Original Research

The formation of Christian theology in Alexandria

Willem H. Oliver, Mokhele J.S. Madise
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 35, No 1 | a1314 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v35i1.1314 | © 2014 Willem H. Oliver, Mokhele J.S. Madise | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 November 2013 | Published: 12 June 2014

About the author(s)

Willem H. Oliver, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa
Mokhele J.S. Madise, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa


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Abstract

Jesus was born in Palestine. He was the main determinant for the foundation of a religious movement or sect later called Christianity. This movement, founded in Palestine after the ascension of Jesus, with Jerusalem as its main centre of worship, was merely a Judaeo-Christian sect. In Jerusalem, the adherents to this movement were not really distinctive from the Jewish religion, as they worshipped the same God, Yahweh, went to the same Temple and/or synagogues and kept the same Jewish Laws. After the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, many Jews, including the ‘believers in Christ’s teachings’ (the earliest Christians) fled Jerusalem for different parts of the Roman Empire such as Transjordan, Syria and Africa. Different ‘Christianities’ developed in the main cities of the Roman Empire – Rome, Antioch and Alexandria. In each of these cities, the believers in Christ’s teachings developed their own religion alongside Judaism. This article argued that it was in Alexandria, a world famous city during the time of the Roman Empire, especially renowned for its academic excellence, that the new religion best found and made its own stand. The Catechetical School, with scholarly heads and writers, such as Clement and Origen, started to develop a theology that set the standard for Christian theology in the Empire.


Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The general assumption is that Jerusalem, as the origin of Christianity, was the place where it had its formation. This article proposed that it was actually Alexandria where Christianity was best found and became distinctive from Judaism. However, a lack of original sources on this subject area limited the research.


Keywords

Alexandria; early Christianity; Catechetical School; Judaism

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