Emiliano R. Urciuoli
(Good) People Next Door
Neighbourhoods, Urban Religion, and Early Christ Religion
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Archaeologists agree that the spatial division of cities into residential zones has been a universal feature of urban life from the earliest cities to the present. However, research into early Christianity has tended to pay little attention to neighbourhoods, and interest in neighbourhood-focused analyses of the communication of Christ religion within imperial cities is a very recent development. To date, households and associations have been the preferred analytical foci and have been treated as if they are able to tell the whole truth about the city life of Jesus followers of early Christ religion. The absence of material evidence, the scantiness of literary hints, and the relatively recent consideration of spatiality among early Christian scholars may explain the previous neglect of this dimension of the experience of early Jesus followers. Against this challenging background, the present article sifts through early Christian literature in order to answer the following questions. How and to what extent was Christ religion affected by the need of Christ-believing individuals and groups to coexist prosocially and proactively in densely populated urban districts? How and how far can the focus on neighbourhood life contribute to the methodological reassessment of early Christ religion as urban religion?