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Larry Hurtado has demonstrated the ‘dyadic’ worship of God and Jesus in first-century Christian gatherings. But what about individual Christians in the first few centuries after the death of Jesus? This essay explores a key source that has not been much studied in this connection: the Acta martyrum. In these texts, we read of various Christians who, when interrogated by Roman judges, make certain statements about God and Christ. It is the aim of this essay to examine these Acta in order to see what they tell us about individual beliefs in God and Christ in the long second century.

In: Monotheism and Christology in Greco-Roman Antiquity
In: Other Worlds and Their Relation to This World


After a short introduction on the study of the history of religions at Groningen, this paper analyses the relationship between prophets (seers) and political power. Concentrating on Greece, Israel and early modern Europe it poses three questions. First, do seers operate independently of political rulers? Secondly, does the influence of prophets change when the political structure changes? Thirdly, does the medium of prophecy remain constant or does it change over time? In Greece, seers were closely connected with the political elite, especially the kings. As their main function was the legitimation of choices, their public influence started to wane with the rise of democracy and public political debate. In Israel we can note the concomitant rise of the king and decline of the prophet, who remains only influential from the margin of society. At the same time, we can see the gradual disappearance of ecstasy among the prophets and the growing influence of writing. After the return from exile the growing importance of the Torah led to a gradual merger of prophets and priests. Finally, in early modern Europe prophecy flourished especially in the Protestant areas, but lost ground in the seventeenth century through the centralisation of power, the introduction of the printing press, and the changing intellectual climate. In my conclusion I stress the importance of the histoire événementielle for the history of religions and ask for more interest in the religious history of Europe.

In: Numen