Associations, Christ groups, and their place in the Polis

  • 1 University of Toronto, 170 St. George Street, Toronto M5R 2M8, Canada
John S. Kloppenborg


Early Christ groups, like Greek and Roman associations, engaged in mimicry of various civic institutions, and for similar reasons: to facilitate the integration of sub-altern groups into civic structures; to create “communities of honour” in which virtue was recognized and rewarded; and to produce small social structures in which the democratic values of autonomy could be performed. While mimicking civic structures, early Christ groups also displayed in varying ways ambivalence toward the city, either declaring themselves to be “resident aliens” or claiming to belong to a different polity.

In the fourth or fifth century of the Common era an occupational guild of fullers in Flaviopolis in Cilicia commissioned a well-formed mosaic inscription to be placed on the floor of a room, probably a church.1 The language of the dedication indicates clearly that this was a Christian guild: not only does the inscription use the self-deprecating term “the lowly guild of fullers” in place of the more usual superlatives σεμνοτάτη (“most august”) or ἱερώτατος (“most sacred”) expected in the self-referential language of pagan occupational guilds,2 but lines 6–7 specifically invoke Luke 17,10:

ὑπὲρ σωτηρίας τοῦ εὐ-

τελοῦς συνεργίου τῶν

γναφέων τὴν μετρίαν

ἡμῶν ταύτην καρποφο-

5ρίαν δέχου, δέσπο-

τα, παρὰ τῶν ἀχρίων σ-

οῦ δούλων, παρέχω-

ν ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν

ταῖς ἡμετέραις ψυχαῖς

10καὶ καλὴν ἀπολογίαν.

For the well-being of the lowly occupational guild (synergion) of fullers, receive O Lord, this measure of our fruitfulness from your “unprofitable slaves” and grant us forgiveness of sins for our souls and a good defence.

The inscription is of interest in several respects. First, it displays continuities with pagan occupational associations in the use of συνέργιον (or συνεργασία)3 as a self-designation, and the formula “for the well being of …” And it displays notable idiosyncrasies of Christian groups: the self-deprecating designation; the call for forgiveness; the notion of a good defence4; and the appeal to the Christian scriptures.5 Second, in the moral vernacular of fourth century Christ-groups, the terms εὐτελής and ἀχρεῖος had become honorific terms for Christians, as they would continue to be in succeeding centuries.6 Had these fullers in fact been as self-effacing and “lowly” and “unprofitable” as the inscription literally states, there would have been no inscription at all. Third, in dedicating an inscription in a church, these handworkers represented themselves not as a collection of handworkers who were often the brunt of derogatory and satirical depictions,7 but as a publicly-minded collegium that demonstrated its liberality by contributing to a building project. That is, the dedication relocates the fullers within the imagined space of the city from the stigmatized social location of base manual labour to the honored locale of public benefaction. Finally, the materiality of the inscription—a professionally executed mosaic inscription—points to an association that was willing to use its resources not only to engage in the usual activities of an association—monthly (or more frequent) dining and the burial of members—but also in euergetic practices of contributing an expensive mosaic inscription to a church.

I begin with this example of the fullers’ euergetism because their actions illustrate some of the ambiguities of Christ groups: that on the one hand, they engaged in activities that can be understood broadly as the performance of citizenship, and on the other, that they often used vocabulary to differentiate themselves from the polis.

1 Associations and the Polis

It is almost a truism that associations mimicked the organizational structures, language, and the activities of the cities in which they were found.8 Arnaoutoglou argues,

The close connection between the organization of the city and that of an association reveals that the pattern of political activities and organization in Athens influenced decisively that of cult associations. The conceptual horizon of the Athenians, which was reproduced on every occasion, was that of the polis.9

This conclusion is supported by the available epigraphic data and appears to apply well beyond Athens, as the following discussion will illustrate. There is, however, a caveat. Epigraphical evidence is very far from uniformly distributed throughout the Mediterranean. Athens, Rome, Ostia and a few other locations are extremely well represented in the epigraphical record, but the data are sparse for many other sites and for certain historical periods. There are, moreover, virtually no associations for which we possess a full dossier of epigraphical monuments, which might include, for example, the νόμος or lex, alba (membership rosters) covering several years of the association’s existence, honorific decrees, dedications, funerary monuments, and records of the group’s interactions with the polis. Typically, we have a νόμος from one group, a roster from another, and dedications from a third. In the case of some of the largest and best known associations, for example the centonarii (textile dealers) who were responsible for at least 234 Latin inscriptions, not one of them includes the collegium’s bylaws.10 The same is true for most of the large occupational guilds of the West and for almost all associations in Asia. This cannot mean that they lacked bylaws; it likely means that their bylaws were written on parchment or wooden tablets that have not survived the Mediterranean climate. We also know of many cult associations and occupational guilds from Egypt, not from epigraphical evidence, but from papyri; if we had to rely solely on epigraphical sources, we might wrongly conclude that there were very few guilds in Egypt.

Despite these vagaries and lacunae in the data, virtually all of the available data points to a general practice of associations imitating the language and practices of the city. Several aspects of the records of associations corroborate this conclusion.

1.1 Honorific Decrees

The honorific decrees of cultic associations in Athens or the Piraeus adopted exactly the form of decrees of the Athenian boulē or dēmos, with the following elements:

1. invocation formula: θεοί, “gods!”;

2. dating formula: ἐπὶ τοῦ ΝΝ ἄρχοντος, “in the year that NN was eponymous archon;

3. sanction formula: ἔδοξεν τῇ βουλῇ (τῷ δήμῳ) (τῷ κοινῷ);

4. preamble, beginning with ἐπειδή, “whereas,” ἐπεί, “since,” or περὶ ὧν, “concerning those things,” and stating the grounds for the honorific decree, and usually containing a number of adverbs describing the honoree’s good character (e. g., καλῶς, φιλοτίμως, μεγαλοφρόνως, εὐσεβῶς, etc.);

5. hortatory formulae such as ὅπως ἂν εἰδῶσιν πάντες ὅτι, “so that all might know” (that the boulē/koinon honours those who benefact it), or ὅπως ἂν οὖν ἐφάμιλλον ἦι τοῖς βουλομένοις εὐεργετεῖν τὸ κοινόν, “so that there might be a rivalry among those who wish to benefact the association”, or some other hortatory formula;

6. the resolution: ἀγαθεῖ τύχει, δεδόχθαι τῷ βουλῷ (τοῖς θιασῶταις), “for good fortune! It was resolved by the council (the association members to commend NN)”, followed by a restatement of elements from the preamble;

7. the decision, usually with ἐπαινέσαι (“to commend”) or στεφανῶσαι (“crown”), again stating the grounds for the crown (ἀρετῆς ἕνεκα καὶ φιλοτιμίας, “on account of the excellence and zeal” that NN has shown), and authorizing a public announcement, often providing the text of that announcement, and ordering the erection of a stele containing the text of the honorific decree; and finally

8. details indicating who is to be responsible for the erection of the stele, the cost of the stele, and sometimes curses and penalties for anyone who would attempt to alter or nullify the decree, or otherwise interfere with the conferral of the honour.11

A decree of the thiasōtai of Artemis Kallistē conforms to this structure almost exactly:

1       θ ε ο [ί].

ἐπὶ Κίμωνος ἄρχοντος, Θαργηλιῶνος· v [ἔδοξ]εν

τῶι κοινῶι· v ἐπειδὴ Σώφρων καλῶς καὶ φ[ιλ]οτί-

μως συνήγαγε τὸν θίασον, ἐπέδωκεν δὲ καὶ στή-

5λην ὥστε ἀνατεθῆναι εἰς τὸ ἱερὸν βουλόμενο-

ς αὔξειν τὸ κοινὸν ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων· v ὅπως ἂν οὖν ἐ-

φάμιλλον εἶ τοῖς βουλομένοις εὐεργετεῖν τ-

ὸ κοινὸν εἰδόσιν ὅτι κομιοῦνται τὰς χάριτα-

ς· ἀγαθεῖ τύχει, δεδόχθ[α]ι τοῖς θιασώταις στεφ-

10ανῶσαι τὸν ἀρχερα[ν]ιστὴν Σώφρονα θαλλοῦ στε-

φάνωι καὶ λημ[ν]ίσκωι· v ὅπως ἂν καὶ εἰς τὸ λοιπ-

ὸν οἱ γινόμε[ν]οι ἱεροποιοὶ εἰς τὰς θυσίας ἐπ-

ειδὰν τὰ ἱερὰ ἀπαγγείλωσιν καὶ σπονδὰς πο‹ι›ή-

[σ]ω[σ]ι[ν σ]τεφανούτωσαν αὐτὸν καί ἀναγορευέτ-

15[ω]σαν· v «[ο]ἱ θιασῶται στεφανοῦσι τὸν ἀρχερανι-

στὴν Σώφρονα ἀρετῆς ἕνεκεν καὶ εὐσεβείας τ-

ῆς εἰς τὴν θεόν·» ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ἀναγορεύσωσιν, ὀφει-

λέτωσαν τέτταρας δραχμὰς ἱερὰς τῆι θεῶι· v ἀ-

ναγραψάτωσαν δὲ καὶ τὸν στέφανον ἐπὶ τοῦ ἀν-

20αθήματος· v ἀναγράψαι δὲ καὶ τοὺς θιασώτας πά-

ντας χωρὶς τούς τε ἄνδρας καὶ τὰς γυναῖκας. v

<in a crown>:

22οἱ θιασῶται

τὸν ἀρχερανιστὴν

Σώφρονα … (IG II2 1297 = GRA I 24; 236/5 bce)

Gods! In the year that Kimon was the archon, month of Thargelion: (The following) was resolved by the association. Whereas Sophron generously and zealously convoked the thiasos and contributed a stele to be set up in the temple, wishing to enlarge the treasury (koinon) at his own expense; in order that there might be a rivalry among those who wish to be benefactors to the koinon and (that all) might know that they shall receive thanks; for good fortune it has been resolved by the thiasōtai to crown their archeranistēs Sophron with a wreath of olive leaves and a woolen fillet; so that also henceforth those who become the sacrificers (hieropoioi) at the sacrifices, when they announce the rites and perform the libations, shall crown him and announce this publicly: «The thiasōtai crown their archeranistēs Sophron on account of his excellence and the piety he has shown to the Goddess.» If they do not announce this publicly, they will owe four drachmae sacred to the Goddess. And let them also inscribe the crown upon the monument. And they shall inscribe the (names of) all of thiasōtai, the men and the women separately.

<within the crown>

The thiasōtai

(honour) their archeranistēs


<A list of 58 names follows, men in columns 1–2, women in cols. 3–4>

Apart from certain terms peculiar to associations (θιασῶται, ἀρχερανιστής), this is almost indistinguishable from honorific decrees of the Athenian boulē.

The structure of honorific decrees in other locales differs from the Athenian model. Yet in most other locales the honorific decrees of associations still mimicked those of the local councils. For example, a decree of the Aphrodiastai in Ephesus simply clones the standard format of Ionian honorific decrees in composing their decrees (δεδόχθαι τῶι κοινῶι τῶν Ἀφροδισιαστῶν/τῇ βουλῇ … ἐπῃνῆσθαί NN … ἐπὶ τῆι εὐσεβείαι/καλοκαγαθίαι κτλ. καὶ στεφανοῦσθαι αὐτὸν …).12 Egyptian associations adopted the practice of honouring civic and imperial officials, employing the same format as civic decrees (ἀγαθῇ τύχηι, ἐπεί introducing the grounds for the honour, and the decree introduced with ἔδοξε + dative). In some instances it is not simply a case of mimicry of the honorific decrees of cities; associations sometimes worked together with cities to confer honours. An inscription from Apameia in Phrygia records that the city voted honours for a civic benefactor and mandated a neighbourhood guild of workers to erect the stele on its behalf (e. g., IGRR IV 791).

1.2 Rosters

The public space of both Greek and Roman cities was filled with a large variety of lists: Athens displayed the names of demesmen, ephebes, public benefactors, public debtors, traitors, persons granted citizenship, deserters, persons tried for homicide, war casualties, magistrates, cleruchs, archons, Panathenaic victors, and so on. Roman towns displayed consular fasti, lists of augurs, senators, and lists of civic events. And lists of civic officials, benefactors, and others are found almost everywhere.

From the earliest periods of Athenian democracy the extant lists mostly concern citizens and males.13 But from the beginning of the third century bce rosters of associations begin to appear that included women as well as men, metics as well as demesmen, and slaves as well as free.14 It is not that immigrant groups did not exist before that period. Rather, it appears that at the beginning of the third century these associations embraced “epigraphic culture” in order to advertise themselves as part of the life of the polis.15

Baslez has offered a plausible explanation of this shift towards the public appearance of associations. She argues that the appearance of rosters of mixed associations was a response to the political environment of the fourth century bce, when clubs came under attack by Athenian orators for their alleged anti-social behaviour and because they were suspect as subversive of democracy.16 Associations that included non-Athenians, women, and slaves would have been special targets for suspicion. Yet by the end of the fourth century and the beginning of the third, associations acted to dispel suspicion about their potentially subversive nature. Not only did they represent themselves publicly with the same epigraphical genres—honorific decrees and rosters—as those used by citizens, but also stressed their cultic and convivial dimensions (ignoring any potentially political aspects). Associations decrees from this period reproduce the moral lexicon of the city, stressing φιλοτιμία, εὔνοια, δικαιοσύνη, and εὐσέβεια, and signalling general adherence to civic norms and practices.17 The production and display of alba by associations—both cultic and, later, occupational—can be regarded both as instances of mimicry of polis-practices and as part of a concerted effort to look Athenian and thus to deflect suspicion of subversion.18 Of course, these practices were not only advertisements to the polis; they also produced subjects compliant to the values of the city.

1.3 Technical Terminology

Mimicry of civic practices is also seen in the terminology that associations adopted. In Athens, where the decrees of the boulē were dated with the formulae τῆι κυρίαι ἀγορᾶι or τῆι ἐκκλησίαι in the month of NN, Athenian associations adopted the same dating formulae. The trio of ἐπιμελητής, τάμιας, and γραμματεύς typically named as officers in Athenian and Piraean cultic associations mirrored titles of Athenian officials. Elsewhere association inscriptions attest the use of ἀγορανόμος,19 ἄρχων, ἐπιστάτης, ἐπίσκοπος, οἰκονόμος, πρόεδρος, προεστῶτες, προστάτης, πρύτανις, στρατηγός, and φροντιστής in Greek and aedile, curator, decurion, quaestor, and quinquenalis in Latin.20 The general membership of Latin associations were often called plebs or populi and larger collegia sometimes divided their members into decuriae, mimicking the structure of Roman towns, the army and ancient versions of the Roman Senate.21 Of course there are titles that are peculiar to associations such as archeranistēs or archibakchos; but it is nonetheless clear that imitation of civic titles was a very common practice.

The practices of cities can also be seen in the common practice of electing or otherwise choosing ἐπιμεληταί or other leaders yearly, thus imitating the yearly election of eponymous archons in Athens or the yearly appointment of priests. Hence, one finds such formulae as IG II2 1324 = GRA I 32 (Piraeus, ca. 190 bce):

[ἐπειδὴ Στέφανος ἐπιμελητὴς]

[γενόμενος τὸν ἐν]ιαυτ[ὸν τὸν ἐπὶ]

[– – – ἄρχ]οντος

Whereas Stephanos, who became supervisor for the one year that NN was archon …

or an inscription honouring the president of a guild of bread and cake bakers (IGFayum III 212.7–8, Arsinoë, 3 ce):

Ἡρακλείδην Σοχώτου προστ-

άτην τοῦ λβ’ L Καίσαρος …

… Herakleides son of Sochotēs, president for the 32nd year of Caesar …

Although associations mimicked civic offices there were some differences or at least some adaptations. Athenian associations seem to have avoided the term ἄρχων to designate their chief administrative officers, preferring ἐπιμελητής (also a civic officer). While the polis carefully delimited the responsibilities of officers, in associations ἐπιμεληταί might also supervise processions and other cultic activities, taking the role often assigned to the ἱεροποιοί (sacrificers). The γραμματεύς in an association might also assume a role of financial administration along with the ταμίας (treasurer) or in place of the ταμίας.22 That is, associations imitated, but they also adapted roles to suit their functions.

Alongside officers elected yearly there were also individuals singled out with the designation διὰ βίου or perpetuus. These are very likely honorary designations recognizing distinguished service or conspicuous benefaction and in most cases it seems unlikely that they were involved in the day-to-day management of the association in question. This practice of recognizing lifetime “officers” also mimics civic practices, especially in the West, where civic patrons were acknowledged prominently in inscriptions, but were distinct from the duumviri elected yearly to manage the municipality.23 Imitation of civic fasti is easily seen in the album of the corpus scaphariorum et lenunculariorum traiectus Luculli (CIL 14.246) which, after the emperor and caesar, features the names of ten patroni, all senators and most of consular rank, followed by a quinquennalis perpetuus, then the current quinquennalis, and quinquennales from the years 151–172 ce, each serving between two and seven year, and then the plebs.

1.4 Dispute Settlement

Some associations also assumed a judicial role in dispute settlement among members and prohibited members from resort to public courts when the complaint was about a fellow member, fining those who accused or calumniated members.24 This did not prevent members from appealing to civic or in Egypt, nome, officials, especially when the association’s internal decisions did not favour an appellant25; nevertheless these regulations seem on the one hand pragmatic, to mediate disputes among members before they became conflicts that would fragment the association, and on the other, symbolic, to claim a kind of quasi-civic autonomy, even those associations that were not formally constituted as politeumata.26

2 Interpreting Imitation

That associations mimicked civic structures is sufficiently clear from an examination of epigraphical and other data. What is not so clear is how this mimicry should be understood. Several possible—and not mutually exclusive— accounts might be given. Three focus on structural features of associations and how these responded to certain structures in the city. Two have to do with affect: ways in which associations’ mimicry of civic structures may have responded to anxieties about belonging, and the quest for honour.

2.1 A Declining Polis?

An early explanation for the rise of associations begins with the notion of the “destruction of Greek democracy” promoted by de Ste Croix and others, according to which Greek cities experienced a decline in vitality either with the Battle of Chaeronea (338 bce) or with the control of Attica by Alexander and the diadochoi or with the rise of Rome in the wake of the Second Punic War and the battle of Cynoscephalae (197 bce).27 On this view, the gradual disintegration of democracy and autonomy can be linked to a parallel narrative of the decline of civic life and the hollowness of Greek cultic experience.28 Associations—first cult associations and then presumably other associations—stepped into this breach in order to revitalize religious practices.29 Thus Ziebarth argued:

Der fortschreitende Zerfall des bürgerlichen Lebens und die Lockerung des Familienzusammenhangs bewirkten naturgemäss, dass auch der Einzelne sich aus dem religiösen Bande, welches bisher Gau- und Staatgenossen vereinigt hatte, losgelöst fühlte. Man begann in Griechenland allgemein das Bedürfnis nach einer persönlichen Religion zu fühlen. Dem kamen die privaten Kultvereine in schönster Weise entgegen. Wem die Art des Kultus der angestammten Gottheiten nicht gefiel, der vereinigte sich mit Gleichgesinnten zu einem privaten Kultus derselben nach eigenem Gesetz. Wer überhaupt Überdruss an den griechischen Göttern empfand, weil sie doch den Zerfall alles alten Wesens nicht hatten aufhalten können, dem öffneten die kleinen, zunächst von Ausländern begründeten Kultgemeinden fremder Gottheiten, welche immer auf Propaganda bedacht waren, gern den Eintritt in ihr bescheidenes ἱερόν.30

Until recently this compensatory view has been the common understanding of the function of associations, perhaps because of the implicit theological subtext according to which the demise of genuine “religion” in the Hellenistic period laid the groundwork for the successes of Christianity. However, the assumption that the city cults of Hellenistic cities were empty and unappealing finds little empirical support. There is little evidence of a disintegration of either city life or cultic activities. On the contrary, as MacMullen and others have shown, civic cults remained vital, priesthoods continued to be in demand, and festivals attracted a wide swath of the ancient population.31 Cultic associations cannot be viewed as compensation for bankrupt civic cults; more likely, they are capitalized on the strength and vitality of civic cults by imitating them.

