In The Moral World of James, James Riley Strange compares the moral system in the Epistle of James with other Greco-Roman and Judaic texts. The author of the epistle prescribed moral practices in a world in which other people, both pagan and Jewish, had long been expressing similar concerns, and more would continue to take up the task centuries after Christianity was well established in the Roman Empire. In this fresh and thick analysis, Strange's systemic comparison of texts (among them works of Plato, Plutarch, Epictetus, and Aelius Aristides, as well as Greek Magical Papyri, tractates of the Mishnah, and the Community Rule of the Dead Sea Scrolls) reveals how James's vision of a distinctive way of community life was both part of and distinct from the moral and religious systems among which it emerged.
It has been widely assumed that there were 6 million Christians (or 10% of the population of the Roman Empire) by around the year 300. The largely-unexamined consensus view is also that Christianity was an urban movement until the conversion of Emperor Constantine. On close examination, it appears that these two popular views would nearly saturate every urban area of the entire Roman Empire with Christians, leaving no room for Jews or pagans. In Who Were the First Christians?, Thomas Robinson shows that scenario simply does not work. But where does the solution lie? Were there many fewer Christians in the Roman world than we have thought? Was the Roman world much more urbanized? Or, is the urban thesis defective, so that the neglected countryside must now be considered in any reconstruction of early Christian growth? Further, what was the makeup of the typical Christian congregation? Was it a lower-class movement? Or was it a movement of the upwardly mobile middle-class? Arguing that more attention needs to be given to the countryside and to the considerable contingent of the marginal and the rustic within urban populations, this revisionist work argues persuasively that the urban thesis should be dismantled or profoundly revised and the growth and the complexion of the early Christian movement seen in a substantially different light.
Whereas much work on the ethics of the Hebrew Bible addresses the theological task of using the Bible as a moral resource for today, this guide aims to set Ezekiel's ethics firmly in the social and historical context of the Babylonian Exile.
Women and Religion in the First Christian Centuries focuses on religion during the period of Roman imperial rule and its significance in women's lives. It discusses the rich variety of religious expression, from pagan cults and classical mythology to ancient Judaism and early Christianity, and the wide array of religious functions fulfilled by women. The author analyses key examples from each context, creating a vivid image of this crucial period which laid the foundations of western civilization. The study challenges the concepts of religion and of women in the light of post-modern critique. As such, it is an important contribution to contemporary gender theory. In its broad and interdisciplinary approach, this book will be of interest to students of early religion as well as those involved in cultural theory.
A central figure in the reconception of early Christian history over the last three decades, Wayne A. Meeks offers here a selection of his most influential writings on the New Testament and early Christianity. His essays illustrate recent changes in our thinking about the early Christian movement and pose provocative questions regarding the history of this period. Meeks explores a fascinating range of topics, from the figure of the androgyne in antiquity to the timeless matter of God’s reliability, from Paul’s ethical rhetoric to New Testament pictures of Christianity’s separation from Jewish communities. Meeks’ introduction offers a retrospective on New Testament studies of the past thirty years and explains the intersection of these studies with a variety of exploratory and revisionist movements in the humanities, embracing social theory, history, anthropology, and literature. In an epilogue the author reflects on future directions for New Testament scholarship.
English summary: A striking phenomenon in the cities of the Roman empire from the first to the third century CE was the predominance of voluntary associations of like-minded people who regularly met together. These Greco-Roman associations, such as professional collegia and religious cult groups, were similar in many respects to Christian communities and Jewish synagogues in organization and in the social relationships among members and between members and outsiders. There are, however, notable differences in their religious orientation, specific behavior patterns, and moral concepts. The essays in this volume explore specific aspects of the associations, synagogues, and Christian communities and provide a profile of their individual characteristics and their relationships to one another. German description: Eines der beherrschenden Phanomene der Stadte im romischen Kaiserreich des 1. bis 3. Jahrhundert n. Chr. waren freie Vereinigungen, in denen sich Gleichgesinnte, jenseits ihrer familiaren und gemeindlichen Bindungen, freiwillig und auf Dauer zusammenschlossen. Dazu zahlten griechisch-romische Vereinigungen (wie Berufskollegien und pagane Kultgenossenschaften) ebenso wie christliche Gemeinden und judische Synagogen. Am Beispiel dieser Vereinigungen im griechischen Osten des Reiches erortern die Autoren der Beitrage des vorliegenden Bandes wichtige Aspekte von Gruppenbildung im romischen Kaiserreich. Hintergrund der Uberlegungen ist die Tatsache, dass die griechisch-romischen Vereinigungen, christlichen Gemeinden und judischen Synagogen zwar ihrer Form nach im wesentlichen ubereinstimmten: Die Organisationsstrukturen waren ahnlich, auch die Bedingungen sozialer Beziehungen innerhalb und ausserhalb der Gemeinschaften entsprachen einander weitgehend. Aber sie generierten, infolge unterschiedlicher religioser Orientierungen, spezifische Verhaltensmuster und Wertvorstellungen, die auch auf die Gesellschaft ausstrahlten.
In "Christian Origins and Greco-Roman Culture," Stanley Porter and Andrew Pitts assemble an international team of scholars whose work has focused on reconstructing the social matrix for earliest Christianity through the use of Greco-Roman materials and literary forms. Each essay moves forward the current understanding of how primitive Christianity situated itself in relation to evolving Hellenistic culture. Some essays focus on configuring the social context for the origins of the Jesus movement and beyond, while others assess the literary relation between early Christian and Greco-Roman texts.
The Crucible of Christian Morality explores the notion of Christian ethics and discusses its roots in the teachings of Jesus and also Hellenistic philosophy. Its significance in developing moral standards throughout the world and its stability in the modern world. The Crucible of Christian Morality uses new critical perspectives including: * the sociology of knowledge * and discourse analysis. J. Ian H. McDonald challenges conventional approaches by focusing on the behaviour of early Christian communities rather than their texts to shed new light on the nature of Christian morality in its earliest and most formative years.
In these fifty-three essays spanning over fifty years Abraham J. Malherbe illustrates how a critically informed appreciation of Graeco-Roman literary traditions such as Hellenistic moral philosophy and Middle Platonism can enrich our understanding of Paul, Athenagoras, and other early Christian writings.