This text presents an examination of how a small movement formed around Jesus in Galilee became the pre-eminent religion of the ancient world. The volume begins by firmly situating early Christianity within its Mediterranean social, political and religious contexts, before charting the history of the first Christian centuries. The creation and perpetuation of Christian communities through means including mission and monasticism is then explored, as is the everyday experience of early Christians, through discussion of gender and sexuality, religious practice, communication and social structures. The intellectual (particularly theological) and artistic heritage of the period is considered, and a picture provided of the internal and external challenges faced by early Christianity. The book concludes with profiles of the most notable figures of the age.
Philip F. Esler is Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. He has written extensively on social-scientific approaches to biblical interpretation.