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The World of the Early Christians (Message of the Fathers of the Church, Vol 1) [Paperback]

By Joseph F. Kelly (Author)
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Item description for The World of the Early Christians (Message of the Fathers of the Church, Vol 1) by Joseph F. Kelly...

Overview
Like every "lost world," the world of the early Christians was a combination of the foreign and the familiar, the unique and the commonplace. In The World of the Early Christians, Joseph Kelly introduces and explains the world of the early Christians, and while he examines the differences between our two societies, he also stresses our similarities. The early Christians were people, like us, trying to make their way in life. There are many introductions to the world of the early Christians, but few if any deal with its historical background and the basic questions non-specialists ask: Why did the Christians use philosophy at all? Didn't it make everything confusing? Why didn't they just stay with the Bible? In The World of the Early Christians Kelly answers such preliminary questions and concentrates on the fundamental issue of why Christians used philosophy, rather than simply listing the philosophies they used. Not only do most people know little about the early Christians, they often have erroneous views about them. For example, many modern Christians think their ancient spiritual ancestors were impoverished, uneducated people from the lowest strata of Roman society. The World of the Early Christians addresses some of these misconceptions by considering the historical evidence available about these people. Similarly, Kelly also explains some ancient topics-such as magic and astrology-and considers how they can be misleading to modern students. He then describes the early Christians' relationships with other groups, such as Jews, pagans, and members of popular and official cults, and then explores the intellectual and cultural lives of the early Christians. Students and anyone interested in understanding the now lost world of early Christianity will appreciate this volume's straightforward treatment of this essential background material. Kelly touches upon topics treated by the other volumes in the Message of the Fathers of the Church series. He refers to original sources in translation unless no translation is available, and he includes bibliographic references for further research. In a direct and easy manner, Kelly brings to life for us today the rich world of the early Christians.

Publishers Description

Like every lost world," the world of the early Christians was a combination of the foreign and the familiar, the unique and the commonplace. In "The World of the Early Christians, " Joseph Kelly introduces and explains the world of the early Christians, and while he examines the differences between our two societies, he also stresses our similarities. The early Christians were people, like us, trying to make their way in life.

There are many introductions to the world of the early Christians, but few if any deal with its historical background and the basic questions non-specialists ask: Why did the Christians use philosophy at al? Didn't it make everything confusing? Why didn't they just stay with the Bible? In "The World of the Early Christians" Kelly answers such preliminary questions and concentrates on the fundamental issue of "why" Christians used philosophy, rather than simply listing the philosophies they used.

Not only do most people know little about the early Christians, they often have erroneous views about them. For example, many modern Christians think their ancient spiritual ancestors were impoverished, uneducated people from the lowest strata of Roman society. "The World of the Early Christians" addresses some of these misconceptions by considering the historical evidence available about these people. Similarly, Kelly also explains some ancient topics - such as magic and astrology - and considers how they can be misleading to modern students. He then describes the early Christians' relationships with other groups, such as Jews, pagans, and members of popular and official cults, and then explores the intellectual and cultural lives of the early Christians.

Students and anyone interested in understanding the now lost world of early Christianity will appreciate this volume's straightforward treatment of this essential background material.

Kelly touches upon topics treated by the other volumes in the "Message of the Fathers of the Church" series. He refers to original sources in translation unless no translation is available, and he includes bibliographic references for further research. In a direct and easy manner, Kelly brings to life for us today the rich world of the early Christians.

Chapters are: "Who Were the Early Christians?" "How Do We Know About the Early Christians?" "The Physical World," "Others," "Intellectual and Cultural Life," "Living in the World," and "A Brief History of Early Christianity.""

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Liturgical Press
Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.6" Width: 5.43" Height: 0.77"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 1, 1997
Publisher   Liturgical Press
Edition  New  
Series  Message Of The Fathers Of The Ch  
ISBN  0814653138  
ISBN13  9780814653135  


Availability  0 units.


More About Joseph F. Kelly


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Joseph F. Kelly, PhD, is professor of religious studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. His books include "The Feast of Christmas, The Origins of Christmas, The Ecumenical Councils of the Catholic Church", and others, all published by Liturgical Press.

