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That’s What They Said- 1st Clement

 

MIchael Scott

When I wrote my initial article I had envisioned that a substantive response would be required, but I would not have imagined that length of the response composed. For those tracking with the discussion, you’ve read nearly 200 pages worth of text about some very technical historical and philosophical arguments. I hesitate to add to that growing number and to add to the exasperation of lurkers and those studying the issue, but I think it will be wise to highlight why the lengthy response from Called to Communion may be intimidating but ultimately misses the mark.

I intend on offering responses to each portion of the review article, but this will be a slow and arduous process for two reasons.  The first is that I don’t have the time I would like to devote to these questions.  The second is that when issues of this importance and magnitude are discussed, it is very important to take time to read and understand that other person. I’ve attempted to read and re-read the response so that my initial prejudices against it were tempered. I won’t assume that I’ve perfectly done so, but I prefer to take time to chew on material than offer quick responses which leave little time for reflection on what the other side has argued or whether or not I am presenting my arguments in a way that is appropriate.

In terms of my approach I will begin by analyzing how the texts that I cited in my original article have been responded to. As I set out to respond, I don’t really intend on responding in much detail to the methodological problems by focusing upon the philosophical grounding of historiography. Instead, I’d like to address those issues by working through the texts discussed to arbitrate between me alleged “selective use of evidence” and my accusation of the response article’s incipient anachronism. There is a possibility that as I construct each response that I will see the need for a more substantive methodological discussion, but I believe that a bottom up approach will bring more clarity to the differences in interpretation and to which methodology renders the most accurate exegetical conclusions.

With that out-of-the-way, I would like to begin analyzing the response article by looking at 1 Clement. It may seem odd to start with Clement when in my article I started with the biblical literature first, but the reason for this is that if I can demonstrate an anachronism in the use of the fathers, then when we come back to the biblical writers this anachronism will be even more apparent.

Interpreting Clement

A brief word before getting into the substance of the CtC’s response; it is grammatically ambiguous who Clement is referring to in 1 Clem. 44:2 “They appointed.” Who is the subject doing the “appointing?” There are three possible interpretations: i. The apostles are the subject who ordain those to succeed them ii. The bishops and deacons appointed were given apostolic prerogative to ordain others by the Apostles iii. Bishops and deacons are the subject and were to be succeeded if they should die by election of the presbytery and congregation.

The way Eric Jay describes the situation the first two support an “episcopal” position (though I don’t think that even if the first two interpretations are to be preferred that the presbyterian view would not be able to seamlessly integrate them) and the third the presbyterian position. After weighing the exegetical possibilities it’s true that each one is grammatically possible, but Jay, following the interpretation of Cyril Richardson concludes,

It has to be said that Clement is not attempting to state a precise doctrine of structure of ministry. His point is that when presbyters have been appointed as the apostles laid down (however that may be conceived), it is wrong to depose them if their ministry has been conscientious and effective. His purpose is to plead for the stability of the presbyterial system in Corinth…episcopalian though I am, I prefer the [presbyterial model]. Had Clement known of a decision by the apostles to initiate a succession through a series of men regarded as ranking with themselves, by whom alone other minsters as well as their own successors could legitimately be ordained, he would surely have written more precisely.

Jay’s point is that if the hierarchical structure of the episcopate was in place as asserted by Dix (and the response article), then why does Clement not simply point to this rupture as the simple solution to this breach of Apostolic Succession? This is not merely an argument from silence. This is an evaluation of Clement’s argument against the usurpers, and that argument not only does not mention episcopal structure, it provides a completely different picture of succession and ordination.

The response article claims that I make multiple claims, but the first that is addressed is the equivalence of presbuteroi and episkopoi. The response article responds,

Merely because St. Clement notes that the Apostles appointed bishops and deacons, it does not follow that St. Clement believed that there are only two grades of Holy Orders: the episcopate and the diaconate. That is because by the instructions of the Apostles, presbyter-bishops could subsequently ordain mere presbyters, and in this way the second grade of Orders was and is contained in the third grade of Orders.

This sort of unfortunate response saturates the response article.  The response article continually misapplies my utilization of evidence by making the citation of one piece of evidence carry the evidential weight of the entire case, but this is not how historians conduct their work.  History is an inductive exercise which is largely focused on presenting the most probable course of events. One of the considerations of fact in this case is that Clement does not anywhere speak of a distinction between presbyters or bishops.

My point is that in the letter, Clement only speaks of two orders, bishops and deacons (more on the supposed connection to the Levitical priesthood in a moment). This is simply a matter of fact. When you consider that in concert with the fact that Clement continually refers to bishops and deacons in the plural, this lends further credibility to the notion that Clement is working with a twofold understanding of church office.  That becomes even more likely when we consider that Clement uses the terms presbyter and bishop synonymously (again in the plural), in 44:3-4.

Even though this distinction is not present in Clement, where does the notion that a distinction between presbyter and bishop exists? An appeal is made to Jerome (347-420). That would be an anachronism in its own right, but the appeal to Jerome actually undermines the argument. Citing Dolan in my article I noted the significance of Jerome in this discussion,

It would appear that St. Jerome in the fourth century unwittingly laid the foundation when he wrote a defense of the presbyterate against the arrogance and abuses of certain Roman deacons. In order to restore the presbyterate its rightful place and authority Jerome pointed out that in the very early days of the Church the terms episcopus and presbyter signified the same individuals. In other words, as we interpret Jerome all were bishops in the sense in which this word is understood today, with full powers to confirm and ordain. But when the universal monarchical episcopate was introduced into the government of the Church only the chief priests who were subjected to him (in other words, the presbyters) were given only a limited or restricted share in the power of the priesthood.

Jerome is making precisely the point that I’m making about Clement.  It’s not only that presbyter=bishop, it is also that bishop=presbyter. And to contextualize this, Dolan is writing at the CUA in 1950 about consensus within the Roman Catholic Church on early ecclesial structure. According to Dolan, Jerome’s comments were a significant reason that the majority of Roman Catholic scholars believed that the episcopate developed.

 

The response article on the other hand, argues that Jerome undergirds their distinction (which, again, using Jerome in this manner is anachronistic). But all one needs to do is set the claims of the response article and the comments of Jerome side by side to see the blatant contradiction

Response article

Only if necessarily all bishops are presbyters, and all presbyters are bishops, would there be no semantic distinction between the two terms.

Jerome,

In writing both to Titus and to Timothy the apostle speaks of the ordination of bishops and of deacons, but says not a word of the ordination of presbyters; for the fact is that the word bishops includes presbyters also.

Jerome’s argument is that all presbyters are bishops, and thus, there is no semantic distinction between the two, according to Jerome. The office of the presbyterate is to be revered because it was initially part of the episcopate, which is above the diaconate. In order for the response article to make sense, it would have to claim that Jerome is claiming that not all presbyters are bishops, but that flatly contradicts what Jerome says explicitly and would completely undermine his argument. My argument is not built upon “an assumption that there cannot be two ways of being a presbyter,” it is built upon exegesis of the relevant data. The response article on the other hand has “presupposed precisely what is in question.”

Not so, says the response article. The distinction is found in Clement’s citation of the OT priesthood.  It is argued,

In laying out the three-fold order in the Old Covenant, St. Clement is *subtly* teaching what is part of the Tradition passed down in the Church Fathers, namely, that Christ the new Moses established in His New Covenant three different grades of Holy Orders: new high priests, new priests, and new Levites.

Where is this subtlety detected and how do we find it?  As the Eric G Jay notes, however, this sort of argument (and in his article he is interacting with Dix’s assertions) does not work. He says,

What militates against Dix’s assumption that in section 40 Clement is drawing a close analogy between the threefold Jewish hierarchy and a Christian ministry of bishops, presbyters, and deacons is that Clement immediately (41) goes on to speak of the temple cult in considerable detail—detail which has little, if any, relevance to Christian worship: continual daily sacrifices, freewill offerings, sin offerings, trespass offerings, the inspection of victims for blemishes.  Sections 40-41 are to be understood as Clement’s final example of the divine will for orderliness.

[Note Bene: In a fascinating footnote from this same page Jay cites Dix who admits,

[Clement] assumes that a corporate presbytery exercising “episkope” was the original form of local church government [Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy London, 1945, pg. 257]

And earlier Dix states,

within the embryo ministry one *group* only was customarily charged with the ‘episcopal’ office at the eucharist which the others (viz. the deacons) did not fulfill [pg. 247]te>

These admissions from Dix were unexpected to me, but we must now include Dix in that company of scholars who are imbibing higher-critical scholarship and making faulty conclusions from silence. This list of experts committing these errors continues to expand]

In order to see it in Clement, the article cites from the Apostolic Constitutions (mid 4th century), Jerome (late 4th early 5th century), and the Scottish Catechism of Aberdeen (19th century). This is the sort of methodological anachronism that unfortunately plagues this article. Other potential allusions are cited, another vague possibility in the Didache concerning the “high priests,” a reference to a bishop being like the high priest, and the elders similar to those chosen by Moses which is later echoed in the Teaching of the Apostles, from later in the third century. No one disputes that this connection began to be used to support the threefold division of minister, but the question is whether or not it is present in Clement. The article’s argument that there are multiple types of bishops and presbyters in Rome is ultimately dependent upon significantly later evidence, making the argument anachronistic.

Nevertheless, the conclusion is asserted,

So the data Brandon cites is not evidence that “For Clement there are [only] two orders,” not only because that conclusion does not follow from what St. Clement says, and not only because the second grade of Orders is contained in the third, but also because St. Clement himself alludes to there being three orders, and positive evidence trumps the argument from silence, as we explained above in our discussion of important preliminary principles of historical inquiry.

St. Clement only mentions two orders, never mentions a distinction between presbyters and bishops and uses the words synonymously in his letter. Moreover, Eric Jay notes,

If there had been such a man of Apostolic rank in Corinth or its region, the letter would surely somewhere have reminded him of his responsibility.

The response article wants to retort that just because the terms are used synonymously in the letter doesn’t mean that there was not a distinction between presbyters and bishops. It states,

For example, just because when speaking of humans we refer to ourselves as mammals, it does not follow that we believe that the term ‘human’ is equivalent to the term ‘mammal.’ Again on account of the ILD principle, the data is not evidence for Brandon’s claim.

This is supposedly a place where I have violated the “ILD principle,” but that is faulty for numerous reasons.  First, it is a matter of subjective opinion. Is the data really inscrutable? On whose account? Certainly not on mine or the myriad of experts cited. Second, there is a perceptible distinction between a mammal and a human. No one has disputed the conceptual possibility of distinction between a presbyter or a bishop, the question is whether or not such a distinction existed. My reasons have been textually grounded and reasoned. The response article’s reasons are grounded upon later distinctions outside of the text, in sources like Jerome that are far removed from the events themselves and in the case of Jerome, undermining the response’s argument.

What is doing all the argumentative work here, for Brandon, is an argument from silence, namely, that because St. Clement does not identify or name a single ruling bishop of the Church at Corinth, therefore, there was none, and all the Corinthian presbyter-bishops equally shared supreme jurisdictional authority, and the office of mere presbyter was not only not filled, it was not even possible. But that is not a good argument, not only because the conclusion does not follow from the premise, but also because as explained above, there are other possible scenarios that equally account for the data in the premise.

This is patently false. What is doing “all” the argumentative work is exegesis of the relevant texts and extrapolating conclusions from what the texts say. It is true that the fact that there is not mention of a singular bishop, or an identification of that individual is a considerable piece of information, but that is not the substance of my argument. It is that in Clement (and Jerome) there is no distinction in ordination between presbyters and bishops.  It is a matter of fact that presbyter and bishop are used interchangeably in 1 Clement, so the assumption that some of them had the power to ordain while others did not requires some sort of substantiation. The only substantiation given is Jerome, who argues precisely the opposite of what the response article claims.

Continuing the response article claims,

Finally, Brandon claims that the “tone of the letter does not indicate . . . at all” that St. Clement shows the authority of the Roman Church over the Corinthian Church. Brandon’s argument here presupposes that the only tone possible for one having authority is one of forceful compulsion and demand.

This is, once again, false. I would also ask readers to consider why I put this portion in the section on Clement, “Some people have argued that the writing of Clement shows the authority of the Roman church over the Corinthian Church.” My point is that nothing in the letter demonstrates

Nothing about being forceful or compulsory is an indication of authority and I did not make that claim. Instead, what I briefly pointed out was that Clement nowhere appeals to his own authority or the authority of the Roman Church to enforce its position. Peter and Paul are only mentioned as examples to be followed by enduring the jealousy of the ungodly, but no mention is made of the Church of Rome overseeing any other. Rome is writing, presumably because of the connection between the two churches with Paul and Prica and Aquilla, to compel its sister church to harmony and peace in the midst of turmoil. To assume anything more than that is to assume too much.

