Cover image for The early Christian centuries
The early Christian centuries
Rousseau, Philip.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Longman, 2002.
Physical Description:
viii, 333 pages ; 24 cm
Format :


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BR165 .R82 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Charting the first six hundred years of the Christian movement, THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CENTURIES carries the reader from the world of second-temple Judaism to the Byzantine age, the rise of Islam, and the beginnings of medieval European polities.With a combination of rare tact and acuity, Philip Rousseau takes the measure of a generation of scholarship on early Christianity and the late Roman world. He stresses the importance of shifting historical consciousness, the continuity and development of ideas, and the urge for social respectability. Paying the greatest attention to the 'inner' components of Christian life, the resulting story captures fully the major figures: Paul, the gospel writers, the early 'apologists', and the great figures of the 'patristic' age, including the Cappadocian Fathers, Augustine and Gregory the Great.

Author Notes

Philip Rousseau is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Early Christian Studies at the Catholic University of America. He is the author of several titles on Christianity and the ancient world.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Rousseau (Catholic Univ. of America) tells the story of Christianity from Jesus to the time of Muhammad, carefully interpreting his source material in light of the social and historical background of the times. Although there are many church history and history of theology texts available, few engage in the continual dialog with the original sources to the extent that Rousseau does. While Rousseau's mastery of the facts is beyond doubt, many will question some of his interpretations. For example, some scholars will find unconvincing his explanation of the relation between the messages of the Gospels and the message of Paul. Rousseau is undoubtedly correct in his assertion that some will find his assessment of Christian evil too tolerant while others will find his interpretation of Christian motives too harsh. For an excellent analysis of the relationship of Paul to Jesus, see Paul, Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity, by David Wenham (CH, Oct'95). For a more readable history of theology, see The Story of Christian Theology by R.E. Olson (CH, Jul'00). Rousseau's book is well indexed and contains excellent bibliographies after each chapter. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. D. Ingolfsland Crown College

Table of Contents

1 Giving a shape to early Christian history
2 Paul and the Jewish past: an apostle and his world
3 Jesus of Nazareth: portrait of a saviour
4 Individual virtu ate and its social setting
5 Churches as learning communities
6 Heroes and survivors: Christians engage with the world
7 The Christian empire, a contested experiment: Constantine and his successors
8 A crisis of authority
9 An ancient legacy and its post - Roman future
Epilogue: The price of success
Further bibliography notes and acknowledgements