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Paul's Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Cultural Setting, Revised Edition Paperback – 1 Feb 1994


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; Revised edition (1 Feb 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801045541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801045547
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 319,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Banks's analysis of the early house churches in their historical context has no parallel, either in content or reader accessibility. This updated edition will stimulate both popular and scholarly reflection on the political and social as well as the contemporary theological challenge of the theory and practice of community taught by Paul of Tarsus. I am very pleased that this excellent, readable, and provocative book is being made available to a new generation of readers."
" S. Scott Bartchy, University of California, Los Angeles --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Robert J. Banks (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is director and dean of Macquarie Christian Studies Institute in Sydney, Australia. Previously he was founding professor of the ministry of the laity at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, and executive director of the De Pree Leadership Center.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By grimtraveller on 22 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to say in all honesty that this is one of the most important books I've ever read. I'm not really surprized that it is not well known or widely quoted because if it were, like a number of books coming from the 'organic' church stream, it would destabilize the church in it's current form. The subtext of Banks' book is arguably that it needs destabilizing in order for man made ideas to get out of the way and find their proper place....
People that aren't ready to have their assumptions challenged and practices critiqued should steer clear of this book. The interesting thing is that Robert Banks doesn't jump in your face with his critiques. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find any real, upfront criticism of church practice. He moreorless leaves that alone. But he puts things in such a way that if you think about the implications of what's actually been said, you may find it difficult to remain the same.
In the book, he takes a detailed look at how the apostle Paul came to spell out what a God directed community of people should be. It's in that 'looking at' that the surprizes occur. It also leaves us with the sobering thought that the church as originally envisaged is light years away from what currently exists- for the most part. If you've come to find yourself bored or unsatisfied with your church existence, or simply aware that there's "more" but can't put your finger on it, this is one of a group of books that should take up permanent space on your shelf for the next while.
It can be a bit of a heavy read. I struggled to get past the first couple of chapters. But from there on it was rivetting !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Bro Rob-Francis on 5 Dec 2008
Format: Paperback
Banks writes with the balance and insight having been a seminary professor and a coal-face participator in grass-roots expressions of House churches.
The book combines scholarly knowledge with ready accessibility for the ordinary reader in a way that drives right into the relevant areas the churches are re-examining in our day.

The early chapters examine the nature of the churches in their historical setting as house-churches...what would have happened, how large they were etc.
Crucially he examines what Paul did and did not mean by the word "ekklesia" (church/group)and gives us some fascinating observations/insights into how Paul employs the word "Church" and "churches". Paul, it would seem, would have been somewhat confused by our ideas of national or regional churches who aren't real gathering groups but quite at home with language about the Church but "in Christ" "in the heavenly places" rather than an organisation with a central HQ.
Banks is diligent in his exploration of Paul's metaphors for church (eg family, body etc) and tries to rescue some of these from misconceptions.
Later chapters explore ministry within the churches and the relationship Paul and his mission (ergon / work) had with the churches (ekklesia) he planted. Banks gives an excellent tour of how Paul's authority was actually worked out and how he saw the churches with regard to this. All vital for those of us seeking to get a better theoretical ecclesiology on which to build in reality.
There is plenty of comparison with the culture and backround / ideas of the time which is vital for seeing to what extent Paul's ideas were assimilation or innovation / adaptation.

If you are fed up with the trendy and faddish EC type books that seem to abound, you will enjoy this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By David Gibbons on 19 July 2010
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I first studied this book back in the mid-80s when the first edition came out as part of a house church in Massachusetts. It transformed our already somewhat radical thinking about being church. Now, on re-reading it 25 years later, I still find it to be challenging, fresh, and revitalising.

Banks is, first and foremost, a scholar. He does not shy away from the various issues that recent research has raised about the new testament texts of Paul's (such as, which ones are actually his), but nor does he just take the latest ideas as true. He presents a very well thought out and coherent view of Paul's thought, showing him to be a truly radical thinker whose ideas of Christian community fit neither his own times nor ours, but offer a new and better way to all who will dare to accept it.

This is not a how-to book. Bank's doesn't give you a list of how to be church. What he does do, very well, is to pull out the themes, the underlying principles, that Paul uses to create his communities. These are the real gems, the unchanging values that need to be re-fleshed in every generation and society.

Finally, this is a book by a scholar, but it is not a "scholarly" book. It is written with the serious student in mind and is accessible to anyone willing to think through the issues of the new testament. It won't appeal to those looking for quick answers or to those looking to bolster an existing mindset, but to those who want to know what Paul actually said and thought, it is a must-read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Robert Banks has done the church an excellent service in this piece of work. He bases his analsys on the Pauline epistles and Luke's account of Paul's missionary activity, all of which provides most data on house churches and community life for the early Christians.

Banks does a good job in correcting a lot of simplistic and populist ideas about the early church and grounds his analsys in first century contemporary culture and the biblical record. Unlike many of his contemporaries he does not restrict himself to the so-called 'seven indubitable texts of Paul but draws on the whole corpus.

A thorough work, an accessible and enjoyable style makes this an excellent read.
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