Lampe, Peter. From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries Trans., Michael Steinhauser Ed., Marshall G. Johnson (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).
This review is an attempt to show Peter Lampe’s entire argument for fractionated Roman Christianity. This “fractionation” that Lampe argues for is that through the end of the second century Roman Christianity was divided between many small cells that lacked central coordination. This basic thesis informs every part of Lampe’s book and each of the six sections seeks to further demonstrate why Roman Christianity is fractionated and how fractionation impacted Roman Christianity. The reason such a lengthy review is going to be undertaken is because in order to understand one section or sub-section adequately requires familiarity with all of the various pieces of evidence. Lampe himself states about the evidence:
We face a tour through a variety of material: literary materials, above all, but also epigraphical and archaeological ones are at hand, which often only become illuminating in combination.
Analyzing one part of Lampe’s argument in isolation (particularly concerning church government) risks an unbalanced assessment of Lampe’s work. My friend, Dr. Bryan Cross, believes that he has shown that Lampe’s argument does not undermine the Roman Catholic position. Cross interacts particularly with Chapter 41 (pg. 397-408) of Lampe’s 41 chapter book, but I believe that Dr. Cross’s response to Lampe is deficient because he does not place Lampe’s arguments in the broader context of the book. Chapter 41 is the conclusion of 40 other meticulous chapters of scholarship. What I will do here is summarize each of Lampe’s sections and then explain how the traditional Roman Catholic position fails to account for all of the data.
What follows is a limited exploration through Lampe’s book. I won’t detail every part of his argument, so I recommend that you read Lampe himself for his fuller argument. What I hope to do is show how this holistic approach contextualizes Lampe’s literary interpretations and therefore presents a more compelling presentation than the one-sided approach of various Catholic apologists who have interacted with Lampe.
Section I- Trade Routes & Separation from the Synagogue
In this first section, Lampe describes how Roman Christianity arose in the empire: through the trade routes of Puteoli-Rome. This followed the same pattern as Judaism and Christianity actually arose out of the synagogue structure. We know this based upon biblical evidence throughout Acts but also through the “Edict of Claudius” (Suetonis, Claud. 25.4; Orosius, Hist. 7.6.15f; cf. Cassius Dio 60.6.6f). The dating of the Edict is not very clear, but Orosius tells us that the event occurred in CE 49. Lampe notes that this fits in surprisingly well with what we have recorded in Acts 18. When one considers Paul’s statement in Romans that the Roman church had existed, “for a number of years” (Rom. 15:23), it seems almost certain that Christianity had existed in Rome since at least 49, with some scholars dating it as early as 41 CE (Lampe believes the evidence from Dio’s writings is not reliable for verifying this claim). The bottom line is that by 64 AD Nero distinguishes between Christians and Jews (Cf. Tacitus Ann. 15.44).
Of particular importance in this brief introduction to Roman Christianity is that Christianity came from the synagogue but by 49 CE disputes between Jews and Christians caused the two groups to cease meeting at the Roman synagogues.
Section II- Topography
With the date for separation from the synagogue being set, Lampe sets out to understand the make-up of Roman Christianity. Who were the Christians and what are some of the common characteristics of the people who identify as Christians? The first thing Lampe focuses upon is the geographic location of Roman Christians.
In an attempt to answer this question Lampe lays out five criteria: Local traditions, earliest Christian graves, Jewish quarters, concentration of tituli, and contemporary literary information concerning Christians that can be localized. For the sake of time we won’t go over each criteria, but an example from the earliest Christian graves will suffice. Lampe states,
“Cemeteries on the radical roads outside of the city can give clues to where their users lived in the city. The catacomb was used as a cemetery by the entirety of urban Roman Christians. Rather, as we can demonstrate from the 4th century on, each of the catacombs was assigned to one of the ecclesiastical regions of the city…It is common to the examples [listed in footnote 17] that the residents of a section of the city naturally maintained their tombs on the radial streets that lay nearest to their quarter of the city.”
Using this methodology moving forward, Lampe is able to show that there is a proportionally high number of Christians living in the Via Appia, Via Lata Faminia, & Trastevere. If these areas contained the highest density of Christians, what information do we possess about those areas?
With the location of Christians situated primarily in Trastevere & the Via Appia along with small sample sizes from the other regions, Lampe goes on to identify the cultural make-up of those regions. What Lampe finds is that the area is known for its bad stench and very high population density and low income in comparison to the other regions of Rome. The conclusion is that the Christians in Rome lived in the lowest social strata in the city of Rome. At the same time, there is evidence of Christian communities existing in more affluent areas like Mars Field and the Aventine (we know that Trajan lived in the Aventine). The data set is significantly smaller for these regions, but Lampe points out that 4 of the 5 criterion for identifying Christian activity exist in the wealthier region of Aventine (the one missing is Jewish living quarters).
To corroborate Lampe’s thesis, he makes some interesting observations about the burning of Rome under Nero. He cites Tacitus’s description of the damage in the fire from Ann. 15.40,
“Rome is divided into fourteen regions, among which only four remained intact. Three were burned to the ground and the other seven there were only a few houses left, which were severely damaged and half-burnt.”
Lampe then goes on to explain the significance,
“Certainly Trastevere—on the other bank of the Tiber—was one of the four quarters spared. Spared also were some perimeter quarters like the VIIth, Vth, and XIIth regions. That means that if Christians also lived on the Via Lata, on Mars Field, or somewhere outside the Porta Capena, then they got off relatively lightly.”
In other words, the areas that were densely populated with Christians escaped the fires with little to no damage. There are certainly other factors that could explain why Nero blamed Christians for the fire, but Lampe’s analysis provides gives even greater insight. This is a further corroborating piece of evidence to show the residency of early Christianity and social setting of Roman Christianity.
