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?