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Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2001

    Author's Description of Book

    Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts is designed for undergraduates, seminarians, and the general reader in early Christian history. The book contains approximately 250 selections from literary texts and archeological materials dating to the period of 27 B.C. to 416 A.D. These materials were selected to explore (i) the ways in which the early Christians were perceived and treated by the imperial government and the many peoples of the Roman Empire, (ii) the social and political interactions between Christians and the surrounding pagan culture, and (iii) the means the Christian emperors of the 4th century used to consolidate Christian dominance in the social and political life of the Roman Empire. Unlike most source books, however, which merely reproduce the sources or discuss only aspects of the individual sources, in Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts the ancient texts are inserted at the appropriate places in a historical narrative of the history of the rise of Christianity in the Roman World during the first four centuries A.D. The narrative provides both an overall historical context for the sources and specific discussions of the relevance of the sources to the larger narrative history, while the primary sources allow the reader to examine the evidence used to reconstruct this history. The ancient materials presented in Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts are generally reproduced at greater length than commonly found in most source books. A primary goal of the narrative text is to direct the reader along the path of the majority historical consensus without being so intrusive as to obscure the majesty and power of the ancient materials themselves. I have attempted to present the materials in such a way that this book could serve as both a useful adjunct to the work of other scholars in the field and as a stand-alone history for the non-specialist reader. Christianity and the Roman Empire: Background Texts consists of approximately 320 pages of text, organized into six chapters and 5 appendices. Chapter One is a brief introduction to basic historical methodology for dealing with literary texts. Chapters Two through Five contain a chronologically organized historical narrative, with ancient sources, describing the rise of Christianity during first four centuries A.D. Chapter Six is a case study of the way in which Christians came to dominate the political life of Alexandria, Egypt during the period of approximately 350-416 A.D. The five appendices examine topics more appropriately examined on a topical rather than a chronological basis, and cover the subjects of Rome's relationship with Judaism during this same period, pagan accusations of Christian immorality, the worship of the Roman emperor, the formulation of the Nicene Creed, and the evidence concerning the dates for the birth and death of Jesus. The book has both primary source and subject indexes.

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