To summarize this section, we are able to ascertain the social setting of Roman Christianity rather clearly. Most Christians in Rome were poor and lived in the poor areas of Rome, but there is clear evidence that there were also pockets of Christian’s living in the “upscale” regions of Rome. Building upon this, Lampe wants to go on to see what evidence for fractionation exists in Roman Christianity between groups from the various regions. In the third section he seeks to show how the topographical diversity and proximity impacted the social situation of Roman Christianity.
Section III: General Information about Urban Roman Christianity
In the third section Lampe wants to begin to work on the evidence he has unearthed from the first two sections. The city of Rome had Christians and Jews both worshipping at synagogue but after a dispute, certain Christians were expelled from Rome in 49 CE. The separation of Jews and Christians had social consequences on early Christian societies. One the one hand, we see that Judaism exerted a formative and very important influence over Christianty, yet Roman Christianity became less Jewish and more Gentile. Various pieces of evidence are evinced to demonstrate this fact. Name analysis of the many names listed in Romans 16 as well as Paul’s explicit statement that three individuals in particular were “my kinspeople,” (Rom 16:7) serve to substantiate that most of the names in the list are of Gentile Christians.
At the same time, Lampe does not want to minimize the importance of Judaism on the social structure of Roman Christianity. For example, even post-canonical Jewish literature shapes Christian thinking and writing (cf. 1 Clement 23:3; 46:2; 17:6; 7:6; 43:2 31:3, etc). It is clear, based upon the assumption of NT books such as Romans where large Gentile readership is explicitly stated, that the Jewish tradition was still vitally important to these Christian communities. What Lampe concludes from this is as follows:
Once integrated into the Christian life, the synagogal tradition was carried by people who themselves were no longer rooted in the synagogue. Clement & Hermas [whom Lampe also discusses being influenced by Judaism] serve as early examples of this borrowing.
Such findings are significant for the early structure of Roman ecclesiology. One of the things that Lampe (and other scholars) note is that the Roman synagogues were loosely federated in the city of Rome. This was not the case in every city in the Diaspora (cf. Antioch) however; Lampe dedicates Appendix 4 to the fractionation of Roman Jewry. After documenting and listing all of the separate synagogue structures Lampe concludes,
These are individual communities, independently organized, each with its own assembly, its own council of elders, and its own community officials…The background of Roman Jewry serves as a foil to the fractionation of Roman Christianity.
One needs to be careful to force too much into the fractionation of Roman Jewry, but it is an important piece of corroborating evidence for Lampe’s argument concerning fractionation which cannot be ignored. Lampe does not force correlation as causation, but in terms of inductive observations a few things are indisputably clear:
- Christianity arose from Judaism
- While Roman Christianity quickly became dominantly populated by Gentiles, Judaism played an exceedingly important foundation for Christian belief and practice.
- Judaism in Rome was not centralized and operated with separation governmental structures in loose confederation with one another.
Moving forward, chapters 6-14 shows precisely what he means when he talks about fractionation among Roman Christianity. To give a very brief overview, Romans (12:13; 15:24, 28) and Acts (28:30) attest to the fact that there were some Christians who were wealthy and others who were in need. This is confirmed by writings from Justin Martyr (we see clear evidence of social stratification in things like Apology 2.10.8). Ignatius’s letter to the Romans presupposes that some in Rome would be able to advocate for him and prevent his eventual execution in Rome while Clement records some Christians even selling themselves into slavery in order to help the poor in the city (1 Clement 55.2). Lampe also has an interesting analysis of the Shepherd of Hermas, but the primary conclusion is that the Shepherd clearly shows there was a problem with distribution to the poor in the city.
One other particularly interesting fact that Lampe discusses is what can be discerned from the Neronian persecution. We know that there were a large number of Christians in Rome from Tacitus and we also know that the Christians persecuted were crucified, something that was not allowable for Roman citizens. The implication of this is that a large number of the Christians were not Roman citizens. All of this points to the social reality of the first and early second century Christians; most were poor but there were some who had resources to assist those in need. It seems that the need was great enough however, as mentioned in Clement, that people were selling themselves into slavery to provide assistance to the marginalized in the community.
To highlight this fractionation most clearly, Chapter 12 is worthy of particular examination. In this chapter Lampe addresses the social setting of Roman Christianity as well as Catholic claims about the grave of Peter in Rome.
Lampe begins by noting that the grave stretches back at least the time of Gaius in 200 CE (Hist Ecc. 2.25.7). This is evidence that the excavation which took place in the 1950’s was in fact the site which possessed the so called grave of Peter. The evidence shows, conclusively according to Lampe, that this grave site could not possibly be the body of Peter and that the earliest grave dates no later than 100 CE.
The builders of the Christian edicula, or small shrine, at the grave site had to deal with a construction called the “red wall.” As Lampe notes, the Christian edicula leans against the red wall, which was a burial ground for pagans. The fact that the edicula is oriented (awkwardly) around the red wall is an indication that the two places were constructed at the same time and the stamps on the tiles of the clivus (basically the piping) for the Red Wall creates a definitive period of construction between 146-161 CE.
The archaeological artifacts from the mausoleums show that the owners of them were very wealthy (the stucco, frescoes, and mosaics are indications of wealth) and the names of the dead are all freepersons and their families. Pagan inscriptions confirm what the social data would cause us to suspect—the owners of the red wall are pagans. The archaeological evidence pointing towards non-Christian ownership also seems to make sense of the aforementioned awkward construction of the mausoleum with the inconspicuous Christian edicula. This corresponds to Lampe’s thesis about the social strata of Roman Christianity & makes sense of the orientation of the edicula in relation to the red wall.
