Gothic and other early Germanic Christianities

Christianity began to spread in the Germanic world during the latter part of the third century among the Goths, who arrived in the region to the north of the Black Sea in the 230s. By the year 270, they had split to form two peoples, the Greutungi or Ostrogoths between the Don and the Dniestr and the Tervingi between the Dniestr and the Olt. It is there, in what is today's Moldavia and eastern Romania, that Gothic Christianity is to be found for the first time.1 It started with a group of Christians who had been abducted during a Gothic invasion of the Roman province of Cappadocia (Inner Anatolia) in 257. These Christians were able to preserve their Christian faith and pass it on to their descendants, who became assimilated into their Gothic environment; this was possible because they obviously succeeded in building up a formal Christian community. A bishopric was even created for Gothia, the area occupied by the Tervingian Goths, which was represented at the Council of Nicaea in 325 by a bishop named Theophilus. Early Gothic Christianity consisted, therefore, not of Christianised Goths but of Gothicised Christians. In addition to the descendants of the Cappadocian founders, it probably also included other Christians of Roman origin. From the period around 370, a series of names of Gothic Christians has come down to us, and most of them are not of Germanic origin.

In 332 Constantine the Great succeeded in winning the Tervingian Goths as federates to the Roman empire, a development that was also to benefit the Christians among them. On the occasion of a Gothic legation to the imperial court, probably in 336, the reader Ulfila was consecrated bishop for the Christians in the land of the Goths, possibly as the successor to Theophilus. His consecrator was Eusebius of Nicomedia who was closely connected with

1 K. Schaferdiek,'Die Anfange des Christentums bei den Goten und der sog. gotische Arianismus'.

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