After the Apostles: Christianity in the Second Century

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After the Apostles: Christianity in the Second Century By Walter H. Wagner. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 1994. Pp. xvi, 287. Paperback.)

The author maintains that there are no studies which tell the story of the challenges and leaders of the second century by bringing together in a comprehensible way the events, ideas, and people involved. Treating the second century as a critical period when Christianity, beset with internal and external conflicts, struggled with many important issues in forging its identity, the author focuses on five challenges to Christianity: (1) Who created the world and what value does the world have? (2) What is the nature and destiny of humans? (3) Who was Jesus? (4) What roles does the church have? (5) How are Christians and culture related? The author has chosen five important Christian thinkers, each of whom deals with these challenges in different ways: Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Clement of Alexandria,Tertullian and Irenaeus of Lyons.The book has three parts. Part I consists of four chapters which provide a historical sketch of first-century Christianity and aspects of Jewish-Christian relations, together with an extended discussion of the political, philosophical, educational, and religious context of Greco-Roman paganism during the first and second centuries after Christ. Part II consists of five chapters each of which focuses on one of the five challenges to Christianity and surveys the various answers proposed by Judaism and early Christianity. Part III consists of six chapters, five of which summarize the responses to each of the five challenges by the five Christian leaders mentioned above, and the sixth provides a concluding general overview of the views of each of the five leaders, including an assessment of where they agree and disagree. On the problem of the creator and the creation, all five thinkers held that the Supreme Deity made the world and willed it to be good. …