Finally, the response makes a rather curious claim that Clement is “indirectly” speaking of the monepiscopate in 44:2. The response says,

The very notion of strife for the episcopal office makes little sense if there is no non-arbitrary maximum number of persons simultaneously occupying it in the same particular Church. The unlimited number of potential presbyters in Presbyterian polity does not fit with the idea of a new presbyter being selected to succeed each one who dies. And when Presbyterian presbyters die, the remaining presbyters need only select men to replace them, which has little potential for intractable strife, since the persons having the authority in question are still present. The only strife would be among the remaining presbyters, insofar as they could not agree regarding who if anyone should replace the deceased presbyter. But St. Clement’s wording implies that he is speaking of an office that, upon the death of the person holding that office, no one with equal authority already holds, so as to make the decision regarding who to replace that person. Hence there would potentially be strife for the vacated office among those not holding that authority, unless a system of succession were established in advance.

This is substantively explained by the comment from Jay above about the interpretation of this passage, but it is also worth mentioning that this is mere speculation. First, the response wants to have it both ways.  In this comment they want to point out that there is no non-arbitrary maximum number of persons simultaneously occupying the office in the same particular church, but in other places the response article wants to maintain that there could have been a situation where there were multiple bishops in a given locale. What is the non-arbitrary number of bishops with the third degree of holy orders in a given locale according to the authors of the response?

Second, there are plenty of presbyterian churches where people attempt to usurp authority from the presbyters. This becomes more pronounced when we consider what Clement is writing about: there were presbyters (plural) discharged from their office by people jealous for power. Maybe only those displaced were the bishops with only the second grade of holy orders? Or perhaps only some of the bishops with the third degree of holy orders were deposed while there were still some bishops with the third degree of holy orders retaining office?

Third, how do we know that St. Clement is writing about an office that upon the death of the person holding it is vacated? That is clearly not what Clement is writing about because these men are still alive and have been improperly deposed. Such a supposition demonstrates a fundamental misreading of Clement and is symptomatic of what I have asserted about the response article—it does not carefully engage texts, but imposes later developments into them illegitimately.

In bringing this section to a close, I’ve attempted to show that the response article has not actually offered a meaningful rebuttal. It’s factually incorrect (Jerome in particular), it works anachronistically (using Jerome), and it does not properly interpret or understand Clement (priesthood, succession). In my next post (could be weeks and weeks away), I intend on discussing Ignatius of Antioch and addressing similar issues with the response article’s interpretation of Ignatius.

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40 thoughts on “That’s What They Said- 1st Clement

  1. Brandon, well done.

    It’s just a matter of dealing with the evidence we do have, not the reconstructions we wish for.

    For my part, I’m hoping to do the same with you as you do for Bryan. I hope to engage your connectional ecclesiology in Rome theory in the future here or at my blog, but I couldn’t at CtC.

    Specifically, the assertion that Rome had numerous churches in the 1st Century – the whole “fractionation” theory.

    I noticed a couple of typos along the way: “My point is that nothing in the letter demonstrates….?”

    ” these errors continues to expand]” (close bracket)

    Some missing periods, stuff like that. Perhaps you have a friend who can proof read?

    Again, well done, and thanks.

    Ted Bigelow

  2. Hey Ted,

    Thanks for the comment. I’d love to hear anything you’d like to offer on a counter proposal to the fractionation of Roman Christianity. I think it may be a slightly uphill battle, though I think Chrys Caragounis is the closest thing to someone calling the theory into question. If you haven’t you may want to check out some of his work.

    As far as typo’s are concerned…are you making a veiled offer 😉 I’ll certainly try to clean things up. I’ve been adding bits and pieces as time presents itself so there are times that I interrupt my thought or re-write something without properly editing or changing verb tense or agreement. Oh, and sometimes I just write less felicitously than I should and/or with bad grammatical mistakes:)

    1. Hi Brandon,

      I’ll pick back up that criticism of fractionation in the next few days and post to this blog when I’ve got it done. I found Lampe’s book and now have it here on the desk…. I’m ultimately concerned with the ecclesiology of the theory. I find it unreconcilable with the ecclesiology evident in the book of Romans, but when I read his work initially – back when we were interacting only a bit at CtC, I found his assumptions for multiple churches in Rome at such early dates suspect too. Graveyards?

      Hey, can you steer me to Chrys Caragounis?

      As far as typos go, I’d enjoy helping you out, really. I like your writing and find your logic straightforward.

      Thing is, it would have to be quid pro quo. I’m like you – I don’t post often, and my posts tend to be long. You can see what i do at http://www.churchsonefoundation.com.

  3. Brandon,
    Thanks for continuing the discussion! I have been edified by reading along from the sidelines.

    You have made (at least an implicit) distinction between legitimately using later evidence to fill in “contours of silence”, and illegitimate anachronism. Can you clarify this distinction?

    Back in the comments at CtC you agreed that
    “There are of course ways in which it is completely consistent to use later evidence to interpret earlier occurrences, and nothing I’ve argued implies differently.”
    and
    “No one has anywhere denied later evidence can fill in the contours of silence from another source, the question is whether or not it is warranted to do so given the reliability of the source and its distance from the events.”

    Then in this post you say
    “[The] argument… is ultimately dependent upon significantly later evidence, making the argument anachronistic.”

    So filling in silences using later evidence can be legitimate; but it will not be legitimate if the source is unreliable or if it comes at too great a distance from the events in question. Since it appears your charge of anachronism here hinges on temporal distance from events, can you specify what kind of intervening time period characterizes anachronism, as opposed to filling in “contours of silence”?

    (Of course I can see that you have a separate argument about whether or not Jerome agrees on his own terms; but right now I am trying to get my head around anachronism on its own.)

    Thanks for taking the time to write. Christ bless you!
    Nathaniel

    1. Hey Nathaniel,

      I think it’s important to distinguish two things.

      First, the substance of CtC’s response is that I’ve not incorporated all the “proximate data.” I’ve “unduly restricted the data set.” My response is to point out that unless you provide an argument for why evidence hundreds of years after the event counts as proximate evidence. I’m not ruling out the possibility that it should be given serious consideration, but the question is how much consideration ought it be given? One of the biggest reasons that CtC’s response misses the mark is because their critique provides no way to distinguish good evidence from bad evidence. For example, its true that an argument from silence can be overturned by any positive statement, but that cannot be true over a span of a thousand years. What valuation ought we pay the Donation of Constantine, for example? There are no principles given and the evidence itself is not evaluated as to its evidential value, it’s simply asserted that it is valuable.

      But, it’s interesting to point out that someonelike Simon Gathercole, who recently wrote a commentary on The Gospel of Thomas regards the Gospel of Thomas as being too late to provide any valuable historical information on the historical Jesus. Gathercole says,

      So the Gospel of Thomas is both chronologically and culturally distant from the Jesus of history. We can’t derive any historical information about Jesus from it, although it does shed some fascinating light into the debates about Jesus and the nature of Christianity which were going on during the time of the Antonine emperors (AD 138-192), which is roughly the period in which Thomas was written.

      I’m sure that Gathercole would receive push back from other scholars on the significance of Thomas’s evidential weight, but it is worth pointing out that the time periods we’re talking about are in the same range, and very possibly earlier than mentions of episcopacy in Rome and mention of a Petrine office in Rome is substantially further.

      Now, to the second issue, what is legitimate utilization of later sources? This is a complicated question, as I’m sure you know. To keep it succinct I believe that later evidence needs to be evaluated against contemporary and preceding evidence in order to determine it’s evidential weight. That’s the methodology that Lampe employees and that most historians utilize as well.Evidence doesn’t exist in a vacuum.

      My particular comments that you quote about anachronism are directed at the responses utilization of late 4th, early 5th, and 19th century documents to show a possible interpretation of Clement. That is anachronistic because it does not deal with the text in its context. The reason I can use Jerome, writing substantively later is because he says something unexpected given his time and which also confirms the explicit testimony of the earlier sources (at least as I interpret them). My case does not rest upon Jerome though. Read the response though and you’ll see that the response’s most utilized argument in interpreting Clement is a comment from Jerome, which ironically undermines their argument. That sort of response is the definition of anachronistic.

  4. Hi Addison,

    As I mentioned I wanted to challenge your use of evidence in your claim that Rome had multiple churches in the first two centuries of the Christian Era, and argue instead that Rome had one church which met weekly on Sunday, and also had meetings in homes, such as Aquila and Prisca at other times (cf. Rom. 16:5). I first mentioned this challenge a couple of times in the comments at CtC, but found it impossible to continue commenting there.

    In your excellent article posted at CtC you present significant and in my mind, probative arguments for denying the claim that Rome evidenced a monarchial bishop who oversaw presbyters and deacons there in the first two centuries, along with the claim that Rome is the church Jesus meant in Mat. 16:18. The authors at CtC in their response article to you presented series of arguments against your use of evidence. Since then the commenting and debate has devolved to an evaluation of evidence. Such is ever the nature of arguing history.

    So while I too want to challenge your use of evidence – in specific, your reliance on the work of a scholar’s theory called “fractionation,” I have little hope to win a probability case. Not that I don’t think my evidence is superior than that theory. I assure you I do. But no matter how hard the claims of history are pressed, and how abundant the testimony of various strands of evidence, all we have at the end is probability, and I refuse to allow my faith in how Christ wants churches governed today, and in ending schism today, resting on probability cases.

    Nor do I want your faith in modern presbyterial governance (multiple churches, one board) resting on probability, and hence, the real motive behind this effort. I trust you have faith in the full substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for His people’s sins, connected to His glorious resurrection for their justification and His ascension to the Father’s glorious right hand from where He now rules over the churches and the nations. Because I trust this about you I have similar confidence that you view the Christian Scriptures as the full and final rule of faith (regula fidei) and wish to submit to them as the very word of God. I assume that in matters of Christian faith you are not content to obey Christ based on historic probabilities but by the certainties found in Scripture, those things testified to by an accurate interpretation in both precept and example. If I am successful I will convince you the ecclesiological structure in Rome in the early centuries was not presbyters in numerous churches, occasionally gathering together as a college – for which there is no direct evidence. But rather you will see that there was one church that met every Sunday in Rome, and that the elders of that one church all functioned together as a single body over a single flock.

    I’d like to make two postings after this with your approval. The first will examine Lampe’s theory he calls fractionation, a theory you appear to accept. The second will be moral proof from the text of the book of Romans showing why there had to be but one church in Rome at the time of Paul’s writing.

    So Addison, if you would, let me know if you agree or not with what I just wrote two paragraphs ago – about where you stand in your faith in both Christ and the Scripture. And let me know if you accept Lampe’s theory on fractionation. Here is his defintion:

    In the pre-Constantinian period, the Christians of the city of Rome were assembled in premises that were provided by private persons and that were scattered across the city (fractionalism)” (p. 364).

    if my assessment of your faith is accurate, and you do agree with Lampe, then please let me know if it is acceptable to make two further posts.

    Thanks – Ted Bigelow

  5. Thank you, Brandon, for your continuing interaction on the matter of church structure in the early church in Rome in the first two centuries. Infinitely more, however, I am privileged to call you a brother in Christ for your faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ and your love for the Bible as the source wherein the apostolic gospel is revealed.

    My first post below is my attempt to undermine your faith in Peter Lampe’s thesis called Fractionation, asserted in his book “From Paul to Valentinus.” I do not hope this post will convince you, for all I can do is try to erode your confidence in something about which we actually have no evidence of – that is – that there was a presbyterial board comprised of various church’s elders in Rome. Yet you have enough confidence in it to assert this was the case in distinction to CtC RCC claim of a monarchial bishop. My own claim would be that there was a single church with a single board of elders. But from history alone (not from Scripture) none of us have direct evidence of our claims.

    In my second post, which will be smaller in size, I will press forward the case from the book of Romans that Rome did not have multiple churches, each with elders who met as a presbyterial board over a so called “city-wide church of Rome,” but were a group, along with all the Christians in Rome that met together each Sunday. Again, I hope to erode your trust in your beliefs that Scripture teaches such a thing. Why? So that you might embrace the schism-rejecting wisdom of God in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Lampe starts his book with his strongest evidence for fractionation, but doesn’t define it until much later:

    “In the pre-Constantinian period, the Christians of the city of Rome were assembled in premises that were provided by private persons and that were scattered across the city (fractionalism)” (p. 364).

