5:1-11), in some ways like a philosophical school, yet publicly exhibitingJewish piety, especially in the temple, and in many ways resembling the Pharisees. Major parts of this picture are probably the results of idealisation and the special apologetic and theological aims of the writer of Acts. Actually we can be certain of very little about the forms that the first Christian communities in Jerusalem took. Yet they must have been of crucial importance for the next, decisive phase of Christian development, the move to cities outside the land of Israel.
A laconic sentence in Acts provides our only substantial clue to the beginning ofthe urban, inclusive mission that set the pattern for Christianity's expansion:
Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the Word to none except Jews. But there were some of them, Cypriots and Cyrenaeans, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Greeks also. (Acts 11:19-20)
Stephen's circle is identified with a wing of the Jerusalem Christian group called Hellenistai (Acts 6:1), that is, converts from the Greek-speaking Jews of Jerusalem, many of whom had probably been reared in diaspora cities and later resettled in Judaea (cf. 6:9).12 If this statement is historically reliable, it was these Greek-speaking, Christian Jews who began the self-conscious mission to Gentiles, and the great metropolis, Antioch on the Orontes, was the startingpoint. It was in that city that the former Pharisee Paul of Tarsus, after his conversion, served his apprenticeship as a Christian missionary - his earlier venture into the Nabataean kingdom (Arabia', Gal 1:17) had apparently not been successful (cf, 2 Cor 11:32-3, and note that Arabia is not included in the 'circle' Paul outlines in Rom 15:19). According to Acts, it was in Antioch, too, that the followers of Messiah Jesus were first called Christianoi (Acts 11:26), most likely by outsiders who now recognised them as a sect distinguishable from the main Jewish community.
We know of a number of other cities into which Christianity was introduced within a decade or so ofJesus' execution, including Damascus and Rome, and we may guess from later evidence that Christian groups were established early in the cities of Egypt and North Africa. Unfortunately, however, we have
12 In nineteenth- and early twentieth-century scholarship, the 'Hellenists' were often assumed to be an organised party in opposition to the 'Jewish Christians,' and the conflict between them was taken to be the major force driving the evolution of early Christianity toward the 'synthesis' of'early catholicism.' For a convincing refutation of this view, see Hill, Hellenists and Hebrews.
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