The results of the excavation of the surrounding graves by the edicula confirm that the individuals buried in that place were poor and that the earliest grave did not exist before 100 CE. In that particular grave (Grave iota) the corpse was laid in a naked hole in the ground, without flooring or sidings for protection. On top there were merely three brick tiles laid out flatly. The excavation showed a basic principle; the later the grave the “better” the burial. Up through the second century the burials are clearly from poor individuals, however, the graves only become incrementally more ornate. The question then arises, why did this particular location become a place of pilgrimage as early as 200 CE? What could have caused the grave of poor Christians to become identified as Peter’s? Lampe provides this potential explanation
It is interesting to note that the Christians of area “P” first put up a monument—however modest—at ‘Peter’s Grave’ only when the building activities of the owners of Q,R’, and of the clivus came precariously near to this grave and finally cut across a portion of it. Then the Christians were forced to save what they could and to compensate for what was lost by decorating this grave with a small monument. In other words, before all this happened, there had not been any wealthy church members who on their own initiative had come forward to donate money for any kind of monument to Peter. Only external forces compelled the Christians to act.
The fact that the earliest grave near the edicula is no earlier than 100 CE is conclusive evidence that Peter’s bones are not at the site contra Pope Paul VI’s pronouncement on June 26th, 1968. Instead, the site at the Vatican was the burial ground for the poor Christians in the city. As Lampe goes on to state,
How does the result of this chapter fit in with the clear descriptions, e.g., of Hermas and Justin, that in the first half and middle of the second century there were already many rich among the urban Roman Christians, indeed, that at Sunday worship services considerable funds were gathered into cash funds? The following conclusion seems to me certain when we compare the preceding chapters with the result of this one. The idea that urban Roman Christianity as a unified whole (with one bishop at its head) around 160 CE set up on the Vatican a monument to Peter is untenable (details on this in Section 5). What sort of circle of Christians was it, then? We remember that the Christians of the various city quarters each cared for their own burial sites. If we compare the sociology of the grave area “P” with the sociology of the city region attached to the Vatican, Trastevere (Part 2, above) both parts fit together seamlessly. The Christians of Trastevere, most likely cared for the grave area “P.” 
Christians from the more well-to-do regions did not assist in this endeavor which seems to once again corroborate Lampe’s thesis that Roman Christianity was fractionated. Some of the wealthier grave sites that we do possess from the second century do not seem to be concerned with the Vatican site and were buried elsewhere.
While Lampe goes on to garner further evidence from the time of Commodus and from Hippolytus’s “Apostolic Traditions,” the general argument of the passage along with the substantiation for it have been summarily described. Roman Christians were primarily poor, but there were some rich among their numbers. These two socio-economic groups had some loose interaction, yet they do not appear to have a strong centralized governmental structure. In order to explore his initial findings further he begins with a prosopographic investigation, looking at the individuals we know from the first two centuries and seeing if what we know about those individuals can shed new light or further corroborate Lampe’s thesis regarding fractionation.
Section IV: Prosopographic Investigation
Section IV is the most extensive chapter, consisting of 170+ pages. What Lampe is attempting to do in this section is work through the information that we possess for all of the individual Christians in the first two centuries and draw conclusions about those individuals. The information about the individuals can then be situated with the other data that we possess to present a more holistic picture.
To begin this section Lampe wants to begin with the earliest piece of information we have about Roman Christians—the list of names in Romans 16. Using name analysis based upon what we know from inscriptions and other extant writings which names were most commonly associated with slaves, freedpersons, and nobility. For the sake of simplicity I will quote Lampe’s conclusions after his analysis of the 28 names given in Romans 16,
We can say that most probably four persons are freeborn and at least nine are of slave origin. That means, of the thirteen persons, about whom it was possible to make a statement, over two-thirds with a great degree of probability shows indications of slave origin.
We again see a multiplicity of Christians of lower strata with a few individuals from a wealthier class which is consistent with Lampe’s three previous sections. In chapters 17-20 we learn of some of the more noble members of the Roman community as well as a character like Pomponia Graecina who is not explicitly labeled a Christian but who was tried for “superstition” and whose behavior seemed consistent with other Christian customs, particularly her unassuming dress. A similar unclear situation is addressed in Chapter 20 where Lampe explores the possibility that Flavius Clemens and Flavia Domitilla were Christians. Lampe determines that Clemens was not a Christian, but a Flavia Domitilla of the senatorial rank was almost certainly executed for being a Christian. These chapters continue to reinforce the notion of social stratification in Roman Christianity. What Lampe will turn his attention to next, however, is the prosopographic data on the major Christian writers of the second century: Clement, Hermas, Justin, as well as Marcion and other figures in Gnosticism.
What Lampe attempts to do with the Christian writers is ascertain something about their education & social status from their writing. The writers and readers of Christian literature to and from Rome wrote and read in Greek as opposed to Latin. While not a certain conclusion, Lampe points out that this seems to indicate, once again, that the Christians were from lower social strata. In terms of the prosopographic investigation Lampe looks at a number of criteria, but I’ll simply summarize Lampe’s assessment of important Christian writer’s educational background.
As one would imagine a definitive determination of the author’s education and social status from their writing is not an ironclad way of determining one’s social status. With Clement, Lampe is cautious to note that while there are echoes of Stoic and Platonic thought in Clement, it remains unclear how these motifs arrive in 1 Clement. Two things are clear, however, first is that Clement possesses a large dependence on biblical literature (see above in Section II) and second, that the author of Clement at least possesses an elementary education (and almost certainly more than that). Lampe ultimately concludes,
“What above all is of importance for us is the collective process of education that is visible behind 1 Clement: the transmitting of educational elements that came from the Hellenistic synagogues and were passed on in Roman Christianity of the first century (see Ch. 5).”
Clement had formal training in Hellenistic schooling and also shows heavy influence of Jewish thinking. Clement’s writing appears to substantiate the importance of Judaism on Christian theology and also shows similar educational material as Roman Judaism.
