The Ancient Church as Family

The Ancient Church as Family

The Ancient Church as Family

The Ancient Church as Family

Synopsis

The author explores the literature of the first three centuries of the church in terms of group identity and formation as surrogate kinship. Why did this become the organizing model in the earliest churches? How did historical developments intervene to shift the paradigm? How do ancient Mediterranean kinship structures correlate with church formation? Hellerman traces the fascinating story of these developments over three centuries and what brought them about. His focus is the New Testament documents (especially Paul's letters), second-century authors, and concluding with Cyprian in the third century. Kinship terminology in these writings, behaviors of group solidarity, and the symbolic power of kinship language in these groups are examined.

Excerpt

Three environment, which have alternately consumed and defined my life for the past three decades, generated and nourished the activity that finds its consummation in this monograph: the academy, the church, and my home. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to persons in all three arenas for inspiring and underwriting the research that went into The Ancient Church as Family.

My academic pilgrimage led me from Biola University to UCLA, and back to Biola again, where I now teach New Testament. I will always recall with great warmth the professors at Talbot School of Theology who provided me with my formal introduction to biblical studies. The rigorous foundation laid in the areas of biblical languages and exegetical method prepared me well for both ministry and further education, and I am grateful for my seminary training. I am now delighted to call a number of my former professors colleagues, and special thanks go to Dr. Michael Wilkins, my dean at Talbot, for strongly encouraging me to submit the manuscript for this book to Fortress during a postdoctoral period of self-searching and self-doubt.

The primary academic inspiration for the book came, however, from my doctorfather at UCLA, S. Scott Bartchy. Dr. Bartchy spent hours and hours with me poring over the pages of the dissertation, which has become this book. I valued Dr. Bartchy’s encouragement at every point in the writing process, I treasure his friendship, and I remain particularly indebted to him for the trajectory he has given me for my own academic pursuits. Dr. Bartchy’s scholarly passion—utilizing resources from the social sciences (especially cultural anthropology) for the study of early Christianity—has become my own.

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