Christianity spread across North Africa early, and it remained there as a powerful force much longer than anticipated. While this African form of Christianity largely shared the Latin language and Roman culture of the wider empire, it also represented a unique tradition that was shaped by its context. Ancient African Christianity attempts to tell the story of Christianity in Africa from its inception to its eventual disappearance. Well-known writers such as Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine are studied in light of their African identity, and this tradition is explored in all its various expressions.
This book is ideal for all students of African Christianity and also a key introduction for anyone wanting to know more about the history, religion, and philosophy of these early influential Christians whose impact has extended far beyond the African landscape.
Table of Contents
Chapter One: Introduction
Question 1: What is meant by "Ancient African Christianity"?
Question 2: Why study ancient African Christianity?
Question 3: What makes African Christians unique?
Question 4: What is the purpose of this book? Introducing Ancient African Christians: An Overview
The Beginnings of Christian Africa
Christian Africa in the Fourth Century
The Last Days of Ancient African Christianity History and Ancient African Christians
Chapter Two: Backgrounds to Early African Christianity
Romanization: From Culture to Ethnicity to Identity
African (Identity) Politics
Chapter Three: The Earliest Evidence of African Christianity
Tertullian on the Earliest African Christians
African Christian Origins
The Scillitan Martyrs
Perpetua, Felicity, and their Fellow Martyrs
African Christianity in the Late Second and Early Third Century
Legacies and Later Trajectories
Chapter Four: Tertullian
Tertullian’s Life Tertullian the Legalist
Tertullian the Fideist
Tertullian the Priest
Tertullian the Montanist
Tertullian the Misogynist
Tertullian the Roman
Tertullian the African Works and Teachings
Tertullian the African
Legacy and Later Trajectories
Chapter Five: Cyprian and the Later Third Century
His Works and Teachings
Cyprian the African That Idols are not Gods (Quod idola dii non sint)
Late Third Century Martyrdoms
Chapter Six: The Early Fourth Century in Africa
Christian Records from the Early Fourth Century
Arnobius of Sicca Arnobian Theology
What was African about Arnobius? Lactantius
Works and Teachings
What was African about Lactantius?
Chapter Seven: The Donatist Controversy
The Beginning of the Schism
Appeals to Constantine
Escalation of Violence and Persecution
Donatist Diversity and Decline
The End of Donatism?
Reassessing Donatist Characteristics
What was African about the Donatists?
Conclusions and Caveats
Chapter Eight: Augustine the African
Augustine’s Life and Legacy
Augustine’s Works and Teachings
What was African about Augustine? Augustine’s African Background
Accusations about Augustine’s Identity
Self-Identifying as an African
Chapter Nine: The Vandal Era of African Christianity
The Vandal Invasion of Africa
Vandals, Catholics, and Donatists
Vandal Expansion of Power
The End of the Vandal Kingdom
Chapter Ten: The Late Byzantine Era in Africa
Justinian’s Re-Conquest of Africa
The African Three Chapters Controversy
Gregory the Great
Maximus the Confessor
Conclusion about Byzantine Africa
Chapter Eleven: The Arab Conquests in Africa
Understanding the Sources and Background
History of the Conquest
Survival of Evidence and Evidence of Survival
Characteristics of Late African Christianity
Reasons for African Christianity’s Disappearance Political Power Theory
Christian Exodus Theory
House Divided Theory
Cultural Gap Theory
Theological Syncretism Theory
Political Pragmatism Theory Tentative Conclusions on African Christianity’s End
Chapter Twelve: What was African about Ancient African Christianity?
Summary of Findings
Elements Found in the "African School"
Ancient Sources Cited (and critical editions and translations, when used)
David E. Wilhite is currently Professor of Theology at Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary, USA.
Anyone who wants to know what was unique about North African Christianity from its beginning until its demise in the post-Islamic era need look no further than Wilhite’s latest book! Ancient African Christianity sets a new standard for exploring and explaining the particularity of Christianity in specific locations enabling us to appreciate and understand the rich diversity of early Christianity. If you can only read one new book about Christianity this year, make it this one!
William Tabbernee, The University of Oklahoma, USA