Constructing Early Christian Families: Family as Social Reality and Metaphor

Constructing Early Christian Families: Family as Social Reality and Metaphor

Constructing Early Christian Families: Family as Social Reality and Metaphor

Constructing Early Christian Families: Family as Social Reality and Metaphor

Synopsis

The family is a topical issue for studies of the ancient world. Family, household and kinship have different connotations in antiquity from their modern ones. This volume expands that discussion to investigate the early Christian family structures within the larger Graeco-Roman context.Particular emphasis is given to how family metaphors, such as 'brotherhood' function to describe relations in early Christian communities. Asceticism and the rejection of sexuality are considered in the context of Christian constructions of the family. Moxnes' volume presents a comprehensive and timely addition to the study of familial and social structures in the Early Christian world, which will certainly stimulate further debate.

Excerpt

Most of the essays in this volume are revised versions of papers presented at the conference on Family as a Social Reality and Metaphor in Early Christianity held in Oslo from 28 September to 1 October 1995. The conference was a result of contacts between Biblical scholars in Scotland and the Nordic countries initiated with a Scottish-Scandinavian conference in Glasgow in 1993. This cooperation proved so fruitful that it was decided that it ought to be followed up, this time in a smaller forum and with a more specialised topic. The topic ‘Family in early Christianity’ was chosen as a fruitful area for historical interpretation and reconstruction, as well as for hermeneutical reflections. Scholars and doctoral students in New Testament, theology, history of religion and classical studies from the Nordic countries, Scotland, England, Ireland, and the United States spent three days on papers and discussions that challenged us to find a new understanding. The paper by Santiago Guijarro on the family in Galilee (an earlier Spanish version was published in Estudios Biblicos 53 (1995)) unfortunately could not be read at the conference, but supplements the contributions in an important way.

The conference was made possible through financial support from the Nordic Academy for Advanced Study (NorFA) and the Faculty of Theology, the University of Oslo, through its project on ‘The Christian Moral Tradition in Norway’. I am grateful to Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Copenhagen, who initially suggested the topic for the conference and for colleagues at the Faculty of Theology who supported the undertaking. I am particularly indebted to Reidar Aasgaard, doctoral student in New Testament, who with great enthusiasm and hard work carried most of the administrative responsibilities before, during, and after the conference, with help from Birgitte Lerheim, secretary for the ‘Moral Project’. Warm thanks are due to my colleagues Scan Freyne, Dublin; Lone Fatum, Copenhagen and Bengt Holmberg, Lund, who made up the editorial committee and provided good advice for the authors and the editor. Thanks are also due to the authors for their willing participation, and for the spirit of generous cooperation that resulted from the conference, in that native English speakers took it upon themselves to read and comment upon the manuscripts of the others. . .

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