The Early Christian World  book cover
2nd Edition

The Early Christian World

Edited By

Philip Esler

ISBN 9781138200074
Published August 15, 2017 by Routledge
1280 Pages

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Book Description

Since its publication in 2000, The Early Christian World has come to be regarded by scholars, students and the general reader as one of the most informative and accessible works in English on the origins, development, character and major figures of early Christianity. In this new edition, the strengths of the first edition are retained. These include the book’s attractive architecture that initially takes a reader through the context and historical development of early Christianity; the essays in critical areas such as community formation, everyday experience, the intellectual and artistic heritage, and external and internal challenges; and the profiles on the most influential early Christian figures. The book also preserves its strong stress on the social reality of early Christianity and continues its distinctive use of hundreds of illustrations and maps to bring that world to life. Yet the years that have passed since the first edition was published have seen great advances made in our understanding of early Christianity in its world. This new edition fully reflects these developments and provides the reader with authoritative, lively and up-to-date access to the early Christian world. A quarter of the text is entirely new and the remaining essays have all been carefully revised and updated by their authors. Some of the new material relates to Christian culture (including book culture, canonical and non-canonical scriptures, saints and hagiography, and translation across cultures). But there are also new essays on: Jewish and Christian interaction in the early centuries; ritual; the New Testament in Roman Britain; Manichaeism; Pachomius the Great and Gregory of Nyssa. This new edition will serve its readers for many years to come.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

