How did the early Christians manage to establish a religion and institution which, despite persecution, flourished and grew? How did their initial experience of being a despised minority in the Roman Empire shape their sense of privileged identity and uniqueness? And how was it that--at least at the outset--the first believers were able to exist alongside the same shared traditions, rituals and beliefs of the Jews, despite the Jewish rejection of Jesus as Messiah? The Christian community was born out of paradox: its faith in a man who was also the "anointed one" (or Christ) of God, and its growth and development often echoed those complex and and contradictory origins. Morwenna Ludlow discusses the fragile context as well as the emerging core beliefs of the early Church (including divine creation, salvation, eschatology, the humanity and divinity of Christ and the inter-relationships of the Trinity) between 50-600 CE. She also examines the process of Christian self-definition in response to groups on the edge of the Church, such as Gnostics, Marcionites, Montanists and Manichaeans, as well as in relation to Judaism. Bringing to vivid life the remarkable history of the early Church, in all its conflict and struggle, the author shows why such a successful faith was able to rise out of such improbable and unpromising beginnings.
"A series such as this is hugely welcome. Its emphasis on the history of ideas, and on the global--not just European--experience of Christianity and its manifestations of church, will be valued by students, scholars and general readers alike. The I.B.Tauris History of the Christian Church brings ecclesiastical history into a new era, for a new generation."--Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church, University of Oxford
Morwenna Ludlow is Lecturer in Patristics at the University of Exeter. She is the author of Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner (2001).
Table of Contents
From Jesus Christ to the Church. Mid-First – Mid-Second Century
Hopes and Fears. The Second Century
Negotiating Boundaries: Varieties of Christianity in Rome in the West. Second – Third Centuries
Alexandria and Carthage: The Emergence of Christian Culture. Second – Third Centuries
Church and Empire: Diocletian, Constantine and the Controversy over Arius. Third – Fourth Centuries
God and Humankind in Eastern Theology: Alexandria, Cappadocia, Nisibis and Edessa. Fourth Century
Saints and the City. Fourth – Mid-Fifth Century
God and Humankind in Western Theology. Ambrose, Jerome and Augustine. Fourth – Fifth Centuries
Christology: A Tale of Three Cities. Fifth Century