Harry O. Maier
Romans Watching Romans: Christ Religion in Close Urban Quarters and Neighbourhood Transformations
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The paper presents an historical urban analysis of the second century Shepherd of Hermas as a text embedded in a densely populated Roman neighbourhood. The paper identifies the organisation of the Rome into vici and their demography. It draws from contemporary urban studies to describe the urban as a site of creative production of culture, networks, and practices. It describes the Shepherd as evidence of such creativity. Hermas is a 'place entrepreneur,' namely a person who theorises urban space and practice which he does through the vivid language of an apocalypse. Hermas addresses a network of Christ following salt merchants living within the confines of a densely populated insula face block neighbourhood. He advises them to communal solidarity even as he is in competition with another space entrepreneur, a visionary prophet whom he pillories as a fortune teller.