Indigenous and assimilated foreign cults retained their influence. Asia Minor was long established as home to cults of Zeus, the Phrygian Men, mother goddesses (notably Cybele), divinised heroes, and monotheism as well.30 From the site of the Mysteries at Eleusis (overrun and partially destroyed by invasion in 170 ce), through the cult of Poseidon, Ephesus' economic embrace with the cult of Artemis, and Aphrodisias' link to Aphrodite, religious symbols embedded inbuildings, institutions, writings, sculpture and other artefacts were used to define, claim and retain power. The imperial cult was boosted in Domitian's time (d. 96 ce), notably in Pergamum, Smyrna and Ephesus. Christian self-definition was refined in response.31 Gaps in the evidence and the rural and undocumented nature of much of the territory prevent a comprehensive overview of the religious and cultural interface of Christians with their surroundings.

Christianity in this context

Early Christian traditions about Ephesus32 and Athens (Acts 17-19; cf. 1 Cor. 1:14; 15:32; 18:23; 19:1,10) show the interface between Christians, Jews, pagans, city politics and magic.33 The presence of diaspora Jews had been important in determining the locations for evangelism but, where confident Jewish communities existed, so might Jews, Christians, pagans and the authorities be in tension. The fourth gospel, traditionally associated with Ephesus, suggests this34 and Luke's picture of fraught relations between evangelists, Jews, and a sometimes hostile populace in Achaea and Asia does too (e.g. Acts 13:42-51; 14:1-7; 18:5-17,19-20).

Building on the Pauline foundation,35 parts of urban and rural Asia Minor saw significant growth for the Christians' superstitio (Plin. Ep. 96, in 112 ce; cf. Euseb. HE 8.1). Epigraphy shows Christians beyond the cities, while distaste for the New Prophecy (Euseb. HE 5.16.7; 5.18.2) included denigration of its beginnings in a 'village' and in 'little' places in Phrygia. Most sources concern urban Christians, however.

30 Mitchell, Anatolia, vols. 1 and 11; 'The cult of Theos Hypsistos'; and Strobel, Das heilige Land.

31 Trummer, Denkmaler; Jones, 'Roman imperial cult'; Geagan, 'Roman Athens', 386-7, 398-9, 408; Brent, Imperial cult; Harland, 'Christ-bearers' and 'Imperial cults'.

32 On Ephesus seeKoester(ed.), Pergamon; van Tilborg, ReadingJohn; and Arnold, Ephesians.

33 Klauck, Magic; Arnold, Ephesians; Trevett, Christian women, pt 3 on Ephesus.

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