Regarding Hermas, we learn something more about the social landscape. Lampe addresses the autobiographical portions of Hermas and concludes that while some of it is clearly prosaic, that there is still important information to be gleaned about Hermas. In the opening section Hermas attests to the fact that he is a freed slave born outside of Rome (i.e. not a Roman citizen) and his subsequent mention of his oikos (Vis 1.3.1;2.3.1; etc.), his property on the Via Campana (Vis. 4.1.2), and his multiple business ventures (Mand. 6.2.5) seems to confirm Lampe’s previous findings about early Roman Christianity. Such upward mobility attests to the economic climate of Rome in the second century: upward mobility for slaves was a common occurrence. Such upward mobility is also attested by Hermas’s brother, Pius, also a former slave, being a presbyter at the church of Rome. Lampe also shows that Hermas’s influences (pagan literature and some influence of canonical Scripture) while also noting that his literary style has been identified by experts as “awkward, not in control of the material, clumsy, disorderly, contradictory, childish inexperience, crude, and odd.”
So what do these conclusions mean about Hermas and Roman Christianity? Hermas’s social setting seems to fit in with the broader Christian movement. Slave origins, which in the second century are upwardly mobile to gain freed person status. Hermas’s popularity with the broader Christian community and the continued relegation of this book in ecclesiastical documents (Canon Muratori, Eusebius Ecc. Hist 3.3.6) demonstrate the connection that Hermas connected with the broader Christian community. Thus, Lampe concludes, “Hermas clearly represented in his ideas a broad section of Christianity not only in Rome but in other Christian communities as well.”
The final Christian apologist that Lampe investigates in his prosopographic investigation is Justin Martyr, from whom we have the most personal information. Justin lived in Rome as an immigrant from Flavia Neapolis in Samaria as a free man. Justin was a student of philosophy who was interested in Stoicism, Platonism, & Pythagorean philosophy before his conversion to Christianity. It appears that Justin’s philosophical background is well read, but his more crass literary form makes it unlikely that he received formal training in rhetoric. While the repetition of these conclusions can appear tedious (particularly for the person attempting to figure out if Jesus founded the RCC), they are important to reinforce Lampe’s analysis of Roman Christianity. Roman Christianity consisted largely of Gentile immigrants, typically in lower social strata living in the poorer sections of the city. In the second century we begin to see upward mobility in Roman Christianity, yet, the social stratification of Roman Christianity retained its character.
The foundational importance of Justinus that his occupation as a philosopher begun a shift in the perception of Christianity in the eyes of Romans.  While it was commonly called a superstition in the first century, in the later second century there is growing acceptance of Christianity as a philosophy, which made it more amenable to higher classes of Christians.
This development of Christianity as a philosophical school (and thus as upwardly mobile) seems to also provide the fertile soil for Gnosticism to thrive in Rome. Men such as Marcion (Ch. 24) and Valentinus (Ch. 27) were socially upward individuals who demonstrate advanced learning. Marcion shows familiarity with textual criticism while Valentinus shows advanced knowledge of Plato. Inscriptions found along the Via Latina (the wealthy section of Rome) seem to corroborate that Valentinians existed in the wealthier regions of Rome. Lampe does note that Marcion’s material does not appear quite as sophisticated as Valentinus, but the Valentinians were noted, even by the orthodox as being particularly eloquent and persuasive. While the founders of the Gnostic movements show signs of sophistication and high education, Tertullian and Irenaeus point out that many in the “multitude of the simpliciores” were “seduced” by these teachers. Such reports indicate to Lampe that fractionation was also present in Gnostic sects.
Summary of Section IV
I’ll conclude the fourth section with a summary of Lampe’s summary. Of particular importance however, is to consider what Lampe says at the beginning of his summary,
In the [Prosopographic] section our task was not to generalize from individual cases (what method would one use for this?) but to illuminate concretely the generalizations that the sources themselves made in the first section.
The discoveries of the prosopographic investigation, therefore, are not determinative in themselves, but they help to paint a broader picture with more nuance while simultaneously confirming the analysis of the first three sections of Lampe’s argument. In the final section, Lampe begins to bring the previous 350 pages into sharper focus. Here, Lampe will begin to describe in detail the implications of fractionation and what it means for the Roman Christianity.
Section V- The Fractionation of Roman Christianity
This final section will be dealt with in the most detail because it brings all over the various chapters to a conclusion. All of the disparate pieces of information begin to coalesce in a clearer picture.
In the 36 Chapter Lampe makes an interesting observation about Romans 16, the entirety of Roman Christianity is never mentioned—not even in Romans 1:7 where you would expect it. Given what Lampe has argued in the previous section, Lampe notes the interesting way in which Paul works his greetings. He doesn’t greet the entire church instead he greets the household of Aristobulus (v.10), Those in the household of Narcissus (v.11), Asyncritus…and the other brothers and sisters with them (v.14), Philologus…and all the Lord’s people who are with them (v.15). This leads Lampe to conclude,
There is nowhere any indication of a central location for the different groups scattered over the city. Each circle of Christians may have conducted worship services by itself in a house or apartment, so that it can be referred to as a house community.
The next piece of information that Lampe uses to corroborate his reading of Romans 16 is the origination of titular churches. Lampe discusses titular churches in various parts of his study, but it is helpful to understand what a titular church is. Lampe describes it thusly,
The Christian usage of the term ‘tituli’ is often seen to originate in the pre-Constantine period when Christian communities assembled in private homes. A titulus would have been the inscription of the name of the host. This inscription would have been located above the entrance of the house or apartment and visible to everyone who entered the assembly on Sunday…”titulus” was a concept of property rights and indicated the legal basis for ownership of material goods.
In many cases all that was known about the titular church was the name it retained from antiquity. Lampe believes that we can have an accurate construction of the existence of these titular churches for the following reasons:
- Testimony of the synods (particularly the Roman synods of 499 & 595 and the list of 40 churches given by Optatus of Mileve in 312 CE)
- Cornelius (in Eusebius, Hist Ecc. 6.43.11) records 46 presbyters in Rome. If 2-3 presbyters served in a titular church as indicated in the above lists, than this brings us to 15-23 titular churches, which is roughly the number of titular churches which claim existence before Constantine.
- Fifth and sixth century Christians believed that the titular churches dated before Constantine.
- The names fit the general social situation where Christians met in private residences and before canonization occurred.
