FREE Delivery in the UK.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
The Oxford Handbook of Ea... has been added to your Basket
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies (Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology) Hardcover – 4 Sep 2008

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

See all formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
"Please retry"
£117.45 £117.33
Note: This item is eligible for click and collect. Details
Pick up your parcel at a time and place that suits you.
  • Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
  • Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
How to order to an Amazon Pickup Location?
  1. Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
  2. Dispatch to this address when you check out
Learn more
£125.00 FREE Delivery in the UK. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Dispatched from and sold by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 1048 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (4 Sept. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199271569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199271566
  • Product Dimensions: 24.9 x 6.4 x 16.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,112,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


This is not simply another multi-author volume on the first Christian centuries. It addresses itself to the task of bringing together a review of the approaches, assumptions and results of recent research in a growing range of interdisciplinary areas. It is for the most part technical and exact without being inaccessible to the interested beginner. This is an invaluable work of reference and full of meat. (G.R. Evans, Theology.)

Without doubt, this will become a major reference tool and a number of the chapters will find their way onto reading lists for classes studying early Christianity. (Paul Foster, Expository Times)

...this book is a treasure trove. The editors have assembled an impressive bench of contributors and they tackle a staggering array of subjects...This hefty and wonderful volume reminds us just how preposterous an unnecessarily adamantine view of Christianity is and ever war. (Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald)

This is a volume that goes far beyond the descriptive survey and contains much of interest for both the beginner and the old hand ... it should indeed stimulate further research (F. Lucy Grig, Journal of Theological Studies)

In many ways the appearance of this volume is timelf ... It seems in general to reflect the wide-ranging and many-sided characters of its subject ...and does so with clarity and learning. Any student intent upon engaging in research on an aspect of the field of early Christian studies would do well to start here ... in the company of distinguished scholars in thoughtful mode. (James Carleton Paget, Journal of Ecclesiastical History)

The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies stems from the rich scholarly tradition of Oxford and features within a handbook series devoted to a plenitude of scientific topics and in which various domains of history, theology and religious sciences are already covered ... impressive volume ... a must for all beginners and a quick reference for specialists in the field. (A. Dupont, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses)

About the Author

Susan Ashbrook Harvey is Professor of Religious Studies at Brown University. She is the author of "Asceticism and Society in Crisis: John of Ephesus and The Lives of the Eastern Saints" (1990) and coauthor of "Holy Women of the Syrian Orient" (1998), both from UC Press.

Hunter is the Monsignor James A. Supple Professor of Catholic Studies at Iowa State University.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
`Early Christian Studies' have flourished in recent years so this Handbook in the Oxford Series has been long awaited. I have been rather disappointed by the conservatism of some of the other Oxford Handbooks on Christianity but this is the first I have been able to read in depth. I don't know what methods the editors, Susan Ashbrook Harvey and David Hunter, used to get their distinguished authors in line but they did the job exceptionally well. Each essay reviews traditional approaches to its subject, explains present controversies, with good references to the contestants, and explores areas of future research. I was absorbed by the quality and depth of many of the articles. In particular, I felt that, in contrast to the other Handbooks, many students would be enthused with the possibilities of future research. Virtully every theme was shown to be in a state of flux with lots of opportunity for further development. The tone was well set by Karen King's `Which Early Christianity?' In comparison to introductory works on theology which still tend to present Nicene orthodoxy as the only defensible solution, this Handbook continually stresses that solutions to theological and liturgical were provisional, swayed by wider social and cultural contexts. For the breadth of approach, variety of subjects, and expert analysis this is a five star introduction.

