The world in which early Christianity developed consisted of a complex of distinct communities and cultural "layers", which interacted with one another, sometimes co-operatively, and sometimes in confrontation. This text explores this world through the life of the apostle Paul, examining the three fundamental cultural "layers": the native cultures; the common Hellenistic culture which had been spread in the east as a result of the conquests of Alexander; and the culture of the political overlord, Rome and how Paul, as a Jew, a Greek-speaker and a Roman citizen, participates in all of these "layers". The authors give an account of the places Paul visited, showing their historical, cultural and political differences and discuss the varied categories, such as religion, philosophy and language, which constituted identity. The text presents an insight into the complexities of the early Christian world, arguing that the journeys of Paul are an example of the social, political and cultural heterogeneity of that world.
Richard Wallace is a lecturer in the Department of Classics at Keele University and the treasurer of the Classical Association. Wynne Williams retired from teaching ancient history at Keele University in 1991. He is co-author, with Richard Wallace, of The Acts of the Apostles: A Companion (1993).