    The book opens with 5 lines of evidence he calls methods. His most important line of evidence is #1, and yet in it, admits it does not address the church of Rome in the first two centuries.

    Method 1: Beginning with his first chapter, Lampe assumes separate churches in Rome: “Which locations were claimed as early Christian meeting places?” (19). He admits the earliest dating is from the 5th Century, so is of little value, if any, for determining the Christianity of the first two centuries. One should be permitted to wondering why it is even included – that is, what is the author’s agenda? Thankfully, Lampe admits, “I do not maintain that anyone of the nine Tituli go back into the first or second centuries” (22). [The Tituli were parish churches in Rome under a central archbishop.]

    Method 2: Next, Lampe evaluates grave sites as a way of evaluating the locations of multiple churches of “pre-Constantinian Christians” (23), but again, the evidence is only from “the fourth century on” (23). Left unexplained to the reader is how graveyards might show where multiple churches met. It is conjectural.

    Method 3: Next, Lampe evaluates where the Jews lived in Rome, but admits that such evaluation at best only confirms method 2; “It leads to complete agreement with the result of our second method!” (40). In itself it offers nothing positive concerning where the early Christians met, even if they were predominantly Jewish.

    Method 4: Here Lampe goes back again to the Tituli, which he has already admitted cannot be dated to the first or second centuries. (41)

    Method 5: -Finally, Lampe draws some conclusions on anecdotal information, such as a slave transacting business for his master in 180 AD. He assumes that since a Christian slave worked for master who may have (or may not) been a Christian, therefore, a bank was used to attract specifically Christian customers. He relies on pagan practices here for the connection. He then claims that the bank was near the location of a specific Christian church. His other anecdote is a document that records a Christian owning a piece of land (42). Therefore, that land, which is not connected to a church in the original document, nonetheless shows evidence of a separate church from other churches in Rome. It is rather silly.

    In summary of his 5 methods, Lampe does not make any direct inference to the situation of churches in Rome for the first two centuries in his own methods.

    Allow me to skip other chapters and focus on the few that look at Scripture, or those that consider Justin Martyr.

    In chapter 6 Lampe turns some attention to the Biblical material in Acts 28 and concludes that the Christians in Rome were socially stratified and, importantly, integrated (80) and even describes the Christians at the time of Paul’s first imprisonment as a single church (81).

    Yet, in his chapter 16 Lampe deals with the material in Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 16, verse 1-16., but Lampe does not always claim that the separate house groups of Rom. 16 are separate churches here, but often refers to the Roman Christians as “one community’ (p. 80, 86, 93, etc.). It is in his sixteenth chapter that Lampe surmises that each house group was presided over by small groups of presbyters (146). However, in other places he can refer to the 5 groups of Romans 16 as “house churches (cf. 100), and will eventually have an entire chapter on “house churches” (p. 373). In other words, his work is uneven on this central part of his thesis.

    Moving on to a thematically connected chapter (chapter 36) Lampe presents evidence of what he calls “fractionation,” or “fragmentation.” He begins by noting, “The entirety of Roman Christianity is never designated in any passage of Romans as ecclesia.” He doesn’t mention it, but it would be apropos to his theory of fractionation to find Roman Christianity described as ecclesiai – plural – “churches.” This which would be the positive data necessary for his claim going back to the fist century, but he neglects it. Yet he could not have been unaware of the point, for he recognizes the ecclesiology of Rom. 16:16 “all the churches greet you” (156). Indeed, Lampe acknowledges that the phrase “all the churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16) has clear ecclesiological implications (155-56).

    Island Thesis
    Observing the 4 others groups beside Aquila and Prisca in Rom. 16, he writes, “Thus, in the capital city of Rome, we count five different Christian islands.” (359). Of course that is simply overstating the case, but I’ll call it Lampe’s “Island thesis.” What is less in doubt is the division of Rome into 7 ecclesiastical regions by Fabian in the middle 3rd Century (370). This island thesis shows how improximate his data is to the first two centuries, which Brandon, is the very point you are trying to connect to the men and women at CtC on.

    His support for the island thesis begins with his methods discussed at the book’s beginning – Titular churches which he admits didn’t arise until the 4th century, and the lists he provides are from the 5th and 6th centuries. Lampe assumes post Constantinian Roman Christianity was premised upon pre-Constantinian Christianity, and writes, “In the pre-Constantinian period, the Christians of the city of Rome were assembled in premises that were provided by private persons and that were scattered across the city (fractionalism)” (364).

    Conflation:
    Much of his fractionation thesis evidences a conflation of schools and churches. In this vein he asserts that 3 gnostics, Valentinus, Ptolomy, and Heracleon in Rome in the 2nd century had schools – which are in themselves evidence of ecclesial fractionation (307). It is in my opinion an unwarranted connection, although I don’t doubt for a second that the gnostics had their own churches.

    Assumption:
    He also assumes that Romans 16 is evidence of separate house churches, as I imagine you do too. Lampe asserts, “The New Testament formula ἡ κατ οἶκον τινος ἐκκλησία indicates that this [fractionation] was already the case in the first century C.E.” (364). I’ll deal with why this is scripturally and morally impossible in my second post.

    Justin Martyr

    You and I had a back and forth on Justin Martyr at the CtC site. Allow me to pick that back up here.

    I am not favorably impressed at how Lampe treats a few of the extant writings of Justin Martyr, who lived in Rome in the middle of the second century. Citing his Apology, esp. chapter 67, he acknowledges Justin’s writings about all contributing on Sunday for the relief of the poor among them (100), but claims this contribution only happened among house groups (cite?) of socially similar groups. In other words, the rich met with the rich in churches of rich people, and the poor met with the poor in churches of poor persons. Yet he doesn’t see the inconsistency when he elsewhere claims the rich gave to the poor in the Sunday offerings (101ff). Thus Lampe dismisses a key component of evidence for one church and instead appears to rely on modern sociological theory.

    Here’s Justin’s quote:

    “On the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits… Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly.” (Justin Martyr, Apology, 1:67).

    This direct line of evidence is written by a man who lived in Rome during the period Lampe is theorizing about. It goes entirely against his theory (and yours). Question is, how should it be regarded? It is proximate. It is clear. The only problem with Martyr’s quote is that it doesn’t agree with you or Lampe. Please show me where I am wrong.

    So how does Lampe deal with it? Not very well, I’m afraid. Instead, Lampe makes much of Justin’s quote concerning a group associated with him who met in his rented quarters (364) and of his answer to a question presented to him of where the Christians meet, “do you mean that we all are accustomed to assemble in the same place? It is by no means so” (364-65). He hardly writes at all about Justin’s quote above. It poor work.

    It continues. Lampe claims, without warrant, that such groups like Justin’s are house churches (364). So then, what does he do with Justin’s famous quote that all Christians in a city or region, thoughout the world, always meet in one place every Sunday (Apology 1:67, cf. p. 365)? He simply subsumes that statement under the former quote about alleged house churches, but he offers no rationale for making one a priority over the other.

    The more likely reconstruction is that Justin is not describing churches at all in his quote on using his own rented quarters, but is rather describing a school of teaching for young men. This is a reconstruction which Lampe later admits (376).

    Yet, based on his own supposition that Justin’s house group was church, he writes, “After all is said, we must conclude that Justin’s group, meeting ‘above the bath of Myrtinus,” conducts its own worship services, in which a “presider,” a “lector,” and “deacons” function, as described in Apol. 1.67” (377). But does Justin actually mention any of those in his house? No. But it fits his thesis, even though Justin never calls the group that meets in his house a “church.” Lampe appears to have drawn an invalid inference to substantiate his fractionation thesis: a group met in Justin’s house – therefore, all the activities that Lampe believed happened in alleged house churches in Rome, happened in Justin’s house.

    Summary:
    Lampe’s admission that his strongest evidence of fractionation is the tituli, and that based on those “parishes” (RCC speak for churches) the fact that he cannot reach back into the first or second centuries (26) is telling. For the most part his thesis (and as best as I read it), is based on drawing links between the tituli of the 3rd and 4th centuries, the house communities of Rom. 16, and the gnostic sects evidenced in Rome in the middle of the second century. He conflates schools, likely highly informal, with churches due to the sharing of the word “house” and not based on any other evidence.

    Further, his handling of contrary evidence is suspicious. He takes Justin’s exceedingly clear words on the assembly in Rome meeting as one every Sunday and subsumes them under a more convenient theory to his position.

    I hope now, based on this brief review, you’ll be willing to look to the holy Scripture and what I hope will be clear evidence of unity among God’s called in that ancient city – evidence of an apostolic design lost long ago, but to which men like you and I are called to uphold by our faith in the gospel. Evidence that agrees with a church father, Justin Martyr, who lived in Rome 100 years after Paul wrote Romans – evidence that shows that a unified body of Christ in every place glorifies Jesus Christ, while schism does not.

  6. Hi Addison,

    Here’s my second post in which I hope to convince you that ancient Rome in the first century did not have multiple churches, and therefore, did not have a presbyterial form of governance wherein multiple church’s elders formed a board and made decisions for these alleged churches. Instead, all the city’s Christians were unified as one body of Christ in one church. At the end I will offer my own reconstruction of that one church’s leadership.

    There are four reasons to believe there was but one church in Rome when Paul wrote the letter to the Romans prior to his trip back to Jerusalem, roughly around the time of Acts 20. They are the specified recipients and their relationship to the Greek word for church, “ecclesia;” a rejection of the house church theory assumed from Romans 16; Paul’s use of the body of Christ analogy in Romans 12, and a series of impossibilities that the theory of multiple churches in Rome requires we accept.

    1. The Recipients and ecclesia/ecclesiai
    Paul does not distinguish between the recipients of the letter in any way except by way of God’s effectual call resulting in their status as “saints,” with the most important word (for my purpose here) being “all” –

    to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

    While Paul does not call them all a single church here, he will specifically mention but one church in Rome later in chapter 16. But his greeting in 1:7 features four parts: “a greeting, given to each and every saint, in a geographic location, and one church only in that city mentioned later.” This is not unique to Romans. It mirrors Philippians exactly (Phil. 1:1, 4:15). Therefore, it isn’t necessary to mention the singular form of “ecclesia” at the beginning to establish that there was but one church in Rome. Even more, few seriously believe the small city of Colossae had multiple churches, yet it only features all the elements of the greeting pattern found in Romans – and yet, there is no direct mention of Colossae being a church. Therefore it is unreasonable to claim Rome had multiple churches based on the greeting not mentioning the word “ecclesia.”

    And when Paul does mention ecclesia in connection to the geographic location of Rome, he mentions one and one only church (Rom. 16:5). He never said in his letter there were multiple churches in Rome.

    Therefore, for readers of Romans to claim he wrote to multiple churches requires them to prove at least two elements – provide a biblical reason explain why he only mentions the word ecclesia once (iow, show that the singular form of ecclesia can refer to multiple churches in Paul’s letters) while showing that he is doing this in Romans 16:5; and second, that Paul’s syntax in Romans 16:6-15 clearly asserts separate churches. Why should the reader be put on the defensive this way? Because the term ecclesia is a term defined by Jesus Christ and is the foundation for an entire branch of theology, and it is used only once, and in the singular. The burden of proof is on those making the claim of multiple churches, not vice-versa.

    Additionally, Paul shows an awareness of geographical separation when using the plural term ecclesiai, “churches” in the letter. In Romans 16:16 he makes a distinction between multiple churches (cf. 16:4) and the collective “all who are beloved of God in Rome” (cf. 1:7):

    Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

    Why, if there multiple churches in Rome, did Paul not write “all the churches of Christ greet all your churches” if in fact they were meeting in separate churches? To not recognize them as separate churches, while recognizing “all the churches” outside of Rome as separate churches, would have been a rejection of their individuality as churches. Wosre, it would have intoned that the Christians in Rome were viewed by all the other churches outside of Rome as one group and not individual churches, thus nullifying their own identity. Paul words run the opposite of what some modern readers claim – who do all the churches outside of Rome greet? – “you” – a collective group of Romans beloved of God in Rome (1:7). So not only does Paul see them as a singular group and as one church, but so do all the other churches.

