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The Church of Smyrna

History and Theology of a Primitive Christian Community


Mauricio Saavedra

This book deals with the theology of the Church of Smyrna from its foundation up to the Council of Nicaea in 325. The author provides a critical historical evaluation of the documentary sources and certain aspects particularly deserving of discussion. He makes a meticulous study of the history of the city, its gods and institutions, the set-up of the Jewish and Christian communities and the response of the latter to the imperial cult. Finally, he undertakes a detailed analysis both of the reception of the Hebrew Scriptures and the apostolic traditions, as well as examining the gradual historical process of the shaping of orthodoxy and the identity of the community in the light of the organisation of its ecclesial ministries, its sacramental life and the cult of its martyrs.
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Chapter VI: The community of Christians in Smyrna


The fundamental intention of this chapter is to identify the most significant leaders in the Christian community of Smyrna from its foundation up to the Council of Nicaea. The difficulty of such an identification arises not only from the relatively scarce documentation, but from the consequent utilisation of it, starting off from the historical and literary evaluation we have made of the sources presented in the first part.

1. The foundation of the community

The merit of having introduced Christianity into Asia belongs to Paul of Tarsus. His first effort to enter the province from within proved in some way to be frustrated on his second journey617, so that he decided, instead, to make his way to Macedonia and Hellas in about the year 50. A couple of years later, in spring of the year 52, returning by sea from Corinth to Syria, he made a short stop in Ephesus where he went into the synagogue and started discussing with the Jews. There he left a couple of Jews, Priscilla and Aquila, promising to return later. In Paul’s absence, this couple further instructed an Alexandrian Christian called Apollo who subsequently went to Acaya and especially to its capital Corinth618.

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