Origen speaks of a 'meek and quiet' community in Athens c.250, and one of its inscriptions from the later third century survives.43 There also appear to be pre-Constantinian funerary inscriptions in Beroea, Corinth, Edessa, Philippi and Thessalonica.44 The early churches in provincial Greece and the Aegean islands are known from pre-fourth-century installations and artefacts; these include a catacomb on the island of Melos, burials pre-dating the construction of the early fourth-century Sanatorium basilica in Knossos, and lamps found in burials at Philippi and Patras.45

Size of the Christian population and proportion to non-Christians

Christians seem to have been a tiny minority in most Mediterranean towns c.300, but there was local variation. There are only four known places where Christianity was demographically dominant c.300: at Cotiaeum and Eumeneia in Phrygia, at Orkistos, a village in the territory of pagan Nacolea, also in Phrygia, and at Maiuma, the seaport of Gaza. A smaller city, Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, already had two churches in 295; both were prominent landmarks, giving their names to streets, but the town also had at least four pagan tem-ples.46 A substantial number of its citizens, but perhaps not a majority, were Christian. Provincial capitals and imperial residences like Antioch, Nicomedia, Rome and Thessalonica seem to have been largely Christian only near the middle of the fourth century. Many provincial towns probably went the way of Bostra in Arabia, with a rough balance between pagans and Christians by the mid- to later fourth century.47 In contrast, towns like Aphrodisias, Ascalon, Athens, Baalbek-Heliopolis, Carrhae-Harran, Delphi and Gaza, to name but a few, had predominantly pagan city councils until the late fourth or early fifth centuries. Estimates of the size of the Christian communities c.300 can only be made by reasoning backwards in time from later, better-documented periods, but this cannot always give satisfactory results. A. H. M.Jones' broad familiarity with the epigraphic data didnot convince him of Gibbon's 5 per cent estimate, which may be a little low for some provinces to judge from the epigraphic finds from Phrygia and papyrological evidence in


44 Mullen, Expansion of Christianity, 160-2,164-6.

45 Laskaris, Monuments funéraires, 45f, 320, 446.

46 Trombley, Hellenic religion and Christianization, vol. 11, 243f.

47 Julian, Epistulae 41.

48 Jones, Later Roman Empire, 96f;Bagnall, Egyptinlate antiquity, 280f.Cf.Barnes, Constantine and Eusebius, 142.

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