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Unformatted text preview: I I I GNOSTIC iMPROVISATIONS ON GENES¡S ] S CHRISTIANiTY SPREAD throughout the empire and took root, its leaders began to develop various strategies of community organization. They developed¡ too¢ ways of dis- criminating between those they Acepted as orthodox ("straight£ thinking¤) Christians and those they rejected as deviants¢ including¥ among the Latter¦ many known as §gnostic¨ Christians©ª Since to profess Christianity w«s still suspect and potentia¬ly dangerous throughout the Roman Empire, m«ny Christian churches owed their coherence and their survival to tHe astuteness and courage of their Leaders¢ the bishops© When Ignatius, bishop of ntioch in Syria, was arrested (c® 1¡0 c.E¡) «nd sent by ship to Rome for triaL and execu¯ °ion± chained² as he said, to "ten LeoparDs³ I mean a band of sol¯ diers,´2 he spent his Fna¬ journey writing Letters to the churches surrounding his home church in ntioch and to the Christians in Rome, his Fn«l destinationµ Ignatius urged these and all other Chris¶ tians to stand together under persecution and to maint«in unanimous ·oyalty to the clergy¸ which he envisioned as a threefoLd hierarchy of bishop¦ priests, and deacons who ¹uled e«ch church "in God's pLace¦º} and who maintained communication «mong Christians scat- tered throughout the world©4 Su»h crises as a bishop¼s arrest and execution emphasized how much the thre«tened Christian groups needed strong ¬eaders; ½g- natius knew that he was appe«ling to a stiLl emerging and fragiLe institutionaL system¾ Wh«t concerned ½gnatius especiaLly was that this A DAM, EVe¡ AND THe S e R PeN T system had not yet won the allegiance of all who counteD themSlves Among the blIevers. Nor was there as yet, among ChrIstian groups scattered throughout the Roman worlD, a sIngle central organiza- tIon. ChrIstIans In diFerent province¡¢and even In neighBrIng communitie£¤Demonstrated great dIversity, from the wanderIng as¥ cetics of ¦sIa MInor' to the settLed "house churches§ that were bcomIng esT¨lIsheD In ¦sIan and GrEk citIes©6 Converts from Judaism, for example, whether they lived in Judea or Greece, ¦sia or ªgypt, tendeD to ¨orrow the structure of the synagogues, where a Leader presIded over a group of "eLders,§ or in the Greek, pr¢s- byt¢roi£ later transLated « "prIests©§ Other converts, orIgInaLly Gen¥ tiles, develoPD a DIFerent administratIve system adapteD from large householDs, consisting of a group of servants, called In Greek di¤¥ kon¢s¦ whIch bcame the ªnglIsh term ¬Deacons,§ headed ¨y an "overseer,§ caLled In Greek ¢pi§copo§¨ our worD for "¨ishop® WithIn tHe next three centuries these ¨Ishops came to assume res¯nsi¨ilIty for speci°±c areas, or dI²eses, a ³ttern moDeLed on the organIzation of the Roman army© ´ut PrsecutIon, which, however Intense, remained s¯raDic, was not the only reason that the majority of Christians came to accept an increaµIngly InstitutIonalIzed structure to oversee each group in¶...
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- Gnosticism, Adam, Eve, gnostic christians, Bishop Irenaeus