This book provides a brief history of Christianity in the eastern Peloponnese (including ancient sites in Corinth, such as Kenchreai and Lechaion, as well as Isthmia, Nemea, Sikyon, and Epidauros) and in Athens, from its beginnings but with a focus on Late Antiquity.
The account does not begin – as would be chronologically appropriate – with Paul and the founding of the church in Corinth, but with Phoebe, diakonos and patron of the Christian community in Kenchreai, the eastern port of Corinth. Other women of the time also come into view, highlighting the role of women in the emergence of early Christianity.
The most important findings from archaeological sources are compiled and analysed within their local situation, while texts by Christian theologians and by Greek and Roman authors serve to provide helpful contextualisation on subjects such as ritual practices, and local sources are interwoven with a range of texts from different times and places. Through this approach, the ancient ruins are filled with life and the continuous rise of Christianity within a multi-religious world becomes recognisable.
Archaeology and the Early Church in Southern Greece is a well-written book, providing the lay reader with an accessible account of the development of Christian communities in the eastern Peloponnese and Athens until the 12th century AD.
Review by Christiane Zimmermann.
Archaeology and the Early Church in Southern Greece, Elizabeth Rees, Oxbow Books, £55, ISBN 978-1789255751.