Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The World of the Early Christians

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The World of the Early Christians

Article excerpt

The World of the Early Christians. By Joseph F Kelly. [Message of the Fathers of the Church, Volume 1.] (Collegeville, Minnesota: A Michael Glazier Book, The Liturgical Press. 1997. Pp, xvi, 231. $22.95 paperback.)

The World of the Early Christians is an attempt to provide an introductory text to the student of historical theology. The bulk of this treatment deals basically with the cultural life of the Christian within the early Church. The last section includes a tightly written history of major writers and events in the East and West for the first six centuries.

The author delves into such issues as the view of the physical world as seen by Christians, entertainments presumed to be morally licit, such aspects of daily life as slavery, wealth and poverty, women, church and state, and war and peace. Kelly is careful in his use of terminology, bearing in mind that he has written for the novice student of church history. He writes into his text origins for such terms as martyr and manuscript. He is also quick to point out the fallacy of such beliefs that persecution was continuous for the first three hundred years rather than the sporadic nature of such persecutions,which depended entirely on the whim of the person in authority.

In his treatment of women, Kelly cites primary texts but at times relies on secondary references. He would have been better informed if he had relied more readily on the primary sources. …

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