A study of archaeology and the early Church in Greece is long overdue. So far, no book has been published in English that examines the growth of Christianity in southern Greece from New Testament times until the medieval period, taking into account both contemporary theological expertise and a detailed knowledge of the numerous and exciting current archaeological excavations. Situated between Israel and Italy, Greece is now yielding vital evidence of the development of early Christianity. Mainland Greece and its surrounding islands is a vast region, and this book focus on an area rich in early Christian remains, namely the region stretching from Athens southwards.
The book examines evidence relating to Christianity in New Testament times, particularly through the writings of St Paul and early theologians, and juxtaposes these texts with recent and current excavations at Corinth, with its twin ports of Kenchreai and Lechaion, and its chief sanctuary beyond the city at Isthmia, where St Paul worked during the celebration of the pan-Hellenic Games. Much of the excavation at Lechaion has been carried out underwater by divers pioneering new methods of preserving submerged material, since most of the harbor is entirely submerged.
Later, particularly from the sixth century onwards, Christian basilicas were built throughout Greece. A number of these are examined, including those at Nemea and Epidaurus. Nemea provides unique evidence of an agricultural community guided by a bishop; numerous Christian artefacts have been excavated at the site. Epidaurus was honored as the birthplace of the healing god Asclepius, and early Christians inherited and developed these healing skills in unexpected ways. At other locations, monks developed a wide variety of lifestyles that were little known in the Western Church. The archaeology of Christian sites in Greece is a new and unfolding discipline; this book will encourage scholars and students to take these studies further.