- The change in the sixth century for titular churches from unknown titular names to the names of recognized saints shows that the unknown names were exchanged for recognized names.
The existence of the titular churches causes Lampe to state, “In principle, there exists, therefore, a continuity between the structure presupposed in Rom. 16 and the later net of titular churches in Rome.”
Finally, Lampe notes other pieces of important affirming what is seen in Romans and in the origin of titular churches. I will just point out his mention of the trial transcripts of Justin Martyr’s trial. Justin states that his circle met in a lodging “above the bath of Myrtinus.” To the question “Where do you assemble?” Justin responded, “There, where each one will and can. Or do you mean that we all are accustomed to assemble in the same place? It is by no means so.” Lampe states that Justin claims he does not even know where other assemblies meet (cf. Act. Just. 3). Furthermore, Justin states in Dial. 47.2 that Christians met in private dwellings. The implication is that while Justin also talks about Sunday liturgy “in one place,” a central assembly of Christianity is not envisioned. He is instead describing the assembly of a typical house-church community that takes place on Sundays.
The data from Chapter 37 fits in nicely with what we know of Christian property rights in the first and second century. There is no evidence of a Christian building or of areas of worship being described as such in literary or epigraphic data until the third century. The concurrence of archaeological and literary evidence leads us to believe that there were no specific rooms permanently set aside for worship in secular houses. What we read instead is that Christian circles met in the private houses of wealthy Christians or on the third floor of an insula (Acts 20:7ff), in a rented lodging “over the bath of Myrtinus” (Justin, Acta 3, or in a suburban villa on the Via Latina (see Ch. 27).
The reason for private property being so prevalent is no surprise; Christians were being persecuted and would not be able to legally hold property. As Christianity became recognized less as a superstition and more as a philosophy, however, the opinions and socially upward movement of Christians led to the ownership of church property in the middle of the third century (as we will see later, this is one of the social developments that led to the development of centralized church government and the development of the monepiscopate). Ultimately Lampe concludes,
A house-church community consists only of as many members as there is room for in a private home. This means that the lower the social level of the Christians, the smaller the dwellings and the smaller the house-church communities, and the greater the number of house-church communities that are necessary. And the great the number is, the more fractionated is the entire Christianity in the city.
At this point the meaning of fractionation in Christianity comes into greater focus as it relates to church government. Lampe had elsewhere argued that (cf. Titular churches and Justin’s testimony about worship in Rome) each house church worshiped often with their own clergy and leadership. These churches were not completely independent, yet, they worshipped separately from one another. There was no centralization in Rome and there would have been minimal reason to have the centralization of such power. The fact that Christians met (by necessity) in house churches for worship scattered throughout the city causes Lampe to propose that each private dwelling in Rome had its own liturgical officers who operated in the church. As this review is becoming exceedingly long, I’ll forgo analysis of Chapter 38, but this chapter supplements 36 & 37 by exploring the way first and second century people viewed house churches—in a word, suspiciously.
Chapter 39 brings to the forefront further evidence of theological differences in the city of Rome which existed along the fractionated lines outlined by Lampe. The Quartodeciman controversy is particularly illustrative of this theological multiplicity & the impact of fractionation of Roman Christianity. Lampe notes,
Most of the theological tendencies represented in Rome did not originate there but were imported into the capital city. With the word “promoted” is meant that the fractionation made possible for a long period of time the survival of the theological multiplicity that inundated Rome…Some Roman circles of Christians are aligned according to their country of origin [such as] the Quartodecimans, who continued to foster in Rome their Asia Minor fasting and Easter practices Quartodecimans were more attached to their native bishops in Asia Minor than to Bishop Victor in Rome.
A number of points of convergence meet here. First, we remember in the first section that Roman Christianity was an immigrant religion in Rome. Much of it came through trade routes and a number of the Christian communities in Rome were not only fractionated by socio-economic factors but also by ethnic factors. Lampe is careful to not draw this correlation in a one-way causal manner (ethnic origin as determinative of theology or vice-versa), yet Lampe points out that Judaism shared this same ethnically fractionated dynamic—which Lampe’s thesis would expect to see.
Interestingly, Lampe points out that with all of this fractionation there is a rather vast tolerance of people with other theological opinions. Lampe credits one of these reasons on fractionation. Because these churches were not frequently interacting because of their geographic proximity, the less necessary it becomes to argue to be distinguished. Irenaeus reports that no one severed ties from the various individuals in Rome about the date of Easter prior to Victor (c. 190). These independent churches operated separately but in communion with one another way for over a century in the same city.
Excommunication was not regularly practiced in Rome. As a matter of fact, with the exception of Marcion, “heretics” left the church of their own volition and not under discipline. Even the heretic Marcion received initial acceptance in Rome until he asked to dispute with the presbyters of the Roman Church concerning his theological views. It was this friction that prompted the loosely federated churches to respond with excommunication. At the same time, Lampe also mentions that there were a large number of Christians who were aware of multiple interpretations of varying theological positions. Justin, himself a premillennialist, concedes that others in the orthodox community held to divergent views of the eschaton. Fractionation in the Christian community allowed this theological diversity to continue until the later portions of the second century and early portions of the third century when fractionation in Rome dissipated. With all of this evidence of fractionation before us, Lampe concludes with the ramifications of fractionation on Roman ecclesiology and the monarchical episcopate in particular.
Lampe sets out his thesis about the monarchical episcopate: “Before the second half of the second century there was in Rome no monarchical episcopacy for the circles mutually bound in fellowship.”
