Associations in the Greco-Roman World (AGRW)

An expanding collection of inscriptions, papyri, and other sources in translation

Grave of a God-Fearer Prepared by the Brothers (II CE) Prusa by Olympos - Bithynia


Prusa by Olympos (Bithynia, Asia Minor — Pleiades map)
IPrusaOlymp 115 = SEG 49 (1999), no. 1796 = PHI 278605  = ID# 20491

 II CE

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Slab with a relief of a funerary banquet (84 x 54 x 6 cm). Now in the Bursa museum (inv. 3140). Thomas Corsten (in IPrusaOlymp) takes the dedicatees to be Christ-believers. The first is called a "God-fearer" (theosebēs) and the second bears a name used by other Christians in this region (e.g., IPrusaOlymp 226). If Christian, then this would be the earliest attested Christian inscription from Bithynia. Quite well known are the Christians (Christiani) in Bithynia-Pontus attested (ca. 110 CE) in Pliny the Younger's correspondence (10.96-97).

Other interpreters suggest that this was a group devoted to the Judean deity or Theos Hypsistos. Both readings find some support: Judeans may have self-identified using the adjective "God-fearing" (theosebeis). However, Judean use of the designation is rarely attested (do see CIJ II 683a). Theos Hypsistos worshippers occasionally employed fictive kinship language as may be the case in this inscription (see, e.g., GRA II 96).

The children Marcianus and Epitherses along with the brothers (adelphoi) set this up from their own resources for Epitherses, the god-fearer, and for Theoktistos for the sake of remembrance.

Written/translated by: Richard Last



Ἐπιθέρσῃ τῷ θεοσε|βῇ κ<α>ὶ Θεοκτίστῳ |τὰ τέκνα Μα<ρ>κιανὸς| καὶ Ἐπιθέρσης μετὰ||τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐκ τῶν|εἰδείων μνήμης χάριν.

IPrusaOlymp 115 (relief at top). © 1991 Thomas Corsten. Reproduced with permission.

IPrusaOlymp 115 (relief at top).
© 1991 Thomas Corsten. Reproduced with permission.

IPrusaOlymp 115. © 1991 Thomas Corsten. Reproduced with permission.

IPrusaOlymp 115.
© 1991 Thomas Corsten. Reproduced with permission.

Item added: December 26, 2015
Item modified: March 7, 2016
ID number: 20491
Short link address:
http://www.philipharland.com/greco-roman-associations/?p=20491

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