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Early Christianity

291 Pages · 2008 · 1.12 MB · English

  • Early Christianity

    Early Christianity


    Examining sources and case studies, this fascinating book explores


    early Christianity, how it was studied, how it is studied now, and


    how Judaeo-Christian values came to form the ideological bedrock


    of modern western culture.


    Looking at the diverse source materials available, from the


    earliest New Testament texts and the complex treatises of early


    Christian authors such as Lactantius and Eusebius, to archaeology,


    epigraphy, and papyrology, the book examines what is needed to


    study the subject, what materials are available, how useful they


    are, and how the study of the subject may be approached.


    Case study chapters focus on important problems in the


    study of early Christianity including:


    • the book of Acts as a source for the social


    dynamics of cities and the tensions inherent in


    Hellenistic Judaism


    • orthodoxy and organization in early Christianity


    • early Christianity and the Roman empire.


    Also including a comprehensive guide for students that lists major


    collections of literary and non-literary sources, the chief journals


    and series, and important textbooks, Early Christianity is an


    excellent aid to the study of Christianity in history.


    Mark Humphries is senior lecturer in Classics at the National


    University of Ireland, Maynooth. He is the author of Communities


    of the Blessed (OUP 1999) and a chapter in the Cambridge


    Ancient History XIV (2000). He is a general editor of the series


    Translated Texts for Historians. Classical Foundations


    The books in this series introduce students to the broad areas of


    study within classical studies and ancient history. They will be


    particularly helpful to students coming to the subject for the first


    time, or to those already familiar with an academic discipline who


    need orientation in a new field. The authors work to a common


    brief but not to a rigid structure: they set out to demonstrate the


    importance of the chosen subject and the lines of recent and


    continuing research and interpretation. Each book will provide a


    brief survey of the range of the subject, accompanied by some


    case studies demonstrating how one may go on deeper into it.


    Each will also include guidance of a practical kind on sources,


    resources and reference material, and how to pursue the subject


    further. When complete, the series will comprise a critical map


    of the whole field of ancient studies.


    The series is planned to include:


    Early Christianity


    Greek History


    Greek Literature


    Greek Philosophy


    Late Antiquity


    Latin Literature


    Roman Social History


    The Roman Empire


    Books currently available in the series:


    Roman Social History


    Susan Treggiari


    Latin Literature


    Susanna Morton Braund


    Greek History


    Robin Osborne


    Early Christianity


    Mark Humphries


    ii Early Christianity 1


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    Mark Humphries


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    Folio


    iii First published 2006


    by Routledge


    2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN


    Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada


    by Routledge


    270 Madison Ave, New York, NY 10016


    Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group


    © 2006 Mark Humphries


    This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006.


    “To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s


    collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.”


    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted


    or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic,


    mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter


    invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any


    information storage or retrieval system, without permission


    in writing from the publishers.


    British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data


    A catalogue record for this book is available from the


    British Library


    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data


    Humphries, Mark.


    Early Christianity/by Mark Humphries. – 1st ed.


    p. cm. – (Classical foundations)


    Includes bibliographical references and index.


    1. Church history – Primitive and early church, ca.


    30–600 I. Title. II. Series.


    BR165.H74 2006


    270.1–dc22 2005023645


    ISBN10: 0–415–20538–7 (hbk)


    ISBN10: 0–415–20539–5 (pbk)


    ISBN13: 9–78–0–415–20538–2 (hbk)


    ISBN13: 9–78–0–415–20539–9 (pbk)


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    For Tim, Ash, Luke, and Joey 61


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    Folio God shall have a starring role in my history of the world. How


    could it be otherwise? If He exists, then He is responsible for


    the whole marvellous appalling narrative. If He does not, then


    the very proposition that He might has killed more people and


    exercised more minds than anything else. He dominates the stage.


    Penelope Lively, Moon Tiger


    I do not know if you are one of those who look down on every-


    thing called religion and theology with disdain or indifference.


    And yet, no matter how one looks at Christianity, and possibly


    regards it as a mistake, is it not of real value to pursue the


    history of this mistake and discover the world shaking events and


    transformations this mistake had caused?


    Adolf von Harnack, private letter, 1869


    (cited in Frend 2003: 11) 1


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    Contents


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    Preface xi 1711


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    Introduction: how to use this book 1 19


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    1 What is early Christianity and why does 21


    it deserve study? 9 22


    The shape of early Christianity 9 23


    Approaching early Christianity in the twenty-first 24


    century 17 25


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    2 Tradition and revelation: the historical 27


    quest for early Christianity 34 28


    Discovering early Christianity in the age of 29


    Constantine 35 30


    Early Christianity from late antiquity to the middle 31


    ages 41 32


    Renewal, reform, and the origins of critical scholarship 49 33


    The rise of modern scholarship 55 34


    Towards modernity: early Christianity in the nineteenth 35


    and twentieth centuries 59 36


    Folio


    vii CONTENTS


    3 The search for early Christianity: sources


    and their interpretation 64


    Christian literature 65


    Jewish and pagan literature 82


    Documentary sources and material remains 88


    Using the sources 93


    4 Messiahs and missions: contexts for the


    origins and spread of Christianity 97


    Christian origins and the problem of Judaism 98


    Mission and conversion: the expansion of early


    Christianity 108


    Case study: inscriptions and the missionary journeys


    of Paul 125


    5 Doctrine and power: orthodoxy and


    organization in early Christianity 142


    How many bishops attended the council of Nicaea? 143


    The ideal of unity in early Christianity 146


    Organization and personnel 149


    Ritual 156


    Orthodoxy and heresy 158


    Truth, tradition, text 165


    Case study: the Nag Hammadi discoveries and


    early Christianity 167


    6 Confronting Babylon: early Christianity


    and the Roman empire 186


    An age of persecutions? 188


    Christian alienation from Roman society 196


    Christian attitudes to the Roman empire 202


    Towards Christendom: an uneven progress 206


    Case study: Pliny the Younger and the


    Christians 210


    viii CONTENTS


    7 Discovering early Christianity 225 1


    Points of departure 226 2


    Source materials 230 3


    Specialist journals 234 4


    Bibliographical guides to chapters 3–6 237 5


    61


    Notes 244 7


    Bibliography 250 8


    Index 268 9


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    Folio


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