Lettered Christians

Christians, Letters, and Late Antique Oxyrhynchus


With the discovery of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri just over a century ago a number of important texts directly relating to ancient Christianity have come to light. While certain literary texts have received considerable attention in scholarship by comparison the documentary evidence relating to Christianity has received far less attention and remains rather obscure. To help redress this imbalance, and to lend some context to the Christian literary materials, this book examines the extant Christian epistolary remains from Oxyrhynchus between the third and seventh centuries CE. Drawing upon this unique corpus of evidence, which until this point has never been collectively nor systematically treated, this book breaks new ground as it employs the letters to consider various questions relating to Christianity in the Oxyrhynchite. Not only does this lucid study fill a void in scholarship, it also gives a number of insights that have larger implications on Christianity in late antiquity.

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Lincoln H. Blumell, Ph.D. (2009) in Religious Studies, University of Toronto, is Assistant Professor in Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. He has published mainly on early Christianity in Egypt and Greek Papyrology.
'a comprehensive study of Christianity in the Oxyhrynchite nome through the prism of letters written by Christians and preserved on papyrus. It also forms a rich introduction to the entire subject of Christian papyri and early Christianity in Egypt in general. [...] The book is highly readable and well argued. [...] Overall, B. has written a very important book, which heralds the arrival of a major new scholar in the field of the history of Christianity in Egypt. Congratulations on the volume reviewed here should be accompanied by the hope that B. continues to offer further insights on this material in the future.'
Malcolm Choat, Macquarie University, TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 2015 http://rosetta.reltech.org/TC/v20/TC-2015-Rev-Blumell-Choat.pdf

"Blumell’s meticulous study offers new insights into the world of late antique Christianity at Oxyrhynchus between the third and seventh centuries C.E. and is a very welcome investigation into important aspects of the sociocultural life and world of ancient Christians.[...] Lincoln Blumell is to be both congratulated for his fascinating, meticulous, and invaluable investigation into Christian letter writing and thanked for successfully fulfilling the task of systematizing, categorizing, and analyzing the manifold details about that area of research. This is a landmark study and, not only because of the many tables in the appendix, a real treasure trove for future research." – Thomas Kraus, in: RBL 04/2013

"Opening B.'s book is a pleasure in itself. [...] shows the signs of a good book: a clear structure, a consistent way of abbreviating papyri, informative footnotes, [...] convenient set of appendies and indices and coloured papyrus tablets. [...] a basket full of ready-to-eat fruits [...] there will definitely be something for everyone: New Testament scholars, papyrologists, (ancient) historians, sociologists and many more." – Christina M. Kreinecker, in: Theologische Literaturzeitung 138 (2013), 11

"thorough and important study of those documents from Oxyrhynchus that may reasonably and with confidence be attributed to Christian writers [...] Our thanks go to the author for his perceptic investigations and properly cautious conclusions." – J.K. Elliott, in: Novum Testamentum 55 (2013)
1. Introduction
a. Scholarship and the Christian Remains of Oxyrhynchus
b. The Study: Argument and Structure
c. Caveats
2. Writing Christian
a. Scholarship and Papyrus Letters Written by Christians
b. Markers of Christian Identity within the Letters
3. Mapping Christians: Travel and Epistolary Networks in Christian Letters from Oxyrhynchus
a. Travel and Communication in Roman and Byzantine Egypt
b. Detectable Travel Motives in the Letters
c. Patterns of Travel and Epistolary Networks
d. Conclusions
4. Christians of the Book?
a. Christians and their Texts
b. Learned Christians?
c. The Use of “Scripture” in the Letters
d. Conclusions
5. What’s in a Name?
a. Onomastic Data and Religious Adherence in Antiquity
b. Nomina Christiana
6. Reading Someone Else’s Mail
Epilogue. The Demise of Christian Oxyrhynchus
All those interested in ancient Christianity, Roman and Byzantine Egypt, ancient epistolography, Greek and Coptic papyrology.
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