List of Abbreviations


1. The Mediterranean Context of Early Christianity

Philip F. Esler

2. Emperors, Armies and Bureaucrats 68-430 CE

Jill Harries

3. Greek and Roman Philosophy and Religion

Luther Martin

4.Jewish Tradition and Culture

James Aitken


5. Jesus in His World

Douglas Oakman

6.Early Jewish Christianity

Edwin Broadhead

7.Paul and the Development of Gentile Christianity

Todd Klutz

8.The Jesus Tradition: The Gospel Writers’ Strategies of Persuasion

Richard Rohrbaugh

9.The Second and Third Centuries

Jeffrey S. Siker

10.From Constantine to Theodosius and Beyond

Bill Leadbetter

11.Jewish and Christian Interaction from the First to the Fifth


Anders Runesson


12.Mission and Expansion

Thomas Finn

13.The Development of Office in the Early Church

Mark Edwards

14.Christian Regional Diversity

David Taylor


Columba Stewart OSB


16.Reading the New Testament in Roman Britain

Richard Cleaves

17.Sex and Sexual Renunciation I

Teresa Shaw

18.Sex and Sexual Renunciation II: Developments in Research since


Elizabeth Castelli

19.Women, Children and House Churches

Mona LaFosse

20.Worship, Practice and Belief

Max Johnson

21.Ritual and the Rise of the Early Christian Movement

Risto Uro

22.Communication and Travel

Blake Leyerle


23.Christian Realia: Books, Papyri and Artefacts

Giovanni Bazzana

24.Scriptures in Early Christianity

Outi Lehtipuu and Hanne von Weissenberg 

25.Saints and Hagiography

Mark Humphries

26.Translation and Communication across Languages

Malcolm Choat


27.The Apostolic Fathers

Carolyn Osiek

28.The Apologists

Anders-Christian Jacobsen

29.Early Theologians

Gerald Bray

30.Later Theologians of the Greek East

Andrew Louth

31.Later Theologians of the West

Ivor Davidson

32.Creeds, Councils and Doctrinal Development

Piotr Ashwin-Siejkowski

33. Biblical Interpretation

Oskar Skarsaune


34.Early Christian Architecture: The First Five Centures

L. Michael White

35. Art

Robin Jensen


John Arthur Smith

37.Imaginative Literature

Richard Bauckham


38.Political Oppression and Martyrdom

Candida R. Moss

39. Graeco-Roman Philosophical Opposition

Michael Simmons

40. Popular Graeco-Roman Responses to Christianity

Craig de Vos


41. Internal Renewal and Dissent in the Early Christian World

Sheila McGinn

42. Gnosticism

Alistair Logan

43. Montanism

Christine Trevett

44. Donatism

Jakob Engberg

45. Arianism

David Rankin

46. Manichaeism

Jason BeDuhn


47. Origen

Thomas Scheck

48. Tertullian

Geoffrey D. Dunn

49. Perpetua and Felicitas

Shira L. Lander and Ross S. Kraemer

50. Constantine

Bill Leadbetter

51. Antony the Great

Columba Stewart OSB

52. Pachomius the Great

James E. Goehring

53. Athanasius

David Gwynn

54. John Chrysostom

Wendy Mayer and Pauline Allen

55. Gregory of Nyssa

Elena Ene D-Vasilescu

56. Jerome

Dennis Brown

57. Ambrose

Ivor Davidson

58. Augustine

Carol Harrison

59. Ephrem the Syrian

Kathleen McVey

60. Julian the Apostate

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Philip F. Esler is the Portland Chair in New Testament Studies and Director of the International Centre for Biblical Interpretation in the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham, UK. His previous positions include Chief Executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2005-2009) and Principal of St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, London (2010-2013). His research focus lies primarily in the social-scientific of biblical and extra-biblical texts and ancient legal papyri, and he also writes on the Bible and the visual arts and on New Testament theology. His latest monograph is Babatha’s Orchard: The Yadin Papyri and An Ancient Jewish Family Tale Retold (2017) and before that he published Sex, Wives and Warriors: Reading the Old Testament With Its Ancient Audience (2011).


"This new edition is a goldmine of up-to-date information for anyone interested in the development of early Christianity. The contributors represent an international collection of top-flight scholars, and the range of topics covered is expansive; yet the essays are written in an accessible style and could certainly be used in a classroom setting at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Of particular note is the way in which the essays situate Christianity within its broader cultural contexts, rather than treating it as if it developed in a 'holy vacuum'. You will want this book on your shelf as a standard reference work for the study of early Christianity."
- Professor David Eastman, Ohio Wesleyan University, USA

"The second edition of this valuable collection will be welcomed even by those who already own the first edition. This thoroughly updated edition preserves the structure and comprehensiveness of the first, as well as its important focus on social history and everyday experience. It also adds both depth and breadth through the inclusion of new topics and current approaches. This volume will be a boon to instructors looking for current and provocative readings to challenge their students, and indeed to anyone interested in early Christianity in its historical, social and cultural contexts."
- Professor Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa, Canada

"The second edition of the Early Christian World successfully manages a difficult task. It not only updates the existing contributions in the first edition of this highly useful tool for studying early Christianity, it also includes new directions in scholarship. Thus it promises to be an valuable part of the libraries of students, academics, and any reader interested in the first five centuries of Christianity alike."
- Dr Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer, University of Aberdeen, UK

"The Early Christian World is and remains an enormously useful reference work. It is highly accessible to specialist and non-specialist readers, with essays written in an accessible style, rich illustrations, indices of biblical, classical, Jewish references and patristic references as well as a subject index. These indices make it somewhat easier to navigate through its almost 1200 pages of text. Each article is followed by an extensive and up-to-date bibliography, encouraging and facilitating further research."
- Dr Ine Jacobs, University of Oxford, UK, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2018

"The analysis demonstrates that by silencing slaves and using a rhetoric of violence, the authors of these texts contributed to the construction of myths in which slaves functioned as a useful trope to support the combined power of religion and empire."
- A Journal of Bible and Theology

"This new edition fully reflects these developments and provides the reader with authoritative, lively, and up-to-date access to the early Christian world. A quarter of the text is entirely new and the remaining essays have all been carefully revised and updated by their authors.
This book gives a detailed view on Early Christianity from many different angles which are indispensable in studying and comprehending the genesis and further developments in Late Antiquity. "
- Mark Beumer, Kleio-Historia