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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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Dismissing the Evidence of Christianity in the Countryside

Dismissing the Evidence of Christianity in the Countryside

(p.181) 8 Dismissing the Evidence of Christianity in the Countryside
Who Were the First Christians?

Thomas A. Robinson

Oxford University Press

Those who argue for a largely urban Christianity must explain the undeniable presence of Christianity in the countryside at least in the latter half of the third century, before the conversion of Constantine when the resources of the empire could be used to force a conservative countryside into religious change. Some have treated rural Christianity in this period as abnormal in most or in all of its forms, thus making it non-representative and more easily disregarded. Some have the simply considered the presence of Christianity in rural areas as schisms from the urban church, and thus not really urban. These ideas are examined and rejected. Finally, the term “pagan” is examined and the evidence of the continuing paganism in the countryside is considered. Alan Cameron’s The Last Pagans of Rome is important here.

Keywords:   rural, Last Pagans, Alan Cameron, term “pagan, ” Constantine, urban Christianity, conservative countryside

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