|Niko Huttunen, Senior researcher
Mutual Recognition: Christians and the Roman Society until the Beginning of the 3rd Century
In the previous decades scholars have vividly discussed the relationship between early Christianity and the Roman Empire. The so-called anti-imperial reading of the New Testament and other early Christian literature has reached a strong and visible position. According to this reading early Christianity was thoroughly against the Roman power politics and Emperor, not only its religious dimensions. There, however, are factors which question the model of full collision between the Christians and the Roman society. There were also shared categories, of which I study three areas: (1) philosophy, (2) civil government, and (3) army. The first area deals with the symbolic level, while the second concentrates on the political level. The third area sheds light on the concrete social relations between Christians and the representatives of the Empire. I read early Christian texts and Roman texts on Christians to prove my case. Especially, the Roman texts I read are rarely or superficially studied in the scholarship. I will show that the Roman attitude was not only hostile but there were also more positive voices. I also refer to archeological evidence in placing Christianity in the army around 200 CE.