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Prayer In The First Four Centuries A.D.

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Chapter Summary

The fact that the early Christians prayed hardly distinguishes them within the Greco-Roman matrix of the first four centuries of the Common Era. The specifics of early Christian prayer suggest contours of the development of distinctively Christian understandings of God and the church (as the Body of Christ). First-century Palestinian Christians, knew a variety of patterns of daily private and communal prayer, and the practice of praying at fixed times during each day has several Jewish antecedents. The Didascalia Apostolorum assumes standing for prayer. Likewise the Apostolic Tradition and the church orders derived from it assume a standing posture, at least for occasions of communal prayer. In several treatises, Tertullian forcefully argues for the veiling of women in the assembly, citing 1 Corinthians 11:5 as justification. Justin Martyr mentions the kiss of peace at the conclusion of the prayers of the faithful in his description of a post-baptismal Eucharist.

Keywords: apostolic church; baptism; Didascalia Apostolorum; early Christian prayer; Greco-Roman culture; Jewish prayer; kiss of peace; Palestinian Christian; Tertullian



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