The Beginnings of Christianity: An Introduction to the New Testament

Overview

To understand the historical beginnings of Christianityrequires one not only to examine the documents that the movement produced, but also toscrutinize other evidence--historical, literary, and archaeological--that can illumine thesocio-cultural context in which Christianity began and how it responded to the influencesthat derived from that setting. This involves not only analysis of the readily accessiblecontent of the relevant literary evidence, but also attention to the world-views andassumptions about reality...

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Overview

To understand the historical beginnings of Christianityrequires one not only to examine the documents that the movement produced, but also toscrutinize other evidence--historical, literary, and archaeological--that can illumine thesocio-cultural context in which Christianity began and how it responded to the influencesthat derived from that setting. This involves not only analysis of the readily accessiblecontent of the relevant literary evidence, but also attention to the world-views andassumptions about reality that are inherent in these documents and other phenomena thathave survived from this period. Attention to the roles of leadership and the modes offormation of social identity in Judaism and the continuing influence of these developments as Christianity began to take shape is important for historical analysis. Distinguished New Testament scholar Kee performs such readings of the texts and communities in this dazzling study of early Christian origins. In methodological terms, the historical study of Christian Origins in all its diversity must involve three different modes of analysis: (1) epistemological, (2) sociological, and (3) eschatological. The first concerns the way in which knowledge and communication of it were perceived. The second seeks to discern the way in which the community or tradition preserving and conveying this information defined its group identity and its shared values and aims. The third focuses on the way in which the group understood and affirmed its ultimate destiny and that of its members in the purpose of God. These factors are interrelated, and features of one mode of perception strongly influence details of the others, but it is useful to consider each of them in its own category in order to discern with greater precision the specific historical features of the spectrum of facets which appear in the evidence that has survived concerning the origins of Christianity.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Kee (professor emeritus, Boston Univ.; The Cambridge Companion to the Bible) has written several significant books on the New Testament. He now brings his vast reservoir of knowledge and experience to the task of writing an introduction to the New Testament. The result is an informative, carefully crafted work of scholarship. Kee examines the early New Testament period using three different analytical methods: epistemological, sociological, and eschatological. This approach adds richness and depth to his study. Five chapters cover the impact of Greco-Roman culture and politics on Judaism, the Jesus tradition and the formation of the new covenant community, Paul and the apostolic traditions, noncanonical apostolic traditions, and emerging structures of early Christianity. Best suited for graduate and seminary students, though upper-level undergraduates majoring in religious studies could benefit as well, this is recommended for academic libraries.-John Jaeger, Dallas Baptist Univ. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780567027412
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
  • Publication date: 11/22/2005
  • Edition description: ANN
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 510
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.02 (d)

Meet the Author

Howard Clark Kee is Professor of Religion Emeritus of Graduate Studies and Religion at Boston University and is now Visiting Scholar at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of several acclaimed books including Understanding the New Testament, The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, Miracles in the Early Christian World, and Jesus in History.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : methods and resources for the history of Christian origins 1
1 The impact of Graeco-Roman politics and culture on Judaism 11
2 The Jesus tradition and the formation of the new covenant community 63
3 Paul and the apostolic traditions : Christianity extends into the wider Graeco-Roman world 213
4 The noncanonical apostolic traditions 343
5 The emerging structures of early Christianity : modes of achieving theological and social unity 367
Excursus 1 Changing historical models in the biblical tradition 425
Excursus 2 Changing historical methods in the study of Christian origins 433
Excursus 3 Wisdom and gnosticism : origins and impact on Christianity 443
Excursus 4 The multiple impact of stoicism on the origins of Christianity 451
Excursus 5 Facing the future : common themes in Jewish apocalyptic and Graeco-Roman philosophy and literature 463
Excursus 6 Bridal imagery in the mysteries of the Kabeiroi and of Serapis 481
Excursus 7 The kingdom of God in the Pauline letters 483
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