Associations in the Greco-Roman World

John S. Kloppenborg

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:
Associations in the Greco-Roman World


Life in the cities and towns of the Hellenistic and Roman periods was organized around two poles: the polis or town, and the family, each with its distinctive structure, organization, membership, and cultic practices. Between these two poles there existed a large number of more or less permanent private associations, guilds, and clubs. Some were extensions or expansions of the family; others were organized around a common cult or diasporic identity; others were formed around a common occupation (silverworkers, rag dealers, woodsmen, etc.), and still others were neighborhood associations consisting of the trades that congregated in a particular area of the town. Almost all associations engaged in cultic activities; most held monthly (or more frequent) banquets and meetings; many took an active role in the funerals of members; and many had formal rules governing admission, dues, and the behavior of members. Early Christ-groups were certainly regarded by external observers as varieties of associations, and Judean synagogai (one of the common terms for associations) are easily seen as one form of diasporic association, formed around a common ethnic identity and a common cult. The study of ancient associations is important for understanding the structure, organization, and functions of early Christ-groups and Judean synagogues.

Article.  13816 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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