Saturday, April 28, 2018

Review of Esler (ed.), The Early Christian World, 2nd ed.

BRYN MAYR CLASSICAL REVIEW: Philip Francis Esler (ed.), The Early Christian World, 2nd ed. Routledge worlds. London; New York: Routledge, 2017. Pp. 1250. ISBN 9781351678292. $235.00. Reviewed by Ine Jacobs, University College, Oxford (
This volume is the revised edition of the original Early Christian World (ECW) published in 2000. Like the 2000 version, it is a treasure trove for all things related to the origins of early Christianity, the scriptures, early Christian controversies, and the most influential early Christian figures. Considering the many insights gained in the 17 years since the publication of the first edition, the adoption of new methodologies and development of new research foci, an update was urgently needed. In addition to chapter updates, 11 articles have been revised and another 11 have been newly added, ensuring that about one quarter of this second edition is new. Some of the added chapters deal with prominent individuals (chapter 52 on Pachomius the Great and chapter 55 on Gregory of Nyssa), whereas also Manichaeism (chapter 46) now is given a place next to gnosticism, Montanism, Donatism and Arianism (chapters 42 to 45). Other new contributions reflect the growing scholarly attention to matters such as interactions between Christians and non-Christians (for instance chapter 11, “Jewish and Christian interactions from the first to the fifth centuries”), the increasing interest in non-literary sources (chapter 23, “Christian realia: papyrological and epigraphical material”) and the growing appreciation of hagiography as a historical source (chapter 25, “Saints and hagiography”). In addition, a chapter on ritual (chapter 21, “Ritual and the rise of the early Christian movement”) results from the recognition in modern-day anthropology and religious studies that religion is not only about doctrine and immaterial belief and ideas, but also tangible practices.


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