    2. A Presumption of Multiple House Churches
    Modern readers have also been seduced into the house church theory – that early Christianity began in separate homes which were separate churches, within the same city. This has spawned a near-certainty in a new definition of ecclesia called a “city-wide church” which alleges that when Paul writes to the church in Corinth, for example, he was actually writing to multiple house churches.

    The entire theory is built on a poor English translation of the four “house church” texts which are all translated into English as locatives, one of which is in Romans 16:5: “the church that is in their house.” It’s an understandable translation given the constraints of the two languages, but an unfortunate one for the false ecclesiology of acceptable schism it breeds .

    Let me give you a better translation of Romans 16:5 from the original Greek: “and the distributed church at their house.” This is due to the Greek preposition κατὰ (kata) in Romans 16:5, and indeed, in all the “house church” texts. English can’t handle the preposition κατὰ real well, so sometimes we translate it “in.” But, κατὰ doesn’t mean “in.” It never has, and it never will. Ever. This word carries the root prepositional meaning of “down.”

    What then does κατὰ mean in Romans 16:5? Over 100 times in the New Testament it carries the sense of “distribution.” It is the division of a greater whole divided down into individual parts. If you read the Greek you’ll find it everywhere in the NT. For example, Jesus distributes (κατὰ) the large crowd of people down to fifties and hundreds in Mark 6:40. He teaches us to pray “Give us each (κατὰ) day our daily bread” in Luke 11:3, that is, “give us a distribution of bread every day.”

    Or, if analogies help, think of rain falling down from the sky and being distributed from place to place, or a mother setting down plates of food for her family, and thus distributing the meal for that night. Think of distributing police officers across a city, or distributing tax refunds to all who earned them.

    How can we understand this in English? Well, we don’t have a preposition in English that functions distributively so we have to supply several words to get at the meaning. We could translate Romans 16:5 this way: “the part of the church at their house,” or perhaps, “the distributed part of the church at Aquila and Prisca’s house.”

    It’s hard on us because we don’t have the idea of distribution expressed in any of our English prepositions and so our translations do the best they can. Can you imagine reading this in your New Testament: “the distributed church at the house of…” Say what?

    But actually, the Greek has a simple way of expressing the phrase “in the house” and does so in the NT repeatedly. It’s ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ. This simply means “in the house” and it occurs frequently in the NT. In every instance it clearly and unambiguously means, “in the house” (Matt 5:15; 8:6; 9:10; 13:57; Mark 2:15; 6:4; 9:33; 14:3; Luke 5:29; 7:37; 17:31; John 8:35; 11:31; 14:2; Acts 16:32). If the four ‘house church’ texts literally meant a church “in the house,” the writers of the New Testament likely would have used the ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ phrase, not the κατὰ phrase: (τῇ κατ οἶκον αὐτῶν ἐκκλησίᾳ).

    There is yet further evidence for this. Κατὰ is used with the word “house” in the New Testament, but never once with the meaning “in.” It is always with a distributive meaning. There are four other instances of this apart from the four ‘house church’ texts. In Acts 2:46 it is translated, “breaking bread from (κατὰ) house to house.” The one action of breaking bread was an action distributed from house to house. So too in Acts 5:42 and Acts 20:20 the apostles “continued teaching from (κατὰ) house to house.” That is, their teaching was distributed from house to house. In Acts 8:3 Paul found Christians of the one church in Jerusalem to persecute, distributed in houses.

    So Paul uses a preposition with a well-understood meaning by even children of that day. Using that preposition in Romans 16:5 leaves the reader open to Paul writer describing further distributions of the one church in the following verses, which he does with the use of the partitive preposition ἐκ (out of) in Rom. 16:10, 11, and expecting that was understood as referring to but a part of a single church in Rome in Aquila’s house, while other groups met in other homes. But on Sunday all the groups came together as one church, as I express in the next section.

    3. The Body of Christ in Rome
    Part of Paul’s teaching to “all who are beloved of God in Rome” is his unequivocal attribution of them as a single body of Christ in Romans 12:4-5, which then flow into a series of “one-another” teachings in vv. 6-16. He calls all these believers a single body with many members who are related to each other even as the parts of a human body:

    For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

    Then Paul explains what it means to be members of one another by describing church ministries that necessitate all gather together in one group:

    Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

    Paul’s list prominently features leadership, yet leadership for the whole body of Christ. These verses assure us Paul is not writing of the universal body of Christ since these gifts can only be used among those in close proximity.

    Paul goes on to identify “all who are beloved of God in Rome” as “one-anothers” who possess a series of definite responsibilities to all others who are “one-anothers” – responsibilities that necessitate being together in one church – such as “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” and “contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

    If the saints in Rome met in different churches, then they could only fulfill those with their own churches, but not with those in other churches. Therefore it is this “one-another” obligation that leads us to consider the impossibility that there were multiple churches in Rome when Paul wrote the letter.

    4. Impossibilities, Physical, Spiritual and Moral
    In Romans 16:16 Paul commands every single Christian in Rome to greet every other Christian in Rome: “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” This is not, as Lampe implies in his book (see my prior post), one church sending greeting to one another since churches don’t kiss each other (p. 398). Without diminishing this command as silly (kissing) we ought to receive it as apostolic and ultimately from Christ, but doing so is physically impossible when your brothers and sisters in Christ aren’t physically with you in church Sunday morning. Considered positively, think about how greeting one another promotes communication amongst the brethren! Without it, how can we pray for one another, for example?

    Alternatively, suppose these Roman Christians met in different churches every Lord’s Day. If so, then the only realistic time to fulfil the command to greet the Christians in your own church was Sunday. So too, the only practical way to obey Paul’s command in Romans 16:16, that is, to greet the Christians in the other churches, was on Sunday. But if the Roman Christians left their own church on Sunday to greet the Christians in the other churches (as commanded by Paul) they would have failed at obeying the command to greet one another in their own church. So if there were even just ten separate churches in Rome, compliance to Rom. 16:16 would have required ten weeks away from one’s own church, thus disobeying the command to greet one another in one’s own church for ten weeks.

    In this impossible scenario Paul’s command from Christ would have made every single Christian in Rome disobedient to Christ every Sunday, an impossibility that rises in every church to which apostles gave this command (1 Cor. 16:20, 2 Cor. 13:12, Phil. 4:21, 1 Thess. 5:26, cf. 1 Peter 5:14). Ethically speaking then, all the Christians in every locale had to meet in one church. Remember this next Sunday when you attempt to “greet one another.” Since your churches exist in schism you only fellowship with those in your church, not the body of Christ where you live. Think about the disobedience of it all.

    Then there are the spiritual impossibilities, such as earlier when Paul called them all one body with gifts they are obligated to use for “one another.” For them to be in separate churches means his commands can’t be fulfilled to the body, thus setting up all the Christians in Rome for spiritual failure – ie., sin.

    Along these lines his closing command to the church in Rome is one of protection, but is impossible if they exist in multiple churches (Romans 16:17-19):

    Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

    This command, given collectively to all the saints and not just leaders, would have been impossible to fulfill if the Christians met in separate churches. Paul warns them all to keep a collective “look-out” for those starting a schism. But if there were multiple churches in Rome, who could judge if a person was being schismatic, or simply obeying the Lord by starting another church? Paul’s use of the word “obedience” in connection to schism shows his own belief that multiple churches in the same locale is sinful disobedience.

    Lastly, acceptance of multiple churches in Rome leads to moral impossibilities. Paul’s letter, by virtue of his collective terms for the Christians in Rome (“you,” “one another,” “all the saints in Rome”) creates more sin than there was before his letter arrived. Every Sunday for the rest of their lives they broke apostolic commands across a range of Sunday-specific activities if they met in separate churches. The letter claimed to bring grace in 1:7 but actually it would have brought condemnation.

    These impossibilities render invalid Lampe’s ‘spiritual” assertion,

    “Fractionation into house congregations does not exclude that the Christian Islands scattered around the capital city were aware of being in spiritual fellowship with each other of perceiving themselves as cells of one church, and of being united by common bonds” (397-98).

    Lampe assumes a definition of ‘spiritual fellowship” quite different than that of the apostle Paul in the letter to the Romans. For example, if Mary didn’t work hard for every Christian in Rome but just her own house church, then why does Paul identify her as doing otherwise in Rom. 16:6?

    His isn’t a definition of spirituality I would want you or any other Christian to succumb to, Addison. The biblical truths of fellowship are concrete and physical, not ethereal and imaginary.

    So lastly, what was the leadership structure of the church in Rome? It would be presumptive to claim we can’t know, not that we don’t know. Why is this?

    Both the churches of Rome and Crete derive from Pentecost (Acts 2:10-11). When Paul came across the pre-existing churches on Crete almost three decades later he reformed them according to the apostolic design of eldership – one set of elders per city (Titus 1:5, cf. Acts 14:23).

    Now since Paul already knew a great deal about the ecclesiastical situation in Rome from his friends Aquila and Prisca, and due to his commitment to see to it that all churches were organized by the exact same form of governance, Paul would have been derelict not to reorient Rome’s church to eldership from any other governmental structure than eldership, or to neglect mentioning it in the letter as he did in Titus. Therefore we should assume the church in Rome had obeyed the apostolic pattern and was functioning appropriately, and did not require apostolic correction – as there is none in the letter.

    I do hope to hear back from you at some point, and hope this helps you make the transition from “multiple churches in the same locale” theology, which accepts schism as normal and even healthy, to a biblical ecclesiology of unity in the faith and in structure.

    May the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus bless you with understanding, and all who read this.

    Ted Bigelow

  7. Brandon, you write here,

    Knock Catholicism for its weaknesses, but one of the things about Catholicism is that there are different ethnic liturgies and traditions that are allowed in their churches. There is not a pressing uniformity in liturgy or worship style, but their faith unites them amid their differences. Tracing this back to the earliest Roman Christianity, the cities various churches were divided by ethnic, economic, and geographical disbursement. Yet, all of these churches, though they worshiped in different areas, maintained their catholicity and mutual support of one another and other Christian communities throughout the area.

    As I expressed above, the earliest roman Christianity was not divided into separate areas. It ignores the historical record made by Justin Martyr in Apology 1:67, and repudiates the ecclesiology the apostle Paul taught in Romans 12:4-5.

    It is separation of the local body of Christ (what Paul calls “schism”) that must be repented of where both Leon Brown, and Darryl Hart live, in order for the body to function not as Black Christian/churches and White Christians/churches. The plan for such repentance is given in the Bible – in Titus 1:5. You can read about it here.

    1. Hey Ted,

      I guess I will provide some succinct responses in the form of questions for you and your position.

      1. How do you know that Christianity was not dispersed into separate areas?

      2. How big do you believe the Roman Church to have been initially? What sort of place would Christians have been able to gather safely in large groups in first century Rome?

      3. How influential do you believe Judaism and its structures were in the formation of Christian ecclesiology in Rome? What significance does the fractionation of Roman Jewry play in your historical reconstruction?

      4. Related to #3, given the importance of the synagogue, what do you make of the fact that the earliest Roman Christians meet in synagogues (multiple synagogues throughout the city) for worship until a conflict resulted in the expulsion of certain Christians?

  8. Hi Brandon, some quick replies. I hope you are well and had a strengthening Lord’s Day:

    1. How do you know that Christianity was not dispersed into separate areas?

    I’m going to assume this question refers strictly to the church in Rome. My answer is #4 in my second post above, the Impossibilities: Physical, Spiritual and Moral. Given what we read in the book of Romans, this question is better directed at yourself since you assume it to be the case, not I.

    2. How big do you believe the Roman Church to have been initially? What sort of place would Christians have been able to gather safely in large groups in first century Rome?

    I don’t know, but by Justin Martyr’s time we can safely assume it was large (155-165?). And we know by what he writes that all the Christians in Rome, even those in the outlying areas, came together to meet as one body, a point that affirms churchly obedience to Paul’s one body in Christ theology of Romans 12:4-5 and is supported by other NT writings (i.e., 1 Cor. 11:18-20, Romans 16:23). Your current reconstruction of the Roman church in the earliest times assumes disobedience to Paul’s body of Christ theology.

    3. How influential do you believe Judaism and its structures were in the formation of Christian ecclesiology in Rome? What significance does the fractionation of Roman Jewry play in your historical reconstruction?

    I don’t know, but when Paul writes to the Christians in Rome in 58AD or so, they are no longer meeting in synagogues, if they ever did. In Acts 28:22-31 an eyewitness records the reaction of the Jews in Rome to the gospel. It is the same reaction testimony he provides of Israelites in other cities when the gospel was first proclaimed to them, too. Now if the Christians had been in the synagogues for the 20 – plus years prior to Paul’s arrival, proclaiming the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ alone and no longer through the law of Moses, don’t you think the Jewish elders might have registered an earlier rejection, or were they perhaps being disingenuous when they said, “But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.” (Act 28:22)”?

