Religious Rivalries and the Struggle for Success in Sardis and Smyrna

Religious Rivalries and the Struggle for Success in Sardis and Smyrna

Religious Rivalries and the Struggle for Success in Sardis and Smyrna

Religious Rivalries and the Struggle for Success in Sardis and Smyrna


This volume, one in a series of books examining religious rivalries, focuses in detail on the religious dimension of life in two particular Roman cities: Sardis and Smyrna. The essays explore the relationships and rivalries among Jews, Christians, and various Greco-Roman religious groups from the second century bce to the fourth century ce.

The thirteen contributors, including seasoned scholars and promising newcomers, bring fresh perspectives on religious life in antiquity. They draw upon a wide range of archaeological, epigraphic, and literary data to investigate the complex web of relationships that existed among the religious groups of these two cities- from coexistence and cooperation to competition and conflict. To the extent that the essays investigate how religious groups are shaped by their urban settings, the book also offers insights into the material urban realities of the Roman Empire.

Investigating two cities together in one volume highlights similarities and differences in the interaction of religious groups in each location. The specific focus on Sardis and Smyrna is broadened through an investigation of methodological issues involved in the study of the interaction of urban-based religious groups in antiquity. The volume will be of particular interest to scholars and advanced students in Biblical Studies, Classical Studies, and Archaeology.


This project has received innumerable kinds of support. First, the participants in the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies’ Religious Rivalries seminar have, over the past nine years, provided deep insight and provocative discussion on the issues raised by the papers presented in the seminar sessions. I am grateful to the members of the seminar’s steering committee who have served with me since 1995: Leif Vaage, Steve Wilson, Michele Murray, Phil Harland, Steve Muir, and especially Terry Donaldson, who was chair of the seminar from 1995 to 2000, when he handed me the leadership opportunity.

Noteworthy help in bringing this volume to publication was provided by my research assistants over the past few years. Erin Vearncombe tracked down important publications and did significant work in putting together the Works Cited. Elaine Reid insured conformity in the in-text citations. Helena Medeiros provided a thorough proofreading of an early version of the manuscript. Rachel McRae was invaluable in compiling the indexes. I am grateful to Queen’s University and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for providing funding to employ these talented students.

Peter Richardson has been a great source of help and encouragement on this project, both through his ongoing participation in the seminar itself and in his role as editor of the Wilfrid Laurier University Press escj series. As the volume neared publication, the role of escj editor was taken over by Stephen Wilson, who, as always, provided helpful guidance. Finally, I am grateful for subvention support for this volume, provided in part by Bishop’s University. This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Aid to Scholarly Publications Programme, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Richard S. Ascough Kingston, on, Canada . . .

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