The First One Hundred Years of Christianity

An Introduction to Its History, Literature, and Development

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Beginning as a marginal group in Galilee, the movement initiated by Jesus of Nazareth became a world religion within 100 years. Why, among various religious movements, did Christianity succeed? This major work by internationally renowned scholar Udo Schnelle traces the historical, cultural, and theological influences and developments of the early years of the Christian movement. It shows how Christianity provided an intellectual framework, a literature, and socialization among converts that led to its enduring influence. Senior New Testament scholar James Thompson offers a clear, fluent English translation of the successful German edition.

Contents

1. On Writing a History of Origins
1.1 History as Interpretation of the Present and the Past
1.2 History and Method
2. Definition and Demarcation of the Epoch
2.1 Primitive Christianity or Early Christianity?
2.2 The Chronological Framework
3. Presuppositions and Contexts
3.1 Hellenism as a World Culture
3.2 Greco-Roman Culture
3.3 Judaism
3.4 The Political and Economic Situation in the Roman Empire in the First and Second Centuries CE
4. The New Movement of Christ-Believers
4.1 The Easter Events
4.2 The Origin of Christology
4.3 The Founder of a New Discourse and New Thinking
5. The Jerusalem Church
5.1 The Beginnings
5.2 Groups and Persons
5.3 Places: The Temple
5.4 Conflicts
5.5 Theological Institutions and Discourse
5.6 Texts: The Passion Narrative
5.7 The Theological Development of the Early Jerusalem Church
6. Early Churches and Early Mission outside of Jerusalem
6.1 Contexts: Mobility and Religious-Philosophical Variety in the Roman Empire
6.2 Persons
6.3 Groups: The Jesus Movement
6.4 Lands and Places
6.5 Competitors and Conflicts
6.6 The Development of the Community's Own Cult Praxis and Theology/the First Forms of Institutionalization
6.7 Texts
6.8 The First Missionary Journey and the Mission to the Gentiles without the Requirement of Circumcision
6.9 The Three Great Currents at the Beginning
7. The Apostolic Conference
7.1 The Initial Conflict
7.2 The Essential Problem
7.3 The Process
7.4 The Result
7.5 Interpretations of the Outcome
7.6 The Incident at Antioch
8. The Independent Mission of Paul
8.1 Perspective, Process, and Conflicts
8.2 Persons
8.3 Structures
8.4 External Discourse
8.5 Internal Discourse
8.6 Theology in Letter Form: The Pauline Letters
8.7 Paul and the Development of Early Christianity as an Independent Movement
9. The Crisis of Early Christianity around 70 CE
9.1 The Deaths of Peter, Paul, and James and the First Persecutions
9.2 The Destruction of the Temple, the Fall of the Jerusalem Church, and the Fiscus Judaicus
9.3 The Rise of the Flavians
9.4 The Writing of the Gospels and Pseudepigraphy as Innovative Responses to Crises
10. The Establishment of Early Christianity
10.1 A New Genre for a New Era: The Gospels
10.2 The Synoptic Gospels and Acts as Master Narratives
10.3 The Continuing Legacy of Paul
10.4 Johannine Christianity as the Fourth Great Current (Stream)
10.5 Jewish Christianity as an Abiding Power
10.6 Perceptions by Outsiders
11. Dangers and Threats
11.1 The Delay of the Parousia
11.2 Poor and Rich
11.3 Controversies/False Teachers/Opponents
11.4 Structures and Offices
11.5 Conflicts with Judaism after 70 CE
12. Persecutions of Christians and the Imperial Cult
12.1 The Imperial Cult as a Political Religion
12.2 Persecution under Nero
12.3 Persecution under Domitian?
12.4 Pliny and Trajan concerning Christianity
13. Early Christianity as an Independent Movement
13.1 The New Narrative and the New Language of the Christians
13.2 New Perspectives about God
13.3 Serving as a Model of Success
13.4 Early Christianity as a Religion of the City and of Education
13.5 The Major Theological Currents and Networks near the End of the First Century
13.6 The Expansion of Early Christianity
14. The Transition to the Ancient Church
14.1 Claims to Power and Established Structures
14.2 The Emergence of Another Message: Early Gnosticism
15. Fifteen Reasons for the Success of Early Christianity
Works Cited
Indexes


The Authors

  1. Udo Schnelle

    Udo Schnelle

    Udo Schnelle (DrTheol, University of Göttingen) is professor of New Testament at the University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany. He is the author of numerous highly acclaimed works, including Theology of the New Testament and History and Theology...

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  2. James W. Thompson

    James W. Thompson

    James W. Thompson (PhD, Vanderbilt University) is scholar in residence at the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. He is the editor of Restoration Quarterly and the author of numerous books, including Moral...

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Reviews

"This volume could be an excellent text book, or volume two at least, for any course on the beginnings of Christianity, a very good example of how a historical study of the period should be undertaken."

James D. G. Dunn,

Journal of Ecclesiastical History