|Ulla Tervahauta, Post-doctoral researcher
Christians, Jews and Pagans in Egypt and Palestine, 300–600 CE
I examine Christian attitudes towards non-Christians in Egypt and Palestine c. 300–600 CE, an era when Christianity gained ground at the expense of Jewish and pagan traditions. My aim is to analyse interaction between different religious and ethnic groups from the viewpoint of tolerant attitudes and interaction. Written sources tends to emphasise polemic against the other, but this study sheds light on the hazy areas of encounters and co-existence left in the shadows of the written sources and their agendas.
The research is built on case studies that reflect the topic, such as Christian use of non-Christian materials with emphasis on positive aspects seen in non-Christian traditions and sympathetic portrayals of the other. My working hypothesis is that texts that promote ideals and aim at building identities emphasise Christian distinctiveness, whilst texts with practical orientation are less strict of the other.
My source materials are predominantly literary, and key sources are Christian writings from the fourth to the seventh century that stem from monastic environs. I intend to combine literary sources to perspectives gained from archaeological study, and I am member of the Kinneret Regional Project excavations in Horvat Kur, Galilee.
The larger aim of the study is to understand Christianisation of Palestine and Egypt. To study two geographical areas together enables comparison and discussion of parallel developments, interaction and influences on the linked areas.