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The Early Church


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Table of Contents

C. 1: What is the Early Church and Why Would We Want to Study It?
C. 2: A Brief History of the Study of the Early Church
C. 3: How and When Did the Early Church Originate? Some Historical Background
C. 4: Jewish and Gentile Identities in the Early Church
C. 5: A Brief Survey of Earliest Christian Literature
C. 6: Living the Early Church: Early Christian Religious Practices
C. 7: Teaching the Early Church: Origins and Developments of Early Christian Doctrine
C. 8: Leading the Early Church: Bishops, Emperors and Councils
Bibliography Index of Names and Subjects

Promotional Information

This study of the early church is written from a new religious and theological studies perspective.

About the Author

Dr. Josef Loessl; Reader in Patristics and Late Antiquity, Cardiff University, School of Religious and Theological Studies, Director of the Cardiff University Centre for Late Antique Religion and Culture; author of 'Julian von Aeclanum' (Leiden 2001).


'Few areas of scholarship have seen such vigorous debate in recent years as the emergence of Christianity. Josef Loessl's book is a very welcome addition to the growing literature on the subject. It provides an extremely lucid introduction to the major areas of interest to students of the early history of the Christian Church between the first century and the fifth, including the relationship of Christianity with Judaism, the interactions of Church and Empire in the Roman world, and, above all, what it meant to be a Christian - and a member of the Church - in these early centuries. Throughout the book, moreover, Loessl encourages his readers to challenge preconceived notions about these important topics and to return to the ancient evidence with critical eyes. It is a book that will be read with profit not only by students new to the subject (for whom it will now be the first point of departure), but also by professional scholars, theologians, and, indeed, anyone with an interest in how a movement that began in Roman Palestine developed into one of the most powerful institutions that the western world has ever known, and how communities of believers were willing to endure bitter trials and tribulations in defence of their faith.' - Mark Humphries, Department of Classics, Ancient History and Egyptology, Swansea University, Wales, UK. -- Mark Humphries
This volume would be of great value to those searching for a non-linear textbook approach to the history of the early church, but is of equal value to the general and advanced reader interested in the subject... Recommended for all upper level libraries in colleges, universities, and seminaries, and for advanced readers who have an interest in the Early Church and are seeking a different approach to the subject. Large parish libraries should also consider adding this title. -- Catholic Library World - Vol. 82, No. 1
This book is extremely practical for a number of reasons... Perhaps the most practical aspect of the book is the clarity with which the author untangles the Christological debates that, if not done well, can confuse and frustrate readers unfamiliar with the issues involved. -- Interpretation
Reviewed in Theologische Literaturzeitung 136 (2011) 11.
'Josef Loessl has produced a unique history of the early church, one that shows deep sensitivity to the problem of the writing of history as such, especially the problem of writing a history of 'the church'. Loessl never lets us forget that we always view the 'early church' or 'ancient Christianity' through the lens of successive generations of historiography or, as he would put it, of 'memory'. Up-to-date in its scholarship and deeply immersed in the ancient sources, Loessl's study reveals the many faces of the early Christian movement: its literature, theology, and devotion to material objects. Especially welcome is his extensive discussion of the liturgical practices of early Christians, manifest in rites of baptism and eucharist. Likewise, his treatment of dogmatic developments places them in the proper political contexts without reducing them to political ploys. All in all, this book is a splendid and much-needed introduction to early Christian history. - David G. Hunter, Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA. -- David G. Hunter
Church Times, January 2010
'Questa lucida introduzione.' Rassegna Bibliografica Internazionale
"Readers are helped to look in a new way at people, ideas, and events that will be familiar from previous accounts of the history of the Early Church." The Church Times, 21st May 2010.
'On the whole, this book is to be commended as a worthy and orginal addition to the genre of introductions to early church history. Loessl's use of ecomonic in-text citation, coupled with a copious bibliography, is a particular asset, and will doubtless serve the curious student especially well.' - Alexis Torrance, Christ Church, University of Oxford -- Alexis Torrance * Theological Book Review *
'Loessl discusses the development of Judaism and Christianity from unclear boundaries ion the early centuries to distinct identities in later centuries. Employing socio-anthropological thinking, he describes the religious practices of early Christians such as baptism and the Eucharist, also including discussions of church buildings, relics, Sabbath observance, and books.' Matthew R Crawford, Univesity of Durham -- Matthew R Crawford * Theological Book Review *
Here we have an engaging, detailed and in some sense even unconventional interpretation of the EarlyChurch * Theology *
A really learned, well written and up-to-date introduction to the most essential aspects of early church history. -- J. van Oort * Vigiliae Christianae *

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