It seems churlish to introduce some concerns. The editors define their subject as covering the years 100 -600 AD. This is conventional, and the Handbook of Biblical Studies covers the earlier period, but surely students an expect a volume of this title to start with the birth of Jesus, to deal with the earliest Christianity, Paul and the gospel writers.
Read more ›
Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8a103948) out of 5 stars 4 reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89db0450) out of 5 stars The new go-to reference for early Christianity 2 Nov. 2011
By bibliophile - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This handbook is phenomenal! The text addresses standard subjects while updating these topics with the latest scholarship in the field of early Christian studies. In both breadth and depth the articles in this volume provide a wide variety of points of view and employ a plethora of methodologies that are currently used in religious studies scholarship, as well as other fields in the humanities and the social sciences. All of the article authors are top scholars in their fields of study, so the quality of content and writing is superb. As a Ph.D. student who works in the field of early Christian studies, I can vouch for the indispensability of this handbook.
HASH(0x89db04b0) out of 5 stars Great Collection of Essays 14 July 2016
By L. Wolf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Over the last ten years, I have read a number of volumes in the Oxford Handbook series either in whole or in part. Although a few of these volumes were disappointing, most have been good, and some have been truly excellent. The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies is one of the best that I have read, and I would strongly recommend it to anyone with a serious interest in the subject. The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies contains dozens of chapters on Byzantium and Byzantine studies by leading experts in the field. There are 961 pages of text, two helpful appendices (one that lists Byzantine and relevant non-Byzantine rulers, and another that lists patriarchs and popes), and a detailed index. To come clean, I did not read every chapter in the book, but I read most of them, and some I read several times. My interest in the volume was threefold. First, I recently converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, and I wanted to learn more about the role of the Byzantine Empire in the development of Orthodox Christianity. Second, I am a professor of philosophy and religious studies, and I wanted to deepen my understanding of the mutual impact that Byzantium and Islam had on one another. After reading a number of monographs and articles on the Arab conquests by experts on early Islam and Sasanian Persia over the last few months, I thought that it might be helpful to approach the topic from the Byzantine point of view. I was not disappointed. Third, I caught a mild form of the “Byzantine bug” from a class on Byzantium that I had as an undergraduate student at NYU. It was in fact my favorite class in college, and I continued to read books on Byzantium until graduation. Unfortunately, after starting my PhD program in philosophy, I had little time for Byzantium, and the subject gradually receded from my ken. Still, I always knew that I would return to it someday, and so I did. When I picked up The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, it was like meeting an old friend for coffee. Hopefully, we will have more time to meet in the future.

Without further ado, let me say a few words about the book. It would be impossible for me to analyze the contents of all the chapters that I read. Instead, I will provide a brief overview of the main sections of the book and then make a few brief comments about a handful of chapters. The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies comprises four main sections: “Part I: The Discipline,” which contains chapters on topics ranging from primary sources and archeology to epigraphy and numismatics; “Part II: The Physical World,” which contains chapters on political geography, population, buildings, and agriculture, as well as other topics; “Part III: Institutions and Relationships,” which contains a number of chapters on the emperor, the state, the church, society, “the spiritual world,” art, language, education, and related subjects; and, “Part IV: The World Around Byzantium,” which contains two chapters, one by James Howard-Johnston entitled “Byzantium and Its Neighbours,” and one by Cyril Mango entitled “Byzantium’s Role in World History.” I found every chapter that I read to be edifying and interesting, but some deserve special praise. These include the two chapters by Howard-Johnston and Mango that I just mentioned, as well as the following: Clarence Gallagher’s chapters on the early councils and relations between the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches; Liz James’ chapter on women; Geoffrey Horrocks’ chapter on language; Andrew Louth’s chapters on Byzantine theology and theological literature; Nigel Wilson’s chapter on Greek palaeography; Todd Hickey’s chapter on papyrology; and John Haldon’s chapters on the state (“Structures and Adminstration”) and the army. Anthony Bryer’s chapter on food and wine was delightful, but one wishes that more evidence had survived; as it is, the ability of historians to reconstruct the dietary habits of Byzantines is rather limited. Some chapters are so specialized that their usefulness will probably be rather limited for both experts and non-experts alike. I include Robert Taft’s chapter on liturgy in this category, though I should mention that Taft has written a number of solid books on Byzantine liturgy.

For those who have never read a book on Byzantium before, The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies is probably not a good introduction to the subject. However, non-specialists with some background can find a nice overview of Byzantine political history in four survey chapters by Geoffrey Greatrex, John Haldon, Catherine Homes, and Angeliki Laiou. Together, these chapters explain the main events and trends in Byzantine’s political history (both domestic and foreign) in roughly sixty pages. Readers who desire a short but analytically rigorous political history of Byzantium will find these chapters immensely helpful, though I would also recommend that they read the chapter by Mark Whittow on geography and the chapter by Dionysios Stathakopoulos entitled “Population, Demography, and Disease,” to which Alan Harvey’s chapter on the economy and Haldon’s previously mentioned chapter on the state could be added.

