Ferguson - McHugh - Norris - Encyclopedia of Early Christianity

Everett Ferguson, Michael P. McHugh, Frederick W. Norris - Encyclopedia of Early Christianity

Everett Ferguson, Michael P. McHugh, Frederick W. Norris - Encyclopedia of Early Christianity

Second Edition. – New York, NY: Routledge, 1999. – 1252 p.
ISBN-10: 0-8153-3319-6 (Softcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0-8153-3319-7 (Softcover)
ISBN 0-8153-3319-6 (pbk. : alk. paper)
The Encyclopedia of Early Christianity addresses general readers, students, and professionals in other fields who want information about early Christianity. The articles, therefore, avoid technical language as much as possible, and where such is necessary provide definitions or explanations. Specialists in patristics and early Christian history will find the Encyclopedia useful for concise, accurate summaries, ready access to facts, and basic bibliographies.
One hundred and sixty-seven writers have contributed the 1,245 entries. Their varied academic and confessional backgrounds give an international and ecumenical character to these volumes.
The period chosen for coverage extends primarily from the life of Jesus to the seventh century. The latter date, as any that might be chosen, is arbitrary, but conventional for Greek and Latin patristics, and is not observed rigidly, in particular for other language sources. A few modern scholars important in the study of early Christianity have been included, along with articles on conferences, institutes, journals, and learned societies, in order to give some sense of the history of scholarship.
Entries in the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity cover persons, places, doctrines, practices, art, liturgy, heresies, and schisms. Each entry begins with a brief definition, identification, or characterization. It proceeds with antecedents to the subject (if applicable) and then gives a chronological or topical development of the subject in early Christianity. The main patristic sources are listed at the close of the article.
Since there are excellent encyclopedias and dictionaries of the Bible available, the information on biblical persons and books concentrates on their significance and use in the postbiblical development.
Biographical articles cover the person’s life, writings, teachings, importance, and influence—as applicable. Entries on saints note the feast day on which they are commemorated. Writers and writings are identified by their numbers in the Clavis Patrum Latinorum (CPL), Clavis Patrum Graecorum (CPG), and Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG). Non-Christians important for the early history of Christianity, especially authors and rulers, have an appropriate place.
Doctrinal articles present the pertinent biblical data and trace the historical development through the term of the Encyclopedia or to whatever point provides a definitive or significant conclusion to the topic.
Regional surveys provide a sense of continuity in the early history while at the same time showing local variations in Christianity. The variety is further covered in the entries on heresies and schisms. Some synthetic articles treat issues of contemporary concern.
In order to avoid a one-sided reliance on written texts, entries are included on Christian art, archaeology, and architecture. Acknowledgments of the source accompany illustrations. Photographs without a credit line were supplied by Everett Ferguson.
Greek and Latin sources referred to in the text of articles or in the bibliographies are cited by their English titles if an English translation exists, by their Latin titles if no English translation is available. References in parentheses are abbreviated: for Greek works the abbreviations are those in G.W.H. Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1961–1968); for Latin works, the abbreviations are those of A. Souter, A Glossary of Later Latin (Oxford: Clarendon, 1954).
The bibliographies that accompany most of the articles consist of patristic citations, editions of original works, translations, and studies, in that order, with the studies arranged chronologically.
The index is an essential part of the Encyclopedia, since it provides access to additional information on an item in the main entry and identifies many items for which there is not an entry.
The second edition of the Encyclopedia of Early Christianity represents an extensive revision and enlargement of the first edition. Bibliographies have been updated throughout; the few errors that have been pointed out have been corrected; many of the entries have been rewritten and supplemented. In particular, much more is included about the influence of the biblical books and Greek philosophies on Christian writers and about the patristic use of these.
Readers of the first edition will immediately notice the over 250 new entries. The major conceptual enlargement of the encyclopedia is the greater attention given to the eastern expansion of Christianity. This required an extension of the chronological limits of the work in order to give a fuller picture, both because the “patristic” period of eastern Christianity extends later than in other regions and because later writings often preserve otherwise lost material; the generally inadequate western understanding of the extent to which Christianity spread to the middle and far east also seemed to call for a broader treatment. There is also a fuller coverage of geographical regions in the traditional western areas. Users of the first edition will also appreciate the presence of more maps, plans, and illustrations to accompany the broader coverage.
* * *
Hesychius of Egypt (ca. 300)
Jerome speaks of the text of the Septuagint used in Egypt as the work of Hesychius. An important revision of the text of the Bible was made in Egypt about the beginning of the fourth century, but Jerome’s disparaging comments about interpolations made by Hesychius raise a question about whether they are the same. The Decretum Gelasianum calls his work on the Gospels “apocryphal.” There is doubt whether he is to be identified with the bishop martyred under Diocletian (Eusebius, H.E. 8.13.7) or one of the four Egyptian bishops who wrote a letter rebuking Melitius. Hesychius the lexicographer, who lived later, was probably a pagan.
Everett Ferguson
Eusebius, Church History 8.13.7; Jerome, Praefatio in Paralipomena; idem, Apology Against Rufinus 2.27; idem, In Isaiam 58.11; idem, Preface to the Four Gospels; Decretum Gelasianum.
F.G. Kenyon, “Hesychius and the Text of the New Testament,” Mémorial Lagrange (Paris: Gabalda, 1940), pp. 245–250.
A number of early Christian texts stand against suicide, particularly some from Augustine (Contra Gaudentium and Civ. Dei 1.17–27). The Councils of Orléans (533), Braga (563), and Auxerre (578) strengthened his views with penalties that denied funeral rites to those who killed themselves.
Voluntary death is either accepted or praiseworthy in Old Testament accounts. Wounded in battle, Abimelech had his armor bearer kill him (Judg. 9:50–57). Saul fell on his own sword; his armor bearer did the same (1 Sam. 31:13). Samson caused his own death by pushing over the temple of Dagon (Judg. 16:23–31); Ahithophel hanged himself (2 Sam. 17:23); and Zimri burned up his house while he was in it (1 Kings 16:18–19).
Both the acceptance of and the search for martyrdom continued that tradition. Jesus’ sacrificial death was always viewed as noble. Paul saw honor in following that example. Origen and Tertullian both sought martyrdom. Clement of Alexandria spoke against seeking it; Mensurius of Carthage questioned the motives of those who suffered it (Augustine, Coll. c. Don. 3.13). Cyprian avoided martyrdom, then praised, and finally suffered it. Jerome and Ambrose disagreed with Augustine by suggesting that the voluntary death that women chose in response to expected or actual rape was justifiable.
Suicide without serious external circumstance was seldom considered; there was no ancient terminology for discussing it. Praised martyrdom was never solely self-imposed. Seeking it depended upon a goverment that imposed it.
Frederick W. Norris
Origen, Exhortation to Martyrdom; Tertullian, On Flight in Persecution; Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 4.16–17, 77; Cyprian, Exhortation to Martyrdom; Ambrose, On Virgins 3.7; Jerome, Commentarii in Ionam 1.6; Augustine, City of God 1.17–27.
A. Droge and J. Tabor, A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom Among Christians and Jews in Antiquity (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1992).


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