Christians with Christians

Achaea and especially Asia Minor lay as the geographical heartland between the extremes of west and east of the empire. Corinth's two ports had made it accessible to Italy and Asia alike. One of them, Cenchreae, had had a Christian presence in the 50s(Rom 16:1). Traffic and correspondence between Asia Minor and Achaea was constant.

Some Christians travelled extensively, visited, and resettled (Acts 18:1-2,1921; M. Polyc. 4; Euseb. HE 4.23; 5.1.17 and 49; 6.27.1; 6.32.3 (Jerome Ep. 33.4); 7.14.1; 7.32.5). They journeyed to debate contested matters, as when Firmil-ian, Helenus, Nicomas and Gregory Thaumaturgus attended synods on the Novatian schism and concerning Paul of Samosata (Euseb. HE 6.46.3; 7.23.1; 7.30.2-5). Origen might be found in Cappadocia or in Greece, and Firmilian in Judaea (Euseb. HE 6.23.4 and 32.2; 6.27). Pastoral guidance and philanthropy got around (1 Clem. (Euseb. HE 4.23.9-11; cf. 3.16; Ign. Rom. 3.1); Bas. Ep. 70; Euseb. HE 6.19.15-18 (lay preachers)).

Christians' texts were rhetorical implements of power, creating truth, cementing or refining relationships between individuals and churches, providing weaponry for one fray or another (Euseb. HE 4.23 (Dionysius)). Socrates of Corinth copied the Martyrdom ofPolycarp in Smyrna (M. Polyc. 22) and it was sent to churches unnamed, apart from the one in Philomelium (Phrygia). Christians of Gaul, in correspondence and debate with Rome, Asia and Phrygia about the New Prophecy (Euseb. HE 5.3.4), sent to the churches an account of martyrdoms (Euseb. HE 5.1.2). Dionysius of Corinth wrote, sometimes by request, to inform, encourage, and provide others with ammunition against error.

What survives is the correspondence of like with like: Ignatius with Poly-carp; Polycarp with a Macedonian church seething about malpractice and erroneous teaching (Poly. Phil.); Firmilian with Cyprian in Carthage during the controversy with Rome about the (re-)baptism of heretics (Cypr. Ep. 75.17; cf., Euseb. HE 7.5.3-5). We have no letters from Marcionites to Novatianists or Montanists to catholics. In Gaul, the Asian Irenaeus typified an empire-wide Christian vision as he mediated with Eleutherus in Rome (Euseb. HE 5.4.1-2) or rebuked Victor in the heat of the Quartodeciman controversy.

Within and between catholic churches (and perhaps within other kinds too), there were networks of support. Claims to a shared body of proto-orthodox belief stood alongside tensions, heightened by differences of theological and ecclesiological kinds, and by regional sensibilities. In Asia Minor and Achaea,

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