Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations: Claiming a Place in Ancient Mediterranean Society

Synopsis

Ephesus, Galatia, Troas, and Pergamum are familiar names to readers of the New Testament. But what made this region such fertile ground for early synagogues and congregations of those who followed Christ? How did the earliest churches and synagogues organize themselves? How did other voluntary associations operate within the Roman empire? How did such organizations relate to the constraints of imperial religion? These are some of the questions that Philip Harland addresses in this stimulating look at first-century Roman Asia. He surveys the various forms of guilds and associations in the eastern Roman empire. Asia Minor is one of the primary regions of Paul's journeys described in Acts, and it provided the context for several New Testament books, especially the Pastoral Epistles, 1 Peter, and Revelation. The author's fresh look at ancient inscriptions reveals new insights about the formation, operation, and functions of congregations and synagogues within the larger framework of voluntary associations in the Roman world.