Topic for 1998-1999:
Religious Identities in Asia Minor in the First through the Fourth Centuries CE

The Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins in its 36th year, will explore the topic of "Religious Identities in Asia Minor in the 1st through the 4th Centuries CE " in 1998-99. Speakers from universities across the country will address issues concerning varieties of Christianity, Judaism and "paganisms" in this geographic region and time frame. These talks will deal with a variety of evidence and approaches ranging from textual to archaeological. This topic presents interesting opportunities and challenges to scholars interested in issues of religious identity. Considering these identity issues in a specific geographical and chronological context supplies focus and coherence to the topic at hand.

Asia Minor was a crossroads of varying political and cultural perspectives for vying Greek, Hellenistic and Roman ideals in this time frame. Religious movements intersected and articulated complex understandings of their internal and external relationships and identities. Scholarship has long focused strongly on the political and economic history of this region, but has only recently turned to a concern for the people and their religious approaches.

Some questions that might be illuminated through this year's topic include: How does Asia Minor work as a test case for studying these various religious identities? How does the time frame effect the topics investigated? Is our geographic and chronological limit meaningful for all the traditions studied? How do the diverse religious traditions interrelate with and influence one another? How fixed and/or separate are these identities. How are such identities defined? Where might such inquiries lead scholarship in these disciplines?


24 September 1998 Vasiliki Limberis, Temple University
"Cappadocian Households"
3 December 1998 Laura Hebert, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
"The Temple Becomes the Cathedral: The Final Victory of Christianity at Aphrodisias"
21 January 1999 Steve Friesen, University of Missouri-Columbia
"Asiarchs and Provincial High-Priesthoods: Breaking into the Vicious Circle"
18 February 1999 Steven Fine, Baltimore Hebrew University
"'Find, Open, Read and Observe': Judaism in the Synagogues of Asia Minor during Late Antiquity"
18 March 1999 Martha Himmelfarb, Princeton University
"Judaism in 1st-4th Century Asia Minor:
An Overview of the Problems and Possiblities for Further Research"

This meeting will be held in Princeton.
22 April 1999 Susanna Elm, University of California, Berkeley
"Gregory of Nazianzus on the Bishop:
Imagining an Ideal -- Orations 1-3, 6, and 42+ 43"