2.2 Playing at Democracy

A more plausible variant of the “declining city” theory focuses not on the allegedly bankrupt nature of the civic cults but instead on gradual changes in democratic practices and public life. Nicholas Jones argued that citizen associations of the classical period—demes, phylai, phratries, “clubs,” philosophical schools, ὀργεῶνες, and other groups—were already responses to the failures of Athenian democracy. The characteristics of Greek democracy—egalitarianism, direct rule, minority citizen participation, and exclusivity (i. e., participation by citizens alone)—had the effect of excluding many citizens from real participation.32 In the fifth and fourth centuries, small citizens associations adopted practices that imitated those of the polis and were in effect “neighbourhood democracies.” Although the focus of Jones’ work is on the function and eventual decline of citizen associations, he suggests that the immigrant associations that began to form in Athens in the fourth and third century bce displayed a similar dynamic:

[…] like their classical predecessors, these cultic orgeones, by rising to the occasion to meet the needs of their members, provide our final example of an association’s response to the Athenian democracy.33

Just as the deme and phratry associations compensated for de facto exclusion from Greek democracy, immigrant associations, which included non-Athenians as well as Athenians, women, and slaves, and which reverenced non-Athenian deities, mimicked the roles of the deme associations and as these declined in the Hellenistic period, began to assume the roles of those deme associations in relation to burial and the social relief of poorer members.34

It is not that democratic practices disappeared in the Hellenistic period, but they did suffer changes.35 If the radical form of Athenian democracy did not last, democratic institutions in Athens and other Greek cities survived and still mattered to citizens.36 During the Hellenistic period civic politics was marked by an increased oligarchization, with local gentry in practice controlling more and more of the political process and more of the prestigious priesthoods and civic positions. But the citizen assembly remained an important part of the political process which had to be included in governance, even with leadership increasingly in the hands of the powerful. This also meant a subtle shift from the spirit of isonomia (equality among all citizens) to an emphasis on hierarchy, and an accompanying shift from the role of the powerful as protectors of the citizen body to that of being benefactors (εὐεργέται) of the city.37

Even during the Imperial period when, as Plutarch acknowledges, the Greek legislator functioned in the consciousness that the “Roman boot was over his head,”38 local assemblies continued to play an important role in manufacturing the appearance of consent.39 It was not until the early Mediaeval period that civic assemblies appear to have lost most of their functions.

Without adopting Jones’ view of associations as a compensation for the failures of Athenian democracy, Kosta Vlassopoulos has stressed the importance of “free spaces” in Hellenistic Athens in nurturing new forms of identity. The city included a number of “free spaces”—

spaces that brought together citizens, metics, slaves and women, created common experiences and interactions, and shaped new forms of identity. We can define a number of such spaces: the agora, the workplace, the tavern, the house, the trireme, and the cemetery.40

Although Vlassopoulos does not discuss the mixed cultic associations that became numerous in Athens from the late fourth century bce onward, these could be seen as even better examples of “free spaces” than the agora, taverns, and cemeteries, which created only temporary and fleeting contact between various status categories. As groups with fixed membership and regular meeting times, these mixed cultic associations facilitated the development of networks among persons of varying legal statuses: citizens, metics, and slaves, men and women.

Of course, the existence of such “free spaces” and the new forms of identity that they created does not necessarily imply that there was a widespread disaffection with democratic practices or even a strong consciousness that things had changed since the heyday of democratic Athens. Still less does this imply any expectation that the boundaries of democracy should be extended. Yet Jones offers some indications in Athens of a willingness to imagine alternate forms of democratic practice. Aristophanes’ Ekklesiazousai entertains the possibility of a government managed by women and Plato’s Republic and Laws discusses alternate polities, even though Plato’s own preferences were less than democratic. These data, Jones argues, point to a general politicization of the population of Athens. “It would be wrongheaded to suppose that the matter of nonparticipation was not a live issue on the grounds, say that such ideas had never occurred to anyone or still lay centuries in the future.”41 Xenophon, speaking through Socrates laments that fullers, cobblers, builders, bronze smiths, farmers, and merchants made up the assembly (ἡ ἐκκλησία) (Mem 3,7,1–6). He was of course speaking of citizens; but precisely those occupations were also those of various metic groups as well. When citizens and metics, women and slaves were found together in the “free spaces” of associations a new kind of identity was formed, parasitic on civic practices but creating identities that extended the classical imagination of the structure of the city. It seems plausible, then, to interpret the democratic practices of mixed associations as a matter of “playing at democracy”—perhaps a compensation for the perceived loss of isonomia, but even without such a perception, playing at democracy nonetheless.42

Roman associations might be seen in a similar light. As the ideals of republican government gave way to a political system that progressively removed most vestiges of self-determination from the (free) populus,43 associations maintained practices that were in contrast to the increasingly oligarchic practices of the city. The creation of a “free space” in Vlassopoulos’ sense also meant that a member, irrespective of his (and sometimes her) legal status or ethnicity, could serve as magister or quiquennalis or pater/mater and all could participate in elections and the approval of motions and decrees.44 The cultivation of democratic spaces was likely more common in smaller and less affluent associations; the very large occupational guilds probably engaged in elections of quinquennales and magistri but in practice the choice of candidates was likely decided from the outset. Although associations engaged in widespread imitation of the city, in respect to their “democratic practices”

kann man von den Vereinigungen also von einem in sozialer Hinsicht ausdrücklichen Gegenmodell zur stark hierarchisch organisierten Stadtgesellschaft reden.45

2.3 Integration into the Polis

The notion of associations as “free spaces” leads to what is perhaps the function most commonly posited for associations: the integration of the sub-élite into the polis. Starting in the late fourth century bce associations created social spaces that brought together not only demesmen, but men and women, metics and slaves, and hence offered vehicles to bridge differences in legal status and ethnic identity in the context of engagement in a common cult. Since the administrative terminology, the lexicon of virtues and vices, and the practices of these associations mimicked those of the polis, the effect was to orient the kinds of sociality offered by associations towards the polis rather than away from it. The association reproduced civic values and practices in a space that was conceptually distinct from the polis but which looked like a mini-polis with democratic practices, honorific decrees, rosters of members, and common banquets. Associations became “cities writ small.”

The sociality of associations, though it cut across social boundaries, did not of course erase legal distinctions or social hierarchies or create an unambiguously egalitarian space.46 What it did create was a form of connectivity that bridged social barriers of ancient society that were particularly sturdy and enduring, between citizen and foreigner, elite and commoner, and even between free, freedman/woman, and slave.47

Connectivity with the polis was effected in a variety of ways.

a. Patronage by the élite was a strong tool, especially in the Latin West where it is common to find large occupational guilds populated mostly by freedmen and patronized by Roman nobility.48 It is impressive just how far the system of patronage reached “downward”: the senatorial and equestrian élite patronized some groups, especially those occupational and professional guilds involved in activities necessary to the feeding and supply of the city as the lenuncularii and frumentarii. But there were many links between patrons of lesser status—town magistrates, minor imperial officials, imperial freedmen, and well-off commoners—who patronized smaller occupational guilds and cultic associations. Since many of these lesser patrons were themselves connected “up the ladder” to civic elites, the integration of even the smaller cultic associations into structures of patronage can be imagined as creating a large web of patronal connections that ultimately included the nobility.

In the Greek East, which was allergic to the notion of personal patronage, connections between persons and groups of unequal status were masked by such terms as philia (“friendship”), even when the relationship in question was probably instrumental.49 Associations were able to benefit from the connections with highly placed citizens. For example, when a group of Sarapiastai in Rhamnous wished to build a temple to Sarapis and Isis, they petitioned a wealthy Athenian demesman, Apollodoros son of Sogenes, who was also the στρατηγός, for the right to purchase land he owned. Apollodoros refused to take any money for the land, donating it instead to the association. The Sarapiastai did not refer to Apollodoros as a patron or even εὐεργέτης, but his “friendship” with the Sarapiastai nonetheless earned him an honorific decree. Interestingly the decree does not extol his benefactions to the Sarapiastai but ἡ πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς εὐσέβεια καὶ τὴν πρὸς τοὺς ἑαυτοῦ πολιτείας εὔνοια καὶ φιλοτιμία.50 Largesse to the association is dissolved into civic virtues.

Patronage was a complex and subtle exchange that required careful choreography. At perhaps its most blatant level, some associations shamelessly advertised for and even pursued patrons, promising them honours commensurate with their benefactions. But the relation between associations and the civic élite was a two-way street. In order to maintain their symbolic capital, patrons also needed clients (or in Greek cities, to be seen as benefactors). Hence, it is likely that the powerful and influential routinely engaged in a calculus of how best to offer largesse and to whom, in order to reap the greatest benefit. Yet the entire exchange had to be masked in the make-believe that the patron offered a benefaction simply out of his or her own disinterested generosity and that the association similarly had freely voted to commend the patron for his or her largesse and for displaying the civic virtues of εὔνοια and φιλοτιμία. The supposed fragility of this exchange is underscored, if only rhetorically, in the common formulae at the end of an honorific decree that threatens with penalties anyone who would attempt to nullify the honour or to impede its being proclaimed. Such formulae seem as much designed to alert the patron to the possibility that his gift might not reciprocated as they are to anticipate real obstruction.

Both parties profited by the exchange. The patron gained symbolic capital in the form of an acclamation, perhaps an honorific inscription. If an inscription was erected, the association’s name appeared alongside that of a benefactor, which “offered [them] an opportunity to stake out a claim to public recognition, a chance to carve out a place for themselves in civic memory.”51 This, of course, also cemented the relationship between the association and the polis.

b. In addition to participating in networks of patronage and benefactions, associations also performed their loyalty to cities in various ways. A remarkable inscription honouring a metic from Herakleia (Pontus) who served as supervisor of the ὀργεῶνες of Aphrodite states that he “obtained good omens on behalf of the association of ὀργεῶνες and the children and women and the dēmos of the Athenians” thus signaling not only his service to the group, but their loyalty to Athens.52 This message of loyalty is reinforced visually by the relief on the monument, which depicts Aphrodite standing with the honoree, but Athena in the background holding a spear in her left hand and a phiale or a crown in the right.

Some associations staged processions and other events that attracted interest in the city at large and that reinforced connectivity with the city. Socrates, speaking through Plato, mentions the civic spectacle of the night-time torch race and procession from Athens to the Piraeus that featured Athenian and Thracian devotees Bendis marching together.53 In Rome and other cities of the West, the dendrophores, mostly freedmen associated with the cult of Cybele, staged yearly processions that attracted onlookers and which are memorialized on numerous reliefs.54 And in the West, Asia Minor and Egypt, associations participated in honouring the emperor and other civic benefactors.55

Mimicry has been read in certain colonial contexts both as a matter of camouflage and as a strategy that distances the colonial subject from the colonizer’s discourse. It is characterized by ambivalence: mimicry is never complete but always “the same but not quite” and it is this slippage that both normalizes dominant discourses of power (by rendering them contingent rather than absolute) and in doing so creates space for subaltern subjects to create their own subjectivities and agencies.56

Given the available data from associations, it is difficult to discern whether their mimicry of the polis is a matter of camouflage and indeed resistance to the dominant discourse of Greek and Roman civic culture, especially since the available data is only epigraphical and not the kinds of ethnographic data to which field anthropologists have access. On the face of it, it would seem that associations and their members were interested in creating spaces of connectivity, both with other members of the same identity groups and with members of other identity groups as occurred in mixed associations. There is little if any evidence of resistance to the dominant civic discourse; on the contrary, most of the gestures that are visible to us appear to signal efforts to integrate and identify with civic culture rather than to create social spaces that preserved difference and resisted dominant discourses of power. In this sense, we might consider the strategy of sub-élite associations as promoting a “fictive citizenship”—the mimicry of civic culture by those formally excluded from the city and its power structures, but who nonetheless acted in ways to reproduce civic values and norms and thus to demonstrate loyalty to the city and indeed to assert their value to the polis.57

2.4 Responses the Anxiety of Belonging

Greg Woolf, reflecting on “epigraphic culture” and in particular the fact that the volume of inscription increased markedly during the Augustan period, reaching a peak in the second century ce,58 argues that monumentalization was driven by anxieties about identity:

The eternity of monuments guaranteed not lasting things, but rather momentary events of lasting significance—treaties, virtuous acts (res gestae), acts of public generosity, acts of religious devotion. Often these events were of lasting significance because they created new relationships, for example of patronage or peace, but always they were important because they had changed the world. As such, monumentalizing was a way of making claims about the world, claims which might be challenged […] but public claims none the less.59

Woolf is concerned with monumentalization in general, not with associations; but since some associations at least participated in the epigraphic culture, it follows that if Woolf is right that epigraphic culture was a response to anxieties about one’s place in the world, associations shared the same concerns. The honorific decrees of associations recorded the achievements of individual members and the offices that they held. Membership lists made visible the connectivity between persons. As Woolf recognizes,

[i]dentities might also be constructed relationally, that is in terms of membership of particular collectivities—collegia, familiae, tribes—or else as friends, fellow-soldiers, children, or parents. All these points apply to non-funerary as much as to funerary epigraphy. Both sorts of identification related to anxieties specific to early imperial society.60

Whether the rosters of associations were inscribed on stone, or on papyrus (as they are in Egypt), or on wooden tablets, the recording of the names of members created and rendered “real” the relations among members and conferred on them a place in the city. Conversely, the practice of erasing names of members for non-payment of dues, or infractions against the bylaws of the association severed those relationships. Much more potent than merely recording the offense of a member, erasing the name evoked the anxiety of oblivion, of never having been there at all.

2.5 Joining a Community of Honour

The mimicry of civic practices is especially evidence in the honorific decrees of associations, as is clear from the comparison (above) of the structure of civic decrees and those of associations. Both the Roman and Greek élite lived in “communities of honor,” to use Lendon’s useful term, where ascribed and inherited honor was the currency of social status, conceptually distinct from wealth and political power. It was advertised inter alia in naming conventions, on clothing, in public monuments honouring achievements and largesse, in funerary monuments, and in the list of magistracies that one could claim.61 Members of associations far below the élite imitated many of these honorific practices, not only commending their elite patrons, but approving honorific decrees for their own members, who as commoners, freedmen, and foreigners could not aspire to participation in the civic cursus honorum. These members were honoured with precisely the same formulae that were current for the élite: ἀρετῆς ἕνεκα καὶ ἀνδραγαθίας (δικαιοσύνης, εὔνοιας, εὐσέβειας, φιλοτιμίας, etc.) in Greek, and honoris virtutisque causa in Latin, listed on association rosters prominently as ἐπιμεληταί and quinquennales, singled out as “dues exempt” (ἀσύμβολοι, immunes), named as officials διὰ βίου/perpetuus, or provided with double portions of food and drink at association meals.

These practices of course articulated a hierarchy within associations, mitigated only by the fact that the adoption of rotating offices meant that many or even all members could theoretically aspire to office and to the honours that often attended office. In a culture in which honour was a potent commodity and an index of symbolic capital it is difficult not to see these practices as a matter of associations supplying through imitation the prestige to their members that as individuals they could not achieve.62

2.6 Associations in the Polis

Although the “declining polis” thesis is problematic as an explanation of the role that associations played in the city, each of the other explanations has something to commend it. Whether there was a perceived “failure” of Greek democracy, it does seem clear that associations in the Greek speaking world imitated the democratic practices of the polis and thus asserted a form of autonomy over their affairs, creating themselves as fictive democracies. Ironically perhaps, associations both in Hellenistic Athens and in the early Roman Empire as sub-élite “micro societies” reproduced aristocratic democratic values and elite forms of sociality, stressing equality and autonomy in political contexts that were increasingly characterized by neither equality nor autonomy.

Mimicry also contributed to integration of sub-élite populations into the city insofar as it reproduced civic practices and values in persons who were not citizens. For sub-élite populations that consisted of a heterogeneous mixture of foreign residents from many locales, artisans, slaves and freed slaves, associations and their mimicry of the civic practice of creating lists offered a material and visual marker of belonging, and in the case of associations that embraced citizen members or patrons, a tangible record of connectivity to the city itself. And the mimicry of the honorific practices typical of the civic élite on the one hand created internal hierarchies of honour and on the other, asserted a place for the association in the fabric of the city. Even a modest association of Christian fullers could represent itself as a publicly-minded benefactor. Of course, they did not have the resources available to those of the bouletic classes, but by pooling resources they could still have an impact on the face of the city. They became visible to themselves and to others as benefactors, however modest their resources.

3 Christ Groups in the City

In the early third century ce, responding to Celsus’ criticism that Christians did not participate in public life, Origen drew a sharp contrast between the civic ἐκκλησίαι in Greek cities, in which Christians would not participate, and the Christian ἐκκλησίαι that could be found in those very cities: the Athenian ἐκκλησία was riotous (στασιώδης) while the ἐκκλησία of Christ followers was meek and quiet (πρᾳεῖά τις καὶ εὐσταθής). The same comparisons could be made in Corinth and Alexandria. It was not, however, that civic assemblies were in principle evil; it was only their officers that were unworthy of the office.

If you compare the council (βουλή) of the ἐκκλησίας θεοῦ with the council that you find in each city, (you will find) that, on the one hand, some of the counsellors (βουληταί) of the ἐκκλησίαι would be worthy to take part in governance, if there is a city of God in the universe; on the other, counsellors everywhere else bear in their own conduct nothing worthy of the dignity of the office which seems to make them superior to (other) citizens. (Contra Celsum 3,30).

To Celsus’ challenge that Christians serve in public office ἕνεκεν σωτηρίας νόμων καὶ εὐσεβείας (8,75), Origen retorted that within every city there exists another government (ἄλλο σύστημα πατρίδος) created by God in which morally qualified counsellors serve. They do so not out of a love of power; in fact, only those who out of humility are reluctant to serve are compelled to become leaders.

