle John, the writer of the Book of Revelation (held by some scholars to have been about AD 96), divergence from early Christian teachings was already dividing congregations from one another. Revelation 2:6 refers to the Nicolaitans, who may or may not have been the same--possibly Gnostic--sect that was cited in the 2nd century and taught that "deeds of the flesh do not affect the purity of the soul, and consequently have no bearing on salvation."

Citation: Seventh-Day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol. 7, pg. 745. (Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1957.)

There's likely to be some concern about heresy, and anyone holding opinions different from the Pauline teachings or the four major Gospels is going to cause real worry and tension in the rest of the group.

Hope this helps! :)

That's brilliant, thank you. [The novel opens during the Second Roman-Jewish War :D]

gothicangel
11-18-2011, 11:46 AM
How odd is this? I have a plotline in the works about Christians in Rome around the rule of Nero.

As far as your WIP, I would say that the use of scriptures would be important. Acts 17: 10, 11 support this. While it was commendable of Beroeans, it was commonplace among all Christians.

I would also point to this quote: "A careful review of all the information available goes to show that, until the time of Marcus Aurelius, no Christian became a soldier." The Rise of Christianity, by E. Barnes, 1947.

Thanks. :)

MJM
11-22-2011, 04:39 AM
Here (http://www.ccel.org/fathers.html) is one of the best online resource sites for such information -- look at the works of the ante-nicene father (i.e., prior to the council of Nicea).