There is much more that I could say about The Oxford Handbook of Byzantine Studies, but I think that I have already said enough to give potential readers a decent sense of the volume. In closing, I will share four thoughts. First, although the volume is incredibly detailed in its historical coverage, there were a few events, such as the Battle of Manzikert (1071) and its aftermath, that arguably deserved more attention. Second, while I have studied early church history in some detail, I learned a number of important things from the volume, including some things that were disturbing to me as a newly minted Orthodox Christian. Indeed, I have been given much to ponder, and for that I am most grateful, despite being perplexed. Third, the volume does a nice job of explaining the complex history of relations between Byzantium and the various Islamic empires that bordered it. Fourth, the volume explodes a number of popular misconceptions about history, such as that the Ottomans were entirely responsible for the demise of Byzantium (internal mismanagement and European enemies were also significant factors), or that the so-called heresy of Nestorianism was both espoused by Nestorios himself and widely embraced by many Christians in the East. The only serious problem with the volume is its cost – at $175 for the hardcover edition, one can certainly agree with the old adage that knowledge isn’t free!
32 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89db078c) out of 5 stars The Making of Christian Sausage 23 Jan. 2011
By Hawkeye - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Early Christian Studies" is not simply a description of the contents of this handbook; it is a new discipline, which attempts to supplant the older "patristics." As Duke Professor Elizabeth Clark explains in her contribution, "From Patristics to Early Christian Studies," in the late twentieth century "the term `patristics' fell increasingly into disuse, taken as a sign of ecclesiasticism, maleness, and `orthodoxy,' from which some scholars wished to dissociate themselves" (14). The new discipline is practiced by feminists, deconstructionists, postmodernists, critical theorists, and other varieties of the politically correct post-Marxist left.

There is, of course, nothing inherently leftwing in the study of how Christian "sausage" is made. So, for example, sociologist Peter Berger (not a contributor to this work) has written a good deal about the worldly functions of supernatural religion, most notably THE SACRED CANOPY. Yet, precisely because empirical studies of religion are not held back by concerns for orthodoxy and reverence, they can keep religion honest. In Berger's view, Christianity does not require or benefit from deception (including self-deception). On the contrary, as he remarked in one of his earliest works, sociology is the "profane auxiliary of the Christian faith." Berger thinks that there is such a thing as Christianity and that it is true (though not, of course, empirically verifiable). So does C. S. Lewis (MERE CHRISTIANITY).

But Harvard Professor of Divinity Karen King in her contribution, "Which Early Christianity?," writes "Essentializing categories tend to reify the complex, overlapping, multifarious clusters of material that constitute the continually shifting, interactive forms of early Christian meaning-making and social belonging into homogeneous, stable, well-bounded theological or sociological formations" (71). Without explicitly denying that there is such a thing as Christianity, her extreme deconstructive nominalism leaves no room for it. And, as fellow contributor Antti Marjanen notes in his article on "Gnosticism" (the scare quotes are his), King is explicit in denying that there is such a thing as "Gnosticism" (209).

I find it amusing that Marjanen, who happens to be a Professor of Gnosticism at the University of Helsinki, concludes his somewhat deferential narrative on the latest deconstructive bull (double entendre intended) by making a modest plea for the retention of the concept of Gnosticism, suitably redefined. In short, Marjanen does not think we are faced with the choice of using inerrant concepts or committing ourselves to a career of debunking those who do. He writes, "Although typological definitions [of Gnosticism] are reached by making observations on a certain set of ancient religious texts, they serve as overarching theoretical models which are assigned to understand and explain individual features in various 'gnostic' texts and groups representing the 'gnostic' religion" (206). Another name for "overarching theoretical models" is stereotypes. Whether the motto of Early Christian Studies is "don't stereotype" or "don't conceptualize," the advice seems either trivial or mistaken. By the way, I would not cynically accuse Marjanen of simply trying to protect his job. It is much more plausible to view his interest in ("actually existing"!) Gnosticism as the reason he went into the field in the first place. Yes, we see through a glass, darkly, but that doesn't mean that our "socially constructed" concepts refer to nothing. As Berger counsels, don't forget that our religious "projections" may also be reflections (of reality).

I cannot read this handbook without finding a good deal of value-- but that has much more to do with the reported empirical research findings than the "overarching theoretical model" of the editors. My background in this field is not strong-- I took a course in "Early Church Fathers" at a time when that title did not yet cause feminists to throw up. Here I was expecting a handbook of Christian Early Christian Studies, but I am grateful for the manual of Christian sausage-making, which can have soteriological significance for those who know where to hold their nose.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x89db0684) out of 5 stars Five Stars 2 Jan. 2015
By Andrew Podolak - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
excellent reference book
Were these reviews helpful? Let us know