Significantly, Origen also rejected Celsus’ view that the idea of a single polity that could govern all was absurd. For Celsus the prospect of uniting Asia, Europe, and Libya, Greeks and barbarian, would be utterly unworkable, probably because they did not and cannot share a common moral system. Of course Origen also dismissed the idea that a single polity was possible until the Logos remodeled every soul; then a single polity was possible, a prospect which Origen embraced (Contra Celsum 8,72). Clifford Ando remarks that

superficially Origen here has propounded a radically new definition of “community” and of the relationship that ought to obtain between an individual and the secular or non-Christian government. Like Tatian, however, Origen has accepted from the culture of Celsus many basic assumptions about the structure and governance of political collectivities. In particular, he embraces without question a nexus binding public service, piety, a normative legal code, and the notion of fatherland.63

Origen understood and accepted the fundamental logic and goals of civic practices even if there remained a gap between Christ groups and the polis. Public service to a political community, piety, and maintenance of the law belonged together. By the fourth century ce that gap had closed and Christ groups such as the Christian fullers of Flaviopolis could represent themselves as part of the fabric of the city. How did this happen, and how did earlier Christ groups position themselves in relation to the city?

3.1 Methodological Considerations

Recent discussions of Christ groups and associations focus on some of the obvious similarities and some of the apparent differences.64 Similarities and differences are sometimes mobilized in support of a claim that Christ groups should be treated as a sub-type of Graeco-Roman association, and in other instances, to provide the basis for a claim that the resemblances are so outweighed by the “overwhelming” differences that any genealogical or even taxonomic claim is implausible—either that Christ groups belong to the same taxon as associations or that they were “influenced” by them.65 There is usually a spoken or unspoken theoretical subtext in these efforts: either to “protect” emergent Christ groups from the contamination of pagan world or at least to treat Christ groups as sui generis and incomparable. When “influence” is conceded, it is sometimes seen to be mediated by diasporic Judaism, which Christ groups then happily and swiftly superseded.66 Or similarities are acknowledged and differences emphasized in the service of the thesis that Christ groups used but “subverted” the practices and values of their environment (normally Roman patronage or the imperial cult). At other times, comparison serve to de-privilege Christ groups and to consider them as one of the several types of socialities evidenced in the Graeco-Roman world and to treat comparison as a heuristic rather than a genealogical method67; or, as Richard Ascough argues, to “break […] down the scholarly taxonomy that divides groups into three or more distinct categories such as ‘Jews, Christians, and others’ or ‘synagogues, churches, and associations’.”68

My interest in this paper is neither genealogical nor taxonomic but heuristic. Whether Christ groups were “influenced” by associations in their relationship to the polis is hardly provable in any case, even if it is undeniable that Christ groups formed in a context in which occupational guilds and cultic associations were plentiful and indeed part of the furniture of the polis.69 Instead, I will employ the data from Hellenistic and early Roman private associations heuristically to interrogate data from Christ groups as a means of discovering the ways in which Christ groups, like associations, might have positioned themselves vis à vis the city. This is not an exercise in genealogy; it only assumes that comparison of the lesser known phenomenon with better known phenomena can be instructive and offer useful ways to interpret the sparse data that we have from Christ groups.

There are several methodological caveats to observe from the outset. First, it should be recognized that neither Christ groups nor “associations” comprise single and unified phenomena but each represents a spectrum of social practices. This means that most of the generalizations about associations that have been used in the past to dissociate associations from Christ groups—that associations were only for the wealthier plebs, that they typically had a homogeneous membership, that they had no ethical regulation, and so forth—are not only misleading since they reify “associations” into a single, consistent set of practices, terminology, and demographic profile and do the same for Christ groups, but empirically are also simply wrong.

Second, in comparing the positionality of associations vis à vis the city with that of Christ groups we are faced with a mismatch in the relevant data sets. We have nothing from Christ groups comparable to the kinds of self-representations that are found in νόμοι or honorific decrees or alba of associations, which would tell us how those groups publicly represented themselves. Conversely, we have nothing comparable to Paul’s letters or those of other early Christian writers, which address issues of conflict and challenge within associations. That is, we have plenty of data about “mixed associations” that included persons of various legal statuses, ethnic identities, and genders, probably not unlike the Pauline groups at Corinth or Philippi. What we lack are the discursive ways in which mixed associations took note of their demographic complexion and created ways to imagine themselves as a unified and coherent social unit. That they had to devise a discourse to rationalize their mixed nature is entirely probable; they might have made claims to themselves analogous to Paul’s discourse of the deity overcoming ethnic, status, and gender differences. But we lack any access to such discourse, because this is not the sort of discourse that one expects in their public (epigraphical) representations.

For Christ groups, by contrast, we lack decrees, membership rosters, and bylaws that would allow us to ascertain the “Selbstverständnis” of the group. What we have are the interventions of early Christian writers, Paul and others, who address invented multiple ways to reduce conflict. It remains unclear whether Paul’s interventions ever became part of the group’s discourse, and even if it did whether these strategies were effective and became part of the self-representation of those groups.70

The point is that for associations, owing to the nature of the data, we have the results of identity formation, or at least the ways in which many associations wanted to be seen in relation to the polis, but lack much insight into the process and discourse of identity formation. For early Christ groups, we have occasional examples of strategies that were proposed to effect a durable identity, but little indication of whether such strategies were effective.

In what follows, I will pay attention to the linguistic choices made by Christ groups and the practices that they appear to have adopted, comparing these to the linguistic choices and practices evidenced by private associations. These comparisons will suggest that Christ groups to a large measure also engaged in a mimicry of the polis. The second section will turn to the overt ways in which (some) Christ groups characterized themselves, as “resident aliens” and as belonging to a different polity, which stands in some tension to their mimicry of the polis.

3.2 The Christ Groups as ἐκκλησία

The most obvious imitation of the polis by early Christ groups is in the use of ἐκκλησία to refer to the local assembly in each city. Scholarship has been divided between those who believe that the term in Pauline usage originated with the LXX71 or from Judaean usage of ἐκκλησία,72 and those who regard it as borrowed from the standard term for a civic assembly.73 The issue of the “source” of Pauline usage—if indeed it is Paul’s coinage—is however less important than how the term ἐκκλησία functioned in the contexts in which it was used: in Greek cities ἐκκλησία meant the political assembly, a central element in city’s claim to autonomy, and a space where civic membership was performed. Even if by the first century ce democratic institutions has suffered some decline, they were still vital in such Greek cities as Athens, Cos, Miletos, and Rhodes.74 Moreover, civic ἐκκλησίαι are attested in Thessalonica, and Philippi75 and in Corinth,76 the location of Paul’s earliest Christ groups.

Private associations did not commonly adopt ἐκκλησία as a designation for their meetings, even though those meetings frequently had legislative functions—approving decrees and bylaws, and conferring honours on benefactors and distinguished members. Ἐκκλησία is attested in only a few private associations, notably a synodos of Tyrian Herakleists on Delos,77 a gymnastic association on Samos,78 and a family association in Sinuri in Caria.79 In Athens, however, cultic associations routinely employed the term ἀγορὰ κυρία to designate their meetings,80 mimicking the older Attic term for the legislative assembly, even in the Hellenistic period when the civic assembly had replaced ἀγορὰ κυρία with the more common ἐκκλησία κυρία. The use of ἐκκλησία by Christ groups, then, is an even more direct invocation of the civic assembly of Greek cities than the practice current in Athenian private associations.

Of course the civic ἐκκλησία was a space in which (male) citizens of varying social levels were brought together. In spite of a decline in the sense of isonomia and the increasing hierarchicalization of the assembly, it still levelled some of the power and status differences within the citizen population. The Christ groups at Corinth, Philippi, and Rome, and private associations that included a mixed membership greatly expanded the notion of participation, providing “free spaces” in which “playing at democracy” was possible for citizens as well as metics, foreigners, women, and slaves. And especially among the smaller and poorer groups, the sense of fictive isonomia was likely greater than in the large and wealthy associations, with civic grandees as patrons.81

Paul’s way of speaking about ἐκκλησίαι might also be seen in the context of civic discourse more generally. As is widely recognized, Paul tends to use ἐκκλησία to mean an assembly of Christ devotees in a particular city (which is of course analogous to the use of ἐκκλησία more generally). But he also refers collectively to the ἐκκλησίαι of provinces,82 a locution that finds a parallel in the development of κοινά in the Hellenistic period—confederacies of cities in the same regions.83 This organization was of course exploited by the Romans in provincial administration. Van Kooten in fact concludes,

[t]his way of referring to the ἐκκλησίαι […] at the provincial or […] sub-provincial level, seems to hint at a conscious paralleling of the Roman provinces which points to an alternative structure of the Roman Empire.84

Thus Paul’s imagination of the Christ groups in the Empire was easily mapped onto the imperial organization of cities.

Finally, van Kooten points out a series of functional parallels between Greek assemblies and the ἐκκλησίαι of Christ groups: both were places of instruction; both were known for factionalism; both were spaces in which μανία was restrained85; and although Greek civic assemblies were ostensibly closed to non-citizens, in practice strangers could attend the assembly, just as Paul imagines strangers entering the assembly of a Christ group.86

Although it is true that the ἐκκλησίαι of Christ groups display some idiosyncracies when compared with the civic assemblies of Greek cities, it is difficult not to conclude that they were indebted to civic assemblies even as the practices of civic assemblies were transformed. The ἐκκλησίαι of Christ groups, no less than private associations, provided a space in which the values of self-determination and autonomy could be displayed, and in where connectivity and network formation mimicking elite networks could be achieved.87

3.3 Civic Practices

The autonomous and self-determining functions of the assembly can be seen in several Pauline and other writings.

First, Pauline groups adopted judicial practices that imitated the polis. In 2Cor 2,5–11 Paul assumes that the disciplining of wrongdoers will be effected by “the majority.”88 Likewise in 1Cor 5,1–13 apropos of the incestuous man, Paul imagines an assembly (συναχθέντων ὑμῶν, 1Cor 5,4) at which the matter is considered, with Paul “virtually present” and offering his judgment (ἤδη κέκρικα ὡς παρὼν τὸν οὕτως τοῦτο κατεργασάμενον, 1Cor 5,3), resulting in expulsion of the wrongdoer (1Cor 5,13). The procedure of meting out punishments, including both fines,89 temporary banning, and expulsions is paralleled in the practices of many associations, and these in turn mimic the practices of the civic assembly.90

The autonomy of the ἐκκλησία is also expressed in its arrogation of dispute settlement and sanctioning of those who resort to external courts. In 1Cor 6,1–7 Paul expresses dismay at the report of members taking fellow members to court, insisting that disputes be settled in an internal forum. While this practice can be seen as a way to limit internal conflict and avoid the public shaming of one member by another,91 it is also an insistence on the right of the group to function as a judicial and legislative body, thus mimicking civic functions. This can also be seen in a wide variety of private associations, which likewise forbade members to resort to the public courts for the settlement of disputes, and in the case of an Egyptian association from the early imperial period, simply stated that “in all other matters [i. e., not specifically named in the bylaws], it will be as the association decides” (τὰ δ’ ἄλλα ἃ ἐὰν τῶι κοινῶι δόξῃ).92

Second, as I have argued in detail elsewhere,93 the Pauline collection for “the poor of the saints of Jerusalem” is usefully understood as an instance of a subscription or ἐπίδοσις, a common practice in Hellenistic and Roman cities and private associations for raising funds for extraordinary purposes, for example the repair of a temple or the city walls, or relief of famine, or some other cause that fell outside of the normal fiscal practices of the city. Subscriptions, unlike patronage, relied not on one or two large donors, but on as many small donors as possible, in many instances hundreds of persons each contributing small sums (5–50 drachmae).94 Some of these subscriptions attracted not only citizens but metics and foreigners, providing a venue for non-citizens to demonstrate their support of the polis.

Ἐπιδόσεις functioned as “performances of citizenship.” But unlike competitive outlays like patronage where “size mattered,” subscriptions capitalized on the value of φιλοτιμία, zeal for public good in a different way. Since ἐπιδόσεις often set a maximum contribution, large-scale donors were blocked from turning their contributions into theatrical performances. This meant that subscriptions had a levelling effect on participation in the good of the polis. Competitive aspects of subscriptions now resided in being the first to contribute, being the most unlikely to contribute (e. g., a noncitizen contributing first), completion of the full amount promised, and the number of persons participating in the subscription.95 Seen through the lens of civic and association ἐπιδόσεις, Paul’s collection aimed at maximizing the number of small contributors. Moreover, his comments in 2Cor 8–9 make plain the competitive aspects of the collection, in particular the spectre he raises of Macedonians with their contributions appearing in Corinth only to find a meagre sum and a shameful level of member participation. Competition to serve public good was the motor of ἐπιδόσεις and in this respect, Paul is racing the engine.

Paul’s subscription of course had its own innovations: instead of collecting funds for the needs of fellow Greeks and for the Thessalonian or Corinthian Christ groups, it was a collection not only for a group in another city—the Jerusalem group—but for Judaeans. In the wake of the events of 41 ce this amounted to a transgressive act, using a civic institution in order to effect a connection between Greeks and groups with whom Greeks had no special affinities or obligations. As Paul’s comments in Rom 15 indicate, he treats the subscription of Gentile ἐκκλησίαι as a kind of performance of citizenship, not citizenship in those Gentile cities, but fictive citizenship in a larger corporate polity of Christ groups.

Third, early Christ groups appear to have observed a version of democratic practice in choosing leaders by election. Although translations and commentaries routinely translate χειροτονεῖν as “to appoint,” this rendering is justified only in Acts 14,23, χειροτονήσαντες δὲ αὐτοῖς κατ’ ἐκκλησίαν πρεσβυτέρους, where the antecedent subjects are Paul and Barnabas. Elsewhere, unless the context demands some other rendering, χειροτονεῖν should be translated as “elect,” consistent with the basic meaning of “to stretch out one’s hand” (to vote). This translations is required in the case of the three occurrences in χειροτονῆσαι in Ignatius (Phil 10,1; Smyrn 11,2; Poly 7,2), since the verb is connected with πρεσβεία/πρεσβεύτης, “embassy/ambassador,” which in Greek usage is always chosen by election.96 The Didache (15,1) also advises that supervisors (ἐπίσκοποι) and assistants (διάκονοι) be elected (χειροτονήσατε) after having been vetted (δεδοκιμασμένους). This conforms to the practice of Greek cities, where candidates for office underwent a δοκιμασία (scrutiny) to determine their suitability to stand for election.97 The δοκιμασία was also a regular part of admission to private associations.98 2Cor 8,19 indicates that the “brother” was elected “by the ekklēsiai” (presumably in Macedonia) to accompany Titus to Corinth to assist in the collection. The brother is called a συνέκδημος, a term used to designate persons accompanying a delegation to another city.99 Peter Arzt-Grabner argues on the basis of several first and second century ce papyri that use the term χειροτονεῖν:

Auf diesem Hintergrund wirft die Bezeichnung des mitgeschickten „Bruders“ [V. 18] als χειροτονηθείς ein Licht auf dessen Wichtigkeit: nach mehr oder weniger demokratischem Prinzip von den Gemeinden wohl aus mehreren ausgewählt (vgl. die ursprüngliche Bedeutung von χειρο-τονέω – „die Hand ausstrecken“), ist er nun beauftragt, Titus zu begleiten.100

Richard Last has made a strong case for rendering 1Cor 11,19, δεῖ γὰρ καὶ αἱρέσεις ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι, ἵνα [καὶ] οἱ δόκιμοι φανεροὶ γένωνται ἐν ὑμῖν, as “there also need to be elections among you in order that the approved ones become persons of distinction.”101 He points out on the one hand that αἱρέσεις is an ordinary term for “election” and on the other, that the standard renderings of αἱρέσεις as “divisions” lead to the counterintuitive result that Paul, who has objected to σχίσματα earlier in 1Corinthians and in 1Cor 11,17–34 is troubled by σχίσματα at the communal meal (11,19), now acquiesces to divisions (or is speaking ironically).102

Whether Last is right in regard to 1Cor 11,19, it remains that the election of leaders and envoys of Christ groups appears to have been a common practice, and in this respect Christ groups mimicked the practices of cities (and private associations). This of course does not mean that election was the only means of selecting leaders; on the contrary, the presence of persons of wealth and influence meant that the “democratic” process in cities as well as private associations was sometimes adjusted to accommodate the desires of those members. An example of such accommodation is presented by IG II2 1328 (Piraeus, 183/2 bce; 175/4 bce), which contains two decrees of the ὀργεῶνες of the Mother of the Gods, the first decreeing that no woman could be appointed twice as attendant (ζάκορος) until all of the women in the association had taken their turn at this honour, and the second, eight years later, deciding that a certain Metrodora should be appointed as attendant for life. It does not take too much imagination to guess why the association agreed to a change in its earlier “egalitarian” policy and what the stakes would have been should they have decided to maintain that policy. Democratic principles were always in tension with the need to satisfy benefactors and patrons. And the practice of yearly rotating leaders practiced by most Greek associations103 and probably by Christ groups eventually gave way to permanent office holders.104

Finally, we might ask whether Christ groups mimicked civic honorific practices, as many associations did. The frequent answer of scholars is that a distinctive of Christ groups is that they offered no honours to those who provided them with services.105

From that earliest period, we indeed have no honorific or dedicatory inscriptions comparable to those of the associations mentioned above—or at least, if such inscriptions exist, their “Christian” character would be invisible to us without the paralinguistic marks (e. g., chi-rho monograms, crosses) and onomastic indicators that help us to identify Christian papyri and inscriptions from the third century ce onward.106 Moreover, the erection of steles was not the only means of honouring achievement, even for groups that had the resources to have inscriptions cut. As the study of honorific inscriptions shows, the principle honorific acts are the association’s decision to honour, the offer of a crown, and the public announcement of the honour, normally in the next meeting. Obviously, none of these has survived. These absences of evidence have sometimes led to the conclusion that Christ groups did not engage in honorific practices; but is absence of evidence evidence of absence?

Harrison has pointed to 1Cor 12,26b εἴτε δοξάζεται [ἓν] μέλος, συγχαίρει πάντα τὰ μέλη and Rom 12,10b, τῇ φιλαδελφίᾳ εἰς ἀλλήλους φιλόστοργοι, τῇ τιμῇ ἀλλήλους προηγούμενοι, as evidence that Paul “endorsed the appropriateness of honouring fellow Christians”107 with the caveat that this should not lead to the dishonouring of weaker members. This of course does not distinguish the practices of Christ groups qualitatively from the honorific practices of other groups: although there as an inevitable competitive aspect to honours, analysis of small group practices by behavioral economists suggests that small face-to-face associations offer attention and testimony to individual members’ merits and performances—which Paul clearly endorses in Rom 12,10—; that associations create a space in which achievement is prioritized and individual members can excel at the relevant activities; and that the effect of reputational pooling is a benefit to all members of the group.108 All such groups balance the competitive aspect of honouring individuals and limit its potential for destructive rivalry. Athenian associations often advertised their willingness to honour benefactors with the formula,

ὅπως ἂν οὖν ἐφάμιλλον εἶ τοῖς βουλομένοις εὐεργετεῖν τὸ κοινὸν εἰδόσιν ὅτι κομιοῦνται τὰς χάριτας·

in order that there might be a rivalry among those who wish to be benefactors to the koinon and that they might know that they shall receive thanks.109

On the other hand, associations such as the Iobakchoi of Athens (IG II2 1368.125–135) also required members who were honoured by the city to provide wine to the membership, thus allowing all members to participate in the achievements of one. Other associations no doubt adopted other discursive strategies to balance achievement with the nurturing of a common identity, but we should not mislead ourselves into thinking that Christ groups were uniquely competent in managing the competitive aspects of the culture of honour.

