Item description for Early Christian Traditions (The New Church's Teaching Series, V. 6) by Rebecca Lyman...
In this sixth volume of The New Church s Teaching Series, Rebecca Lyman introduces us to the world of the early church. Beginning with the Jewish, Greek, and Roman cultures in which the first followers of Jesus lived and worshiped, she traces the growth of the Christian church s theology, worship, leadership, and ethics through its first six centuries, ending with Augustine of Hippo. Early Christian Traditions offers perceptive insights into the early church s intense conflicts that reveal the often thin line between orthodoxy and heresy, between true and false teachers, and among the many competing versions of Christianity. Lyman describes the early church s family quarrels Gnosticism, Donatism, Arianism as well as the theological, political, and linguistic issues that went into the making of the great creeds and established the apostolic tradition."
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Studio: Cowley Publications
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.52" Width: 5.55" Height: 0.5" Weight: 0.6 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2001
Publisher Cowley Publications
Series New Churchs Teaching
Series Number 6
ISBN 1561011614 ISBN13 9781561011612
Availability 0 units.
More About Rebecca Lyman
Rebecca Lyman is an Episcopal priest and the Samuel Garrett Professor of Church History at The Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, California. A popular teacher and lecturer on church history, she has also been a translator for The New American Bible. Her research and writing focus on the early history and definition of orthodoxy and heresy.
Rebecca Lyman currently resides in the state of California. Rebecca Lyman was born in 1954.
Reviews - What do customers think about Early Christian Traditions (The New Church's Teaching Series, V. 6)?
"Early Christian Traditions" Dec 19, 2004
Summation of Book
_Early Christian Traditions_ is volume six in the _New Church's Teaching Series_. It has been put together for Anglicans to help them appreciate the origin, history and essence of the Christian religion. While Lyman's work contains few surprises, it is admittedly informative and quite scholarly. She skillfully covers the activities of the Primitive Church and adequately tracks the development of the Church up through the Middle Ages. Her coverage of Roman history and the development of the Trinity doctrine should prove to be of interest to anyone who enjoys reading about the relation between the Church and Rome as well as the Christological controversies of the fourth century. Very little is new in Lyman, but she covers some of the familiar events in a new and lucid manner. Some of the topics covered are "The World of the Early Church," "Imperial Christianity," "Who is Jesus: Early Images of Christ," and "Who Is God: Credal Orthodoxy from Nicaea to Augustine." She closes out the book on a climactic note, detailing the theologia of Augustine and his teaching about the city of God. These contents alone make the book worth purchasing. But let's look and some of Lyman's comments and see how the book ranks overall.
Specific Contents of Lyman's Book and Its Rating
Lyman's book is so valuable because she adroitly employs sociology and historical skills with pleasing results. Her knowledge and methodology are impressive though I was somewhat disappointed with her seeming inability to "think outside the box" of orthodoxy. For example, she writes: "For the most part in this early stage, the word 'God' was usually reserved for the Father as creator. However, in the Gospel of John the language of 'Father' and 'Son' was used to express the unique and eternal intimacy between God and Jesus (p. 113).
While it is correct to say that "God" in Scripture normally refers to the Father (and this term also has a unique reference to His unparalled Deity), Lyman is simply regugitating well-worn dogma when she claims that the word "Son" (hUIOS) is used in the Gospel of John to express "the unique and eternal intimacy between God and Jesus." In the Hebrew writings, the word "son" is often used to express an intimacy between God and his spirit sons--without denoting an "eternal" form of closeness.
I was also disappointed by her treatment of the Arian controversy. Recent research has revealed that Arianism and "orthodoxy" were not that far apart Christologically. The Arians worshiped the Son and regularly prayed and sang hymns to God's Messiah. Arius said that Jesus was "fully God," and he was 'the strong God." Arius's interest in Christ was primarily driven by his soteriology and his ardent desire to understand the biblical witness about Christ. In my personal estimation, Lyman should have implemented this information that has now been made available by Arian scholars. Despite these small quibbles, however, Lyman's book is well worth the money. I learned from her presentation of familiar events, and I felt that she was objective as possible. I give the book a 4 star rating.
Edgar G. Foster
In the beginning... Jun 15, 2004
The Episcopal church in the twentieth century took advantage of the general availability of publishing to good advantage, compiling through several auspices different collections and teaching series, the latest of which was only completed a few years ago. There have been 'unofficial' collections of teaching texts, such as the Anglican Studies Series by Morehouse press, put out in the 1980s, as well as an earlier teaching series. However, each generation approaches things anew; the New Church Teaching Series, published by Cowley Publications (a company operated as part of the ministry of the Society of St. John the Evangelist - SSJE - one of the religious/monastic communities in the Episcopal church, based in the Boston area) is the most recent series, and in its thirteen volumes, explores in depth and breadth the theology, history, liturgy, ethics, mission and more of the modern Anglican vision in America.
This sixth volume, 'Early Christian Traditions' by Rebecca Lyman, continues a look at history from the fifth volume by Thompsett by focussing more closely upon the church and world in the earliest Christian times, through to the fall of the Roman Empire.
