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Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts

  • Format:Digital


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This fascinating and lively book provides the first comprehensive discussion of the production, circulation, and use of books in early Christianity. It explores the extent of literacy in early Christian communities; the relation in the early church between oral tradition and written materials; the physical form of early Christian books; how books were produced, transcribed, published, duplicated, and disseminated; how Christian libraries were formed; who read the books, in what circumstances, and to what purposes.

Harry Y. Gamble interweaves practical and technological dimensions of the production and use of early Christian books with the social and institutional history of the period. Drawing on evidence from papyrology, codicology, textual criticism, and early church history, as well as on knowledge about the bibliographical practices that characterized Jewish and Greco-Roman culture, he offers a new perspective on the role of books in the first five centuries of the early church.

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  • Examines literacy within early Christian communities
  • Explores the dynamic between oral tradition and the written word
  • Seeks to provide insight on how books were created and circulated in the times of early Christians
This is an impressive piece of work. . . . Among the book’s many merits is its cross-disciplinary character, and scholars of antiquity across many disciplines will consult with profit Gamble’s substantial contribution to a clearer understanding of early Christianity.

Micheal W. Holmes, Journal of the American Oriental Society

For the bibliophile, Gamble’s journey into the bookish culture of the first 500 years A.D. is nothing less than fascinating. . . . Though not written in a popular style, Books and Readers in the Early Church is an eminently readable work of scholarship and a major contribution to bibliography. Gamble has amply demonstrated that the culture of the book has played an incalculable role in the birth of Christianity and in keeping alive from century to century the story of an obscure birth that changed the world.

David Lindsey, Austin American-Statesman

This is a clear, informative, and interesting study. Historians of the Middle Ages will find the background for medieval developments highly interesting, but students of early Christian texts will find this to be an invaluable handbook. This is especially so, given the focus here on what has long been neglected.

Susan P. Millinger, The Historian

This is scholarship at its best, and Gamble is particularly to be commended for resisting the recent tendency among specialists toward disciplinary isolationism. . . . The result is a work that benefits students and scholars in a variety of disciplines. . . . An outstanding book.

S. Craig Churchill, Libraries and Culture

  • Title: Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts
  • Author: Harry Gamble
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Print Publication Date: 09/03/1997
  • Pages: 352
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Reader Edition
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2021-01-05T22:01:12Z

In the Logos Reader Edition, this volume is enhanced to best fit the content. Scripture references are hand-tagged to integrate with powerful functionality in Logos Bible Software. Page milestones and internal citation tagging provide accurate points of reference. Search important words across resources 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 tools for reading digital content are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.

Harry Gamble Jr. is Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.


Digital list price: $27.99
Save $10.00 (35%)

Gathering interest