In addition to the texts mentioned by Harrison, an indication that Christ groups participated in the culture of honour is Paul’s use of ἐπαίνειν, “to commend,” in 1Cor 11,2.17.22. This is probably the most common verb used in the construction of honorific decrees, appearing thousands of times. In the first case Paul “commends” the Corinthian Christ group for keeping the traditions that Paul has entrusted to them, and in the latter two instances, he withholds his praise.

At the very least, Paul cannot have been ignorant of the use of this term in the practices of cities and associations. He takes for granted that his addressees also understand the allusion, and invokes the vocabulary of commendation precisely at a point where association-like activities—the conduct of meetings and the problem of uncontrolled speech, and conduct of the communal meal—are at issue.110

The supposed absence of honorific practices in Christ groups cannot be used as a wedge to separate those groups either from the polis in general or others associations. As I will suggest apropos of 1Peter and Hermas, Christ groups also participated in the culture of honour, of course with adaptations appropriate to their social level and resources.

In sum, Christ groups display significant elements of normative integration into the polis—that is, the degree to which group conduct can be mapped onto more general cultural standards and values.111 These include, first, the use of the term ἐκκλησία to name their periodic assembly, a term that invokes notions of autonomy and self-determination so prized in Greek civic culture. That Christ groups embraced groups not normally a part of the polis merely reflects other contemporary responses to the polis, hardly resistance and still less subversion, but instead the extension of the idea of the city to groups formally excluded. In this sense, we might think of the practice of Christ groups as cultivating a “fictive citizenship.” At the same time, the ἐκκλησίαι of Christ groups did what civic assemblies did: create a space for connectivity and network formation beyond the family.

Second, expression of autonomy was instantiated in several practices that mimicked civic practices: the exercise of judicial functions and dispute settlement; participating in an ἐπίδοσις which had the practical aim of raising funds for the good of distant Christ group, but the symbolic result of a performance of fictive citizenship in a new polity; the use of voting and other democratic practices (“playing at democracy”); and honorific practices which mobilized civic practices, and which served to reproduce general values of generosity, piety, service, and goodwill and to cement the relationship between those with resources to offer and the group that benefited from those resources, reciprocating with praise.

4 Ambivalence towards the Polis

The relation of Christ groups with the polis was not all mimicry but was also characterized by a profound ambivalence. Of course, there are examples of unbridled and undisguised hostility to the polis and its institutions, for example in the Apocalypse of John. Yet even here Warren Carter has urged that the voice of “Jezebel,” which John of Patmos silenced, might be reconstructed. “Jezebel’s” approach to civic engagement might have been entirely pragmatic: participation in guilds and in patron-client relationships might have been a pragmatic necessity; active participation in civic festivals and rituals may have been seen as a “civic responsibility in ensuring the good will of deities and imperial powers toward the city”; or Christ followers in Asia may have embraced an “active, nonconfrontational, societal participation, as in Corinth, based in the knowledge that [the gods] are nothing.”112 Rather than attempting an (impossible) survey of all of the attitudes of early Christ groups, I will focus in this paper on the discursive ways that ambivalence was expressed toward the polis, first by describing themselves as “resident aliens,” and slightly later employing the trope of belonging to an alternate policy.

One of the common tropes that appears in the literature of Christ-followers of the second and following centuries is that of the “self-as-other,”113 or perhaps better, the “group as other.” That is, many Christ groups used language that constructed themselves as not part of the city, as belonging to an alien polity. This trope is epitomized in the terms πάροικοι (resident non-citizens), παρεπίδημοι (visitors) and ξένοι (strangers), which appear widely in early Christian literature.114

The notion of “alienness” is perhaps genealogically indebted to Abraham’s self-description as a resident non-citizen and a visitor (πάροικος καὶ παρεπίδημος ἐγώ εἰμι μεθ’ ὑμῶν, Gen 23,4; cf. Ps 38[39],13) and the frequent representations of the heroes of Israel’s history as resident aliens in Canaan, Egypt and Babylonia.115 Whatever their ultimate source, however, it is clear that these terms had widespread appeal in the construction of the identity of Christ-followers in the late first and early second century.

Eventually πάροικοι and παροικία became stereotyped terms used to describe churches in various locations where they appear to have neither legal nor metaphorical meaning. “The ekklēsia that ‘sojourns’ in Gortyn” seems to mean nothing more than “the ekklēsia that happens to be located in Gortyn.”116

How do we understand the earlier usage of these terms? Do these terms denote legal status vis à vis the city and signal the fact that few if any Christ-followers had citizen status in Greek cities? Or do they function metaphorically to signal that Christ-followers, irrespective of their civic status, represented themselves as transient in the world, either by virtue of their apocalyptic expectations or by their baptism and now belonged to a different polity? And what forms of political behaviour were entailed in these terms?

4.1 1Peter

1Peter famously describes his addressees with the rather oxymoronic term, ἐκλεκτοὶ παρεπίδημοι, “chosen visitors” (1,1) and later as πάροικοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι (2,11). John Elliott has argued that at least for 1Peter the terms are not metaphorical but connote the civic statuses of persons who are not citizens but resident non-citizens in one of the cities of Roman Asia or visitors to those cities.117 He characterizes the position of such persons as marginal, “vulnerable,” “tenuous” and estranged.

Although Elliott is correct that the terms have to do with legal status vis à vis the polis, they are not necessarily terms of disapprobation.118 Of course, πάροικοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι probably sought the status of πολῖται and the various privileges and obligations that accompanied this status. Philo reports the injury suffered by Alexandrian Jews who were demoted from being πολῖται to the status of “foreigners and aliens” (Flacc 54).119 There is, however, plenty of evidence that πάροικοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι was used in the more positive sense of persons whose legal status fell short of citizenship, but who were nonetheless expected to contribute to the life of the city.

Elliott claims that the largest number of πάροικοι were found among the rural populace and accordingly supposes that the addressees of 1Peter are mainly rural folk.120 Thus for Elliott, πάροικοι tends to slide from being a designation of legal status to one of ethnic dislocation and displacement.121 Indeed, according to Stephen Mitchell the rural population of Anatolia was “often described as perioikoi, paroikoi, katoikoi, non-citizen komētai, or simply as the common people, the laos.”122 This, however, hardly means that persons who were called πάροικοι were necessarily rural. Greek cities has significant populations of non-citizen traders, craftsmen, and others. The more important feature of the term πάροικος is its legal significance: the term πάροικος, whether in reference to a person in countryside or in a city, did not enjoy the status of a citizen.123 But a critical characteristic of πάροικοι was that they were either freeborn, or freed, not slaves. This point can be illustrated by numerous inscriptions that distinguish between citizens, visitors, πάροικοι and slaves as separate and distinct categories. For example:

I.Stratonikeia 172.7–11 (Sanctuary of Zeus Panamaros Stratonikeia, Roman period)


δὶς ἑξῆς ἐν μὲν τῷ Κομυρίωι τοὺς πολείτας πάντας καὶ Ῥ[ωμαί]-

ους καὶ ξένους καὶ παροίκους καὶ δούλους πλείστους, ἐν δ[ὲ τῷι]

ἱερῶι τὰς πολείτιδας πάσας καὶ Ῥωμαίας καὶ ξένας καὶ π[αροί]-

10κους καὶ δούλας πλείστας, ἀποκατέστησεν δὲ καὶ τὰς [ἑστιάσεις]

καὶ δημοθοινίας καταλελυμένας …

… he twice and successively banqueted all of the citizens (of Stratonikeia) and the Romans and visitors and paroikoi and most of the slaves in the Komyrion, and then he also re-established the banquets and the public feasts …124

I.AphrodArchive 2.b.1–5 (= SEG 32:1097) (Aphrodisias 88 bce)125

ἐπεὶ Κόϊντος̣ Ὄππιος Κοΐντου υἱὸς στρατηγὸς ἀνθύπατος Ῥω[μαίω]ν πέπομφεν πολιορκεῖσθαι Λαοδίκηάν τε καὶ̣

ἑαυτὸν ὁ δε δῆμος ἔκρεινεν βοηθεῖν κατὰ πλῆθος συνεκπορεύεσθαι δὲ καὶ τοὺς παροίκους καὶ τοὺς δούλους, εἵλατο δὲ ἐπὶ

τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ ἄνδρα τὸν ἡγησάμενον v ἀνανκαῖον δέ ἐστιν ἐξαποστεῖλαι καὶ πρεσβευτὰς τοὺς ἐνφανιοῦντας τῷ ἀνθυ-

πάτῳ περί τε τῆς αἱρέσεως ἧς ἔχει ὁ δῆμος ἡμῶν πρὸς Ῥωμαίους ὄντας σωτῆρας καὶ εὐεργέτας καὶ ἐάν τι ὁ στρ‹ατ›ηγὸς ἐπι-

5τάσσῃ καὶ ἕτερον τῇ πόλει, διαταξαμένους ὥστε διασαφηθῆναι καὶ γενέσθαι·

Whereas Quintus Oppius son of Quintus (Oppius), Roman praetor with proconsul power, has sent (a message) that Laodicea and he himself are under siege, and since the People decided that they should help him in force and that the paroikoi and slaves should march out with them and has also chosen in the assembly a man for their leader and it is necessary to dispatch ambassadors too, to inform the proconsul of the policy of our People towards the Roman who are saviours and benefactors, and, if the governor gives any other instruction for the city, to arrange that it is passed on clearly and carried out …126

These inscriptions illustrate three important points: first, πάροικοι in some cities, while not citizens, were intentionally included in certain aspects of civic life and were expected to contribute to civic life.127 Second, it is not at all obvious that the term πάροικοι was a term connoting estrangement, a tenuous existence, or disapprobation; on the contrary, there is good reason to think that Hellenistic and early Imperial cities were interested in integrating non-citizen residents into the life of the city.128 And third, and more important for an understanding of 1Peter is the fact that πάροικοι and δοῦλοι are distinct categories. Since 1Peter 2,11 addresses the letter’s recipients as πάροικοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι and only seven verses later addresses house-slaves (οἰκέται), the interpreter would be faced with two options: either to suppose, with Elliott, that while most of the letter is addressed to freeborn (or freed) non-citizen residents, 2,18–25 turns to slaves who fell outside this category; or to suppose that πάροικοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι are being used metaphorically in order to construct an identity as “other.” The latter is clearly the less awkward solution.

1Peter surrounds the identity of the πάροικοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι with multiple weighty metaphors: they are chosen through divine foreknowledge and are sanctified by the spirit (1,2); they have been given a new birth (1,3.23) and inheritance (1,4); they are holy (ἅγιοι, 1,15); and constitute an elect stock, a royal residence, a priesthood, and a holy company (γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον, ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, 2,9).129 All of these metaphors contribute to the construction of the addressees as special, privileged, and distinct. At the same time, however, the author encourages technologies of the self that eliminate vice (2,1) and ἐπιθυμία (2,11) comparable to the stoicizing ethics of James and Clement of Alexandria.130

Even more important is the fact that 1Peter 2,12 imagines that onlookers who may have been hostile to Christ-followers will watch (ἐποπτεύοντες) the honourable deeds of Christ-followers and will praise God (δοξάσωσιν τὸν θεόν) on that account, that is, they will honour the honourable deeds of Christ-followers. 1Peter even imagines that civic leaders will also engage in the commendation of benefactors (ἔπαινον δὲ ἀγαθοποιῶν, 2,14), declaring that God’s intention is that being benefactors (ἀγαθοποιοῦντας) will serve to silence critics of the Christ group (2,15).131 In short, 1Peter imagines and encourages an open mimicry of the civic practice of benefaction and maintains that this is a means by which Christ-followers will secure their place in the city.

Another aspect of the ambivalence of 1Peter toward civic identity is seen in the tension between assertions of “differentness” and the embrace of rather conventional household ethics. This embrace has been stressed by David Balch, who argued that 1Peter’s use of conventional domestic codes for the management of the household was apologetic, “to reduce the social-political tension between society and the churches.”132 This strategy has sometimes been cast as a matter of assimilation and acculturation,133 but such a characterization is in sharp contrast to the language of alienness that pervades the letter. Rather than assuming a binary decision between resistance and alienness on the one hand, and assimilation on the other, 1Peter calls for a more nuanced model of mimicry and ambivalence.

A final noteworthy aspect of 1Peter is the injunction to honour the emperor (τὸν βασιλέα τιμᾶτε, 2,17). It is usual for exegetes not to take this imperative at face value and instead seek to mitigate the force of the injunction, usually by arguing that 2,17 subtly relativizes the role of the emperor.134 Nevertheless, one should ask, What would honouring the emperor look like? Whatever equivocations the author had in mind, honouring the emperor, like virtually all other honorific activities, had a visual, empirical aspect, as is made clear in the immediate context with the reference to “watching” the honourable deeds of Christ-followers (2,12). Honouring was not a private mental act but a public or semi-public one.

Philip Harland has detailed the range of participation in “honouring the emperor” in Graeco-Roman associations—from direct participation in celebrations of the emperor by hymn-singers and the performance of sacrifices, to less direct forms of participation, including attendance at processions or games, the dedication of buildings to the emperor, decrees of a club that mention the imperial house, or even the naming of the club as a collegium salutare.135 Whatever constituted the “honouring” of the emperor for 1Peter, it was undoubtedly a visible practice. Warren Carter has even made a credible case that “honouring the emperor” meant participating in sacrifices to the emperor:

it is surprising that a text that “fairly teems with OT references” […] does not quote any scriptural prohibitions against idolatry. Such a quotation would certainly clinch the writer’s argument—if that were the writer’s point. Is such an obvious rhetorical strategy absent because “everyone knows” that idolatry belongs to a former way of life […] and is forbidden to Christians? Or is it because 1 Peter makes no such prohibition, perhaps because some, including the author, regarded idolatrous practices as meaningless for those who fear God (2.17) and/or perhaps because such an injunction would contradict the letter’s advocacy of Christian social participation?136

We might add that the author in fact saw no reason to treat this practice as “idolatrous.” After all, the Egyptian Judaeans evidently saw no difficulty in including in their dedications of prayer houses the mention of members of the Ptolemaic house, who, they must have known, were represented in royal propaganda as divine. E. g., IJudEg 27 (Athribis [Delta], II/I bce)

Ptolemaios son of Epikydes, the commander of the guards and the Judaeans who are in Athribis (dedicated) this prayer house (προσευχή) to the most high god, on behalf of King Ptolemaios and Queen Kleopatra.

In the early imperial period Philo complains of the destruction of Alexandrian synagogues, which held gilded crowns (ἀσπίδες καὶ στέφανοι ἐπίχρυσοι) and stelai and inscriptions in honour of the emperor (LegGai 133). These data indicate that it is likely a mistake to assume that our view of theologically consistent practices corresponded to ancient Judaean views of consistent and acceptable practices.137

Irrespective of what honorific practices the author of 1Peter had in mind—whether they included sacrifices, participation in processions, or acclamations of the Emperor—the point is that such practices linked the groups addressed by 1Peter to other groups in the city, notwithstanding the rhetoric of differentness that also characterizes the letter.

4.2 Hermas

The author of Hermas does not employ the term πάροικος but instead expresses the “group-as-other” notion by claiming that Christ-followers belong elsewhere:

You know, he said, that as slaves of God you are dwelling in a foreign land (ἐπὶ ξένης κατοικεῖτε); for your city is far from this city. Therefore, if you know, he said, the city in which you are going to dwell, why are you preparing fields here, and making expensive arrangements, and buildings, and pointless rooms? For whoever prepares these for this city is not able to return to his own city. Foolish and double-minded and miserable one! Don’t you know that all of these things are foreign (ἀλλότρια), and under someone else’s control? For the ruler of this city will say, “I do not wish you to live in my city; go away from this city, because you are not living by my laws.” Therefore, you who have fields and houses and many other possessions, when he throws you out, what will you do with the field and house and the other things that you have prepared for yourself? […] So take care: you are dwelling as in a foreign land; do not prepare much except what gives you adequate self-sufficiency (τὴν αὐτάρκειαν τὴν ἀρκετήν), and be prepared so that then the ruler of this city expels you because you have set yourself against his law, you might come out of his city and depart to your city and observe your law, joyfully and suffering no abuse (Hermas, Sim 1,1–3.6).

As Dibelius pointed out, there are affinities with Philo’s sentiments in Her 120 where under Platonic influences he describes the sage as a stranger and resident non-citizen on earth.138 Yet Hermas’s characterization of the Christ-follower seems also to imply a social posture. Osiek comments that the “emphasis of [Hermas’s] argument is not on the evil of this city but on the contingency of Christians’ existence in it and the greater allegiance they owe to another city.”139 For Hermas this allegiance is not only a matter of imagining oneself as part of an alien polity, but of adopting certain concrete practices:

Instead of fields, therefore, purchase souls that are afflicted, as each is able, and look after widows and orphans and do not overlook them; and expend your wealth and all your arrangements on those “fields” and “houses,” which you have received from God. […] This is extravagance (πολυτέλεια), honourable and gracious (ἱλαρά). Do not be grieved or fearful but have joy. Do not practice the extravagance of the pagans for these are unprofitable for you as slaves of God; but practice your own kind of extravagance (τὴν δὲ ἰδίαν πολυτέλειαν) by which you are able to be happy. […] Do your own work, and you will be saved. (Sim 1,8.10).

Osiek has made a good case that Hermas’ addressees are among the wealthy social-climbing class of Roman freedmen.140 Non-participation in the life of the city, for Hermas, amounts to eschewing the acquisitiveness that may have characterized freedmen, who could use their peculia to acquire land.141 Instead, what Hermas counsels amounts to mimicry of the euergetic practices of civic elites, who thereby gain visibility within the fabric of the city as καλοὶ καὶ ἀγαθοὶ ἄνδρες. This mimicry is underscored by the parable of the vine and the elm tree in Similitude 2, where the “Shepherd” explains that when the rich (Christ-follower) assist the poor, “the poor, being provided for by the rich person, appeals to God, giving thanks to him for the one who gave to him” (Sim 2,1,6).

