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CALL. 18.12.2020: Christian Origins and the Mediterranean Landscape - Groningen (Netherleands)




LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Groningen (Groningen, Netherlands) - Protestant Theological University in Groningen (Groningen, Netherlands)


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The earliest Christ-followers emerged onto a complex religious, political, and socio-economic scene in the early Roman Empire. We even debate how to name this group: Judeans? Jews? Christians? Their earliest material culture is largely invisible, because it is difficult to distinguish from the products of other groups at the time. Their literary references often echo those of the surrounding culture. This conference allows us to explore the emergence of those who would be later named as “Christians.” We shall examine their similarities and differences to contemporaneous groups, often focusing on evidence from those who are not elite. Our hope is that this conference gives room for participants

1) to start our analysis by carefully scrutinizing various objects and texts

2) to make larger arguments about early Christ-followers as they are embedded within their local contexts

3) to focus our scholarly attention on texts or objects that are little studied and that reveal something about who are usually marginal to the historical record

4) to help us to reconstruct ritual and embodied daily life among Christ-followers and others in the ancient Mediterranean world.

Within this theme, we welcome paper proposals that address the following questions, and offer case studies of particular passages and objects.

− How do we reconstruct the lives of those who did not belong to the male elite among the earliest Christ-followers? Among other contemporaneous groups and cults? How can we reconstruct a robust history of women, the enslaved, and those of low economic or educational status in antiquity?

− What do we know of the earliest liturgies and rituals of Christ-followers, and how are these related to the rituals and hymns of other local and trans-local groups and cults?

− To what extent and in what ways did early Christian visual culture (paintings, inscriptions, etc.) resemble or differ from non-Christian visual culture? How can we distinguish earliest Christian material culture from its surroundings?

− What can we reconstruct of the variety of Christian responses to manifestations of local and imperial power?

− To what extent does literary, documentary, epigraphical, and archaeological evidence point to Christ-followers as responding to their unique locations, and to what extent does this evidence indicate a trans-local phenomenon? How are the local and the trans-local connected?

− Some Christians claimed to be a “new race.” How did their ethnic claims com-pare with other contemporaneous groups?

− How did the earliest spread of Christ-devotion manifest itself in both urban and rural contexts? To what extent was the earliest spread of Christ-devotion an urban phenomenon? How can we reconstruct rural Christ-communities?

− To what extent and in what ways did early Christian buildings (churches, basilicas, etc.) resemble or differ from non-Christian building practices, and how were these buildings situated in the landscape?

− To what extent and in what ways did literary texts produced by Christ-followers engage the (intellectual and physical) Mediterranean landscape?

Deadline for Abstracts PhD and Research Master students are invited to submit a proposal of a topic (500 words) for the Master Class (11 March 2021), explaining how their own research relates to the theme. Postdocs and other faculty members are invited to submit a title and abstract (250 words) for a lecture at the Annual Meeting (12 March 2021). Proposals must be submitted no later than 18 December, 2020 via If possible, CRASIS will contribute to travel and accommodation costs.

Annual Meeting and Masterclass CRASIS is the interdisciplinary research institute for the study of the ancient world at the University of Groningen and the Protestant Theological University in Groningen. It brings together researchers from Classics, Theology and Religious Studies, Ancient History, Archaeology, Ancient Philosophy, and Legal History, focusing on Greek, Roman, Jewish and Near Eastern civilizations and their mutual interaction.

The Annual Meeting and Masterclass is a two-day event, set up as a meeting place for students at the PhD or Research Master level, postdocs, and faculty, to promote discussion and exchange ideas beyond disciplinary boundaries. Each year, an internationally acknowledged expert in one of the fields represented by CRASIS is invited to give a masterclass for (Research)MA and PhD students and to deliver the CRASIS Keynote Lecture at the annual meeting.

Information for PhD/ReMa Students To participate in the Masterclass, Research Master students are expected to submit a paper of 3,000–4,000 words. PhD students submit a paper of 5,000–6,000 words. These papers will be circulated among the master and the participants and are therefore to be submitted no later than 22 January, 2021. During the Masterclass participants will briefly present their paper, followed by a response by a fellow student and discussion under the guidance of Prof. Nasrallah. The Masterclass is an OIKOS and ARCHON activity and students will earn 2 ECTS by active participation.

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