Reviews - What do customers think about Social Aspects of Early Christianity, Second Edition?
Good review of the subject Jun 15, 2008
This very short book--a mere 121 pages--gives an overview of the arguments made by biblical scholars about social aspects of early Christianity.
In general, there is a movement away from viewing the early Christians as being from the lower classes. Much more likely, all classes were represented.
Paul's Greek is not the Greek of true classicism. As A D Nock pointed out, "'Paul is not writing peasant Greek or soldier Greek; he is writing the Greek of a man who has the Septuagint in his blood'" (p 37). Paul uses words and uses language in a way not common for a Greek. Rydbeck insists that the New Testament uses the language of the educated.
Much can be learned by studying early house churches, although the information is scanty. However, it seems clear traveling missionaries spread the faith and could travel easily from city to city once house churches were established. By the fifties Paul indicates there were at least three house churches in Rome.
Certainly the ease of mobility was important to the early church. Among the Corinthians, "we know seventeen persons...by name, nine of whom" (p 75) traveled, most likely for commercial reasons.
Jews avoided inn and "Christians appear to have followed their example" (p 66). Again and again in the New Testament are calls to be open with your hospitality.
Great read by an amazing Harvard scholar May 4, 2008
These lectures given at Rice University in 1975 provide us with some insight to the social and cultural situations of which Christianity started. He also describes the early house Churches.