Lampe takes pains to make it clear that the house congregations were aware of other churches in the city and were in spiritual fellowship with one another being united by common bonds. Paul, after all, writes his letter to the collective Roman Church as a unity. Ignatius and Dionysius of Corinth do likewise while 1 Clement was composed in Rome and sent as a letter representing the mind of the church. We learn from Hermas in Vis 2.4.3 that someone was in charge of this external communication. Hermas knew him as Clement, but Clement is not a monarchical bishop. Hermas goes on to describe that this director of external communication made the communication known to the presbyters presiding over the church. Later, in Vis. 3.9.7, Hermas again refers to the leaders of the church in the plural. As a matter of fact, Hermas mentions that the presiders quarrel over status “proteia” and honor. Lampe notes however, that Hermas nowhere sees any of these individuals exerting control or authority over the others. Instead, he always speaks in the plural (Vis 2.4.2f; 2.2.6; 3.1.8).
Interestingly, Ignatius, addresses bishops in 6 of 7 cities he writes letter to in his pilgrimage, but to the leaders in Rome Ignatius addresses these leader in the plural. Every account of the dispute with Marcion mentions that Marcion faced the “presbyterys and teachers” in Rome, not a monarchical bishop. Clement likewise mentions leadership in the plural at the city in Rome.
A particular point of interest is that in Clement and Hermas, episcopos and presbuteroi are used virtually interchangeably. Lampe explains the potential difference between them with two options. The first is that the bishops belong to the group of presbyters; they are one part of it, but not all presbyters care for the poor—a task that was an important part of being a bishop. The second is that all presbyters are at the same time “bishops” and the latter designation specifies one of their special duties. Based upon Apology 1.67.6 we know that the worship leader was also in charge of taking care of the poorer members of the liturgical assembly. The previously established fact that the worship that occurred happened in various house churches leads Lampe to believe that each individual group was presided over by its own presbyter-bishop. The information we know about the Theodotian and Montanist structures testifies to this (see Chapters 33 & 30 respectively).
So if each house church was monitored by a presbyter-bishop and those presbyter-bishops did meet and have fellowship with one another without strong centralization, how did the development of the episcopate occur?
The minister of “external affairs”, as noted in Vision 2.4.3, was responsible for the external correspondence and coordinating aid. This individual began to exert growing influence in the church and managed the fund for the poor. Lampe notes that the “transitional” figures to the episcopate held this role (Soter, Anicetus, and Eleutherus). The minister of external affairs began to exert growing influence. We even know that Marcion donated 200,000 sesterces (the value of a small independent farm) and after his excommunication the church was able to return that money to him. We know that there was a struggle for power among the presbyters, so the trajectory to monarchy was incipient very early, yet at the time of Hermas no one man is identified as being above any other.
Section VI. Lampe & Cross Interact
What one must deal with, however, the bishop lists of Irenaeus (c.180) and Hegesippus (160). First, at the outset, it is at this point that I’ll mention Dr. Bryan Cross’s interaction with Lampe. Cross argues that Lampe and other scholars interpretation of Lampe is “speculation.” At the outset, Dr. Cross only mentions Lampe’s exegetical conclusions and does not mention the contributing factors to Lampe’s exegesis and beliefs about the credibility of Irenaeus and Hegesippus. Bringing this review to a conclusion we will look at Lampe’s interaction with Irenaeus & Hegesippus, then look at Cross’s response, and finally offering a response of our own by way of summary of the entirety of Lampe’s work.
First, the list of Hegesippus was compiled by the (Jewish?) apologist around 160 CE and we possess Hegesippus’s writing from Eusebius. Eusebius, recounting Hegesippus’s account says, “During time in Rome I drew/made/created a “diadoxen” up until Anicetus.” The meaning of diadoxen is rather significant here because this word could be used to mean a succession of bishops, or it could mean a succession of teaching (diadoxe). Lampe concludes that Hegesippus’s writing provides evidence that he is concerned with pure doctrine (4.22.2) as it was passed down uninterrupted from the Apostles until the present. “In other words, it by no means concerned him to prove a succession of monarchical bishops from the apostles until the presents…he pictured in his mind the bearers of correct belief.” A forthcoming article will show that this is the standard interpretation of this passage as well.
Irenaeus’s lists is more complete (Hegesippus’s list does not go back to Peter or past Anicetus) and stretches back to Peter. In terms of linguistic structure, Lampe makes a number of interesting observations. He points out that the bare catalogue of names is in the present while the historical and literary comments in the imperfect. According to Lampe, this is sufficient evidence to conclude that the list does not originate with Irenaeus, but is drawn from another tradition. The grammatical distinctions provide a rather simple way to distinguish the tradition from the redaction.
In addition to the source material, Lampe mentions that the numbers used by Irenaeus illuminate our interpretation of his statements. The fact that Sixtus is the sixth member of the list is not an immediate sign to Lampe that the list is deceptive, but rather, that the framework of twelve was intentional in the construction of the list which simultaneously provides information that the list does not come before the bishopric of Eleutherus. Yet another piece of interesting literary evidence is that Irenaeus does not begin his list with Peter, but instead with Linus. Technically, there have been 13 bishops since Peter, but to maintain the aesthetic number of 12, the list starts with Linus.
Lampe suggests that what happened is that when the list was created the monarchical episcopate was “projected back into the past.” This would presumably be easy to see this development take place, particularly if the office of bishop had developed from the manager of external affairs. Lampe also notes however, that Irenaeus could have listed a ‘bundle’ of chains before the middle of the second century but this would have been a complex representation badly suited for the purposes of upholding the teaching of the Church. What Lampe believes is that the names were not made up (or deceptively fabricated), but rather that they were names borrowed from the tradition of the city of Rome. While they were Roman leaders, they would not have understood themselves as monarchical leaders.
It bears pointing out at this juncture that Lampe’s presentation is far more than “speculation.” Dr. Cross argues,
“First Lampe presumes that if St. Irenaeus intends to use the list of bishops to anchor present doctrine, then the list must be a fictive construct”
There is no citation for this claim. Perhaps what Dr. Cross is thinking is the preliminary remarks that Lampe makes at the bottom of page 404 where Lampe discusses the intent of the list. At no point does Lampe make a connection between the reliability of Irenaeus’s list with his purpose in writing it. This is a misrepresentation and misunderstanding of Lampe’s argument.
