This years topic is wealth and poverty. Dr. Mutie will be presenting: Dealing with Death and Poverty in the Early Church: Christianity and the collegia. His presentation is on Thursday, November 18th from 2:40pm—3:20pm.
ABSTRACT: Students of early Christianity have debated the question of how Christians organized themselves on the issue of caring for the poor dead in comparison and contrast with the prevailing Greco-Roman cultural milieu. The question has centered specifically on the place of the collegia in early Christianity. On the one hand, there are those argue that Christians formed their own collegia akin to Christian churches in order to skirt the pre-Constantinian legal status of the church. On the other hand, there are those who hold that Christians could not participate in the secular setting of the collegia.
Following the lead of Éric Rebillard in his work entitled The Care of the Dead in Late Antiquity, this paper will argue that, in their attempt to care for the poor dead, early Christians selectively participated in some activities in the collegia in their local cities, rejecting others that they saw as clearly inconsistent with their Christian worldview. As it will be demonstrated, the Christian approach here is very much in line with early Christian approach in its interaction with the Greco-Roman culture: Christians adopted and adapted existing views based on their worldview in order to deal with poverty and death in an attempted distinctively-Christian approach. This will be done through an examination of the available epigraphic evidence.