The Early Christian World - Vol. 1

The Early Christian World - Vol. 1

The Early Christian World - Vol. 1

The Early Christian World - Vol. 1


The Early Christian World presents an exhaustive, erudite, and lavishly-illustrated treatment of how a small movement formed around Jesus in Galilee became the pre-eminent religion of the ancient world.Situating early Christianity within its Mediterranean social, political and religious contexts,the book charts the history of the first Christian centuries. The creation and perpetuation of Christian communities through means including mission and monasticism is then explored, as is the everyday experience of early Christians, through discussion of gender and sexuality, religious practice, communication and social structures. The intellectual (particularly theological) and artistic heritage of the period is fully considered, and a vivid picture provided of the internal and external challenges faced by early Christianity.With profiles of the most notable figures of the age, up-to-date coverage of the most important topics in the study of early Christianity and an invaluable collection of visual material., The Early Christian World is a comprehensive,a ccessible and indispensable resource for everyone studying this period.


The subject of this book is Christianity in the period 30 to 430 CE. Yet it is not a history of Christian literature, still less a description of the development of Christian theology. Rather, it offers a map of the rich phenomenon of early Christianity understood in the closest connection with the social context in which it was born and grew to maturity. The authors of the chapters have sought to highlight the social dimensions of their topics and many explicitly employ social-scientific methodology. The numerous illustrations bring out the extent to which the various contributions are embedded in the experience and realities of the ancient world.

Its title, The Early Christian World, hopefully conveys this breadth of scope. The book first examines the ancient Mediterranean context of Christianity, covering cultural, political, Greco-Roman and Jewish aspects (Part I), before setting out the broad lineaments of its history, from Jesus and Paul, on into the second and third centuries to Constantine and Theodosius and beyond (Part II). Part III focuses on community formation and maintenance, while Part IV deals with everyday Christian experience, in areas such as social levels, sexuality, women and mission, travel and worship. Part V takes up the intellectual heritage, especially in theology and scriptural interpretation, and Part VI focuses on the artistic heritage, in architecture, art, music and imaginative literature. Part VII explores external challenges to Christianity, such as political oppression and opposition of both a philosophical and popular kind, while Part VIII is concerned with internal challenges of the type more traditionally referred to as heresies, such as Gnosticism, Montanism, Donatism and Arianism. Lastly, Part IX profiles thirteen figures who had a major impact on early Christianity, twelve of them Christian and one, the apostate emperor Julian, who tried to turn back the Christian advance.

The book has been in the course of preparation since March 1996. Throughout this period Richard Stoneman, the Senior Editor (and now Publisher) with Routledge who commissioned it, offered wise and patient advice, as did Coco Stevenson as Assistant Editor and then Catherine Bousfield, Editorial Assistant. More recently, Kate Trench has worked tirelessly as Production Editor.

I am grateful to colleagues for discussions I had with them during the early stages of the project when I was formulating its overall shape and themes. Here I should especially mention Professor Richard Bauckham and Professor Trevor Hart of St . . .

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