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Christian Theology and Its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire
Prolegomena to a History of Early Christian Theology
By Christoph Markschies Edited by Wayne Coppins and Simon Gathercole Translated by Wayne Coppins
Tension between unity and diversity plagues any attempt to recount the development of earliest Christianity. Explanations run the gamut—from asserting the presence of a fully formed and accepted unity at the beginning of Christianity to the hypothesis that understands orthodox unity as a later imposition upon Christianity by Rome. In Christian Theology and Its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire, Christoph Markschies seeks to unravel the complex problem of unity and diversity by carefully examining the institutional settings for the development of Christian theology. Specifically, Markschies contends that theological diversity is closely bound up with institutional diversity.
Markschies clears the ground by tracing how previous studies fail to appreciate the critical role that diverse Christian institutions played in creating and establishing the very theological ideas that later came to define them. He next examines three distinct forms of institutional life—the Christian institutions of (higher) learning, prophecy, and worship—and their respective contributions to Christianity's development. Markschies then focuses his attention on the development of the New Testament canon, demonstrating how different institutions developed their own respective “canons,” while challenging views that assign a decisive role to Athanasius, Marcion, or the Gnostics. Markschies concludes by arguing that the complementary model of the “identity” and “plurality” of early Christianity is better equipped to address the question of unity and diversity than Walter Bauer’s cultural Protestant model of “orthodoxy and heresy” or the Jesuit model of the “inculturation” of Christianity.
“Christian Theology and Its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire is one of the most important books on early Christianity published in the last twenty years. Christoph Markschies lays the groundwork for an innovative history of pre-Nicene theology that takes into account both unity and diversity. Thanks to this excellent translation, even more scholars and students will learn from this exciting study."
—David Brakke, Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History, The Ohio State University
"The translation of Christoph Markschies’ Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen into English is to be warmly welcomed, both to introduce anglophone readers to a tradition of scholarship, and to provoke a wider discussion of how we may after all speak of early Christian theology."
—Judith Lieu, Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge
"Rejecting a ‘history-of-ideas’ approach to the development of Christian theology in the second and third centuries, Markschies explores how the institutional contexts in which theologizing took place shaped the ‘plural identity’ of ancient Christianity. A significant attempt to move beyond the framework of ‘orthodoxy and heresy’ in early Christian studies."
—Elizabeth A. Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor, Emerita, Duke University
Christoph Markschies is Chair of Ancient Christianity at the Humboldt University and Vice President of Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
Wayne Coppins is Associate Professor of Religion at The University of Georgia.
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Other books by:
Books in Series:
Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity
Christian Theology and Its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire - Prolegomena to a History of Early Christian Theology
From Jesus to the New Testament - Early Christian Theology and the Origin of the New Testament Canon
The Gospel According to Luke - Volume I (1-9:50)
Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew