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Who Were the First Christians?Dismantling the Urban Thesis$
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Thomas A. Robinson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190620547

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190620547.001.0001

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(p.208) 10 Conclusion
Who Were the First Christians?

Thomas A. Robinson

Oxford University Press

In light of the previous chapters, what can be said about rural and urban Christianity in the pre-Constantinian period? The evidence points to a collapse of numbers. We do not know how many Christians were in the empire at any time. But of one thing we can be certain. The Christian movement cannot have been largely urban unless Christians in the empire were far fewer than generally accepted; otherwise the urban areas would have been saturated with Christians. A partial solution likely lies in a Christian presence in the countryside. One other element in the complexion of Christian communities must be considered too. It is the rustic. In both rural and urban churches, rustics will have a considerable presence. And that requires more attention to the poor and the marginal as a significant element in the Christian movement.

Keywords:   urban Christianity, rural churches, rustic, poor, marginal, Roman demography

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