Regions of ancient Christianity

At a conference at Oxford in 1996 and above all on the initiative of the religious studies scholars Hubert Cancik (Tübingen) and Jörg Rüpke (Erfurt), the idea was hatched to examine the relationship between centralisation and regionalism for the history of Roman religion during the Roman Empire as part of the DFG concentration programme. The programme was approved in 1999 as SPP 1080, supported from 2000 to 2007 and bore the title "Römische Reichsreligion und Provinzialreligion: Globalisierungs- und Regionalisierungsprozesse in der antiken Religionsgeschichte" (“Roman Imperial Religion and Provincial Religion: Globalisation and Regionalisation Processes in the History Religion in Antiquity”).

In Heidelberg and Berlin funds from this concentration programme were used to promote paradigmatic studies of two regions of the western and eastern halves of the empire, Dalmatia and Arabia. The project was aimed at describing the Christianisation of these regions in antiquity and the specific profile of Christianity in these regions against the backdrop of centre and periphery: on the one hand there were local Christianities, and yet people also regarded themselves as being part of the larger single Christendom with specific centralities. On the other hand the formation of the Christian religion was also strongly influenced by certain pagan centres (e.g. Rome) as well as local and peripheral locations and institutions.

The questions addressed by the concentration programme were picked up by the Berlin excellence cluster "TOPOI" (first phase 2007-2012) and continue to be examined there today (second phase 2013-2017). The cluster, which applies the interaction of space and knowledge as its central paradigm, also looked at the region of Phrygia and is now continuing its studies of Arabia.

Beyond the general publications marking the beginning and the end of the concentration programme, a few studies and papers have been written to date. The epigraphic databases on Phrygia and Arabia are to be made generally accessible and monographic studies are in preparation, by Henrik Hildebrandt on Dalmatia and by Christoph Markschies on Phrygia and Arabia.


  • Römische Reichsreligion und Provinzialreligion, hg. v. H. Cancik u. J. Rüpke, Tübingen 2007
  • Antike Religionsgeschichte in räumlicher Perspektive. Abschlussbericht zum Schwerpunktprogramm 1080 der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft "Römische Reichsreligion und Provinzialreligion", hg. v. J. Rüpke, Tübingen 2007.

For other publications, see the Bibliography by Christoph Markschies.