“Second, Lampe reasons from St. Irenaeus’ list being a fuller list of names to the conclusion that it must be a “fictive construction.” That too is a non sequitur, because it ignores the possibility that St. Irenaeus provided a fuller, more complete list of bishops.”
Lampe does not rule out this possibility, but based on other evidence (both internal to Irenaeus–see above—and external evidence of fractionation) Lampe does not believe this is a probable position and is attempting to provide a broader understanding of the data. Cross has not addressed any of the evidence provided up to this point, but he continues in point 3,
“Third, Lampe reasons from there being twelve names on the list, and the sixth bishop being named Sixtus, to the conclusion that the list is a “fictive construction.” That too is a non sequitur. Why not simply believe that there had actually been twelve bishops in succession from St. Peter, at the time of St. Irenaeus?… Instead of seeing ‘Sixtus’ as evidence that there was a succession from St. Peter, he treats ‘Sixtus’ as evidence that St. Irenaus is making things up. That kind of loaded method is worthless; you get out of it precisely just what you bring to it.”
Such responses demonstrates an unfamiliarity with Lampe’s argument in Chapter 41 as well as his broader argument concerning fractionation. There are no citations of Lampe and I am unable to find anything in Chapter 41 that argues anything resembling what Dr. Cross is saying.
To clarify, Lampe views that the name “Sixtus” in the sixth slot, in conjunction with his grammatical notations with the names being in the present and commentary being in the imperfect, to show that the number 12 appears to be essential to the creation of the list. Dr. Cross has missed a significant amount of the nuance in Lampe’s presentation.
Cross concludes by saying,
“That’s also why his claim that “the presence of a monarchical bearer of tradition is projected back into the past” is pure speculation two thousand years removed from the testimony of St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus…Actually, [Lampe] has not provided a single piece of historical evidence that shows that there was no monarchical bishop in Rome until the second half of the second century. (I’ve read Lampe’s book.) He has only provided his own fictive deconstruction of the concrete evidence St. Hegesippus and St. Irenaeus provide.”
In all due respect (and I do have much respect for Dr. Cross), Dr. Cross demonstrates his ignorance of Lampe’s book throughout this entire comment. Lampe has presented a defensible understanding of Irenaeus even apart from the other contributing factors that we should use to assess Irenaeus (fractionation of Roman Christianity). Yet, Dr. Cross does not interact with any of the arguments that Lampe sets forth.
Yet, perhaps most startling is Dr. Cross’s assertion that Lampe does not provide a “single piece of historical evidence” to believe that there was no Roman bishop in the first two centuries. By way of recap I hope to show why such a claim demonstrates ignorance of Dr. Lampe’s book.
There is incredibly good evidence to demonstrate that Christianity came out of the synagogues and appealed to the poorer Gentile immigrants in the city while retaining significant portions of its Jewish heritage. We know from archaeological information that Christians were geographically dispersed through Rome with a heavy centralization of Christians in the poorer areas of the city. In addition to this socio-economic fractionation, we also witnessed strong evidence of ethnic fractionation as well impacted by the large number of immigrants. This fractionation impacted the theological plurality in Rome of which we are able to witness a striking tolerance of varying theological opinions until the fractionation of Rome was dissipating (due to several social, political, & even theological factors).
Given that we know Christianity began in the synagogues, it is fascinating that what we know of Roman Jewry is that it is fractionated, much like other evidence suggests for Christianity. There is no centralized power structure, but the independent synagogues have a loose connection with one another. Apologists may be tempted to use such facts to insist that correlation demands causation, but Lampe is more reserved in his assessment. It does not demand fractionation, but it is a further contributing piece of evidence to show the loose affiliation of house churches in Rome.
All of the extant literary sources show fractionation to seem degree Romans, Justin, and Hermas all do so explicitly while Clement and Ignatius refer to a plurality of leaders in Rome. The fact that Roman Christianity was loosely organized is a rather safe conclusion given the great deal of data considered.
Now, one may be inclined to suggest that this does not mean that there could have possibly been a monarchical bishop in Rome. It is a possibility, but there is literally no piece of evidence that exists to suggest such a thing existed. The strongest piece of data that we have is that the church did possess an affiliation with the disparate house churches, but this is exactly what we would expect to find in a presbyterial form of government.
Dr. Cross claims that presbyterial governance does not necessarily preclude a monarchical episcopate. Theoretically, in the world of ideas, that is true. When weighed by the inductive historical investigation of the relevant data, however, the possibility that a monarchical episcopate existed is exceedingly low.
To state it another way, Lampe’s conclusions about the monepiscopate are firmly grounded in his analysis of the fractionated nature of Roman Christianity. Lampe provides persuasive falsifiable reconstructions whereas the argument for a monarchical episcopate in Rome in the first and second century possesses no explicit evidence and weak implicit evidence. House churches in Rome worshipped separately based on economic, social, and ethnic backgrounds, while meeting in small meetings because of persecution forcing Christians to worship in secret and the general inability of Christians to pay for large dwellings. When all of the data is considered and compared to other pieces of information (just as Lampe indicates in his introduction), then we are able to conclude that there was no monarchical bishop in the first or second century in Rome.
 See Jewett’s Foreword in xiii for a similar statement of Lampe’s thesis.
 From the Introduction & on the books back cover.
 Lampe 15
 Building on Section 1, since the Jews and Christians shared a common heritage, finding the geographic location of the Jewish quarters would give an idea of Christian locations as well.
 Lampe, 24.
 Lampe 64. Cf. Martial 6.93
 Lampe, 52-54.
 For a breakdown of the evidence see Lampe’s pictorial on pages 44-45.
 Lampe, 47.
 Lampe, 47
 For a perspective that sees more Jewish influence that Lampe consult A.B. du Toit “The ecclesiastical situation of the first generation Roman Christians” Hervormde Teologieses Studies 53/3 (1997): 498-512.
 Lampe, 78.
