Migrants of Faith and the Faith of Migrants: Migration and inner-religious conflict in the Christian Communities of Rome

This paper was presented as part of a workshop “Migration: Rhetoric and Reality in Late Antiquity”, which Samuel Cohen and I organised at the XVIII International Conference on Patristics Studies conference in Oxford. Although we got the two last slots allocated for our workshop, an interested crowd found together in the East Examination School for session I and II.

Here is the abstract of my presentation:

Migrants imported Christianity to Rome and there, migration shaped Christianity ever since. Settled for a shorter or longer period at the capital of the Empire, migrants were often also ambassadors of doctrinal or liturgical impulses, continuously diversifying the versatile and factionalised character of the local Christianities. As a result of the gradual formation of a local ‘Roman’ Christian identity alongside with the slowly emerging centralised hierarchy to the turn to the third century, clashes between newly arrived migrants and the “well-established” determined the agenda over and over again. Generations of bishops, Victor, Zephyrinus and Calixtus, experimented with various coping strategies to engage with the migrants and their ideas, theologies and traditions.
The paper will present an overview and several fine-grained case studies of migration to Rome, charting migration, analysing the impact and the prompted conflict caused by migration, and examine how migration shaped local identity and facilitated the unification and the emergence of a majority church.