    4. Related to #3, given the importance of the synagogue, what do you make of the fact that the earliest Roman Christians meet in synagogues (multiple synagogues throughout the city) for worship until a conflict resulted in the expulsion of certain Christians?

    That’s not known for certain, but you state it as if it were. There are ancient records that appear to place the expulsion of the Jews from Rome (AD 49?) by Claudius (cf. Acts 18:2) to be over a “Chrestus” whom most scholars take to be Christ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suetonius_on_Christians). Perhaps then a separation occurred at that time and the Roman Church was led by Gentile Christians from then on. I mean, historical reconstruction is fun and all, but the Spirit of God hasn’t seen fit to give us all these certainties, apparently, because they aren’t necessary to our faith. Thankfully, we can take full confidence that all that is necessary for our reconstruction of the early church in Rome is in the New Testament. Some call it the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture.

    1. Hey Ted,

      Thanks for your thoughts. This time of year is incredibly busy so I’m sorry I can’t give more attention to this, but I just wanted to respond with a few comments.

      My question #1 is directed at you because you claimed that the earliest Christians were not spread throughout the city. Not only does that seem to contradict what we know about Roman Christianity, but it also requires that we believe that only certain sections of the city possessed Christians. That seems highly implausible. To assert confidently otherwise seems rather curious.

      Question #2 is another important piece of contributing evidence. You are saying that Christians meet in one place per Justin. Even though numerous scholars note that Justin is *not* taking about a large meeting, but of the practice of all Christians to gather on the Lord’s Day (and I recall you even asserted that an article undermined Lampe’s thesis, but it actually confirmed that Justin was not talking about such a large meting). Moreover, Justin says he does not know where all the Christian groups meet in the city of Rome in his trial transcripts which is also very important for this consideration. But even setting these things aside, your position is faced with a number of logistical problems.

      If there were numerous Christians in Rome (which we agree on this), then you need to explain where they meet. There is no notion of corporate property in first century Rome, which means that they would have been forced to meet at someone’s home. Who is able to house these thousands of Christians? Larry Hurtado as explained that Christianity was not “secretive” in his latest blog (here: http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/was-early-christianity-secretive-2/), however, during times of persecution it would seem that meeting in such large groups would be asking for slaughter and/or mass arrest–if such a meeting were even physically possible in the first place. Your inability to even begin to explain how this could have happened makes your position difficult to accept.

      Question #3 is important because if Jewish structures were influential in Christian formation (and indications are that they were), then the fact that there were multiples synagogues meeting in Rome is a notable fact. You seem to suggest that the earliest Christians potentially did not even meet in synagogues because of the distinctive Gospel message, but there are multiple problems with this. The first is that as a Jewish movement, even the Apostles were shocked about the outpouring of the Spirit on the Gentiles. In Acts 15 there is a serious discussion about whether or not Gentiles need to follow the Mosaic Law in order to be justified.

      Moreover, if we are following the chronology of Acts and the edit of Claudius (assuming they are harmonious), then the statement of the elders in Acts 28 makes perfect sense. By this time the agitation in Rome had already occurred and Prica and Aquilla had been banned from Rome–which is what we find in Acts 18. Such an acrimonious dispute–such that the Romans had to intervene–would certainly seem to be reason for the Jews to view Christians with suspicion. Moreover, in Acts 18, where does Paul go to evangelize? To the synagogues. All of this demonstrates how important the synagogue was for the earliest Christians–they were to be found their often.

      Finally, #4 there are other possibilities as to how the dispute could have happened in Rome, but the fact that it was over Chrestus demonstrates that even in the Gentile mind Jews and Christians were not distinguishable before the conflict. A distinction becomes known certainly by the time of Nero in 64 C.E.

      As to the sufficiency of Scripture, I agree that it is sufficient and I don’t believe that you could conceivably argue that catholicity must look like the way you and your church believe it ought to. For example, your explanation of Romans 16:16 is exegtically strained. “Greet one another with a holy kiss” becomes, “every single Christian in Rome…greet every other Christian in Rome.” Just to show you how absolutely convoluted such an interpretation of Scripture is though, you would have to assume as well that Paul’s command also prohibits large cities.

      I live in Los Angeles. I go to a church of roughly 2000 (we have 3 services–another issue in itself, I’m sure). It is virtually impossible for me to greet all 1000 people at the service I attend–worship would only be greeting people. But that isn’t enough. In order for me to fulfill your interpretation of Paul’s command, I would have to greet every Christian in the area. If I just took the conservative SBC, I would have to greet 471,119 brothers and sisters every Sunday–and we know how gregarious those SBCers can be. We may be able to get through the various OPC churches rather quickly–because of their numbers and notorious social ineptitude (that is a playful jab and not serious).

      All of that to say, the historical situation of Roman Christianity is not a substitute for exegesis, but I think that the history of Roman Christianity points in a completely different direction than what you are proposing. But more importantly than this, I find your exegesis to be deeply flawed.

    2. Ted,

      Do you think that the only thing that supports Lampe’s argument for fractionation are the tituli? That’s the way your comments sound and that is not an accurate representation of Lampe at all. To argue that Lampe “simply dismisses” evidence from the first and second begs the question, and you have yet to actually interact with it.

      And finally, regarding “anatomy” I’ve already explained how your reading of Romans 12 is absurd when attempting to actually apply it the way that you are suggesting. And if a spiritual body cannot be dispersed geographically then I have no idea how you conceive of catholicity or where you believe the boundaries are drawn. It’s very hard to take such an interpretation seriously because its implications are so drastic.

      1. Brandon,

        “Begging the question.” Where have we heard that before?

        To argue that Lampe “simply dismisses” evidence from the first and second begs the question, and you have yet to actually interact with it.

        If my August 11 post here on Lampe of over 2000 words isn’t actual interaction, then what is? And this is but a small portion of what i wrote:

        In chapter 6 Lampe turns some attention to the Biblical material in Acts 28 and concludes that the Christians in Rome were socially stratified and, importantly, integrated (80) and even describes the Christians at the time of Paul’s first imprisonment as a single church (81).

        Yet, in his chapter 16 Lampe deals with the material in Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapter 16, verse 1-16., but Lampe does not always claim that the separate house groups of Rom. 16 are separate churches here, but often refers to the Roman Christians as “one community’ (p. 80, 86, 93, etc.). It is in his sixteenth chapter that Lampe surmises that each house group was presided over by small groups of presbyters (146). However, in other places he can refer to the 5 groups of Romans 16 as “house churches (cf. 100), and will eventually have an entire chapter on “house churches” (p. 373). In other words, his work is uneven on this central part of his thesis.

        Moving on to a thematically connected chapter (chapter 36) Lampe presents evidence of what he calls “fractionation,” or “fragmentation.” He begins by noting, “The entirety of Roman Christianity is never designated in any passage of Romans as ecclesia.” He doesn’t mention it, but it would be apropos to his theory of fractionation to find Roman Christianity described as ecclesiai – plural – “churches.” This which would be the positive data necessary for his claim going back to the fist century, but he neglects it. Yet he could not have been unaware of the point, for he recognizes the ecclesiology of Rom. 16:16 “all the churches greet you” (156). Indeed, Lampe acknowledges that the phrase “all the churches of Christ greet you” (Rom. 16:16) has clear ecclesiological implications (155-56).

        Thanks for calling that non-interaction. Come to think of it, isn’t that exactly how you treated my posts to you? Non-interaction?

        You write:

        And finally, regarding “anatomy” I’ve already explained how your reading of Romans 12 is absurd when attempting to actually apply it the way that you are suggesting.

        Are you referring to when you wrote this?

        your explanation of Romans 16:16 is exegtically strained. “Greet one another with a holy kiss” becomes, “every single Christian in Rome…greet every other Christian in Rome.” Just to show you how absolutely convoluted such an interpretation of Scripture is though, you would have to assume as well that Paul’s command also prohibits large cities.

        I live in Los Angeles. I go to a church of roughly 2000 (we have 3 services–another issue in itself, I’m sure). It is virtually impossible for me to greet all 1000 people at the service I attend–worship would only be greeting people. But that isn’t enough. In order for me to fulfill your interpretation of Paul’s command, I would have to greet every Christian in the area. If I just took the conservative SBC, I would have to greet 471,119 brothers and sisters every Sunday–and we know how gregarious those SBCers can be. We may be able to get through the various OPC churches rather quickly–because of their numbers and notorious social ineptitude (that is a playful jab and not serious).

        I answered your objection to the “greet one another with a holy kiss” and my answer to you is immediately below this reply. And no, you neither acknowledged my reply then, or now.

        You write,

        And if a spiritual body cannot be dispersed geographically then I have no idea how you conceive of catholicity or where you believe the boundaries are drawn. It’s very hard to take such an interpretation seriously because its implications are so drastic.

        If you wish to imply a spiritual body without a physical referent is what Paul was referring to, hey, there are a lot of metaphysical religions out there in agreement with you. But the Xtns in Rome were physical, and got together on Sunday, physically.

        Importantly, only while they were together physically did they minister to the body (one another) spiritually. Ever try ministering your gifts to a “spiritual body” without a physical gathering? Impossible, but that is what you are claiming.

        When you have a spiritual body that is physically disconnected, it is no longer a body? Leave Plato and join Paul.

        As for defining catholicity, please read how the apostolic fathers defined it. I agree with them: http://www.churchsonefoundation.com/the-importance-of-being-catholic/.

  9. Hi Brandon,
    Thank you so much for taking your time to point out some of the weaknesses of my arguments. There are probably more you could have mentioned. Although I think your critiques are “answerable,” I don’t expect my responses to convince you as it pertains to reconstructing the structure of the church in Rome in the time of the apostles and the apostolic fathers.
    Again, our argument is really about apostolic church polity. You see a multi-church environ in Rome, each church with elders who on occasion met together as a city-wide presbytery. My reconstruction differs from yours – I claim there was but one church in Rome until some point after 180AD, and it is not a position without its weaknesses. You’ve pointed out a few, but there are others, too, the least of which is scholarly consensus. Practically nobody teaches there was but one church in Rome that met every Sunday as, well, one church.
    So my hope is to gain your agreement on what the apostolic book of Romans teaches, and hopefully, for you to see why one church in Rome for all the Christians was not merely an historic event, but obedience to Jesus Christ. Now, in your response above you brought up some arguments regarding Scripture texts – I’ll deal with those later. First, some other items:

    You wrote, “My question #1 is directed at you because you claimed that the earliest Christians were not spread throughout the city.”

    I’m not aware of claiming that, because I don’t believe it.

    2. If there were numerous Christians in Rome (which we agree on this), then you need to explain where they meet. . There is no notion of corporate property in first century Rome, which means that they would have been forced to meet at someone’s home.

    Actually, I don’t. It is your historic reconstruction that for some reason does not allow Romans to rent facilities sufficient in size for their various guilds and religious groups, including synagogues.
    Now by writing this I don’t claim my position isn’t without historic difficulties, but so too is every position. You bring up others with mine such as self-protection during times of persecution. But can we so certainly assume Christians responded to persecution as we modern churches do (we have rights, right?)? Thankfully Hurtado, wonderful scholar that he is, points out the opposite seems to be the case. But the “go secret during persecution” thesis will not go away, even if it is, as I think, a reconstruction in itself. D. A. Carson has written: ““In cities like Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Rome the Christians multiplied so rapidly that they could not possibly meet in one assembly; and even if they could have found a large enough venue, it was impolitic to meet that way and draw attention to their numbers” (“Evangelicals, Ecumenism and the Church” in Evangelical Affirmations, ed. Kenneth S. Kantzer and Carl F. H. Henry [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990] 364-365). But the question is, ‘how do we know?’ Do we even know that during the earliest years that churches and Christians multiplied rapidly in Rome or in other cities, as you claim? To that we must all admit, ‘we don’t.’

    You wrote,
    “You seem to suggest that the earliest Christians potentially did not even meet in synagogues because of the distinctive Gospel message, but there are multiple problems with this. The first is that as a Jewish movement, even the Apostles were shocked about the outpouring of the Spirit on the Gentiles. In Acts 15 there is a serious discussion about whether or not Gentiles need to follow the Mosaic Law in order to be justified.”