 For a list of work done by scholars in this field consult Appendix 4 where Lampe lists the primary sources to validate his claims as well as the relevant secondary literature in the footnotes.
 Lampe, 432.
 In commenting on the disparity between the low number of Christians and the high number of Jews who were citizens Lampe states, “Of course, this comparison does not yet prove that citizenship was found more frequently among urban Roman Jews than in the Chrisitanity of the city. But we may take it as another warning against transferring sociohistorical discoveries about urban Roman Judaism directly to urban Roman Christianity.” Lampe, 83.
 Lampe attempts to offer a socio-historical analysis of Hermas’s doctrine of postbaptismal repentance. Lampe notes that he is not trying to offer a single explanation for the documents doctrine, but he is attempting to explain how the social reality may have impacted Hermas’s theology. See Chapter 10 for more detail
 While Nero was notoriously capricious, he is never criticized for doing something as heinous as punishing Roman citizens in a way that would have been completely circumvented Roman law.
 Lampe, 85. Lampe does note there are various reasons that people would sell themselves into slavery. Clement tells us that they were doing it selflessly (and Lampe seems to take Clement at his word), but there are also sociological and economic benefits if you can win your freedom and also find a benefactor.
 Lampe does not explicitly deal with any Papal statements, but he implicitly addresses them. For our purposes, it is worthwhile to point out such a connection.
 Lampe, 105.
 For the sake of space and simplicity I will not go into all of the detail in this review but I will point those interested to consult the full chapter as well as Figures 6-15.
For more information on the methodology and certainty of these conclusions consult page 109.
 Lampe references Kirschbaum as bricks being the cheapest material for burial in footnote 33.
 Lampe, 114.
 One could possibly argue that while the burial took place C. 100 CE, that the bones may have been kept elsewhere and therefore the bones are Peter’s but they were not buried until C. 100. Such a supposition is a possibility, but there is no evidence to argue in its favor.
 Lampe, 115.
 Lampe, 116, lists Callistus and Zephyrinus.
 For more detail on the criterion for classifying names see Lampe 170-173.
 Lampe, 183.
 This is based on the corroborating testimony of Bruttius (as reported in Eusebius)
 Lampe, 143. Care needs to be taken in making too much of this fact, but it does seem to point out something about the educational level of the individuals writing and the social setting of those receiving the letter.
 Lampe 216-217.
 Lampe 217.
 Lampe records that Hermas’s audience would have known his personal history/status making such a fabrication in the story unlikely.
 Lampe reservedly believes that Hermas managed a house of slaves and freemen.
 See Lampe, 224. Lampe does not give extended conversation to the mention of Pius and whether or not the Muratorian Fragment is accurate in describing Hermas and Pius as brothers. In footnote 27 Lampe appears to believe that the Muratorian fragment is not as valuable as some have argued because 1. The Muratorian fragment is attempting to discredit the canonicity of the Shepherd 2. The monarchical episcopate mentioned in the fragment did not exist and is not referenced in Hermas, as Lampe says he will continue to show.
 Lampe 231.
 Lampe, 236.
 Lampe, 258. Justin notes that he was not able to attend the Pythagorean school because he lacked the knowledge to do so, Dial 2.4ff.
 It is not so much that Justin created this shift on his own, but rather that we witness that the climate of second century Rome created spaces for Christianity to be taken more seriously as a philosophy even as many Romans regarded it as foolish philosophy.
 See Lampe’s discussion for why the inscription in the Capitoline Museum is a Valentinan artifact on pages 298-313.
 Lampe, 296. Particularly noteworthy among sophisticated Valenintians are Ptolemy and Heracleon.
 Lampe, 298, footnote 30.
 Lampe. 312-313.
 Lampe, 351.
 Lampe, 359.
 Lampe, 360.
 Lampe, 362.
 Lampe 364. For Lampe’s nuance on how the titular churches did not have to meet in the exact same location, see page 364 footnote 19.
 Identifying the “proestos” as a bishop is “to read into the passage things that are not there.” Lampe, 365.
 Lampe, 365.
 Lampe, 369.
 Lampe also notes however, that Rom law governing organizations, the community treasury was also not considered property of a corporation but as the undistributed property of the individual members, Lampe 370.
 Lampe, 372.
 Lampe, 377. He says that he will momentarily explain this more fully in his final chapter.
 Lampe, 380.
 Lampe 382. Lampe notes however, that there was not only a faction of those from Asia Minor that held this position, there was a faction with a man named Blastus who opposed Victor.
 Lampe, 383.
 Lampe, 385.
 Ecc. Hist 5.24.14ff.
 See Lampe 393-396. These groups ranged from Cerdo, those with affinities for Ebionism, and Montanists.
 A forth-coming article will emphasize this more clearly, but it is important to see here that Lampe agrees that there are “circles mutually bound in fellowship.” Lampe does not explicitly address the current discussion of Christianity or Christianities but Lampe in various places notes that “orthodoxy” was the predominant movement (he mentions Celsus’s claim about the size of orthodox Christianity) and that the government (though not of the episcopal variety) starts very early.
 Lampe, 398.
 On pages 400-402 evidence for the relationship between the various house communities is explored, but Lampe admits “we unfortunately know little of this convention level above the individual house communities.”
 Lampe does not find Ignatius’s position as wide spread as one may believe from reading Ignatius. Rome stands out as one example, but also Ancyra has no bishop but only a group of presbyters according to Eusebius Ecc. Hist. 5.16.5. Also, even in Ignatius’s letter to the Philadelphians presupposes Christians who do not wish to be under a bishop. See Lampe 399 footnote 5.
 Lampe, 400.
 Lampe, 400.
 Lampe, 402.
 Lampe, 245.
 Lampe 404.
 See Footnote 17.
 Lampe, 406.
 Please note this is not meant in a pejorative sense. Because Dr. Cross has not represented anything that I have encountered in Lampe I believe that Dr. Cross had either not read Lampe carefully enough or he had forgotten the nuance of Lampe’s arguments when he posted this comment.