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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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The Pre-Constantinian Evidence

The Pre-Constantinian Evidence

(p.131) 7 The Pre-Constantinian Evidence
Who Were the First Christians?

Thomas A. Robinson

Oxford University Press

Many scholars admit that Christianity began to have some success in the countryside in the latter half of the third century. This would still allow for the first two centuries of early Christianity to be portrayed as largely urban. In this chapter, scenarios attempting to explain the beginnings of Christianity in the countryside in the latter half of the third century are examined and found inadequate. Then evidence for Christianity in rural areas prior to 250 C.E. is examined, looking at major areas of the Empire, in particular of Asia Minor, Egypt, and North Africa. This chapter shows that there is sufficient comment in early Christian writings and in the writings of some pagan authors to suggest that Christianity had some success in rural areas in the second and early third century, which would challenge the urban thesis.

Keywords:   Asia Minor, Egypt, North Africa, rural Christianity, urban Christianity, urban thesis

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