Civic munificence, as Zuiderhoek stresses, often took the form of expenditures directed at public games, public banquets, and building projects.142 It was not directly intended to alleviate the plight of the poor. Hermas advocates a form of euergetism that directly benefited “the poor.” Yet the euergetism of civic elites was not in fact restricted to building projects. Notwithstanding Peter Brown’s observation that one of the critical transformations of the fourth century ce was the reconfiguration of the ideal of generosity from “love of the city”—civic benefactions, which benefitted citizens, many of whom were far from poor—to “love of the poor” and support of the church in the form of almsgiving,143 Hermas’ kind of euergetism in fact finds analogies in the philosophical criticism of the extravagant practices of civic benefactors. Cicero himself disapproved of extravagance (prodigi) directed at the public banquets, distributions of meat, gladiatorial shows, magnificent games, and wild-beast fights (De officiis 2,16,56) on the grounds that such displays were fleeting and appealed mainly to the rabble.144 He recommended instead ransoming captives from bandits, paying the debts of friends, assisting with dowries, and helping them acquire property—that is, being of service to one’s friends (2,15,56). Although he admits that on occasion he too underwrote the cost of the games, he preferred benefactions in the form of public works that were of enduring service to the community (2,17,59). But he also insists that distribution of money to the poor (indigentibus) was a worthy means to gain glory (ad gloriam adipiscendam), although he cautions that this must be done with discretion and moderation in order to avoid bankruptcy (De officiis 2,15,54).

By “poor” (indigentes, tenuiores) it is not likely that Cicero was speaking of the poor citizens of Rome in general but of persons in his network of friends and allies who had fallen into poverty. A century later, that is clearly what Pliny meant: he characterized the truly “liberal” man as one who assisted his country, his kin, and his friends, “I mean friends who are poor” (affinibus amicis, sed amicis dico pauperibus) (Ep 9,30,1).145 Pliny too engaged in the more extravagant forms of euergetism, underwriting the costs of a public bath, a yearly civic banquet, and funding a library in his home town of Comum. But he also made a gift of land, the rent from which went to support the freeborn boys and girls of his own town, Comum.146 Even these kinds of euergetism, it must be said, were not designed to support the poor in general. As Greg Woolf has shown, Pliny’s benefaction should be seen in the context of the alimentary schemes that were promoted in the late first century ce and which were not directed at those who lived near the subsistence level, but instead were part of the system of imperial and elite patronage aimed at children who were deemed eligible by virtue of their legal status or their privileged place of residence.147 Such benefaction was routinely recognized and reciprocated with honorific decrees erected by the recipients of this largesse.148

Lower down the ladder of economic achievement, Graeco-Roman associations likewise provide evidence of the practice of wealthier members assisting poorer members in distress. For example, IG II2 1327 = GRA I 35 (Piraeus, 178/7 bce) records an honorific decree for the treasurer of a group of orgeōnes of the Great Mother, who had shown himself to be generous to the group as a whole and to members individually, “generously paying for [the sacrifices], often from his own resources; and also for some who had died, when the treasury had no money, he paid for the tomb so that they might be treated decently even in death” (ll. 9–12).149 This is not charity directed at all the urban poor, but only at disadvantaged members of the group. Much later, the νόμος of an Egyptian association required members to assist other members who were “in distress” (τινὰ ἐν ἀηδίᾳ) and imposed fines on those who refused, also insisting that the association was required to stand surety for a member who was arrested on a private debt, for up to 100 drachmae.”150

Seen in this context, Hermas’ advice for Christ-followers to direct their “extravagance” (πολυτέλεια = prodigi) to widows and orphans and to “purchase souls that are afflicted” can be seen as a local version of what, in the public sphere, was embraced as a normal form of euergetism. As Hermas’ Sim 2 makes clear, the extravagance shown to widows and orphans is not meant to include those outside the group, but is directed inward, to members of the group, eligible, presumably, by virtue of their baptism. In exchange, these would give thanks to God for the wealthy benefactor and the piety of the poor recipient would benefit the wealthy (Sim 2,1,6).

Although it is often supposed that Christ groups did not engage in honouring benefactors, that is not in fact far from what Hermas imagines. Hermas promises a reciprocal exchange, in which the poor Christ-follower receives support from the rich, and in turn the poor “gives thanks to God” for that gift (τῷ θεῷ εὐχαριστῶν αὐτῷ ὑπὲρ τοῦ διδόντος αὐτῷ, 2,1,6).151 It is important to understand the dynamics of this exchange: “giving thanks” is not a private mental act on the part of the poor; it is a public declaration. Typical of the honorific decrees of associations is that the honoree was publicly honoured and acclaimed in the group. Although a stele was often erected to record the associations’ decree, the initial and critical honorific practice was the public acknowledgement of largesse in the group’s meeting. IG II2 1325.27–30 (Piraeus, 185/4 bce) makes this point clearly:

It was resolved by the orgeōnes to commend (ἐπαινέσαι) Dionysios son of Agathokles of Marathon and to crown him with an ivy wreath in accordance with the law on account of his excellence and benefactions and the goodwill that he has shown to them, and to announce (ἀναγορεῦ]σαι) this wreath after the libations have been made when the sacred rites have been completed by the orgeōnes in their first meeting.152

One need not assume that in Hermas’ group the wealthy donor was crowned or that a formal decree was issued; but Hermas imagines a dynamic whereby the identity of the donor is made known by the thankful recipient, and even though Hermas conceives the reciprocal exchange as indirect—the recipient thanks God for the gift that God has supplied through the rich, and the rich makes use of the resources with which God has furnished him—, there is hardly any doubt that the donor’s reputation as a καλὸς καὶ ἀγαθὸς ἀνήρ would be recognized by all.153

Hence, notwithstanding Hermas’ declarations that membership in a Christ-group entails belonging to an alien polity that observes different “laws” than those of the host city, the practices that Hermas encourages at least in this respect mimic those of civic society.

5 Becoming (In)visible in the City

The foregoing has focused especially on the visual practices of Christ groups—support of poorer Christ-followers by wealthier members, and the commendation of those practices that were expected by Hermas, 1Peter’s encouragement of “honourable deeds” that are to be seen and commended by others, the adoption of (rather high-minded) ethical practices that mimic stoicizing ethics, and some form of participation in imperial honours.

As long as one approaches “alienness” only as a matter of theological discourse, one is left with a contradiction between assertions of alienness and practices that appear to be “assimilationist.” But this is too simplistic an approach. Current anthropology has faced such seeming contradictions between mimicry and alterity and seen in them several cultural strategies.

Mimicry in the groups that are represented by 1Peter and Hermas can be seen in the imitation of dominant moral and practical forms—euergetism, technologies of the self, and honorific practices. Mimicry of dominant moral forms can be seen as an instance of “passing”—a term that was developed in the context of racialized politics in the nineteenth century US, where some blacks were able to “pass” as white, and more recently in the sexualized politics of North America where men “pass” as women (and vice versa).154 “Passing” on the one hand presupposes sharply articulated identity categories of “black” and “white,” “male” and “female,” and at the same time undermines these sharp distinctions by transgressing their boundaries. As Andrew Jacobs observes,

passing both undermines and necessitates the recognition of stable, mutually exclusive categories of personhood (categories of race, gender, sexuality, and so on). Passing emerges in social settings that rely on what Amy Robinson and others have called “specular identification”: the interior qualities of a person must be, in some way, legible on the body’s surface, conveying deeper, more ingrained and essential aspects of identity.155

The social practices of Christ groups had the effect of rendering them simultaneously “visible” and “invisible” in the civic landscape: visible in the sense that their euergetic and honorific practices, as 1Peter hopes, might attract praise and commendation as the behaviour expected of citizens and those practices made the members of Christ groups visible to each other as evincing the moral values and behavior of the dominant culture; and yet invisible in the sense that Christ followers will be indistinguishable from others who engage in euergetic and honorific practices, and who reproduce the moral lexicon of the city.

There is, no doubt, an ambivalence at the heart of “passing,” since at some level the subjects knows that they are not white, or female, or citizens. This ambivalence is manifest in the persistent declarations of Christ groups of their alienness, in spite of the fact that empirically they seem not to have looked much different from many other subaltern groups in the city.

Thus mimicry served several broader aims: it underscored the distinctive and special nature of the group, thus strengthening the internal cohesion of the group; it advertised to the host polis—in a virtually apologetic way—their adherence to their broader norms and, hence, declared their willingness to cooperate with structures of governance and benefaction; and it constructs a set of practices that function metonymically in the post-Augustan setting of a ‘worldwide’ empire. To continue with the model of mimicry, we need not suppose that Christ groups offered a perfect mimesis of either Greek or Roman culture. Clearly they did not, and their discourse claimed that they were different. To the outside observer, however, they were in many ways like other subaltern groups that dotted the urban landscape, ‘fitting in’, becoming invisible as subaltern, and visible in a kind of fictive citizenship.

6 Conclusion

This paper has explored the tension between the discourse of early Christ groups and their practices, with special attention to the question of how Christ groups located themselves in civic space. Several data point to the unselfconscious adoption of civic terms and values, analogous to the ways that other sub-elite groups mimicked civic structures as a way to create a kind of “fictive citizenship,” a space in which a sense of autonomy could be achieved, and a space that nurtured connectivity among persons from various identity groups. On the hand, the discourse of Christ groups sometimes promoted the trope of alienness, even though ironically the key terms employed in this strategy, πάροικοι and παρεπίδημοι, belonged to civic vocabulary denoting groups on the outskirts of the city who nonetheless had responsibilities to the polis. Moreover, the practices of these groups connected them with the culture of euergetism and civic responsibility. Perhaps ironically, the very claim of alienness placed them alongside a host of other subaltern groups that claimed exemplary status and the excellence that were fundamental to identity in the ancient world.156



Published by Edward L. Hicks, Inscriptions from Eastern Cilicia, JHS 11 (1890) 236–254, here 236–237 (no. 1); Imogen Dittmann-Schöne, Die Berufsvereine in den Städten des kaiserzeitlichen Kleinasiens (Theorie und Forschung 690, Geschichte 10), Regensburg 2001, 243 (no. VI.8.1); Philip A. Harland, North Coast of the Black Sea, Asia Minor, in Greco-Roman Associations: Texts, Translations, and Commentary II (BZNW 204), Berlin 2014, 434–441 (no. 153) (hereafter GRA II). The inscription was discovered in a tiled pavement in a cottage in modern Kadirli (= Kars-Bazaar) on the river Pyramos. Hicks describes the inscription as “a very handsome tessellated pavement” found in a cottage, but probably from the floor of a church. Hicks described the inscription as “not later than the third century” but Dittmann-Schöne is probably right that it is fourth or fifth century ce.


E. g., IHierapJ 40 (undated); 41 (III ce); IHierapJ 42 (imperial period); IG II2 1088 [restored]; IG II2 1090; IG II2 1369.31 (ca. 100 ce); IG II2 3625; IMiletos 358 (Miletos, imperial period); IHierapJ 40.1–3 (Hierapolis, imperial period); 42.5–7 (Hierapolis, imperial period); BCH 2 (1878) 593,1A.5–7 (Lycia).


Συνέργιον: ICiliciaDF 46.4 = SEG 37:1350 (Cilicia, I–II CE); SEG 27:947 (Tarsos, III CE): συνέργιον τῶν ἐν τῇ σειτικ[ῇ] ὠμοφόρων, “guild of porters in the wheat-market”; SEG 26:1457 (Tarsos, II–III CE); ISide 109.9–9 (Side, undated); IGBulg II 703 (Nicopolis ad Istrum); IGBulg III/1 1401(2) (Philippopolis = Plovdiv, undated). Συνεργασία: ISmyrna 721 (Smyrna): ἡ συνεργασία τῶν ἀργυροκόπων καὶ χρυσοχόων, “guild of the silver and gold smiths,” and many other instances.


See also ICG 3372: Χ̄ Μ̄ Γ̄ | ☩ Ὁ δοῦλος τοῦ Χριστοῦ Δημήτριος ἐνθάδε | κατάκιτε χρηστῶς κ(αὶ) εὐσεβῶς ζήσας. Κ(αὶ) ὁρ|κῶ ὑμᾶς τὸν | θ(εὸ)ν ὑμῖν τὸν παντοκράτοραν, μηδὶ||ς ἀνύξη | τὸ μνῆμα τοῦτο· εἰ δέ̣ | τις τολμήσῃ, μὴ εὕρη | ἀπολογίαν ἐν τῇ ἡμέρα τῆς κρίσε|ως Τ, “God (is) helper (?) | Demetrios, the slave of Christ lies here, having lived orderly and piously. And I abjure you by the God the almighty: no one shall open this tomb; if someone should dares (do it), he will not find a defence on the day of the judgment.”


Other (later) occupational guilds comprised of Christian workers are attested, usually identified as Christian through paralinguistic signs such as a staurogram, E. g., MAMA III 770 = IKilikiaHW 151 (an association [σύστημα] of linen-sellers [λινοπωλοί]). Harland (GRA II 440) has argued that IPerinthos 167–168 (Perinthos, Macedonia; after 212 ce), as well as grave inscriptions that use chi-rhos (☧) after the names of the deceased or which refer to the ἀδελφοί as those who guarantee the inviolability of the grave may be Christian.


See later, IG II2 13526 (Anavyssos, Attica, V/VI ce) = SEG 37:195; Erkki Sironen, The Late Roman and Early Byzantine Inscriptions of Athens and Attica: An Edition with Appendices on Scripts, Sepulchral Formulae, and Occupations, Helsinki 1997, 268 (no. 234): ☩☩☩ |κοιμητίριον Στεφά|νου κ(αὶ) Παύλου κ(αὶ) Ἀκτέ|ωνος κ(αὶ) τῆς μητρὸς || αὐτῶν, οἱ εὐτελῖς κλη|ρηκοί· ☩ ἔχι δὲ τὸ ἀ|νάθεμα, ἴ τις ἄλλον {ΕΘ} ☩ ὧδε θῇ ☩, “grave of Stephanos and Paulos and Aktemon and their mother, “lowly” klerouchoi. He will be cursed if someone else is buried here”; SEG 48:1256(5) (Palermo, Sicilia, 1080/1081 ce): δι’ ‹συν›δρομῆς καὶ παραστάσεως Νικολάου τοῦ εὐτελεστάτου πρεσβυτ(έρου).


It is often supposed that the use of urine as a detergent in the fulling process might account for the depiction of fulling as a vulgar trade. Sandra Joshel, Work, Identity, and Legal Status at Rome: A Study of the Occupational Inscriptions (Oklahoma Series in Classical Culture 11), Norman 1992, 115 considers the possibility that the preference in epitaphs and funerary dedications for leadership titles rather than occupational titles might derive from the “stigma” associated with occupations such as fulling. “C. Lollius Faustus magister fontani (CIL 6.268) was not a fuller collecting urine from the public latrines, stomping about in his tubs, cleaning other peoples’ soiled clothes; he was president of a publicly constituted association, albeit of fullers” (115). She notes, however, that in all of the epitaphs that mention an office, the occupational association is also provided.

In the major study of fulling, Miko Flohr, The World of the Fullo: Work, Economy, and Society in Roman Italy (Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy), Oxford 2013, 103–104 points out that the use of urine has been exaggerated (fullers’ earth was also used) and it remains unclear how the urine was collected (p. 171). Comedic references to fullers in Roman comedy did not focus on the alleged dirtiness of the occupation but on the peculiar jumping movements of fullers in the soaping stalls (pp. 325–328).


Theodor Mommsen, De Collegiis et Sodaliciis Romanorum, Kiliae 1843, 120; Jean Pierre Waltzing, Étude historique sur les corporations professionnelles chez les Romains depuis les origines jusqu’à la chute de l’Empire d’Occident (4 vols., Mémoire couronne par l’Academie royale des Sciences, des Lettres et des Beaux-Arts de Belgique), Louvain 1895–1900, 1:357–368, 513; Franz Poland, Geschichte des griechischen Vereinswesens, Leipzig 1909, 337–338; Jean-Marc Flambard, Collegia compitalicia: phénomène associatif, cadre civique et cadre territoriaux dans le monde romain à l’époque républicaine, Ktèma 6 (1981) 143–166, here 165–166; Peter Kneissl, Die Entstehung und Bedeutung der Augustalität, Chiron 10 (1980) 291–326, here 326; Robin Osborne, The Demos and Its Divisions in Classical Athens, in: Oswyn Murray/Simon R. F. Price (eds.), The Greek City: From Homer to Alexander, Oxford 1990, 265–293, here 276; Onno Van Nijf, The Civic World of Professional Associations in the Roman East (Dutch Monographs on Ancient History and Archaeology 17), Amsterdam 1997, 247; John R. Patterson, Landscapes and Cities: Rural Settlement and Civic Transformation in Early Imperial Italy, Oxford 2006, 256; Alison E. Cooley (ed.), The Cambridge Manual of Latin Epigraphy, Cambridge 2012, 20–21; Alex Gottesman, Politics and the Street in Democratic Athens, Cambridge 2014, 47.


Ilias Arnaoutoglou, Thusias heneka kai sunousias: Private religious associations in Hellenistic Athens (Academy of Athens. Yearbook of the Research Centre for the History of Greek Law, Supplement 37/4), Athens 2003, 141.


Jin Liu, Collegia Centonariorum: The Guilds of Textile Dealers in the Roman West (Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition 34), Leiden/Boston 2009.


See Bradley H. McLean, An Introduction to Greek Epigraphy of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods from Alexander the Great down to the Reign of Constantine (323 BC – AD 337), Ann Arbor 2002, 229–232.


E. g., JÖAI 62 (1993) 125–126, no. 17 (Ephesos, II bce); compare SEG 42:1065 (Kolophon, Ionia, II bce).


E. g., IG II2 2343 = John S. Kloppenborg and Richard S. Ascough, Attica, Central Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, in Greco-Roman Associations: Texts, Translations, and Commentary I (BZNW 181), Berlin/New York 2011, no. 1 (Athens, ca. 400 bce) (hereafter GRA I) inscribes the names of sixteen members of a κοινō θιασωτῶν, almost certainly demesmen of Kydathenaion.


E. g., IG II2 2347 = GRA I 12 (Salamis, ca. 300 bce): fifteen θιασῶται, including three women, all probably metics resident in Salamis; IG II2 1298 = GRA I 20 (Athens, 248/7 bce): a decree of the θιασῶται of Artemis, with a list of members, six men and five (or six) women, probably metics; IG II2 1297 = GRA I 24 (Athens, 236/5 bce): θιασῶται devoted to Artemis Kallistē, including thirty-seven men and twenty-one women, including some slaves; IG II2 1292 = GRA I 26 (Athens, 215/4 bce): a decree of Sarapiastai, listing a female proeranistria, a treasurer, secretary, supervisor and the remains of several other names, none with a demotic; IG II2 2354 = GRA I 30 (Athens, end of III bce) where none of the twenty-three members is identified with a demotic and (at least) thirteen of these are women; and IG II2 2358 = GRA I 40 (Athens, 135 bce): a cult association probably for Atargatis, with ninety-four names (forty-six in the original cutting), including only five demesmen, but with thirty-two women’s names. Several of the names are likely slaves.


The term “epigraphical culture” is taken from Robert L. Gordon/Mary Beard/Joyce Reynolds/Charlotte Roueché, Roman Inscriptions 1986–90, JRS 83 (1993) 131–158, here 154.


Marie-Françoise Baslez, Place et rôle des associations dans la cité d’Athènes au IVe siècle, in: Pierre Carlier (ed.), Le IVe siècle av. J.-C.: Approches historiographiques (Études Anciennes 15), Paris 1996, 267–285, here 282–283. See also Demosthenes, Against Conon 13–23, 38–40 and Robin Osborne, The Demos and Its Divisions, 277.


