In Stone and Story

Early Christianity in the Roman World

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Chapter 17: Piety & Pragmatism

Class Activities

The issue of how early believers ought to have interacted with the pagan world regarding meals and pagan worship is fraught with complexities and nuances. Split the class into two groups and have a debate, one group taking the position that “pagan gods are nothing, so we can eat whatever we want,” and the other group taking the position that “spiritual powers are real and ubiquitous, and anything devoted to a pagan deity ought to be avoided.”

Discussion Questions

  1. How does piety in the ancient pagan world differ from modern piety where you are from? How is it similar? What aspects of modern piety correspond to the lares of the ancient world?
  2. People wanted to be seen to show homage to various lares and deities. Why was this the case? How does this differ from modern worshipers today? In what ways is it similar?
  3. What may have been contentious about the prominence of women in important roles within early Jesus groups? How does this differ from a modern Christian experience? How is it similar?