    I actually believe they originally did meet in the synagogues, but had not for a very long time – longer even than the Claudius edict of 49. If the Claudius edict was over Christians in the synagogue (you go so far as to call it a fact, but it’s only Seutonius), you surely must admit it is strange that only 10-11 years later the synagogue leaders would speak of Christianity in such a 3rd-hand manner: “for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere” (Act 28:22). I’m afraid I find your sentence “Such an acrimonious dispute–such that the Romans had to intervene–would certainly seem to be reason for the Jews to view Christians with suspicion” to be too light. Only ‘suspicion?” These leaders actually invited Paul to speak openly to them, something quite unlike the tensions that would have caused the edict. My guess – Claudius’ ban of Jews from Rome was not for Christianity; or if it were, then these Jewish leaders were not personally involved, nor their fathers.
    However, my point was not to win that argument, but to show you that the evidence doesn’t point one way, which is the way historic recreations eventually work out. Hence their value, when trying to understand apostolic ecclesiology, is amazingly like a wax nose – it can be shaped to fit almost any reconstruction. This is what you’ve seen from CtC. And when you press your case by upending your interlocutor’s claims, you get called out for ad hominems. Silly, right? But you are stepping on the toes of their faith, and honestly, it’s how I tend to respond w/hen someone treats the Scripture as insufficient to know the mind of Christ on any area of ecclesiology.

    Now, when you write,

    For example, your explanation of Romans 16:16 is exegtically strained. “Greet one another with a holy kiss” becomes, “every single Christian in Rome…greet every other Christian in Rome.” Just to show you how absolutely convoluted such an interpretation of Scripture is though, you would have to assume as well that Paul’s command also prohibits large cities.

    I think you make a good point –

    – the larger the church the more difficult becomes such a command. However, to argue a bit here, it does not make my point exegetically strained but rather strained to be credible. I myself have never been able to think of greeting lines every Sunday the way a baseball team loops around to congratulate each member, one to another, after a victory.
    Now, perhaps the credibility gap can be bridged by a better understanding of how “one-another” commands from apostles are actually fulfilled. Earlier in Romans Paul taught a body of Christ ecclesiology: “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom 12:5). Several of the primary ways to enjoy the body is to be taught by those with teaching gifts like prophecy (v. 6) and teaching (v. 7). If a person does not receive the prophesy or teaching then they aren’t a part of the body that is comprised of those individual members with that gift, in which case Paul was wrong to speak of them being one body. They weren’t, for they weren’t receiving the ministry of the members of that body. So too, “greet one another” has a body function, not a “one-to-one” function. It serves the body in holding it together as a command to warmly greet all in the body, and hinders what you propose – multiple churches from forming. The one body of Christians is held together in love, but beware, for some men will not want one body of Christ, but their own body:

    Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil (Rom 16:17-19).

    Since Paul doesn’t list out the details “of the teaching which you learned” it likely encompasses not only the letter he just wrote as an apostle, but other items as well which they already believe and practice. Now, if men came and planted churches in Rome and didn’t join the body of Christ comprised of many members who greeted other with a holy kiss, then such men would be disobedient to the apostle along with those they recruited into their churches. They could not obey Romans 16:16. So the two principles are connected – the greeting and the “turning away.” Dissensions will come, but they must be rejected by the body of Christ for what they are – grievous insults to the unity of the body of Christ. By greeting each other as a ministry to “one-another” they were held together instead of divided.

    You wrote,
    I would have to greet every Christian in the area. If I just took the conservative SBC, I would have to greet 471,119 brothers and sisters every Sunday–and we know how gregarious those SBCers can be. We may be able to get through the various OPC churches rather quickly–because of their numbers and notorious social ineptitude (that is a playful jab and not serious).

    So, we went to an old New England Congregational church (think Saybrook platform) that just voted to become OPC several months ago while on vacation the whole family – 4 semi-adult children – and umm, yeah, we were pretty invisible… in spite of ourselves… But the Scripture was read, along with the 8th commandment (always sanctifying) and the hymns gloried in Christ, so we were privileged to be among them.

  10. So Brandon,

    You still got faith in fractionation, even though Lampe admits he isn’t dealing with any data from the first two centuries of church history? That takes proximity off the table.

    How about the content of the NT book of Romans. It never does mention multiple churches in Rome, and its got lots of data intrinsic to it to imply the ecclesial situation was only one body ministering to itself. That takes the NT data off the table.

    Still got the hots for a presbyterial structure in 1st C Rome? If so, how is your faith in it any different than Roman Catholic faith in 3 offices, priests, and apostolic succession?

    Figured I’d ask since you never did respond to my two posts.

    1. Hi Ted!

      Yep, I haven’t seen anything that is a compelling alternative.

      You’ll have to explain what you mean about Lampe not talking about the first two centuries of Christian history because that is simply not true. He really limits himself to first and second century evidence and uses later evidence to elucidate hypothesis from the first and second century.

      My belief about presbyterial structure in 1 Clement is significantly different than Roman Catholic claims because the level of evidence in support of it is significantly stronger. How is your position any different from the Roman Catholic claim in that respect?

      1. You’ll have to explain what you mean about Lampe not talking about the first two centuries of Christian history because that is simply not true. He really limits himself to first and second century evidence and uses later evidence to elucidate hypothesis from the first and second century.

        Must be a different Lampe than the Lampe who’s book, From Paul to Valentinus, I reviewed in this thread and posted on August 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm (see above). That Lampe is clear that he has no 1st or 2nd C evidence except the heretical groups like Valentinus. You never responded to the post.

        This is the same Lampe who dismisses Justin Martyr’s statement about the 2nd century church in Rome gathering together in one place every Sunday in Apology 1:67.

        How is your position any different from the Roman Catholic claim in that respect?

        I asked you first, but I don’t think convo with you works that way.

        I rely on special revelation in Scripture alone; neither you (apparently) nor CtC does. I gave you 4 reasons from the book of Romans in my posting (see above) on August 12, 2014 at 1:27 pm why your theory of presbyterial structure was without merit. You never responded to the post. At least CtC does that.

    2. Ted,

      First, please understand that while I don’t want to completely excuse myself from conversations, I often find myself unable to engage in long dialogue. I work full-time and am pursuing an MBA basically full-time as well. I don’t have a ton of time at the moment. So if I’ve not interacted with you it’s nothing personal, it just means that I may not have seen it or that I don’t have the time to spend formulating a response.But regarding your August 11th post, I respond with a set of questions that addresses your post.

      I don’t think your criticism of Lampe is really a serious attempt to provide a compelling historical answer. It appears to me to be an attempt to justify a theological precommitment about the way the church ought to operate, but even you can’t account for basic things like how such a large gathering in Rome could even be reasonable.

      You also seem to myopically focus on Lampe’s discussion of the tituli. For Lampe, the tituli provide information about the development of Roman Christianity, it’s true. But Lampe does not simply say, we have fourth and fifth century tituli, therefore the church was fractionated. Information about the tituli, such as the naming of the church or the geographical location of the church,provides information about the existence of earliest Christian areas of worship.

      Moreover, to claim that Lampe does not use first or second century evidence really surprises me. You refute yourself by going on to talk about not being impressed by Lampe’s assessment of Justin Martyr as evidence for fractionation. That is inconsistent. Moreover, Lampe has a chapter discussing Romans 16 and believes that this provides evidence that there were multiple Christian locales. You may not be convinced, but it’s there.

      Part of the problem here may be predicated upon misunderstanding because you say about Romans 16,

      “its got lots of data intrinsic to it to imply the ecclesial situation was only one body ministering to itself”

      If you think that Lampe would reject this, then you’ve misunderstood Lampe, as Allen Brent points out in his review of Bernard Green. There was one Christian body in multiple locations, but there was certainly a sense of catholicity. Lampe appeals to Clement, Hermas, and even mentions Irenaeus to buttress this point (again, second century writers).

      In other words, I would encourage you to go back and re-read Lampe because I don’t think that you’ve properly understood his argument or how the book fits together. Because of the limits on my time I unfortunately can’t go into all the particulars, but I truly believe a second read may at least clear up ambiguity so that real points of disagreement can be addressed *and* so that you can provide an alternative solution.

      1. Brandon,

        Nothing personal felt. I just figured I would wait until you responded, knowing you were busy. Not the only one, Brandon. Then i came back yesterday, noticed you had posted September 18th something new, I felt it was time to call you out.

        But regarding your August 11th post, I respond with a set of questions that addresses your post.

        You must be referring to your August 18 response in this thread.

        But in that response, you did not reference my August 11 comment, nor deal with it’s contents. And when you write just now “You also seem to myopically focus on Lampe’s discussion of the tituli” you simply dismiss what i actually wrote – that was simply first of 5 what he called methods, and what he believed was the strongest for his case of fractionism. But there were 4 more methods after that, and as with his “method” (a line of evidence) on the tituli, I gave each one full paragraph. Iow, each method was treated equally in my August 11 post to you.

        At the end of those 5 paragraphs, I wrote, “In summary of his 5 methods, Lampe does not make any direct inference to the situation of churches in Rome for the first two centuries in his own methods.”

        I really don’t wish to discuss it anymore because this is going down the path of the ridiculous, but to quote from Lampe’s first and most important line of evidence for fractionation in the 1st and 2nd century:

        “I do not maintain that anyone of the nine Tituli go back into the first or second centuries” (p. 22).

        You simply don’t understand Lampe, his “methods,” or his own system used in his book. Nor have you read my post.

        When i say that Lampe doesn’t use 1st or 2nd C data, I mean strictly in reference to his fractionism theory. Evidence that goes against his theory from the 2nd Century (Justin Martryr), and in the 1st Century (the book of Romans), is simply dismissed.

        Which is exactly what you do, too, in your theory of a presbyterial ecclesiastical structure.

        Lastly, how is your understanding of anatomy these days?

        There was one Christian body in multiple locations, but there was certainly a sense of catholicity.

        If we took your body and distributed it in pieces around Nashville, how well would it’s members care for itself?

        Have you not read,

        “we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Rom 12:4-5)?

        As i explained on August 12 above, it is impossible to be members of “one another,” i.e., “members in one body,” without walking in the commands for what it means to care for one another in the body.

        If Christian groups in Rome met separately, I don’t care how sentimental your catholicity is. They simply couldn’t fulfil Paul commands in Romans 12:5-16 on how to care for their one body.

        So I’ll sign out, and wish you blessings on your studies and your family.

      2. One final thought, Ted.

        You said,

        If we took your body and distributed it in pieces around Nashville, how well would it’s members care for itself?

        You are forcing an analogy to extreme lengths, but in so doing you are eviscerating any notion of catholicity in the universal church. Can the church in Rome be united to the church in Ephesus if they don’t meet together? Your analogy assumes that they cannot, but this is clearly not what the New Testament teaches.

        The “one another” commands can be fulfilled in separate ecclesial communions which share Eucharistic fellowship and do not harbor hate or resentment towards one another. They can provide financial support for churches in their area (something that we know occurred in the city of Rome among its congregations). I’ve answered this previously, but your position runs into all sorts of social impossibilities that make your proposal not only implausible on a biblical and historical level, but impossible given the historical circumstances.

  11. For those of us who’ve studied hard sciences, it really isn’t that technical. Don’t give yourselves tooooo much credit. It’s mainly just slow going waiting for you theology guys to stop showboating and get to the point 🙂

    1. Michael,

      Sure, theology guys can certainly be long-winded 🙂 I will say that in terms of complexity that if you have higher education that the conversation isn’t impossibly difficult to follow, but for regular people, some of this material just seems too heady to solve all the issues they are attempting to sort out. But don’t worry, no delusion that something grand and complex here 🙂 My brother is a bio-medical engineering student at Purdue and when he tells me about what he is doing, that is really complexity!

    1. Ted,

      First, I do apologize if you feel you’ve been mistreated. That’s certainly not my intent. The problem seems to arise in how you’ve characterized Lampe’s argument. You think you’ve summarized his argument in your 5 points, but your summary is inaccurate and makes Lampe and those in the scholarly community out to be rather stupid, which is why I recommend you re-examine Lampe.

      In the third chapter Lampe asks, “Where did the Christian Population Concentrate?”

      In order to answer this questions he reviews 5 areas:

      1. Local Traditions
      2. The earliest archaeologically available graves
      3. Jewish Quarters
      4. Concentrations of tituli
      5. Contemporary literary information regarding businesses of Christians that can be localized (pg. 19)

      You cited Lampe on page 22 admitting that the titular churches do not get us back to the first or second century, but they don’t have to do that in order for Lampe’s observation to carry evidence for his thesis,

      But it is indeed interesting that late antiquity’s legend-tellers prefer certain quarters of the city when they fabricate tituli stories about the first and second centuries.