Baslez, Place (see n. 16), 290–291; Gottesman, Politics (see n. 8), 51.


This seems a classic example of mimicry, a practice adopted by subalterns as “a form of resemblance that differs from or defends presence by displaying it in part, metonymically”: Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture, London 1994, 68 and which allows the subaltern, by means of a form of “camouflage” to fit in and take advantage of the cultural benefits offered by the dominant culture.


I.Beroia 22.A3 = GRA I 63 (7 bce); P.Mich. VIII 511 (Memphis? Arsinoe?, III ce).


See GRA II Index, VII. s.v. Officers and Functionaries within Associations.


Livy (Ab Urbe Condita 1,17,5–6) claims that the decuriae came about after the last king, as a means to ensure political equality among the elite: “All therefore were agreed that there should be some head, but nobody could make up his mind to yield to his fellow. And so the hundred senators shared the power among themselves, establishing ten decuriae and appointing one man for each decuria to preside over the administration. Ten men exercised authority; only one had its insignia and lictors. Five days was the period of his power, which passed in rotation to all; and for a year the monarchy lapsed.”


Julietta Steinhauer, Cult Associations in the Post-Classical Polis, Ph.D. diss. St. Andrews 2013, 153.


See Frank F. Abbott/Alan C. Johnson, Municipal Administration in the Roman Empire, Princeton 1926, 65.


P.Lond VII 2193.17 (Philadelphia, 69–58 bce); P.Mich. V 243.7–8 (Tebtynis, 14–37 ce); IG II2 1368.90–94 = GRA I 51 (Athens, 164/65 ce).


E. g., P.Enteuxis 20, 21.


On P.Polit.Iud, see Thomas Kruse, Ethnic Koina and Politeumata in Ptolemaic Egypt, in: Vincent Gabrielsen/Christian A. Thomsen (eds.), Private Associations and the Public Sphere: Proceedings of a Symposium Held at the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, 9–11 September 2010 (Scientia Danica. Series H, Humanistic, 8 9), Copenhagen 2015, 270–300.


Geoffrey E. M. de Ste Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World, London/Ithaca 1981, 300–326.518.


André J. Festugière, Études de religion grecque et hellénistique (Bibliothèque d’histoire de la philosophie), Paris 1972, 114–128; William Scott Ferguson, The Leading Ideas of the New Period, in: S. A. Cook/F. E. Adcock/M. P. Charlesworth (eds.), The Hellenistic Monarchies and the Rise of Rome (The Cambridge Ancient History 7), Cambridge 1928, 35 referred to the “loneliness and helplessness in a vast disintegrating world.”


Eric R. Dodds, The Greeks and the Irrational (Sather Classical Lectures 25), Berkeley 1951, 242–243 speaks of “the progressive decay of tradition [which] set the religious man free to choose his own gods” and describes Hellenistic cult associations as giving “their members a real sense of community with a divine patron or protector of their own choice, to replace the inherited local community of the old closed society.” See also Peter Herrmann et al., Genossenschaft, RAC 10 (1978) 83–155, here 94 and much earlier, Max L. Strack, Die Müllerinnung in Alexandrien, ZNW 4 (1903) 213–234, here 225.


Erich G. L. Ziebarth, Das griechische Vereinswesen, Stuttgart 1896, 192.


Ramsay MacMullen, Paganism in the Roman Empire, New Haven 1981, esp. 62–72; Marietta Horster/Anja Klöckner (eds.), Civic Priests: Cult Personnel in Athens from the Hellenistic Period to Late Antiquity (RVV 58), Berlin 2012, and in general, Philip A. Harland, The Declining Polis? Religious Rivalries in Ancient Civic Context, in: Leif E. Vaage (ed.), Religious Rivalries in the Early Roman Empire and the Rise of Christianity (Studies in Christianity and Judaism/Études sur le Christianisme et le Judaïsme 18), Waterloo 2006, 21–49.


Nicholas F. Jones, The Associations of Classical Athens: The Response to Democracy, London/New York 1999, 47 and passim. These characteristics, coupled with the limited seating capacity of the assembly, and the distances between the rural demes and Athens, in Jones’ view, prevented “men of ability” from exercising their talents in the arena of central government (47–50). Moreover, the citizen population of Athens was likely only 10% of the total population. According to Jones, deme associations, phratry groups, and orgeōnes (those composed of citizens) were “neighbourhood democracies” that compensated for the ways in which the democracy was de facto exclusionary with respect to its own citizens.


Jones, Associations (see n. 32), 305.


Jones, Associations (see n. 32), 305.


See the outstanding survey in Onno M. van Nijf/Richard Alston, Introduction and Preview, in: Onno M. van Nijf/Richard Alston (eds.), Political Culture in the Greek City after the Classical Age (Groningen-Royal Holloway Studies on the Greek City After the Classical Age 2), Leuven 2011, 1–26.


Anna C. Miller, Corinthian Democracy: Democratic Discourse in 1 Corinthians (PTMS 220), Eugene, Oregon 2015.


Henry W. Pleket, Political Culture and Political Practice in the Cities of Asia Minor in the Roman Empire, in: Wolfgang Schuller (ed.), Politische Theorie und Praxis im Altertum, Darmstadt 1998, 204–216; Arjan J. Zuiderhoek, On the Political Sociology of the Imperial Greek City, GRBS 48 (2008) 417–445; Edward C.L. van der Vliet, Pride and Participation, Political Practice, Euergetism, and Oligarchisation in the Hellenistic Polis, in: Onno M. van Nijf/Richard Alston (eds.), Political Culture in the Greek City After the Classical Age (Groningen-Royal Holloway Studies on the Greek City After the Classical Age 2), Leuven 2011, 155–184.


Plutarch, Praecepta gerendae rei publicae 813e.


Plutarch, Praecepta gerendae rei publicae 813bc also advises that on contentious matters, the politician should have already come to agreements prior to appearing in the assembly, and to have allies express contrary opinions and then accede to the speaker’s argument, as if persuaded.


Kostas Vlassopoulos, Free Spaces: Identity, Experience and Democracy in Classical Athens, CQ 57 (2007) 33–52, here 38.


Jones, Associations (see n. 32), 290.


For the Roman period, Anne Kolb, Vereine «kleiner Leute» und die kaiserliche Verwaltung, ZPE 107 (1995) 201–212 argues that for those who did not belong to the curial classes, occupational and cultic associations provided the opportunity to participate in public life and to benefit from the social prestige that came with connections to the imperial administration (citing CIL 6.30983; 14.4570 and 6.455, all collegia connected with the imperial house).


According to Cassius Dio (51,2,1), after the Battle of Actium, Augustus punished the cities that had supported Anthony “by levying money and taking away even the vestiges of authority over their citizens that their assemblies (ἐκκλησίαι) still possessed.” Additionally, Augustus later decreed that “the populace (δῆμοι) should have no authority in any matter, and should not be allowed to convene in any assembly (ἐκκλησία) at all; for nothing good would come out of their deliberations and they would always be stirring up a good deal of turmoil” (Cassius Dio 52,30,2).


Ulrich Fellmeth, Die römischen Vereine und die Politik: Untersuchungen zur sozialen Schichtung und zum politischen Bewußtsein in den Vereinen der städtischen Volksmassen in Rom und Italien, Diss., Stuttgart 1987, 137; Andreas Gutsfeld, Das Vereinigungswesen und die Städte in der römischen Kaiserzeit, in: Hartmut Kaelble/Jürgen Schriewer (eds.), Gesellschaften im Vergleich: Forschungen aus Sozial- und Geschichtswissenschaften (Komparatistische Bibliothek = Comparative Studies Series = Bibliothèque d’Études Comparatives 9), Frankfurt am Main/New York 1999, 13–33, here 22.


Thus Gutsfeld, Vereinigungswesen (see n. 44), 23.


Thus rightly, Gottesman, Politics (see n. 8), 62.


Thus, e. g., Ilias Arnaoutoglou, “Ils étaient dans la ville, mais tout à fait en dehors de la cite”: Status and identity in private religious associations in Hellenistic Athens, in: Onno M. van Nijf/Richard Alston (eds.), Political Culture in the Greek City After the Classical Age (Groningen-Royal Holloway Studies on the Greek City After the Classical Age 2), Leuven 2011, 27–48, here 44 argues that if “private cult associations included a considerable portion of Athenians and free non-Athenians and that collective identity was built and maintained through the corporate functions and demonstrations of collegial solidarity […], then one may associate the function of these groups with the creation of an assimilative context for the non-Athenian element. In this context, values were inculcated, organizational principles were put into practice, and a semblance of civic life was emerging.”


On the differences between occupational guilds and cultic associations in relation to connections with those of senatorial or equestrian status, see Fellmeth, Vereine (see n. 44); id., Politisches Bewußtsein in den Vereinen der städtlichen Massen in Rom und Italien zur Zeit der Republik und der frühen Kaiserzeit, Eirene: Studia Graeca et Latina 27 (1990) 49–71.


See Paul Millett, Patronage and Its Avoidance in Classical Athens, in: Andrew Wallace-Hadrill (ed.), Patronage in Ancient Society (Leicester-Nottingham Studies in Ancient Society 1), London/New York 1989, 15–47 and Rachel Zelnick-Abramovitz, Did Patronage Exist in Classical Athens?, L’Antiquité classique 69 (2000) 65–80.


I.Rhamnous II 59.16–19 = GRA I 27 (Rhamnous, 216/5 bce).


Van Nijf, Civic World (see n. 8), 121.


AM 66:228 no. 4 = GRA I 39 (Athens, 138/7 bce).


Plato, Resp 327AB.328A. The ritual is described in IG II2 1283 (240/39 bce), and represented graphically in an early fourth century relief in the British Museum (BM inv. GR 1895,1028.1).


According to Lydus, De mensibus 4,59 (ed. Wünsch 1898, 113), “on the 11th day before the Kalends of April, a pine tree would be carried on the Palatine by the dendrophori. The festival was established by the Emperor Claudius […].”


John R. Patterson, The Collegia and the Transformation of the Towns of Italy in the Second Century AD, in: L’Italie d’Auguste à Dioclétien: Actes du colloque international organisé par l’École française de Rome, Rome, 25–28 mars 1992 (Collection de l’Ecole Française de Rome 198), Rome 1994, 235, citing CIL 11.418, an honorific inscription of the fabri and centonarii, joining urban groups (vicani vici) to honour C. Sentius Valerius Faustinianus, duumvir, “because he satisfied all the desires of the plebs” (omnibus plebis desideriis satisfecit). In the early fourth century ce collegia are reported to have participated in the welcome given to Constantine as he entered Augustodunum (Autun): Exornauimus uias quibus in palatium peruenitur, paupere quidem supellectili, sed omnium signa collegiorum, omnium deorum nostrorum simulacra protulimus, “We decorated the streets leading to the palace, although only with poor ornaments, yet we carried forth for your welcoming all the standards of the collegia, and all the images of our gods” (Panegyrici Latini, Turnhout 2010, Oration 5 [VIII] 8.4.)

For Asia, see e. g., I.Pergamon 374 = GRA II 111 (Pergamon, 129–138 ce) and the other dedications by “hymn singers” cited in GRA II 111, 130. For Egypt, IGFayum I 73 (Soknouaiou Nesos, 24 bce), a dedication “for the well-being of Augustus” (ὑπὲρ Καίσαρος Αὐτοκρά|τορος θεοῦ ἐκ θεοῦ) by a guild of sheep breeders.


Homi K. Bhabha, Of Mimicry and Man: The Ambivalence of Colonial Discourse, October 28: Discipleship: A Special Issue on Psychoanalysis (1984), 129 (in his typically opaque prose) describe the practice of colonial mimicry as “a desire that, through the repetition of partial presence, which is the basis of mimicry, articulates those disturbances of cultural, racial, and historical difference that menace the narcissistic demand of colonial authority. It is a desire that reverses ‘in part’ the colonial appropriation by now producing a partial vision of the colonizer’s presence.” See also Michael T. Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity: A Particular History of the Senses, London/New York 1993.


Jonathan Perry, Organized Societies: Collegia, in: Michael Peachin (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Social Relations in the Roman World (Oxford Handbooks), Oxford/New York 2010, 499–515, here 511–512 has argued that “if the members of a collegium went out of their way to imitate the elite, might this not be perceived as an instance of their subjection to the local hierarchy, and an attempt by that hierarchy to reinforce the lower status of this group?” Perry refers to Onno van Nijf, Collegia and Civic Guards: Two Chapters in the History of Sociability, in: Willem Jongman/Marc Kleijwegt (eds.), After the Past: Essays in Ancient History in Honour of H. W. Pleket (Mnemosyne Supplements 233), Leiden 2002, 305–339, comparing Roman collegia and the Dutch civic guards (memorialized, inter alia in Rembrandt’s 1642 “Night Watch”) in which van Nijf argues that “The civic guards and the collegia were a major focus for middle class sociability. The comparison of these two forms of sociability has revealed many similarities. Their numerous banquets, feasts, and hand-outs were not merely opportunities to eat, drink and be merry. They were also ritual occasions which sustained a sense of unity, while allowing individual members to sort out their rank and status in the group. Formal group portraits and monumental inscriptions reinforced the significance of these occasions, and presented a fixed record of the principles underlying the internal hierarchy […]. We have seen that collegiati as well as guardsmen took part in civic rituals under the banner of their respective organizations. The relatively high profile of these organizations appears to have been based on the idea that they performed essential functions for the city: maintenance of law and order in the case of the civic guards, and fire fighting in the case of the collegia. We have seen, however, that there are grounds to believe that the actual extent of these contributions has been overestimated.” The subjection of the civic guards (and collegiati) is in a legal sense clear; yet their respective imitations of civic structures does not appear to be an instrument of subjugation, but rather or make-believe integration.


See Ramsay MacMullen, The Epigraphic Habit in the Roman Empire, AJP 103 (1982) 233–246. Elizabeth A. Meyer, Explaining the Epigraphic Habit in the Roman Empire: The Evidence of Epitaphs, JRS 80 (1990) 74–96 refines MacMullen’s findings by documenting the distribution of inscription in North Africa (n=3611) with spikes at 100 ce and 200 ce; Lyon (n=442), peaking at 100 ce and falling off gradually until 300 and then falling sharply; Thessalonica (n=975), rising at 100 ce and peaking at 200 ce and falling quickly after 225 ce and Athens (n=8135) with a high peak in 375–325 bce, falling off until another peak 125–75 bce and another peak 25–125 ce and again at 200 ce.


Greg Woolf, Monumental Writing and the Expansion of Roman Society in the Early Empire, JRS 86 (1996) 22–39, here 27.


Woolf, Writing (see n. 59), 32.


J. E. Lendon, Empire of Honour: The Art of Government in the Roman World, Oxford 1997, 37–38.47–48.54–55.


Koenraad Verboven, The Associative Order: Status and Ethos among Roman Businessmen in Late Republic and Early Empire, Athenaeum 95 (2007) 861–893, here 889: “The hierarchic structure of the associations and the emphasis placed on honour and the display of honour within the associations reflected the situation in Roman society at large and helped to perpetuate the system. This is obvious when we look at the interaction between the associations as institutions upholding the associative order, and the cities and imperial administration as institutions upholding the civic order. The privileges accorded by municipal and imperial administrations reflected and created a hierarchy between the associations and thereby within the associative order itself.”


Clifford Ando, Imperial Ideology and Provincial Loyalty in the Roman Empire (Classics and Contemporary Thought 6), Berkeley 2000, 345.


E. g., James R. Harrison, Paul’s House Churches and the Cultic Associations, RTR 58 (1999) 31–47; Thomas Schmeller, Gegenwelten: Zum Vergleich zwischen paulinischen Gemeinden und nichtchristlichen Gruppen, BZ 47 (2003) 167–185; Gerd Theißen, Urchristliche Gemeinden und antike Vereine. Sozialdynamik im Urchristentum durch Widersprüche zwischen Selbstverständnis und Sozialstruktur, in: Anselm C. Hagedorn/Zeba A. Crook/Eric Stewart (eds.), In Other Words: Essays on Social Science Methods and the New Testament in Honor of Jerome H. Neyrey (Social World of Biblical Antiquity 2), Sheffield 2007, 221–247; Korina Zamfir, The Community of the Pastoral Epistles – A Religious Association, in: Gabrielsen/Thomsen (eds.), Associations (see n. 26), 206–240.


E. g., Stephen J. Chester, Conversion at Corinth: Perspectives on Conversion in Paul’s Theology and the Corinthian Church (Studies of the New Testament and Its World), London/New York 2003, 233: “there are areas where the differences are so striking and overwhelming that any conscious general intention to imitate is simply implausible.”


Most blatantly, James T. Burtchaell, From Synagogue to Church: Public Services and Offices in the Earliest Christian Communities, Cambridge/New York 1992, and for a critique of the use of “Judaism” in order to isolate “Christianities” from their environment, see Jonathan Z. Smith, Drudgery Divine: On the Comparison of Early Christianities and the Religions of Late Antiquity (Jordan Lectures in Comparative Religion 14), London/Chicago 1990.


I include here my own recent work: John S. Kloppenborg, Membership Practices in Pauline Christ Groups, Early Christianity 4 (2013) 183–215; id., Precedence at the Communal Meal in Corinth, NovT 58 (2016) 167–203; id., Fiscal Aspects of Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem, Early Christianity 8 (2017) forthcoming.


Richard S. Ascough, What Are They Now Saying About Christ Groups and the Associations?, Currents in Biblical Research 13 (2015) 207–244, here 235.


Estimates both from Egypt and from Italy suggest that at least one-third of the male population were members of associations: Richard Alston/Robert D. Alston, Urbanism and the Urban Community in Roman Egypt, JEA 83 (1997) 199–216, here 205; Peter Van Minnen, Urban Craftsmen in Roman Egypt, Münstersche Beiträge zur antiken Handelsgeschichte 6 (1987) 31–88, here 37–38; C. R. Whittaker, The Poor, in: Andrea Giardina, (ed.), The Romans, Chicago/London 1993, 297; Fellmeth, Bewußtsein (see n. 48), 52; Gutsfeld, Vereinigungswesen (see n. 44), 18.


In 1Corinthians, where the issue was not (yet) the integration of Judaeans and non-Judaeans in common meal practices but conflicts that arose from a variety of ethical and behavioral issues, Paul resorts to images of agricultural growth within a single plant, and the functions of individual bodily parts in achieving the well-being of the entire body. These are Paul’s interventions. There is no reason to suppose that the Corinthian Christ group ever identified themselves as τὸ σῶμα. Likewise, in Philippians, Galatians and 2Corinthians, when conflict with “Judaizing” agents problematized the relationship between Judaeans and non-Judaeans, Paul resorted to the notion of a new trans-ethnic identity that embraces all prior identities. But again, these were Paul’s intervention; there is no reason to suppose that the “Selbstverständnis” of the Galatian or later Corinthian groups was formulated around the idea of a new ethnos.


