Provides a broad and balanced understanding of how Christianity originated in the first five centuries
Varieties of Early Christianity: The Formation of the Western Christian Tradition traces the origins and evolution of Christian concepts from the first through the sixth century CE, exploring the events, issues, and individuals that helped shape the beliefs and practices of Christianity. With a multidisciplinary Religious Studies approach, this reader-friendly textbook places the early sources of Christian teaching within their historical and cultural contexts to highlight what gave rise to the beliefs and rituals that Christians follow in the present day.
Chronologically organized chapters analyse the ways in which Christians absorbed and adapted ancient concepts from Judaism and Greco-Roman religion and culture from the first through the sixth centuries. Combining both traditions, early bishops, Church Fathers, and theologians added innovations that contributed to the establishment of a unique systematic theology (dogma) that became "Christianity."
Throughout the text, readers are encouraged to consider how the ways early Christians integrated their worldviews, politics, and daily lives can help articulate their own "systems of meaning" in the modern world.
- Helps readers navigate the vast amount of Christian literature produced in the early centuries of the Church
- Provides the religious and cultural background of Judaism and Greco-Roman religion and culture, the two major contributors to Christian thought
- Describes the methodology used to analyze the gospels in relation to ancient literature
- Explores topics such as Christian martyrs in the Roman Empire, the role of women in Mediterranean society, Gnostic Christians, the Christianization of the Roman Empire, the work of Saint Augustine, and the Council of Chalcedon
- Includes excerpts from primary documents, definitions of words and concepts, further readings, and numerous figures, timelines, and maps
Featuring concise analyses of key scholarly and archaeological research, Varieties of Early Christianity: The Formation of the Western Christian Tradition is an excellent textbook for secondary school classes and college undergraduate courses on the history of Christianity, as well as a valuable resource for general readers interested in examining the history of Christian ideas in their historical context.