Markus Vinzent

All roads lead to Rome. The perspective adopted here is that Rome absorbed many cross-currents from around the early Christian world, and, far from itself generating or disseminating a specific theology, the Roman church was fragmented and subject to repeated internal upheavals in the first three centuries. Time and again, this church found itself affected by controversies imported by immigrants from around the empire. This seems, generally speaking, a truer characterisation than Walter Bauer's much discussed thesis that originally heretical forms of Christianity elsewhere were brought into line by Rome seeking to impose its authority on other Christian communities.1

The evidence

Evidence for the ancient city of Rome itself, its history and society, is far too extensive to detail here.2 Christians had little impact on the city's life or monumental architecture prior to the major building programme undertaken by Constantine.3

For Christianity in Rome there are literary sources, both Christian and non-Christian, and material evidence of various types. Literary sources include:

Letters sent to Rome: by the apostle Paul (included in the New Testament canon); also by (Pseudo-?) Ignatius, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Dionysius of Alexandria and others;

Works produced in Rome: Mark's gospel (possibly), 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the works of Justin, Tatian, Hippolytus, Novatian; letters from

1 Bauer, Orthodoxy andheresy; Altendorf, 'Zum Stichwort'; Robinson, The Bauer thesis.

2 See pt i, ch. 3, above; Steinby, Lexicon topographicum urbis Romae; Claridge etal., Rome: an archaeological guide; Alfoldy, Social history of Rome.

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