Paul R. Trebilco, Why did the Early Christians Call Themselves ἡ ἐκκλησία?, NTS 57 (2011) 440–460 offers a scenario in which ἐκκλησία was the choice of the “Hellenists” in Jerusalem and expressed their “theological conviction that their group was in continuity with that assembly of Yahweh” (444); yet these Hellenists used “ἐκκλησία to claim theological continuity with the OT people of God, without thereby saying that other Jews were not the OT people of God” (458, emphasis original). Although Trebilco does not rule out the political connotations in Paul’s usage, in Jerusalem Septuagintal usage was determinative. Trebilco asks why Christians adopted ἐκκλησία and not συναγωγή, especially since they are practically synonymous in the LXX. He concludes: “They adopted ἐκκλησία because the more prominent term in the LXX—συναγωγή—was already in use” (450) as a designation of both assemblies and buildings for Judaean. “ἐκκλησία was chosen as an alternative to συναγωγή and in order to avoid συναγωγή” (456). See also G. K. Beale, The Background of ἐκκλησία Revisited, JSNT 38 (2015) 151–168.


Ralph Korner, Ekklēsia as a Jewish Synagogue Term: Some Implications for Paul’s Socio-Religious Location, Journal of the Jesus Movement in Its Jewish Setting 2 (2015) 53–78 notes that Sirach, Josephus, and Philo all used ἐκκλησία to mean Judaean assemblies, and argues that Paul employed this term because it was “largely […] ‘free’ as a diasporic group designation, and if in Judea public ekklēsiai were convened, as Josephus claims, then non-Messianic Jews could have perceived Paul’s ekklēsiai as being extensions of public Jewish society in the Diaspora. This would have presented Paul’s ekklēsiai as diasporic ‘satellites’ in relation to other Judean public ekklēsiai. Paul’s ekklēsiai would then have been viewed as loci for the full expression of all facets of Jewish life, including its ethno-religious, social, political, economic, and judicial dimensions” (76–77). Curiously, Korner’s argument is precisely the opposite of Trebilco’s, Korner anxious to have Paul demonstrate continuity with Judaean practices and Trebilco arguing that early Christ followers wished not to be confused with Judaean synagogues. Korner’s argument notes, but sidesteps the fact, that ἐκκλησία was the standard term for a citizen assembly in the cities in which Paul worked, which appears to be the more proximate “source” of Paul’s usage.


Theißen, Gemeinden (see n. 64), 226: “Eine direkte Ableitung von der LXX, wo ἐκκλησία κυρίου die Versammlung und das Aufgebot des Volkes Israel meint, ist unwahrscheinlich; von der ἐκκλησία κυρίου der LXX führt kein gerader Weg zur ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ des Urchristentum. Woher auch immer der Begriff, stammt, er musste in einer hellenistischen Polis in Analogie zur Polisversammlung verstanden werden. So benutzt ihn auch Paulus. Er nennt die örtliche Gemeindeversadung ekklesia und gebraucht den Begriff nur gelegentlich im Plural. Diese lokale Bedeutung ist Lehnbedeutung aus der politischen Welt einer hellenistischen Stadt.” George Van Kooten (Ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ: The “Church of God” and the Civic Assemblies [ἐκκλησίαι] of the Greek Cities in the Roman Empire: A Response to Paul Trebilco and Richard A. Horsley, NTS 58 [2012] 522–548) finds Trebilco’s efforts to derive ἐκκλησία from the LXX, especially in the Pauline context, problematic and argues that “Paul wishes to contrast the Christian ‘assembly of God’ with the civic assemblies (ἐκκλησίαι) of the Greek cities in the Roman Empire, as a parallel, alternative organization existing alongside the latter” (527). See also Erik Peterson, Ekklesia: Studien zum altkirchlichen Kirchenbegriff, in: Barbara Nichtweiss/Hans-Ulrich Weidemann (eds.), Ausgewählte Schriften: Sonderband, Würzburg 2010, 9–83; Hans-Ulrich Weidemann, Ekklesia, Polis und Synagoge: Überlegungen im Anschluss an Erik Peterson, in: Nichtweiss/Weidemann (eds.), Ausgewählte Schriften (see n. 73), 152–195; Matthias Klinghardt, Hellenistisch-römische Staatsidee, in: Jürgen Zangenberg (ed.), Neues Testament und antike Kultur. Bd. III: Weltauffassung – Kult – Ethos, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, 143–150; Martin Ebner, Die Stadt als Lebensraum der ersten Christen (Das Urchristentum in seiner Umwelt. Das Neue Testament Deutsch – Ergänzungsreihe 1), Göttingen 2012, 86–87; Korina Zamfir, Is the ἐκκλησία a Household (of God)? Reassessing the Notion of οἶκος θεοῦ in 1 Tim 3.15, NTS 60 (2014) 511–528, here 514–516.


Volker Grieb, Hellenistische Demokratie: Politische Organisation und Struktur in freien griechischen Poleis nach Alexander dem Grossen (Historia Einzelschriften 199), Stuttgart 2008, 42–45 (Athens), 153–157 (Cos), 210–213 (Miletos) and 276–289 (Rhodes).


IG X.2/2 1028 (Delos, 230 bce) referring to the ekklēsia of the Thessalonian colony on Delos; I.Beroia 1 (I bce); SEG 38:662 (400–350 bce) (a civic decree); SEG 43.448.1, 6–7 (Philippi, 200–175 bce); SEG 39.606 (Krestonia, Macedonia, shortly after 208/7 bce) (civic decree); SEG 42.578.2–3 (Kalindoia Macedonia, II/I bce) (honorific decree); SEG 35.744.2–5 (Kalindoia, I ce).


I.Corinth.Meritt 2 (200–150 bce); I.Corinth.Meritt 3 (200–150 bce); IG IV 841 (late III bce), all prior to the destruction of Corinth; IG IV 757 (Troizen, 146 bce); IG IV 853 (Troizen, II ce).


ID 1519.1, 5 (Delos, 153/2 bce).


IG XII/6 1:133.1–4 (Samos, II bce): ἔδοξεν τοῖς | ἀλειφομένοις ἐν τῆι γεροντικῆι πα|λαίστραι, συναχθεῖσιν εἰς ἐκκλησί|αν.


Louis Robert, Le Sanctuaire de Sinuri près de Mylasa (Mémoires de l’Institut français d’archéologie de Stamboul, 7, Bibliothèque archéologique et historique de l’Institut français d’archéologie d’Istanbul 8), Paris 1945, no. 73 (Sinuri [Caria], 350/44 bce): [ἔδοξεν] Πελεκωδος συγγενεῦσι | [συ̣]νελθοῦσι πᾶσιν· vacat | [ἐκκλ]ησίης κυρίης γενομένης … A few other instances are sometimes cited: OGIS 844 = TAM V/1 222, which refers to the assembly of Philadelphians in the village of Kastello, probably not a private association; IGLAM 1381, 1381 (both from Aspendus [Pamphylia]). In John S. Kloppenborg/Edwin Hatch, Churches, and Collegia, in: Bradley McLean (ed.), Origins and Method: Towards a New Understanding of Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Honour of John C. Hurd (JSNT.S 86), Sheffield 1993, 212–238 I had reported these as instance of association names, which they are not. They are designations of the meeting of association.


E. g., IG II2 1263.2–3 (300/299 bce); 1277.2 (278/7 bce); 1282.3 (262/1 bce); 1283.3 [23] (240/39 bce); 1284.20 (241/0 bce); 1298.7 (248/7 bce); 1314.2 (213/2 bce); 1315.3 (211/0 bce); 1317.1 (272/1 bce); 1317b.2 (246/5 bce); 1323.3 (194/3 bce); 1325.18, 34 (185/4 bce); 1326.2 (176/5 bce); 1327.2 (178/7 bce); 1328.4, 21 (183/2 bce); 1329.2 (175/4 bce); 1334.1–2 (late II bce); 1335.3 (102/1 bce); 1337.2 (97/6 bce); 1342.3 (mid I bce); SEG 21:532.1 (227/26 bce); 21:535.4 (112/1 bce); 21:536.4 (111/0 bce) and passim; ἀγορὰν συνάγειν, to convene a meeting: IG II2 1368.4–5 (164/65 ce).


Fellmeth, Bewußtsein (see n. 48), notes that occupational guilds in Italy tended to attract patrons of senatorial and equestrian rank, while such patrons were unattested in the associations of cultores of various deities, which at best could boast local magistrates as patrons. This presumably implies that the status differential in cultic associations (at least in Italy) was less pronounced than that in the large occupational guilds.


Galatia: 1Cor 16,1; Gal 1,2; Asia: 1Cor 16,19; Macedonia: 2Cor 8,1; Judaea: Gal 1,22.


Emily Mackil, Creating a Common Polity: Religion, Economy, and Politics in the Making of the Greek Koinon (Hellenistic Culture and Society 55), Berkeley 2013; eadem, The Greek Koinon, in: Peter F. Bang/Walter Scheidel (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the State in the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean, Oxford 2013, 305–323.


Van Kooten, Ἐκκλησία (see n. 73), 536. Similarly, Ebner, Stadt (see n. 73), 87: “[…] klinkt [Paulus] sich in einen Trend ein, der auch von den Städten gerade unter der Römerherrschaft verfolgt wird: vom Kaiser, also dem Vertreter des neuen politischen globalen Systems, in den Rang einer ‘lateinischen Stadt’ gehoben zu werden, und damit für die Oberschicht das reichseinheitliche römische Bürgerrecht zu erhalten.”


Van Kooten, Ἐκκλησία (see n. 73), 524 cites Plato, Euthyphr 3B–C where Socrates reports that he is laughed at and declared to be crazy (μαινόμενος) “when I say anything in the assembly about divine things and foretell the future to them.”


Van Kooten, Ἐκκλησία (see n. 73), 546 adds that “Paul’s refusal to allow [women] to speak in the ἐκκλησία is in accord with widespread feelings outside the Christian community” including in Greek civic assemblies. But the advice in 1Cor 14,33–35 collides rather obviously with what is assumed by 1Cor 11,2–16, and is better treated as an interpolation from the world of the pseudo-Pauline Pastoral letters.


Cf. Ebner, Stadt (see n. 73), 90.


2Cor 2,6: ἱκανὸν τῷ τοιούτῳ ἡ ἐπιτιμία αὕτη ἡ ὑπὸ τῶν πλειόνων.


In 1Cor 3,10–17 Paul alludes to the various “builders” active among the Corinthians, and warns that those whose work does not survive the test will “suffer damage” (RSV). The translation of ζημιοῦσθαι has troubled commentators, who rightly note that the rendering “he will be punished” does not go well with the next, contrasting statement, “but he himself will be saved, though only as one passing through fire” (αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται, οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός, v. 15). The verb ζημιοῦσθαι, however, appears often in connection with the disciplinary fining of association members who misconduct themselves. Such fines, or fines of officials who fail to enact the association’s honorific decrees, do not amount to exclusion from the society. They instead serve as disciplinary punishments.


See IG II2 1368.86–87 = GRA I 51 (Athens, 164/65 ce); SEG 31:122.9 = GRA I 50 (Liopesi, 120/1 ce) (vote to expel a member).


Thus John S. Kloppenborg, Egalitarianism in the Myth and Rhetoric of Pauline Churches, in: Elizabeth Castelli/Hal Taussig (eds.), Reimagining Christian Origins: A Colloquium Honoring Burton L. Mack, Valley Forge, PA 1996, 247–263, here 254–256.


P.Mich V 243.12 (Tebtynis, 14–37 ce). See also IG II2 1368.90–94 = GRA I 51 (Athens, 164/65 ce) (fines levied if a member resorts to the public courts); P.Lond VII 2193.17 (Philadelphia, 69–58? bce): sanction on a member taking another to court; P.Mich V 243.7–8 (Tebtynis, 14–37 ce): fine for resorting to the court.


Kloppenborg, Aspects (see n. 67).


See Léopold Migeotte, Les souscriptions publiques dans les cités grecques (Hautes études du monde gréco-romain), Genève/Québec 1992; id., Les souscriptions dans les associations privées, in: Pierre Fröhlich/Pierre Hamon (eds.), Groupes et associations dans les cités grecques (IIIe siècle av. J.-C.-IIe siècle ap. J.-C). Actes de la table ronde de Paris, INHA, 19–20 juin 2009 (Hautes études du monde gréco-romain, 49), Genève 2013, 113–127.


Angelos Chaniotis, Public Subscriptions and Loans as Social Capital in the Hellenistic City: Reciprocity, Performance, Commemoration, in: Paraskevi Martzavou/Nikolaos Papazarkada (eds.), Epigraphical Approaches to the Postclassical Polis: Fourth Century BC to Second Century AD (Oxford Studies in Ancient Documents), Oxford 2013, 89–106; Aneurin Ellis-Evans, The Ideology of Public Subscriptions, in: Martzavou/Papazarkadas (eds.), Approaches (see n. 95), 107–125.


See, e. g., IG II2 409 (Athens, 330 bce); IG II2 653.43–44 (Athens, 289/8 bce); IG II2 687.46–47 (Athens, 266/5 bce); IG II2 1224.frag. a–c.11–12 (Athens, 166 bce), plus at least twenty other examples with χειροτονεῖν and πρέσβεις.


Aristotle, AthPol 55,3: “This is the principle of the examination (δοκιμασία). When they make the examination, they ask first, ‘Who is your father and to what deme does he belong?’ And ‘Who is your father’s father, and who your mother, and who is her father and what his deme?’ After that (they ask) whether he has a Apollo Patroos and Zeus Herkeios, and where these shrines are; then whether he has family tombs and where they are; then whether he does well by his parents, and does he pay taxes, and whether he has done his military service.” See Tracey E. Rihll, Democracy Denied: Why Ephialtes Attacked the Areiopagus, JHS 115 (1995) 87–98, here 93–94.


John S. Kloppenborg, The Moralizing of Discourse in Greco-Roman Associations, in: Caroline Johnson Hodge et al. (eds.), “The One Who Sows Bountifully”: Essays in Honor of Stanley K. Stowers (BJSt 256), Providence, R.I. 2013, 215–228.


E. g., IG XII/8 186 (Samothrace, I bce): six συνέγδαμοι accompanying the ἱεροποιοὶ, μύσται καὶ ἐ̣πόπται εὐσεβεῖς of Rhodes who travelled to Samothrace.


Peter Arzt-Grabner, 2. Korinther (Papyrologische Kommentare zum Neuen Testament 4), Göttingen 2014, 409. One could add I.Rhamnous II 59.2, 6 = GRA I 27 (Rhamnous, after 216/5 bce); IG II2 1012.19 = GRA I 42 (Athens, 112/11 bce), which use χειροτονεῖν in connection with the election of officials of private associations. The term is especially frequent in civic inscriptions from Attica, the Aegean Islands, and Asia to denote the election of officials by the dēmos. On the later use of χειροτονεῖν to mean “appoint,” see C. Hamilton Turner, Χειροτονία, χειροθεσία, ἐπίθεσις χειρῶν, JTS 24 (1923) 496–504.


Richard Last, The Election of Officers in the Corinthian Christ-Group, NTS 59 (2013) 365–381, here 379 (my emphasis). Perhaps better rendered “There need to be elections among you so that the dokimoi among you are evident.”


Thus Timothy A. Brookins, The Supposed Election of Officers in 1 Cor 11.19: A Response to R. Last, NTS 60 (2014) 423–432.


Arnaoutoglou, Thusias (see n. 9), 104–105.


Tertullian’s complaint against the Marcionites in De praescriptione 41,8 appears to imply that they have a rotating system of leadership, whereby offices are for fixed periods of time and either elected or assigned by rota. Of course, Tertullian paints as dire and bizarre a picture possible: Itaque alius hodie episcopus, cras alius; hodie diaconus qui cras lector; hodie presbyter qui cras laicus, “Thus, one day one person is bishop and another tomorrow; today one is a deacon, and the another day a lector; today he is a presbyter who tomorrow will be a layperson.”


L. William Countryman, Patrons and Officers in Club and Church, in: Paul J. Achtemeier (ed.), Society of Biblical Literature 1977 Seminar Papers (SBL.SP 11), Missoula, Mont. 1977, 135–143; Wayne A. Meeks, The First Urban Christians: The Social World of the Apostle Paul, New Haven 1983, 78. Schmeller, Gegenwelten (see n. 64), 175 sees honorific practices as replaced by a kind of communal status elevation: “Die soziale Welt der Gemeinden sah anders aus: Auch hier wurde zwar Prestige gewonnen, aber nicht durch die Einführung fiktiver Statusunterschiede, sondern durch die gleichmäßige Verteilung einer neuen, auf Gott zurückgeführten sozialen Stellung. Der Kontext der oben zitierten Stelle aus dem Gal macht das deutlich: alle Christen sind ‘Sohn Gottes durch den Glauben an Christus Jesus’ (3,26), alle haben ‘Christus angezogen’ (V. 27), alle sind ‘Nachkommen Abrahams’ und damit ‘Erben nach der Verheißung’ (V. 29)—deshalb gibt es bei ihnen keine Unterschiede zwischen Juden und Griechen, Sklaven und Freien, Männern und Frauen mehr. Die Erwähnung Abrahams weist schon darauf hin, dass hier atl und frühjüdische Traditionen wirksam waren, die man für die Vereine nicht voraussetzen kann. Die Erwählung Israels als Ganzes, die auch herrschaftskritische, solidaritätsbildende Implikationen hatte, wirkte in den Gemeinden weiter.” Harrison, House Churches (see n. 64), 37 argued that Paul’s metaphor of the body “undermines the pecking order of the cursus honorum at Rome and in the colonies (1 Cor 12:22–25a); it overturns the entrenched social power of the καλοκάγαθος in honouring the socially disenfranchised (1 Cor 12:22–25a).”


On the identification of letters from Christians on the basis of monograms, names and other features, see Lincoln Blumell, Lettered Christians: Christians, Letters, and Late Antique Oxyrhynchus (NTTS 39), Leiden/Boston 2012, 27–88. Of the approximately 800 letters provenanced at Oxyrhynchus from the mid-first century to the seventh century, Blumell identified 191 Christian letters: none from the first, first/second, second, or second/third centuries. Only six could be identified as Christian from the third century and only six from the third/fourth centuries. This, of course, is not because Christians were not writing letters prior to the third century, but because those letters are invisible to us because of lack of distinguishing features.


Harrison, House Churches (see n. 64), 38.


Geoffrey Brennan/Philip Pettit, The Economy of Esteem: An Essay on Civil and Political Society, Oxford 2004, 195–221.


The formula is exceedingly common in civic inscriptions, and frequent in association inscriptions. See GRA I (see n. 13), 133 note on ll. 1–6.


John S. Kloppenborg, Graeco-Roman Thiasoi, the Corinthian Ekklesia at Corinth, and Conflict Management, in: Ron Cameron/Merrill Miller (eds.), Redescribing Paul and the Corinthians (Early Christianity and Its Literature 5), Atlanta 2011, 187–218, here 213.


See Werner S. Landecker, Types of Integration and Their Measurement, AJS 56 (1951) 332–340.


Warren Carter, Roman Imperial Power: A New Testament Perspective, in: Jeffrey Brodd/Jonathan L. Reed (eds.), Rome and Religion: A Cross-Disciplinary Dialogue on the Imperial Cult (Writings from the Greco-Roman World Supplements 5), Atlanta 2011, 137–151, here 144–145.


