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Early Christian Mission Set Hardcover – Jan 2005

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--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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This is monumental work and a valuable contribution to
-- journal for the Study of the New Testament; July 2006

This mammoth piece of scholarship is certainly demanding, but it
is extremely important -- Foundations; Alistair I Wilson; November 2006 --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

Early Christian Mission:

Jesus and the Twelve (volume 1)
Paul and the early church (volume 2) --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 7 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
The Best Study of New Testament Missions Ever Written! 8 July 2006
By Dr. Marc Axelrod - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Eckhard Schnabel has produced a mammoth two volume discussion of the historical and theological foundations of the Christian missionary movement. The thesis of Early Christian Mission is that the movement began with the ministry of the historical Jesus and was perpetuated by the work of his earliest followers. A key point for Schnabel is that there was no active Jewish mission to Gentiles prior to the ministry of Jesus. He painstakingly expounds salient texts in the Hebrew Bible as well as texts from other relevant Jewish texts to show that even though there were eschatological promises of a general conversion of Gentiles to the God of Israel, that there was no active Jewish mission. In making this assertion, Schnabel has some significant exegetical obstacles, namely the book of Jonah (where Schnabel explains that Jonah was trying to get the Ninevites to repent, not to convert), and texts such as Isaiah 26:19 (which he regrettably overlooks), and Matthew 23:15 (where Schnabel is forced to admit that the text may speak of a uniquely Pharisaic ministry to reach non-Jews.) The bottom line is that strictly speaking, the Christian mission cannot be considered the first actively Jewish effort to reach Gentiles.

But this early misstep for the most part does not affect later assertions. Schnabel is certainly right to say that the historical Jesus began a unique ministry to the people of Israel while not ignoring the needs of inquiring Gentiles. He explains that Jesus could have easily visited the 175 towns and villages of Galilee, in accordance with the summaries in texts such as Matthew 9:36. He shows that Jesus called twelve apostles to train them as fishers of men and that they learned from observing Jesus that the good news of the arrival of God's kingdom needed to be proclaimed in towns and villages to the poor and the wealthy, to the educated and the uneducated, both in word and deed.

Schnabel also contends that contrary to popular opinion, it didn't take until the martyrdom of Stephen to realize that the gospel should be preached to Gentiles. They were aware of the Lord's commission as recorded in Matthew 28 and Luke 24. Moreover, Matthias was chosen by lot as one who would be a witness of Christ's resurrection. Furthermore, Peter's ministry on the day of Pentecost and the subsequent boldness of the apostles (Acts 4:13, 5:32) demonstrates that they were ready and able for ministry. It is tempting to point out that Luke mentions no ministry outside Judea until after the martyrdom of Stephen, but it is hasty to conclude that this was because of fear or ignorance. Schnabel's conservative reconstruction is quite plausible.

Schnabel also shows that repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus alone as Messiah of Israel was the consistent message of all of the apostles, and that any differences between the theology of Peter, James, John, and Paul are exaggerated. He also shows how the apostles could have obtained geographical and ethnographical information from libraries and public archives

He also discusses the historical plausibility of a mission by Thomas to India and how the third century Acts of Thomas may contain kernels of historical truth, including a reference to the Indian leader Gondophernes.

The second volume of Schnabel's work is a description of Paul's ministry. He explains that we cannot see his ministry as strictly a ministry to Gentiles, because Paul always had an inward desire to reach some of his own people with the gospel of Christ. He also shows how Paul not only followed a planned out itinerary, but that he was also open to the leading of the Spirit and was willing to avoid areas where the Spirit didn't want to him to go.

All through the work, Schnabel gives helpful and tremendously detailed descriptions of villages and hamlets throughout the Roman world and throughout the Middle East. The massive amount of information in these two volumes makes it easy to see how scholars will be using this work for decades to come.

Yet for those of us who believe in the historical reliability of the Bible, many of the findings will seem redundant. The real value of this work is in the detailed histories of the little known areas where the apostles may have traveled, as well as the fascinating interactions with other scholars. The book is a treasure trove of information about the mission of the early church and I highly recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Splendid; an instant classic 13 Mar. 2013
By Jeri - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Two very heavy volumes with a total of nearly 2,00 pages. Closely reasoned and researched. It all adds up to an instant classic, the new gold standard on the subject of early Christian mission.

"The Christians understood themselves as milites ('enrolled soldiers') of Christ, as members of his militant church...they applied to non-Christians the term paganus, which was applied by soldiers to all who were not" (p 39) in the army.

The tiny group of believers faced a Roman empire with a population "estimated to have numbered between 50 and 80 million people" (p 558). Following the death of Stephen, Luke speaks of a severe persecution in Jerusalem, which sent believers fleeing and thus began the missionary outreach to the diaspora Jews and the pagans.

By the time of Rom 16:3-16 Paul's greetings shows "the existence of seven house churches in the city of A.D. 50-55. And there is also evidence for other house churches" (p 818). This was explosive growth - and this was only the beginning.

Schnabel has clearly studied every available scholar on his subject. He cites Foster about a "passage in...Jerome in which he gives four example of unusual and rare words...that indicate that Paul spoke a local Cilician dialect of Koine" (p 925). In addition, the fact that Paul went to Jerusalem to study indicates he likely came from the well off elite. Schnabel finds in Paul neither clear evidence that he falls into the Shammaite or Hillelite schools.

Why did Paul persecute the earliest Christians? While some scholars have argued that "the reason for the synagogal punishments was connected with the followers of Jesus admitting Gentile Christians without circumcision" (p 927). However, God-fearing Gentiles were allowed into synagogues without circumcision.

Schnabel argues against the idea "that Luke concealed basic conflicts" (p 29) in Acts or that he papered over them. Baur once insisted that Peter and Paul split utterly over the validity of the law. However, Schnabel finds that "The Antioch incident did not cause a permanent rupture to the unity of the Christian movement" (p 1019), pointing out such evidence as the Apostolic council in Jerusalem in 48, Paul mentioning Peter favorably in 1 Cor 3, and the fact that Peter expresses a high regard for Paul in 2 Peter 3.

The churches that Paul wins from his missionary work belong to no one teacher. They all belong o the church itself. Schnabel agrees that the "We-Passages" point to Luke having been a companion of Paul.

The incredible detail that Schnabel presents is truly breathtaking. He presents the best evidence he can find on population, culture, scripture, Second Temple Judaism, paganism, and pretty much everything including the kitchen sink.

This is one you will want for your library.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Excellent Background Information and Analysis 3 July 2009
By P. C. Lindstrom - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a massive two-volume work that I have not read in its entirety. I don't know if I ever will get the chance to read through both volumes, cover to cover. I have found the book very helpful as a reference. For example, if you compare the background information that Schnabel provides on the Galilean ministry of the disciples in Matthew 10 to the information that most other commentaries provide, you will see that Schnabel has much more background information, which is why this is a valuable work. Commentaries by their nature cannot provide this same level of detail. I would highly recommend this work to pastors and teachers.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Schnabel brings life to scholarly treatment of Jesus 24 Oct. 2011
By O'Hanlon - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a gold mine of detailed scholarship with a clear view to see Jesus and Paul as missionaries with strategy and relational focus. The writing is crisp and his handling of the plenitude of sloppy scholarship about Jesus is direct, but not embittered or drawn out. Most of his time is spent unveiling the evidence from a great breadth of sources, historical, biblical, and critical. Beautifully printed hardcover edition, definitely a life-book.

M. W. Floyd
Five Stars 20 Jan. 2015
By Charles Rawlings - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great overview or the apostles and Paul.
The print could be larger.
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