After a brief introduction to set the stage for why studying the early church is important for Anglican identity, Lyman looks at the overall culture of the early church - a world dominated by the Romans, in the midst of a unique culture of Judaism concentrated in the eastern empire, but spread throughout the whole Roman Empire, and somewhat beyond. How the church exists today is an interesting synthesis and reaction to various influences of all these aspects.
Lyman looks at some key issues of contention in the development of the early church - the Gnostic beliefs, issues of leadership in the church, defining heresy and orthodoxy in various manners, finally settling upon the construction of creeds to reinforce dogmatic consistency. Through these trends, the key questions of 'who is Jesus?' and 'who is God?' were always present, and the tensions between individual faith and the community character of Christianity was also of concern. How the church came to be a regular and powerful part of the world, rather than a fringe and oppressed sect on the edges of society is also seen here.
Lyman looks at key issues, events, and personalities involved in the development of her early church history. The origins of much of present-day church practice and belief are from this period even as people in the pews do not realise it.
Rebecca Lyman is a priest and professor of church history at CDSP, the California Divinity School of the Pacific, one of the major Episcopal seminaries. She has worked as part of the team of scholars who translated the New American Bible, one of the major Bible translations of recent times, and concentrates scholarship on issues of orthodoxy and heresy (which is a natural tie-in to the study of the early church).
Each of the texts is relatively short (only two of the volumes exceed 200 pages), the print and text of each easy to read, designed not for scholars but for the regular church-goer, but not condescending either - the authors operate on the assumption that the readers are genuinely interested in deepening their faith and practice. Each volume concludes with questions for use in discussion group settings, and with annotated lists of further readings recommended.
Becoming Christian among the Roman gods. Mar 31, 2004
As the 21st century dawns, few new Christians are content to just take the Church's word for much of anything. Surrounded by multiple faiths, there is nothing inevitable about becoming a Christian anymore. So, one of the obvious questions that needs answering is how Christ's life ended up becoming the basis of a church which would become one of the most powerful and wealthy entities in the world. How did the simple yet inspiring wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount get transformed into such an enormous institution, whose theology and rules are now so complex and often intimidating?
There was nothing inevitable about the growth of the early Christian church. After Jesus' death, there weren't that many people alive who knew Him well, or had written down much about his life. To make matters worse, the Roman empire was filled with millions of people who honestly believed there was no way to get through the day without asking for the help of one of the many gods in their pantheon. The Romans relied on their gods to help get races won, and to curse business competitors. The idea that there was just one God, who had been here just recently and had the bad taste to suffer and die, well that seemed just crazy. Gods were for helping with practical matters, and they were eternal, so they couldn't suffer, by definition. So it was little surprise that the Romans gave the first Christians a hard time, making their religion illegal, and disreputable. So how did this radical religious become the ruling religion of the empire just three hundred years later? That's the story that Rebecca Lyman outlines in her highly readable and brief book, Early Christian Traditions. The book's title is a bit misleading. The book isn't really about how Christians ate or lived on a day to day basis. Instead, it gives a good chronological overview of how the early Christians slowly grew into churches and then a religious movement.
The story is fascinating on a number of levels. Lyman does a very good job of putting Christianity into context by explaining what normal life was like for Romans. They saw no compelling reason to take some new form of religion in the first or second centuries - the empire was doing well, and this in itself seemed to confirm that the gods existed, and were well pleased with their subjects. Christians were bizarre outcasts, secretly having dinners in private homes, and baptizing each other in the nude. The best modern equivalent would be a cult.
One of the pleasures of the book is to see how wide open and accepting the church was in the first hundred years after Christ's death. Women were welcomed at all levels of the church initially. People who had little to do with each other in normal Roman society sat beside each other as equals in Christian homes. Slaves and masters, women and men found a refuge from the stratified society of the Roman Empire. It was only when the church had grown enough to become attractive to mainstream Roman society that church officials discouraged women from positions of authority, since this would be offensive to regular Romans who held women in low esteem generally.
Lyman also provides a mercifully brief overview of how the early Church struggled as it tried to decide some major theological issues, such as whether Christ was God, or created by God. As the Roman Empire ran into trouble in the 3rd and 4th centuries, these issues became enormously important for Christians. The Romans felt that their misfortunes on the battlefields were a sign of the gods' displeasure, so it was imperative that all subjects make appropriate sacrifices to the pagan gods. Christians who refused were risking their lives. So it really mattered whether they were worshipping Christ as simply a wise man sent by God, or whether their worship and martyrdom would result in their eternal salvation. These controversies were highly divisive, and could lead to fighting in their streets, as well as major splits among bishops.
Lyman has written this book to help Anglicans understand the roots of their creeds and many of the prayers still used in their services. Most of the references to Anglican worship occur in the introduction and in questions for discussion at the end. Any Christian who is interested in understanding how the early church evolved to become the Catholic Church will find this small volume a quick and valuable read.
This review was first published in The Turning Magazine, online.
From the Master May 2, 2001
This is the subject treated by the master of Early Christian History. There's no better place to learn about this confusing era than in her lectures--this is about as good as it will ever get without paying expensive tuition!