      The local traditions simply point out the interesting fact that the churches with legends going back to the first and second century congregated in specific geographic areas. That doesn’t prove anything in itself, and Lampe admits as much.

      The next thing that Lampe reviews to see where Roman Christians resided was where they were buried. A review of the evidence shows that local traditions corroborate the populace of Christians residing in Trastevere and the region of the Aventine (pg. 38).

      The third piece of evidence is the location of the Jewish quarters, which, based on Lampe’s other arguments and earlier chapter, he argues Christian communities came from, corroborate Trastevere was densely populated with Jews. It is not completely clear how long the Jews had been in that area, but there is no indication that they had resided in another area of the city either.

      Next Lampe views the geographic disbursement of the titular churches and finds that many of them were closely constituted to the same region of the city that the other areas suggest the Christians resided in.

      Finally, Lampe notes the existence of a Christian bank, according to Hippolytus that was located in the Piscina Publica which is by the Jewish quarters in Porta Capena. He also notes Hermas’s statement of holding property in Trastevere (Vis 4.1.12).

      So what are we to conclude from this? Are we to conclude that Roman Christianity is fractionated and worshiped in house churches? No. Lampe explains,

      The agreements among the five series of results are what count, not so much the individual methods, each of which alone possesses only a limited validity

      Lampe is only attempting to situate the geographical Christians in Rome, which becomes one portion of his argument for fractionation, but it is only a very small portion. Moreover, Lampe helpfully explains what this evidence may mean and how it can shed light on historical events in the first century. For example, he notes that Trastevere was spared from the fire in Rome, making Nero’s accusations of Christian involvement in the fire more vivid. The Christians escaped almost all harm in the fires, and this was an important catalyst for Nero to blame Christians. Lampe notes that there are other theories for Nero blaming the Christians, but he believes that the five pieces of evidence shed light on the historical events

      You have continued to assert that the titular churches are Lampe’s strongest pieces of evidence, but that is simply not true. You are committing a similar error to Bryan and others at CtC, an historical argument rests upon the interpretation of multiple pieces of evidence. Historical reconstructions require that every piece of evidence be accounted for. Like Bryan, you are mistaking one piece of the puzzle for the box-top. Of course that piece of the puzzle does not show the complete picture, but the pieces are used in concert with one another to show the larger picture. The puzzle piece only make sense when interlocked with other pieces and taking one piece in isolation from the others is going to result in a distorted picture.

      I don’t think you’ve accurately summarized Lampe and until you can see how Chapters 1 & 2 inform chapter 3, and how Chapter 4 is informed by the first three chapters and reinforces them as well, then you will not have an accurate understanding of what Lampe is arguing. You may disagree with Lampe’s finished product, but criticizing a puzzle piece as the entire picture will always lead to poor understanding.

      1. Brandon,

        I got an hour to respond as I heal from some surgery.

        You wrote,

        The problem seems to arise in how you’ve characterized Lampe’s argument. You think you’ve summarized his argument in your 5 points, but your summary is inaccurate and makes Lampe and those in the scholarly community out to be rather stupid, which is why I recommend you re-examine Lampe.

        Brandon, you are entirely wrong, nor did you even attempt to actually show one thing I said that was inaccurate. You merely assert.

        You wrote,

        You have continued to assert that the titular churches are Lampe’s strongest pieces of evidence, but that is simply not true. You are committing a similar error to Bryan and others at CtC, an historical argument rests upon the interpretation of multiple pieces of evidence.

        Again, you are completely wrong. Did you read what I had written to you,

        And when you [Brandon] write just now “You also seem to myopically focus on Lampe’s discussion of the tituli” you simply dismiss what i actually wrote – that was simply first of 5 what he called methods, and what he believed was the strongest for his case of fractionism. But there were 4 more methods after that, and as with his “method” (a line of evidence) on the tituli, I gave each one full paragraph. Iow, each method was treated equally in my August 11 post to you.

        Of course his argument rests on multiple pieces of evidence. Did you even read what I wrote?

        This is my recurring question of you. I don’t think you do.

        Prior to posting my original assessment of Lampe here, I did indeed review all of Lampe’s book, including chapter 3. I just didn’t mention it to you because chapter 3 is weaker, not stronger, than chapter 2.

        You seem to admit as much. After reviewing it you write,

        So what are we to conclude from this? Are we to conclude that Roman Christianity is fractionated and worshiped in house churches? No.

        Hooray! Way to go! You got it! Lampe admits exactly that too!

        Until……… both you and he rely on a fallacious historic argument of looking at the 5 methods as puzzle pieces that somehow fit together to give a picture of the church in Rome in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Magically, with some human extrapolation, the picture you form tells you what Rome’s church was like in those time periods, and guess what, it fits your fractionation thesis so you can maintain your connectional polity which is entirely unknown in the Christian Scriptures.

        In reality, the pieces of evidence are like links in a chain, since they don’t dovetail into each but are disparate in source and assessment. As no chain can be stronger that its strongest link, and typically, only as strong as its weakest, Lampe’s argument is only as strong as disconnected things and fairy tales, like deposits in a bank in 180AD, or 5th C legends told to create faith.

        And you trust in this sort of stuff to help you win arguments with the Catholics? No wonder you have a hard time reading Romans 12 without reading it through, ironically, lenses borrowed from Catholic ecclesiology. “A spiritual body.”

        So you won’t listen to Paul, and you won’t listen to Justin Martyr (Apology 1:67). But you do to Lampe’s fractionation. Why the fractionation in your sources?

  12. Ted,

    I’m truly mystified by your comment. I’ve demonstrated in multiple places why your responses is exegetically strained, historically untenable, and logically deficient. Moreover, I’ve pointed out that your reading of Lampe betrays a very serious misunderstand of how he utilizes the data. You’ve dealt with entire chapters attempting to situate the location of early Roman Christians as Lampe’s strongest evidence for fractionation. Not only have you completely missed the force of Chapter 5, you’ve also made it say bear weight that Lampe never intended it to bear.

    Let me ask you this; What is Lampe’s purpose in laying out the five pieces of evidence? Where do you disagree with Lampe’s methodological process and conclusions about the dispersion of early Roman Christians?

    You still seem to labor under this false notion that the 5 pieces of evidence prove fractionation–they do not and one only needs to read Lampe in context to recognize that this is not the case. You think that you can claim victory here, but it is only because you’ve profoundly misunderstood the argument.

    In order to move forward you will first need to be able to accurately summarize Lampe’s position before you move on critiquing it. And you will also want to reconsider your unhelpful approach of asking loaded questions. I do listen to Paul and Justin, which is precisely why “fractionation” makes sense.

    You have not even attempted to answer a basic historical question like, “How would the early Christians have even been able to hold such large meetings?” Those sorts of questions are going to need to be answered if you want your position to garner any historical legitimacy. As it stands, you are simply pontificating about your own idiosyncratic views of church polity–and dismissing the work of good scholars along the way.

    1. Addison, be mystified no longer. Just read what I’ve already written.

      You ask,

      Let me ask you this; What is Lampe’s purpose in laying out the five pieces of evidence?

      Above I wrote:

      He also assumes that Romans 16 is evidence of separate house churches, as I imagine you do too. Lampe asserts, “The New Testament formula ἡ κατ οἶκον τινος ἐκκλησία indicates that this [fractionation] was already the case in the first century C.E.” (364). I’ll deal with why this is scripturally and morally impossible in my second post.

      To that could be added other statements from p. 364, but the one above suffices. Lampe draws lines from his five methods of evidence to his conclusion of fractionation.

      You ask,

      Where do you disagree with Lampe’s methodological process and conclusions about the dispersion of early Roman Christians?

      Above I wrote:

      both you and he rely on a fallacious historic argument of looking at the 5 methods as puzzle pieces that somehow fit together to give a picture of the church in Rome in the 1st and 2nd centuries. Magically, with some human extrapolation, the picture you form tells you what Rome’s church was like in those time periods, and guess what, it fits your fractionation thesis so you can maintain your connectional polity which is entirely unknown in the Christian Scriptures.

      In reality, the pieces of evidence are like links in a chain, since they don’t dovetail into each but are disparate in source and assessment. As no chain can be stronger that its strongest link, and typically, only as strong as its weakest, Lampe’s argument is only as strong as disconnected things and fairy tales, like deposits in a bank in 180AD, or 5th C legends told to create faith.

      Addison, you don’t read what I write, and in reply to me, treat me incredulously and make the same accusations repeatedly.

      When I extensively argued Scripture to contradict your points on August 12, your response a week later was dismissive, only a few words, and never interacted with my many points. Your dismissiveness to Scripture is exemplified in your Oct. 13 response to my October 10 post.

      Instead, you wanted me to prove that large number of Christians in Rome had a single place to meet. But when I pointed out that I don’t have to, and that further, there is no biblical proof of large numbers of Christians in Rome in the NT, no response came from you. And then you repeat your question again, like its a valid point. Its not.

      When I pointed out to you Justin Martyr’s words in mid-2nd century Rome answers your question on meeting in one place, you refused to accept his bona-fide testimony. Why would I want to discuss them again when you didn’t pay attention the first time?

  13. Ted,

    You seem to think I have not read what you’ve written, but I have. As I’ve outlined, however, you have not accurately represented what Lampe is doing in his 4th Chapter. I’ve asked you what Lampe was doing in that 4th Chapter and I’ve not seen you answer that. The answer is that Lampe is only describing where Christians in the first and second century resided. You answered, however,

    Lampe draws lines from his five methods of evidence to his conclusion of fractionation.

    In a highly qualified sense this is true. The Five methods in chapter 4 tie into fractionation in the sense that the earliest Christians did congregate in particular areas of the city. Lampe is not at any point arguing *anything* about ecclesiology, though your argument assumes that it does. But even a cursory reading of Lampe demonstrates that you are misapplying the pieces of evidence. Chapter 4 *only* functions to show something about the geographic disbursement of Christians in Rome.

    This is why, what you’ve written doesn’t actually address Lampe’s argument. You say, for example,

    both you and he rely on a fallacious historic argument of looking at the 5 methods as puzzle pieces that somehow fit together to give a picture of the church in Rome in the 1st and 2nd centuries.

    Again, you are assuming that Lampe’s 4th Chapter deals with the churches structure (like meeting in one location or multiple house churches), but you’re jumping the gun. All Lampe has argued for from these 5 pieces of evidence is that Christians appear to be located in poor areas of the city. Do you disagree with this, and if so, upon what grounds?

    Moreover, I have not seen you argue anything in particular from Scripture, let alone that the idea that worship meetings were held in separate houses conflicts with the teaching of the New Testament. You are importing what you believe ought to be the case (about the connectedness of a body) into what Paul actually says, which is not incompatible in any way with the idea that disparate geographic regions (whether in a city or a region) have distinct worshiping communities that share their catholicity in the Spirit.

    For example, you do discuss the one important passage for fractionation in Romans 16 and you are particularly interested in Paul’s choice of Kata. It is nearly unanimously translated, “Greet also the church in their house.” You say,

    But, κατὰ doesn’t mean “in.” It never has, and it never will. Ever. This word carries the root prepositional meaning of “down.”

    You propose another option,

    If the four ‘house church’ texts literally meant a church “in the house,” the writers of the New Testament likely would have used the ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ phrase, not the κατὰ phrase: (τῇ κατ οἶκον αὐτῶν ἐκκλησίᾳ)… Using that preposition in Romans 16:5 leaves the reader open to Paul writer describing further distributions of the one church in the following verses, which he does with the use of the partitive preposition ἐκ (out of) in Rom. 16:10, 11, and expecting that was understood as referring to but a part of a single church in Rome in Aquila’s house, while other groups met in other homes. But on Sunday all the groups came together as one church, as I express in the next section.

    This is lexically confused. You cannot take a lexical meaning and define the potential scope of meaning because a lexicon defines that a word does or does not mean “in.” That is not how linguistics operate. Semantic range and semantic domain allow for the utilization of a particular lexeme to have a broader usage than it would have on its own. The range refers to the possible meanings and the domain refers to the type of meaning a word has (Rain: drizzle, downpour, spinkle, etc). You don’t provide an linguistic reason why the word cannot be taken as almost every translation takes it. The strongest reason is that lexical Kata means “down” and there was a more straightforward way of communicating the notion of the church “in Aquilla’s house.” This is very poor exegetical rationale.

