Graeco-Roman Society and the New Testament


The research group focuses a) on various aspects of the social life and cultural world of the Graeco-Roman cities and communities in which Jews and Christians operated (e.g. household networks and religion, kinship, gender, friendship and other relationships, slavery, prostitution, social and geographical mobility, social groups, everyday life in Graeco-Roman cities etc.). These local communities, their cultural systems and social structures provide the socio-historical and cultural context of the New Testament texts and can therefore provide valuable insight into the early Christian groups, b) on artefacts from the Graeco-Roman world (e.g. coins and archeological findings) or non-literary texts preserved on stone, papyri or are material that can shed light into the life of Jewish and Christian groups of this time, and c) on methodological issues and lenses that are relevant to the discussion of the Graeco-Roman material culture and can contribute to the reconstruction of the social and cultural context of the New Testament communities. Papers that present interdisciplinary approaches to the topics under discussion and offer new insights and fresh interpretations of Jewish and Christian sources placing them within their socio-historical and cultural context are welcome.




Graeco-Roman, Archaeology, Epigraphy, History, Papyri

Current Term:



Ekaterini Tsalampouni
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Patrick Hommel
Humboldt University of Berlin

Soeng Yu Li


Member Area

Sofia 2024 Call for Papers

1. The first session will focus on “Childhood in the Graeco-Roman world”. The research on childhood and children’s reality, especially in the Graeco-Roman world, has been a field of growing interest since the 1990s. Scholars, however, have focused mainly on Rome and the information provided by literary sources whereas children’s lives in the provinces (more particularly those of the East) have not been explored in depth. Moreover, it seems that the epigraphic and material evidence of the ancient world has not been often used in the discussion of ancient children. Hence, the broadening of the research field (both geographical and cultural) and of the diversity of sources used in the studies of ancient childhood seems to be a desideratum. At the same time, children both as metaphors and real persons often appear in New Testament texts. Therefore, the application of the insights gained by ancient childhood studies in reconstructing the cultural, social and historical reality of ancient children, especially in the context of early Christian communities and families, could be an important contribution to current New Testament studies. We, therefore, invite papers focusing on a) methodological issues and challenges in ancient childhood studies, b) the ancient sources (with a particular emphasis on material and non-literary ones) of children and their reality, c) the family and society roles of children as well as their gradual formation as members of their communities, d) the gender, social class and regional aspect of childhood, and e) the importance of ancient evidence regarding children for the study of New Testament and early Christianity.

2. The second session will be in collaboration with the “The Bible, Ecology, and Sustainability” research group. We invite papers that will focus on hunger, food, and poverty, especially in relation to ancient children. How were their lives affected by poverty or lack of food? What was their place in common meal events, especially in religious contexts? Could they also be recipients of hospitality? Were they included in utopian visions of bliss and prosperity? What is the importance of the data of ancient sources in understanding biblical texts where children are present in food-sharing events? 

3. An open session where papers on any topic within the range of the interests of the research unit are welcome.