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Document Type:Latin Dissertation
Language of Document:English
Record Number:52490
Doc. No:TL22444
Call number:‭3204944‬
Main Entry:Anna Adrienne Marianne Luijendijk
Title & Author:Fragments from Oxyrhynchus: A case study in early Christian identityAnna Adrienne Marianne Luijendijk
College:Harvard Divinity School
Date:2005
Degree:Th.D.
student score:2005
Page No:324
Abstract:This dissertation is a case study in Christian identity in the pre-Constantinian era based on papyrus fragments found at the site of the ancient city of Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Using the image of the city marketplace, a place of social interaction, the study asks whether Christians would be distinctive there. This study employs methods from the fields of Early Christian studies and papyrology. Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus and recent scholarship in the constructedness of identity by Karen L. King and Judith M. Lieu constitute its main theoretical framework. Part I reviews traditional criteria used to identify Christians in documentary texts and proposes a more productive methodology: the deliberate use of marked behaviors, expressions, and symbols in conscious acts of identity construction within a given habitus. This method is then applied to examining mono- and/or henotheistic references to divinity, the use of nomina sacra, and onomastic practices. In Part II in-group practices are central. A group of documents (five or possibly six) related to a "papas Sotas"---mostly letters of recommendation---give evidence of a codified system of identity signaling across an extensive Christian social network. Sotas, who clearly was or functioned as the bishop of Oxyrhynchus in the mid-to-late third century (thus the earliest bishop known from that city), collaborated with church members in constructing "authorized" identities and functioned, in his formal capacity, as the guarantor of that identity for the travelers carrying them. These documents also reveal a staged process of catechumenate and the importance of education. Part III examines relations between Christians and Rome in the period of persecutions. The documents show that the Roman bureaucracy was both systematic and thorough in its prosecution of Christians, with a particular interest in the confiscation of property---categorized in official lists---of individuals and churches alike. Unlike martyrologies, which associate Christian identity with a refusal to sacrifice ending in violent death, the documents reveal practical solutions Christians developed, allowing them to live within their society and still maintain their identity as Christians. Thus the study shows that Christian identity was constructed in a shared cultural context (habitus), and that Christians in pre-Constantinian Oxyrhynchus shared many practices with their neighbors. Even so, it also demonstrates that Christians constructed distinct and distinctive identities in different everyday life contexts.
Subject:Philosophy, religion and theology; Language, literature and linguistics; Christian; Egypt; Fragments; Identity; Oxyrhynchus; Ancient languages; Religious history; Biblical studies; 0321:Biblical studies; 0289:Ancient languages; 0320:Religious history
Added Entry:K. L. King
Added Entry:Harvard Divinity School