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Early Christian Families in Context: An Interdisciplinary Dialogue

, 2003
ISBN: 9780802839862


Digital list price: $39.50
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Typical studies of marriage and family in the early Christian period focus on very limited evidence found in Scripture. This book offers a broader, richer picture of the first Christian families by drawing together research by experts ranging from archaeologists to ancient historians.

Exploring the nature of households within the ancient Greco-Roman world, the contributors assemble a new understanding of ancient Christian families that is both compelling and instructive. The book covers key aspects of ancient family life, from meals and childrearing to women's roles and the lives of slaves. Three concluding chapters explore the implications of all this information for theological education today.

Key Features

  • Presents an experienced set of contributors from a wide collection of perspectives
  • Lays outs new insights into the structure of the early church
  • Edited by two leading scholars on Christianity in the 1st and 2nd centuries


  • Archaeology of Domus and Insulae
    • Domus and Insulae in Rome: Families and Housefuls” by Andrew Wallace-Hadrill
    • “Material and Social Environment of Greco-Roman Households in the East: The Case of Hellenistic Delos” by Monika Trümper
    • “The Problems of Gendered Space in Syro-Palestinian Domestic Architecture: The Case of Roman-Period Galilee” by Eric M. Meyers
  • Domestic Values: Equality, Suffering
    • “The Language of Equality in Early Christian House Churches: A Constructivist Approach” by Peter Lampe
    • “Paul’s Portrait of Christ Crucified (Gal. 3:1) in Light of Paintings and Sculptures of Suffering and Death in Pompeiian and Roman Houses” by David L. Balch
  • Women
    • “Sex and the Married Woman in Ancient Rome” by Suzanne Dixon
    • “Typical and Atypical Family Dynamics: The Cases of Babatha and Berenice” by Ross S. Kraemer
    • “Was Celsus Right? The Role of Women in the Expansion of Early Christianity” by Margaret Y. MacDonald
    • “Women, Slaves, and the Economy of the Roman Household” by Richard Saller
  • Slaves
    • “Slave Families and Slaves in Families” by Dale B. Martin
    • “The Domestic Enemy: A Moral Polarity of Household Slaves in Early Christian Apologies and Martyrdoms” by J. Albert Harrill
    • “Female Slaves, Porneia, and the Limits of Obedience” by Carolyn Osiek
  • Children
    • “Death, Burial, and Commemoration of Children in Roman Ital” by Beryl Rawson
    • “Desperately Different? Delicia Children in the Roman Household” by Christian Lae
  • Implications for Theological Education
    • “Theological Education, the Bible, and History: Détente in the Culture Wars” by Amy-Jill Levine
    • “Theological Education and the Analogical Imagination” by Timothy F. Sedgwick
    • “Why Family Matters for Early Christian Literature” by Margaret M. Mitchell

Praise for the Print Edition

The ancient family in Judaism, in Christianity, and in the classical world is one of the most exciting areas of current research. This book marks an important contribution to the subject in that it demonstrates the value of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of family life in these diverse yet integrally related areas. Those of us who are used to working primarily with texts will find the work of the archaeologists to be illuminating; classicists and historians of early Judaism and Christianity will benefit from the contributions from within and outside their specific fields of expertise. Yet this volume is not only relevant to those interested in the ancient family; it also has contemporary resonances. It shows that diversity in family structures is not just a recent phenomenon that some bemoan and others celebrate but, rather, that the family and the household have long been fluid social structures that adjust, expand, and contract under a variety of circumstances. The book also challenges long-held assumptions about the household segregation of women and their activity in the development of the early church, among other issues. The literary, historical, and archaeological insights are rounded out by several studies that address contemporary concerns directly and productively. A fine collection.

—Adele Reinhartz, professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa, Canada

Hardly any issue is more central to the social history of early Christianity than understanding the structure and character of the ancient household. This fine collection of diverse but richly complementary studies moves the discussion of that topic significantly forward.

—Wayne A. Meeks, Woolsey Prof Emeritus Religious Studies at Yale University

While tightly focused on 'family,' these broad-ranging studies gather their evidence in suggestively creative ways. The essays move easily and harmoniously between the Roman, Jewish, and Christian worlds in the same way that they bring together literary, archaeological, epigraphic, and theoretical concerns. In considering familial roles of women, men, children, and slaves, this carefully integrated book sheds fresh light on the contexts of early Christian families.

—Peter Richardson, professor of Christian origins at the Centre of the Study of Religion, University of Toronto, Ontario.

Product Details

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by a world-class set of research and study tools. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

About the Editors

Carolyn A. Osiek is professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.

David L. Balch is professor of New Testament at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, California.

Sample Pages from the Print Edition


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    Digital list price: $39.50
    Save $6.51 (16%)