Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taking a city break in Ancient Rome

Yesterday I was put through my paces by my supervisor. He seemed pretty pleased with the direction of my paper, though suggested that I might like to pay closer attention to the primary sources rather than the secondary ones.

Now I am going to do some detailed investigation of life in the cities of the ancient world, in particular Rome, Philippi, Corinth, Antioch and Ephesus (those places that the Jesus movement took root in and which became significant centres of mission and and developing organisation and ministry).

My focus is on the question of where the earliest communities gathered. The prevailing view is that congregations of 30-ish met in homes that were inhabited by and thus organised as a household. This explains the presence of household codes in the NT and Apostolic Fathers and could account for the forms of leadership that emerged over the first three generations. But this consensus is being challenged by some.

What if the earliest communities met somewhere else because the bulk of members lived in insulae, above workshops, in temporary accommodation near where they picked up seasonal employment? Where would such groups meet and what kind of leadership might emerge in them?

Anyone with any suggestions of where I might look, please let me know. I'm looking forward to getting stuck into this especially when I'm away in May at IBTS (good library and convivial surroundings) with a view to getting something on paper for a meeting at the end of July.

The soundtrack for today's reading and preparation will be the new Cinematic Orchestra live at the Albert Hall album (truly gorgeous) and the remarkable album by Yeasayer. Called All Hour Cymbals, it's a wonderful mix of quirky rhythms, great tunes and opaque lyrics - somewhat resonant of early Talking Heads.

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