    Just because a writer could have said something in one way does not preclude them from communicating the same idea with different language. Moreover, kata does not mean down. Most common Greek introductions note that Kata’s two basic meanings are “down” and “according to.” You even seem to grant that when you note that English translations properly translate Kata when they use the word “From.” This is why, despite some of the linguistic problems, you properly conclude that Kata is Romans 16 is functioning distributively. If we were to translate it, we may be able to translate it,

    “…and to the church distributed at their house.”

    But in order to effectively translate the sense of the Greek, the better translation is to demonstrate that the church is distributed in a particular location, in their house. So we are actually in agreement until we get to the exegetical leap that you make in your final sentence,

    But on Sunday all the groups came together as one church

    How did you get to this conclusion exegetically? There is absolutely nothing that Paul says that indicates that the Church had a common meeting. If there was a common meeting, what does it mean that the church in the their house? You seem to suggest that it may be equivalent to a modern day “small group,” but you are importing all sorts of things into this passage.

    I’ve been insistent that Paul demanded catholicity, even visible catholicity. The churches are to love and support one another, but there is no command in this passage that they ought to worship in the same location in order to fulfill Paul’s commands for catholicity. The passage explicitly notes that these individuals would meet separately (at least at some points), but that did not undermine Paul’s commands to “one another.” It had immediate and universal demands (like loving one another and providing for the sick or needy in a city and/or in other locales).

    Finally, my question to you about where large groups of Christians would meet is a good question *if* one is attempting to argue for an historical position. The argument that Christians met in one location from the inception of the church up to Justin Martyr as you’ve contended requires that you explain how this would even be logistically possible given how incredibly unlikely this would have been. Your inability to provide even a beginning answer to the question illustrates to me that you are not interested in history but rather on theological implications of your (misguided) exegesis.

    You’ve continued to reject my answers on Justin Martyr and how the scholarly community agrees with Lampe that Justin is not speaking about the meeting of every Christian in one locale, but rather about practice in the city (everyone meet on Sunday) and that Justin’s later testimony helps us interpret that he did not know where everyone met for worship. I can understand why this may not be entirely satisfactory on its own, but this is where other pieces of evidence provide us with reasonable interpretations of Justin’s statements. I would encourage you to continue to delve into that evidence and understand what Lampe is saying before rejecting it.

    I’ll allow you to have the last word on the subject and I appreciate your willingness to discuss the topic, but the conversation appears to have run its course and I’m not sure that we can take it much further. I hope recovery from surgery goes well and hope that the Lord blesses your ministry!

  14. Hi Brandon,

    You write,

    As I’ve outlined, however, you have not accurately represented what Lampe is doing in his 4th Chapter. I’ve asked you what Lampe was doing in that 4th Chapter and I’ve not seen you answer that.

    Please show me once where you asked me to discuss the 4th chapter.

    All Lampe has argued for from these 5 pieces of evidence is that Christians appear to be located in poor areas of the city. Do you disagree with this, and if so, upon what grounds?

    I’ve already showed you contrary evidence, twice now, from page 364. There he goes from the presence of Christians in these areas to assuming churches in them.

    Moreover, I have not seen you argue anything in particular from Scripture, let alone that the idea that worship meetings were held in separate houses conflicts with the teaching of the New Testament. You are importing what you believe ought to be the case (about the connectedness of a body) into what Paul actually says, which is not incompatible in any way with the idea that disparate geographic regions (whether in a city or a region) have distinct worshiping communities that share their catholicity in the Spirit.

    As for house churches and what they represent in the NT, your discussion of semantic domain is fine, but inappropriate in this case. You may read why here on my web site: http://www.churchsonefoundation.com/house-churches-in-the-new-testament/#kata. There is much more lexical data for you to consider there.

    And no, kata does not mean down, nor did I say it did as you imply. Instead, the Koine word for down was the closely related kato.

    The body analogy is directly incompatible with distinct regions and separated churches.

    First, it directly contradicts the analogy. Bodies are not separate pieces of one body, not whole entire bodies that are in different places that are somehow the same body. Bodies are physically connected units made up of different interconnected parts that care for one another (1 Cor. 12:25). You have completely misinterpreted Paul’s body analogy. I’m truly sorry you can’t see that, but I promise you, if you have little children, they know that a body is physically connected to itself. There are more reasons why this is obvious above, but you have either not acknowledged them (i.e., obeying apostolic commands on the “one anothers,”) or dismissed them (“greet one another,” “keep a watch for those who cause dissention,” Rom. 16: 17-18), the use of the singular and plural forms of ecclesia Rom. 16:5, 16).

    Brandon, you only quote a portion of what I say and then chastise me. You quote me only in part:

    But on Sunday all the groups came together as one church

    And then write end your quote of me, and write,

    How did you get to this conclusion exegetically? There is absolutely nothing that Paul says that indicates that the Church had a common meeting.

    But what I wrote was:

    But on Sunday all the groups came together as one church, as I express in the next section.

    And in the next section, discussed the body of Christ theology. That theology, to be obeyed, necessitates weekly gatherings for worship and care of one another.

    You write, regarding my answer to the “one space large enough for all” question,

    Your inability to provide even a beginning answer to the question illustrates to me that you are not interested in history but rather on theological implications of your (misguided) exegesis.

    Again, you haven’t read what I wrote above. Instead, I originally shifted the burden on you:
    I wrote:

    Actually, I don’t. It is your historic reconstruction that for some reason does not allow Romans to rent facilities sufficient in size for their various guilds and religious groups, including synagogues.

    You have yet to respond to that riposte. Why couldn’t the Christians rent facilities large enough for all of them, just like all the other groups did?

    Regarding the use of Justin Martyr, you write,

    You’ve continued to reject my answers on Justin Martyr and how the scholarly community agrees with Lampe that Justin is not speaking about the meeting of every Christian in one locale, but rather about practice in the city (everyone meet on Sunday) and that Justin’s later testimony helps us interpret that he did not know where everyone met for worship. I can understand why this may not be entirely satisfactory on its own, but this is where other pieces of evidence provide us with reasonable interpretations of Justin’s statements. I would encourage you to continue to delve into that evidence and understand what Lampe is saying before rejecting it.

    That’s because you guys misread Justin Martyr, as briefly discussed above – his later comments regard a school of discipleship, not a church. But most pointedly, you write,

    the scholarly community agrees with Lampe that Justin is not speaking about the meeting of every Christian in one locale, but rather about practice in the city (everyone meet on Sunday)

    But that’s not what Justin said. He said,

    And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place

    You’ll notice the commitment for all (not some) to meet in one group, and the extended region from which all the Roman Christians traversed to gather on Sunday.

    Thank you for the kind wishes for recovery.

  15. Ted,

    To clarify one point, I asked this,

    Let me ask you this; What is Lampe’s purpose in laying out the five pieces of evidence?

    You have not answered. If you did, I think you would realize why I am pointing it out. To be fair though, I’ve butchered the chapter number multiple times, so I apologize for that.

    1. I discussed Lampe’s purpose with the evidence in my original August 11 post:

      He also assumes that Romans 16 is evidence of separate house churches, as I imagine you do too. Lampe asserts, “The New Testament formula ἡ κατ οἶκον τινος ἐκκλησία indicates that this [fractionation] was already the case in the first century C.E.” (364).

      Then again, today i wrote:

      To that could be added other statements from p. 364, but the one above suffices. Lampe draws lines from his five methods of evidence to his conclusion of fractionation.

      Am I wrong?

      1. Hi Ted,

        Yes, you are wrong. I’d refer you to the chapter title to try to ascertain what Lampe is doing with those 5 pieces of evidence and then putting it in conversation with earlier and later chapters (one of which talks about the ability of Christian groups to meet in rented facilities). It is a small *part* of his argument for fractionation, but it is rather minor. Even in this minor point though, his historical construction is compelling given what Lampe is drawing from the data; namely that Christians predominated in certain sections of the city.

      2. Hi Brandon,

        If your whole point is “that Christians predominated in certain sections of the city” then great, I’m both feet in.

        See, I don’t think that’s the big point. I’ve quoted above from Lampe’s statements in part 5, his section on fractionation (chapter 36). In something of a go-round, it hasn’t been persuasive to you. You’ve admonished me over and over that I’m wrong and have maojored on the minors. In short, I’ve almost entirely missed Lampe’s point.

        But Lampe’s marshalling of evidence toward the fractionation theory is the point, at least, according to Robert Jewett, who wrote the Introduction. I would point you to page xv to see he makes the same conclusions I did, and even cites the same chapter and point on house churches I do. If he won’t convince you of the point of Lampe’s book, then I certainly won’t.

  16. Ted,

    Great, so you’re on the same page with Lampe on the areas of the city that Christians predominated in. If you grant that, then you would have to acknowledge that the five pieces of evidence are in fact sufficient to provide some sort of meaningful location of early Christians.

    And just to clarify, certainly Lampe is moving toward an argument with his theory of fractionation by establishing the social setting of citizens in those portions of the city in the 1st and 2nd century. If you move too quickly, however, you assume that Lampe is arguing that fourth and fifth century legends provide the bedwork of Lampe’s theory of fractionation, but as Jewett notes, all of these things work in concert.

    Here are Jewett’s comments on this section of Lampe’s book,

    Lampe devises an innovative method to determine which districts in Rome contained these Christian cells…by comparing the overlapping results of these topographic surveys [based on the 5 methods], the two most likely districts of early Christian settlement emerge: Trastevere and the Appian Way outside of the Porta Capena…This revolutionary conclusion provides the basis for Lampe’s assessment of the *social situation* of early congregations…

    He then goes on to describe Lampe’s detailed analysis of the social situation of first century Christians, noting how various aspects provide information into the social situation of earliest Christians in Rome. Lampe’s five conclusions provide illuminating information on the social history of the era which can then be carried over into other aspects of historical study. In other words, Jewett summarizes Lampe as a social historical evaluation of earliest Roman Christianity. All of the social historical data, according to Jewett, “could transform our understanding of the Christian movement.”

  17. Brandon,

    Its the “Christian cells” stuff that is overreach. Lampe relies on the 5 methods, plus the presence of several gnostic groups in Rome (which of course were separate from the Christians) and his interpretation of Rom. 16, to yield him fractionation among Christians. Jewett points out this last point on xv and references specific pages from Lampe. Just. Like. Me. It would be nice of you to acknowledge it and apologize after claiming over and over I misread Lampe.

    But, what I want to know is what happened during the apostolic age as best representing two things – what did the apostles establish, and what did they condemn. For this I am shut up to their writings. My faith before God rests on them as inspired and chosen witnesses of Jesus Christ in accord with His majestic promise in John 16:13-15. I believe those who misconstrue or contradict what they wrote represent a faith lower than what they revealed.

    In mercy, God gave us writings from them inspired by the Holy Spirit, which are true factually, as well as in all matters of Christian obedience, in both faith and practice, for the churches (Rev. 22:16).

    But their sufficiency doesn’t stop there.

    Being omniscient, God already knew all the questions we would ask before having the apostles write down their words, and in the Scripture are precise answers to our questions – both the poorly formed ones, and the well-formed ones.

    Ultimately, we work our back to Romans, sooner or later. I’d rather it be sooner, which is what i did for us back in August.

  18. Ted,

    No, unfortunately you are not reading Lampe like Jewett. The notion that there were separate house churches in Rome is definitively *not* derived from Lampe’s 5 methods mentioned by Jewett. I’ll suggest you read Jewett again and re-read Lampe for how that section of his book functions. Until you can explain what the five methods do, then you will continue to misunderstand the fractionation thesis and how the five methods function in relation to the thesis.

    As far as your exegesis of Romans, I don’t really feel that it’s worthwhile to go down that road. We’ve both laid out our positions and I don’t think that we are going to convince one another. May God soften our hearts and open our eyes to see. Peace to you, Ted.

  19. Brandon, back to the same stuff. Still chastising.

    You write:

    No, unfortunately you are not reading Lampe like Jewett. The notion that there were separate house churches in Rome is definitively *not* derived from Lampe’s 5 methods mentioned by Jewett.

    You should read Lampe more: – concerning the first of his 5 methods (tituli):

    “Conclusion: The 15 to 30 pre-Constantinian titular house churches… are indebted to private individuals who put space at the disposal of house communities. We arrive at the same result…. In the pre-Constantinian period, the Christians in the city of Rome assembled in premises that were provided by private persons and that were scattered across the city.” (364).

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