The term has been used extensively by Benjamin H. Dunning, Strangers and Aliens No Longer: Negotiating Identity and Difference in Ephesians 2, HTR 99 (2006) 1–16, here 4; id., Aliens and Sojourners: Self as Other in Early Christianity (Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion), Philadelphia 2009, 6.


πάροικος, παροικία: Eph 2,19; 1Pet 1,1.17; 2,11; 1Clem 1,1; 2Clem 5,1; Polycarp, Phil 5,1; MartPol 1,1; Diogn 5,1–6; 6,8; ApocSedr 11: καὶ ἄρτι πάροικοι γίνεσθε τοῦ κόσμου τούτου; Clement of Alexandria, Paed 3,12,85; Strom 4,26. For παρεπίδημοι, παρεπιδημέω, see Clement of Alexandria, Strom 3,14: ὡς ξένοι καὶ παρεπιδημοῦντες πολιτεύεσθαι ὀφείλομεν, “we must conduct ourselves politically as foreigners and visitors”; Tertullian, De Exhortatione Castitatis 12,1 (arguing against second marriages): Non et nos peregrinantes in isto saeculo sumus? Cur autem ita dispositus es, o christiane, ut sine uxore non possis? Are not we also wanderers in this world? Why moreover, Christian, are you so conditioned, that you cannot (travel) without a wife? See Johannes Roldanus, Références patristiques au «chétien-estranger» dans les trois premier siècles, in: Lectures Anciennes de la Bible (Cahiers de Biblia Patristica 1), Strasbourg 1987, 27–52.


See the compilation of texts in John H. Elliott, 1 Peter (AncB 37B), New York 2000, 477.


The terms appear to have become a stereotypical way of referring to a church, especially in Eusebius and the earlier letters he cites: Eusebius, HistEccl 4,23,5; 5,1,3; 5,22,1; 5,23,3; 5,24,15; 6,2,2; 7,26,3; 7,28,1; 8,13,7, etc. Reinhard Feldmeier (The “Nation” of Strangers: Social Contempt and Its Theological Interpretation in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity, in: Mark G. Brett (ed.), Ethnicity and the Bible [Biblical Interpretation Series 19], Leiden/New York 1996, 264) notes that in the third and fourth centuries, παροικία came to mean “parish.”


Elliott, 1 Peter (see n. 115), 476–483. See also John H. Elliott, A Home for the Homeless: A Sociological Exegesis of 1 Peter, Its Situation and Strategy, Philadelphia 1981, 33–49, who notes how various bible translations of 1Pet 1,17 and 2,1 gratuitously offer such translations as “visitors and pilgrims,” “strangers and refugees in this world” or “earthly pilgrimage” (39–41).


Similarly, Steven R. Bechtler, Following in His Steps: Suffering, Community, and Christology in 1 Peter (SBL.DS 162), Atlanta 1998, 17: “πάροικος bore a decidedly negative connotation; the stranger, whether called πάροικος or παρεπίδημος, was from the standpoint of society a second-class person,” citing Reinhard Feldmeier, Die Christen als Fremde: die Metapher der Fremde in der antiken Welt, im Urchristentum und im 1. Petrusbrief (WUNT 2/64), Tübingen 1992, 21.


Flacc 54: “[Flaccus] issued a proclamation in which he denounced us foreigners and aliens (ξένους καὶ ἐπήλυδας) and gave us no right of pleading our case, but condemned us as unjudged” (trans. LCL). Whether Judaeans living in Alexandria were in fact citizens (or at least some of them) is controverted. Josephus (Ant 19,281) claims that Judaeans living in Alexandria were called Ἀλεξανδρεῖς (“Alexandrians”) and that they had obtained ἴσης πολιτείας in contrast to Flaccus’ claim. On this see Miriam Pucci Ben Zeev, Jewish Rights in the Roman World (Texts and Studies on Ancient Judaism 74), Tübingen 1998, 296–301.


Elliott, Home (see n. 117), 68–69. Elliott acknowledged that 1Peter was also addressed to Christ-followers in cities.


Elliott, Home (see n. 117), 24.


Stephen Mitchell, Anatolia: Land, Men, and Gods in Asia Minor, Oxford 1993, 1:176.


Hans Schäfer, Paroikoi, PRE 18/4 (1949) 1695–1707, here 1698: Paroikoi are “die nicht dem Vollbürgertum zugerechnet wird, aber auch nicht zu den Fremden gehört, sondern zwischen diesen beiden Gegensätzen in der Mitte steht. Das Bedeutsamste am Wesen der Paroikie ist, daß sie von dem einzelnen Staat als Instituion anerkannt wird. Man wird unter die Paroiken der einzelnen Gemeinden aufgenommen, sei es, daß man als Fremder sich nach mehr oder weniger langer Anwesenheit darum beworben hat, sei es, daß der Staat Sklaven, Freigelassenen und anderen minderberechtigen Bevölkerungsklassen die Zugehörigkeit zur Paroikie gewährt, um diese zu verpflichten”; similarly, Bechtler, Following (see n. 118), 71–73.


See also I.Stratonikeia 210.7–8 (Sanctuary of Zeus Panamaros Stratonikeia, Roman period): διπνίσας δὲ [κ]αὶ τοὺς πολείτα[ς πάντας καὶ τοὺς Ῥωμαίους] | [καὶ τοὺς ξένους καὶ παροίκους καὶ δ]ούλους, “[…] having banqueted both all the citizens and the Romans and the visitors and the paroikoi and the slaves. […]”


Text and translation: Joyce M. Reynolds, Aphrodisias and Rome: Documents from the Excavation of the Theatre at Aphrodisias Conducted by Professor Kenan T. Erim, Together with Some Related Texts (Journal of Roman Studies Monographs.1), London 1982, 11–16.


See also I.Priene 113.81–84 (Priene, 84–81 bce): παραστήσας τὴν εἰθισμένη[ν] γείνεσθαι τῶι Διὶ | τῶι Κεραυνίωι θυσίαν μετέδωκεν μὲν τῶν ἱερῶν τοῖ[ς] τε πολίταις καὶ παροί|κοις καὶ κατοίκοις καὶ ξέν̣οις καὶ Ῥωμαίοις καὶ δούλοις, τοὺς δε β[ο]υ̣λευτὰς καὶ τὰς συναρχί|ας καὶ ἐδείπνισεν ἐν τῷ [τ]οῦ θεοῦ τόπωι·, “[…] offering the customary sacrifice to Zeus Keraunos he gave a portion of the victims to the citizens and the paroikoi and the inhabitants and the visitors and the Romans and the slaves, and he banqueted those who wished and the magistracy in the temple of the god.” Schäfer (see n. 123) gives numerous other examples, many from Asia Minor.


See David Whitehead, Immigrant Communities in the Classical Polis: Some Principles for a Synoptic Treatment, L’Antiquité classique 53 (1984) 47–59 and Denise Demetriou, Negotiating Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean: The Archaic and Classical Greek Multiethnic Emporia, Cambridge/New York 2012. Metics in Athens (likely the equivalent of πάροικοι elsewhere) existed in significant numbers in Attica (mainly in the Piraeus) could not hold office or land (except by a grant of enktesis for those who showed themselves to be loyal to Athens, Xenophon, De vectigalibus 2,5–6), but contributed to taxes through the metoikion and were expected to contribute to civic life. They could participate in civic rituals through the mediation of a proxenos but had their own rituals that were observed by Athenian population. A ξένος did not have the rights of a metic, but one who had remained in Athens for an unknown amount of time was required to find a prostates and enlist in an Athenian deme as a metic. Athens set up special courts to deal with the legal cases of metics and visitors, many of whom were commercial traders, and while they could not avail themselves of Athenian privileges, required expeditious resolution of lawsuits, etc.


Compare, e. g., Marie-Françoise Baslez, Les communautes d’orientaux dans la cite grecque: Formes de sociabilité ed modèles associatifs, in: Raoul Lonis (ed.), L’Etranger dans le monde grec: Actes du colloque organisé par l’Institut d’études anciennes, Nancy, mai 1987 (Travaux et Mémoires. Études Anciennes 4), Nancy 1988, 139–158, here 148: “les conditions propres au milieu grec ont marqué le développement de ces communautés qui expriment une réelle volonté d’intégration. Elle se traduit dans l’utilisation de la terminologie et du langage politique de la cité. Elle révèle surtout la connaissance et la pratique du droit attique dont ces étrangers reprennent les catégories: celle religieuse des ‘dieux ancestraux’; celle, judiciaire et administrative, des ‘gens de mer’; celle, financière, des associations de cotisants de type ‘érane’ ou ‘synode’. Tout cela semble surtout résulter de leur expérience de gens de métier, acquise dans l’emporion. À Athènes, ils y vivaient protégés – par un droit favorable, en symbiose avec des citoyens et d’autres étrangers, libres de s’associer à eux en de multiples occasions et sous de multiples formes.”


See Elliott, 1 Peter (see n. 115), 435–438 for a discussion of the translation of this phrase.


On James, John S. Kloppenborg, James 1:2–15 and Hellenistic Psychagogy, NT 52 (2010) 37–71; on Clement, see Salvatore R. C. Lilla, Clement of Alexandria: A Study in Christian Platonism and Gnosticism, Oxford 1971, 60–117.


See Bruce W. Winter, Seek the Welfare of the City: Christians as Benefactors and Citizens (First-Century Christians in the Graeco-Roman World), Grand Rapids/Carlisle 1994, 39: “The picture emerges of a positive rôle being taken by rich Christians for the well-being of the community at large and the appropriateness and importance of due recognition by ruling authorities for their contributions. The Christians in Greek cities in the East were exhorted to undertake the same benefactions as did their secular counterparts.”


David L. Balch, Let Wives Be Submissive: The Domestic Code in 1 Peter (SBL.MS 26), Chico, Calif. 1981, 81.


David L. Balch, Hellenization/Acculturation in 1 Peter, in: Charles H. Talbert (ed.), Perspectives on First Peter (National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, Special Studies Series no. 9), Macon 1986, 79–101.


Elliott, 1 Peter (see n. 115), 501, based on the lack of a warrant analogous to Rom 13,1–7 in the letter. Paul J. Achtemeier, 1 Peter: A Commentary on First Peter (Hermeneia), Minneapolis 1996, 188 thinks that the “repetition of the verb τιμάω rather than φοβέομαι in relation to the emperor […] represents a different, and devalued understanding of imperial authority.” Similarly, Leonard Goppelt, A Commentary on 1 Peter, Grand Rapids 1993, 190. Most recently David Horrell (Between Conformity and Resistance: Beyond the Balch-Elliott Debate Towards a Postcolonial Reading of First Peter, in: Robert L. Webb/Betsy Bauman-Martin [eds.], Reading First Peter with New Eyes [Library of New Testament Studies 364], London/New York 2007, 135) suggests that the author subsumes the role of the emperor under πάσῃ ἀνθρωπίνῃ κτίσει of 2,13, which implies that he “implicitly denies any claim that the emperor is θεῖος.”


Philip A. Harland, Honours and Worship: Emperors, Imperial Cults and Associations at Ephesus (First to Third Centuries C.E.), SR 25 (1996) 319–334, esp. 326–328. From the time of Augustus onward, Roman collegia used the term collegia salutare which, as Andreas Bendlin (Associations, Funerals, Sociality, and Roman Law The Collegium of Diana and Antinous in Lanuvium [CIL 14.2112] Reconsidered, in: Markus Öhler [ed.], Aposteldekret und antikes Vereinswesen [WUNT 280], Tübingen 2011, 216–223, here 222) has shown, reflects “an expression of loyalty to the imperial centre, inseparable from the concept of Salus Augusti, which since the first century was established as a central element of imperial propaganda but reached an apex in the Antonine period.”


Warren Carter, Going All the Way? Honoring the Emperor and Sacrificing Wives and Slaves: 1 Peter 2:13–3:6, in: Amy-Jill Levine/M. M. Robbins (eds.), A Feminist Companion to the Catholic Epistles and Hebrews, London/New York 2004, 14–33, here 25. The citation is of William L. Schutter, Hermeneutic and Composition in First Peter (WUNT 2/30), Tübingen 1989, 43.


Even if Tessa Rajak, Benefactors in the Greco-Jewish Diaspora, in: Hubert Cancik/Hermann Lichtenberger/Peter Schäfer (eds.), Geschichte – Tradition – Reflexion: Festschrift für Martin Hengel zum 70. Geburtstag, Tübingen 1996, 305–319 is right that diasporic Judaeans exhibited a level of restraint in their honorific inscriptions, it remains that they did participate in the culture of honours.


See Martin Dibelius, Der Hirt des Hermas (HNT Ergänzungsband: Die apostolischen Väter 4), Tübingen 1923, 550, citing Philo, Agr 65: “For in reality every soul of a sage has heaven for its country, and looks upon earth as a foreign land, and considers the house of wisdom his own home; but the house of the body, a lodging-house, on which it proposes to visit (παρεπιδημεῖν) for a while”; Cher 120: “for God, [the wise] are strangers and resident aliens (ἐπηλύται καὶ πάροικοι); for each of us comes into the world as to a foreign city, in which he has no share before his birth, and coming there dwells as a resident alien (παροικεῖ) until he has exhausted the period of life that has been assigned.”


Carolyn Osiek, Shepherd of Hermas: A Commentary (Hermeneia), Minneapolis 1999, 158.


Carolyn Osiek, Rich and Poor in the Shepherd of Hermas: An Exegetical-Social Investigation (CBQ.MS 15), Washington 1983, 127–132.


See Nicholas Purcell, Wine and Wealth in Ancient Italy, JRS 75 (1985) 1–19, who observes that viticulture, which was profitable but risky, was prior to the time of Vespasian the domain of freedmen, municipal elites, and others of middling rank rather than that of patricians.


Arjan J. Zuiderhoek, The Politics of Munificence in the Roman Empire: Citizens, Elites, and Benefactors in Asia Minor (Greek Culture in the Roman World), Cambridge/New York 2009, 34.


Peter Brown, Through the Eye of a Needle: Wealth, the Fall of Rome, and the Making of Christianity in the West, 350–550 AD, Princeton/Oxford 2012, chaps 3–4. Earlier, id., Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire, Hanover, NH 2002, 8: “To put it bluntly: in a sense, it was the Christian bishops who invented the poor. They rose to leadership in late Roman society by bringing the poor into ever-sharper focus.”


Similarly, Plutarch, Praecepta gerendae rei publicae 821F–822B; Pliny, Ep 1,8.


See much earlier, an Athenian example cited in Lysias 19.56, on which see Matthew R. Christ, Helping Behavior in Classical Athens, Phoenix 64 (2010) 254–229.


Pliny, Ep 7,18: quae in alimenta ingenuorum ingenuarumque promiseram; CIL V 5262.13–14: dedit in aliment(a) pueror(um) | et puellar(um) pleb(is) urban(ae) HS [D(milia), “he gave HS 500,000 for the maintenance of boys and girls of the city.” See Suzanne Dixon, Gracious Patrons and Vulgar Success Stories in Roman Public Media, Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome. Supplementary Volume 7: Role Models in the Roman World. Identity and Assimilation (2008) 57–68.


Greg Woolf, Food, Poverty and Patronage: The Significance of the Epigraphy of the Roman Alimentary Schemes in Early Imperial Italy, Proceedings of the British School at Rome 58 (1990) 197–228, here 227.


E. g., the decree of citizens of Comum, recognizing Pliny’s benefactions: CIL V 5262 = ILS 2927.


See also Christ, Behavior (see n. 145), for Athenian examples of wealthy citizens providing food and burial expenses for poorer Athenians (in their family networks).


P.Mich. V 243.6, 8–9: ἐάν τις παρίδῃ τινὰ ἐν ἀηδίᾳ καὶ μὴ συνεπισχύσῃ ἐπὶ τὸ συλλῦσαι αὐτὸν τῆς ἀηδίας, δότω (δρ.) η’ … ἐάν τις πρὸς ἰδιωτικ(ὸν) | παραδοθῇ, ἐγγυάσθωσαν αὐτὸν ἕως ἀργ(υρίου) (δρ.) ἑκατὸν π̣ρ̣ὸ̣ς̣ ἡμέρ(ας) λ’, ἐν αἷς ἀπευλυτήσει τοὺς ἄνδρας.


See also Sim 2,1,7: “Therefore both complete a work: Now the poor works by the intercession in which he is rich, which he received from the Lord; this he repays (ἀποδίδωσι) to the Lord who helps him. And the rich man, similarly, unhesitatingly offers the wealth that he received from the Lord to the poor. And this is a great work, and acceptable before God, because he knows about his wealth and has given to the poor from the gifts of the Lord, and rightly completed his service (διακονία) to him.” Here the use of διακονία suggests that the actions of the rich amount to an officium. Compare Woolf, Food (see n. 147), 217: “The good citizen’s officium was to use his good fortune for the benefit of communities to which he had responsibilities. But the relationship was one of reciprocity, not of altruism: in return for his beneficia the benefactor wins status and gratia.”


The public proclamation of the crowning of a member or benefactor is widely attested, both in associations (e. g., ΑΜ 66 228 no. 4 (138/7 bce); IG II2 1263.37, 43–45 = GRA I 11 (300/299 bce); IG II2 1273AB.17 = GRA I 18 (265/4 bce); IG II2 1277.24 = GRA I 15 (278/7 bce); IG II2 1292.14 = GRA I 26 (215/4 bce)); IG II2 1297.14 = GRA I 24 (236/5 bce); IG II2 1314.20–21 = GRA I 28 (213/2 bce); IG II2 1315.25 = GRA I 29 (211/0 bce); IG II2 1325.29 = GRA I 33 (185/4 bce) and in the polis (IG II2 212.29; 555.16, 21–22; 654.44, etc.).


Albert Harrill (per litt.) has suggested additional texts in which Hermas imagines a reciprocal exchange between the “poor” and the Christian benefactor. Sim 5,7 (56,7) advises that the benefactor fast, estimate the cost of the food that was not consumed, and give this amount to the widow or orphan or someone in need, who in turn “will fill own soul and pray to the Lord for you.” Since prayer in antiquity was normally vocal, such a prayer amounts to a public recognition of benefaction.


Amy Robinson, It Takes One to Know One: Passing and Communities of Common Interest, Critical Inquiry 20 (1994) 715–736; Elaine K. Ginsberg, Introduction, in: Elaine K. Ginsberg (ed.), Passing and the Fictions of Identity, Durham, NC: Duke University 1996, 1–18.


Andrew Jacobs, Passing: Jesus’ Circumcision and Strategic Self-Sacrifice, in: Jennifer W. Knust/Zsuzsanna Várhelyi (eds.), Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice, Oxford 2011, 251–264, here 253, citing Robinson, It Takes One to Know One (see n. 154), 728. I am indebted to Albert Harrill for these references.


I am grateful for criticisms and suggestions by Albert Harrill, Markus Öhler, Richard Ascough, Richard Last, Laura Nasrallah, and members of the SNTS seminar on the Social History of Early Christianity.

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