Greco-Roman Associations, Deities, and Early Christianity
Imprint: Baylor University Press
Sales Date: 2022-09-30
480 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in, 5 b&w photos, 2 b&w illus.
- Published: October 2022
Understanding associations in the Greco-Roman world enhances the study of the rise of early Christianity—whether at the micro-level of interpreting particular texts or at the macro-level of assessing the spread of Christ-devotion in the pre-Constantinian era. The twenty-five contributions contained within Greco-Roman Associations, Deities, and Early Christianity enlarge our perspectives on the extent to which Greco-Roman associations bring features of Christian origins into relief.
Thematic studies include associational social reputation; women in associations; deities and devotion; financial strategies of group maintenance; care for the poor; varieties of group identity; refinements of terminological and conceptual apparatus; funerary practices; occupational groups; and the alleged role of Christianity in the demise of associations. Studies of particular phenomena include 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, Paul’s Collection, Hebrews, a late first-century Christian family, 1 Clement, and Clement of Alexandria.
While the essays cover a wide spectrum of topics, they retain a clear focus on aspects of corporate life within ancient associations as comparanda for the study of early Christ-groups within their social milieu. These essays, all kept to a disciplined length, represent the work of impressive scholars from a range of interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and international contexts. The volume’s symposium of voices and lively scholarly exchange productively expand current conversations about Greco-Roman associations, deities, and early Christianity.
This book offers a rich illustration of the claim made by its editor that associations must now be viewed as an essential part of the ‘toolkit’ of those working on early Christianity. Taken together, this fascinating collection of essays by leading experts offers a window into the most innovative scholarship on Christ-groups today. These substantive studies bring new questions to the fore and expand our horizons on topics ranging from the world of work and trade, to the importance of sensory elements, to the significance of identifying wide-ranging factors which contribute to group durability and stability. Readers will discover sometimes-unexpected but illuminating ancient data from literary and material culture leading them to think afresh about the shape of early Christianity.~Margaret Y. MacDonald, Professor, Department for the Study of Religion, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax
Here is a state-of-the-art discussion of Greco-Roman associations and their importance for our understanding of early Christianity. Scholars have made great advances in recent years in the study of Greco-Roman associations. In this outstanding book, many of these advances are presented and are drawn upon to help us think in new and stimulating ways about early Christ groups. By bringing our knowledge of associations and early Christ groups into conversation, we can better understand both the similarities and the differences between Christ-believers and other groups in their wider context. These cutting-edge essays open up new questions and new perspectives that will set the research agenda for decades to come.~Paul Trebilco, Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Otago, New Zealand
In recent decades, our understanding of the earliest Christ-groups, and early Christianity more generally, has been greatly illuminated by studies that examine these groups alongside other ancient associations. Engaging with this body of work, and both developing and challenging it, this rich and diverse collection of essays covers topics ranging from terminology and appropriate models through to meals, dress, fees, benefaction and mutual aid, and includes many studies of specific New Testament and early Christian texts. This volume will greatly help to enrich, challenge, and extend the scholarly conversation in this vibrant and vital area of research.~David G. Horrell, Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Exeter