The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years

The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years

The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years

The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years


Contrary to several popular works of Christian scholarship, historian Paul Barnett maintains that the first two decades of Christian history are hardly "lost years." As he shows in this penetrating book, the period between Jesus and the earliest Christian texts is open to historical investigation, and he richly details the time and setting in which the church was born.

Writing in a very accessible style, Barnett provides an informative, reliable chronology of the years immediately following Jesus' crucifixion. Just as important, he presents the historical sources, biblical clues, and other telling evidence that we have for accurately documenting this crucial period of time. Looking more widely, Barnett also surveys world events during Christianity's first twenty years and notes their impact on life in the early church.

The Birth of Christianity: The First Twenty Years is Volume 1 of a trilogy titled After Jesus. Volume 2 will be Paul, Missionary of Jesus, and Volume 3 will be Finding the Historical Christ.


If history writing is true to the original meaning of the word (Greek: historia, “inquiry”), it will not be mere narration. This should be as true for the writing of early Christian history as it is for the writing of a history of Russia after 1917.

When historians are true to their craft, they seek explanations for their narratives. For the historian of earliest Christianity the question will always be, Why did it happen? The true “inquirer” will ask what manner of man gave impetus to a movement that soon took his name. This question is not often asked directly in this first volume in the series called After Jesus, but it is implicit on every page.

Once more I dedicate this book to one who belongs to that genus called “an author’s spouse.” Other authors, and more particularly other authors’ spouses, will understand my sentiment. This author’s wife, like others (I am sure), lives with a man who is often unhearing and “vacant faced, ” his mind elsewhere, redrafting an important footnote or struggling to remember a book title. This does not make for good companionship, a matter for regret.

Anita, wife of forty years, is sincerely thanked for patient support and endless encouragement. This book is for her.

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