Joseph F. Kelly currently resides in the state of Ohio. Joseph F. Kelly was born in 1945.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Ancient
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History


Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Roman Catholic



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Reviews - What do customers think about The World of the Early Christians (Message of the Fathers of the Church, Vol 1)?

Clear and interesting  Jul 29, 2005
According to the introduction by the editor of the series, 'The Message of the Fathers of the Church' is actually a companion to two other series, one on the Old Testament and one on the New Testament, meant to bring more detail of the tradition and history of the church to bear on the way in which we read and understand the scriptural texts.

According to the editor Thomas Halton, 'The term "Fathers" is usually reserved for Christian writers marked by orthodoxy of doctrine, holiness of life, ecclesiastical approval, and antiquity.' Particularly with concern for antiquity, the present series gives a bit more flexibility to the task, but for this particular volume, antiquity is certainly a common strand.

The author of this particular volume, Joseph Kelly, laments about the difficulty of writing such a text on the history of the early church; the audiences are varied, and will require different kinds of information - indeed, according to Kelly, even the seminarians and religious studies graduate students often have far more skill and knowledge in other areas of more 'practical' concern and relatively little knowledge about the early church. Kelly highlights some crucial questions often overlooked - why did the early Christians have a concern for using philosophy as a tool? Kelly also addresses the 'mythological' ideas of early Christendom, such as the idea that the Roman persecutions were general and continuous 'from the death of Jesus until some unspecified later time when, for some reason, they stopped.'

Kelly acknowledges that the world of the early Christians is a mixture 'of the foreign and the familiar' and that sometimes the more familiar can be equally problematic to our understanding. We are familiar with the idea of the Roman Empire, for example, and its general decline and fall, but Kelly highlights that this is a decidedly Western view; even our modern historical view of Justinian as a Byzantine Emperor who reconquered Western territory is somewhat misleading, given that Justinian thought of himself as a Roman. The Eastern Empire continued for nearly a millennium after the fall of the Western Empire, but in an increasingly embattled and abbreviated state after the rise of the Muslim empires.

Kelly looks at some general information in the first chapter - where did the early Christians live (and when), what did their daily lives look like, etc. In the second chapter, however, the strand of the history backs up a bit for a discussion of historical method - having given some information in the first chapter, how is it that we know what was just put forward? Kelly looks at the problems of dealing with physical data (archaeological, geographical, etc.) and written data (primary source texts, secondary but older interpretations, etc.), and how the use of this data is shaped by current technology and trends in the assignment of meaning and importance.

Kelly's subsequent chapters look at key topics - chapter three looks at the physical world and its perceptions - what did the early Christians think of the world, of heaven and hell, and how did their concepts of time and space differ from ours. The fourth chapter expands the breadth of the topic by looking at other religious groups and paradigms that were present as the early Christians were forming communities and beliefs. The fifth chapter concentrates more fully on this development, looking both at the production of the canon of the Bible, how it was interpreted in the earliest times, and how theology, music and the arts play into the development of distinctively Christian cultures. The sixth chapter looks at key sociological issues of the time - the role and place of women in society, the institution of slavery, the interplay of church and state, the concepts and effects of war and peacetime, and the disparate situation of wealth and poverty throughout world at the time.

Each of these chapters concentrates primarily on the Christian communities in and around the Roman Empire (both East and West). It does not stray too far from the borders; hence, the situation of looking at warfare or economic issues deal almost exclusively with the Roman situation. The Christian communities beyond the Roman borders (for example, those in the Fertile Crescent area, or those south of Roman dominion in Africa) are not covered in this text.

The final chapter give a six-part brief historical survey of the early church. Each of the six sections develops a century - the first part from Jesus' time to the end of the first century, the second part to the end of the second century, and so forth. This chapter is a fairly good, very speedy snapshot of Christian history, and indeed is well worth reading first, prior to the rest of the text, and then again afterwards as a refresher.

The bibliography is a useful collection of primary and secondary texts, some in translation from their original languages. There is also a short list of major series (Ancient Christian Writers by the Paulist Press; the massive Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers series - 38 volumes in all; etc.) and general reference materials. These lists are not comprehensive but are the items are well selected. The index that follows is very useful, particularly for students who might need quick reference back into the text.

The text is clear and interesting. The lack of maps or other graphic images is the only thing missing here. As part of a class for studying late antiquity, the early church, or Western intellectual history, this book is a welcome addition.

 

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