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Travel Among Early Christians: A Socio-Theological Analysis of Pauline and Ignatian Communities

BORGES, JASON,GERALD (2023) Travel Among Early Christians: A Socio-Theological Analysis of Pauline and Ignatian Communities. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Travel among early Christians was a symbolic action performed within a matrix of social conventions and theological beliefs. This thesis analyzes particular travel events in Pauline and Ignatian communities to discern how travel expressed early Christian social identity and theological convictions. Methodological insights from mobility studies, transport economics, and social identity, as well as from ancient social institutions that facilitated travel, enable us to interpret the meanings of early Christians’ physical movement.

Among Paul’s letters, Galatians and Philemon provide particularly rich data on the function and meaning of early Christian travel. Paul’s travel into Galatia progressed through social connections, and the Galatians’ hospitable response to Paul demonstrated their participation in Christ. Within the Christian community, Philemon functioned as a host who refreshed itinerant believers through his hospitality and so was asked to host future traveling ministers. Onesimus’ journey to find an amicus domini indicates the significance of Christian social connectivity across space. When Onesimus returned, Paul commended him as a gospel minister for Philemon to host and support, an act that would re-constitute their social identities.

Ignatius’ travel across Asia Minor, as evidenced in his seven letters, instigate a flurry of wide-ranging travel among the churches in Asia. They visited the convict to provide encouragement and material support—a reflection of early Christian theological convictions regarding suffering. Ignatius then requested that distant churches send embassies to his church in Syria to promote intercivic harmony between the distant churches.

In each of these cases, travel embodied and formed a rich set of social connections and theological beliefs. The praxis of travel reflected and constructed the communal identity, beliefs, and values of early Christians. Movement among communities, a sacred action with theological meaning, expressed Christians transregional identity and an alternative honor code.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:travel, Paul, Ignatius, early Christianity, social history, hospitality
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2023
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:25 Oct 2023 09:14

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