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Christianity and Roman Society (Key Themes in Ancient History) [Paperback]

Gillian Clark

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Book Description

13 Dec 2004 Key Themes in Ancient History
Early Christianity in the context of Roman society raises important questions for historians, sociologists of religion and theologians alike. This work explores the differing perspectives arising from a changing social and academic culture. Key issues concerning early Christianity are addressed, such as how early Christian accounts of pagans, Jews and heretics can be challenged and the degree to which Christian groups offered support to their members and to those in need. The work examines how non-Christians reacted to the spectacle of martyrdom and to Christian reverence for relics. Questions are also raised about why some Christians encouraged others to abandon wealth, status and gender-roles for extreme ascetic lifestyles and about whether Christian preachers trained in classical culture offered moral education to all or only to the social elite. The interdisciplinary and thematic approach offers the student of early Christianity a comprehensive treatment of its role and influence in Roman society.

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'This is a short book which covers a mass of material in an accessible but thought-provoking way… excellent introductory book.' The Times Literary Supplement

'This book should prove a fabulous resource for courses on the early church or the Roman Empire, from sixth form level through to taught Masters. Not until I read the book did I realise how much we needed it, and not for the first time, Clark demonstrates her enviable ability to write an accessible survey book which will hold and stimulate students and teachers alike. This is a terrific book. It is even published in inexpensive paperback - libraries and teachers will want it, and so will many students.' JACT

'… this is a well-conceived and capably-executed book that will serve its intended readers well.' Journal of Roman Studies

Book Description

This work explores current debates on early Christianity in Roman society. It adopts an interdisciplinary and thematic approach to examine topics such as paganism, martyrdom and the church. It offers the student unfamiliar with the Christian tradition a comprehensive introduction to its role in the Roman world.

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How did a tiny, politically suspect, religious splinter group become the dominant religion of the Roman world? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and readable 8 Feb 2005
By Horatio5 - Published on
Gillian Clark has written an excellent book. It is highly readable and will be of interest to those seeking to get to the bottom of essential religious debates which occurred in the early centuries AD. The book also transports the reaer very much into th epsychology of the period, with its intensive treatment of such difficult phenomena as martyrdom and asceticism.

Clark is an unpretentious prose writer and does her best to simplify advanced discussion with pithiness. This is an effective strategy and enhances the readability of the book. For anyone seriously interested in ingesting alot of importnat material quickly, this is the place to go: a top class ancient historian is the guide and she provides ample referencing to enable further enquiry. Clark, though, is not afraid to write provocatively: her thinly veiled criticism of Ramsay Macmullen at one point is interesting.

If you can't see youorself lasting the course of the epic Chadwick/Frend contributions on the early church, this is a very viable alternative staring place and is more user friendly to boot.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars New Standard Intro to the Subject 9 Sep 2006
By matt - Published on
Chadwick's Early Church is still recommended, but Clark's book is a fantastic companion to get a quick, organized, detailed and accurate understanding of the position of Christians, in all their variety, in Roman society.

She underscores all of the main issues relating to the trainistion from Jew to Christian in the sense of societal perception, heretics, gnostics, pagans, etc. All top notch and very up to date bibliography, which is great for further study.

She has a few minor erros in dating, and glosses over some of the nuances of Jewish monotheism, sacrifice and conversion, but this is now, in my view, one of the best books to get on the subject. And its slim size adds attraction to students who are assigned 14 books for a semester in one class!
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