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Stoicism in Early Christianity
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Stoicism in Early Christianity

by , ,

Baker Academic 2010

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How usefully do distinctly Stoic ideas illuminate the meaning of first- and second-century Christian texts? This book suggests that early Christians—the authors of New Testament and noncanonical writings, including some early apologies—were often more influenced by Stoicism than by Middle Platonism. This insight sheds an entirely new light on the relationship between philosophy and religion at the birth of Christianity. The book will appeal to scholars, graduate students, and libraries interested in New Testament studies and the early church.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and 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.

Key Features

  • Examines the Christian movement within the context of the Greco-Roman world
  • Discusses the relationship between philosophy and religion at the birth of Christianity
  • Argues that Christian thought influenced stoicism foundations more prominently than previously thought


  • “Setting the Scene: Stoicism and Platonism in the Transitional Period in Ancient Philosophy,” by Troels Engberg-Pedersen
  • “Stoicism as a Key to Pauline Ethics in Romans,” by Runar M. Thorsteinsson
  • “Stoic Law in Paul?,” by Niko Huttunen
  • “Jesus the Teacher and Stoic Ethics in the Gospel of Matthew,” by Stanley K. Stowers
  • “An ‘Emotional’ Jesus and Stoic Tradition,” by Harold W. Attridge
  • “The Emotional Jesus: Anti-Stoicism in the Fourth Gospel?,” by Gitte Buch-Hansen
  • “Stoic Physics, the Universal Conflagration, and the Eschatological Destruction of the ‘Ignorant and Unstable’ in 2 Peter,” by J. Albert Harrill
  • “The Stoics and the Early Christians on the Treatment of Slaves,” by John T. Fitzgerald
  • “Facing the Beast: Justin, Christian Martyrdom, and Freedom of the Will,” by Nicola Denzey
  • “A Stoic Reading of the Gospel of Mary: The Meaning of ‘Matter’ and ‘Nature’ in Gospel of Mary 7.1–8.11,” by Esther de Boer
  • “Stoic Traditions in the School of Valentinus,” by Ismo Dunderberg
  • “Critical Reception of the Stoic Theory of Passions in the Apocryphon of John,” by Takashi Onuki
  • “Stoic Ingredients in the Neoplatonic Being-Life-Mind Triad: An Original Second-Century Gnostic Innovation?,” by Tuomas Rasimus

Praise for the Print Edition

This important collection of essays will be of interest to all those concerned with seeing the early Christian movement within the broader context of the Greco-Roman world. The focus on Stoicism here opens valuable new insights into aspects of early Christianity and will be a major stimulus for future research.

Christopher Tuckett, professor of New Testament studies, Pembroke College, University of Oxford

This volume, a virtual compendium of important Stoic teaching, clearly illumines—through close and careful textual study—the original significance of many passages in early Christian texts that deal with personal and communal conduct, the nature of Christian freedom, mastery of the emotions, the importance of embodied life and moral progress, the relation between human freedom and divine providence, and the tension between the divine immanence and transcendence of the created order. Individually and collectively, this set of essays brings to our awareness the distinctive contribution to Christian thought of an often overlooked school of ancient thought.

—John D. Turner, professor of religious studies, University of Nebraska

This is a book for which we have been longing for many decades! The relationship between Platonism and Christianity has dominated academic debates while the influence of Stoicism has been largely neglected. This volume deftly treats all relevant areas in which Stoic influences may shape early Christian theology and in so doing transcends the Judaism/Hellenism divide.

—Samuel Vollenwieder, chair of New Testament studies, Universität Zürich

Product Details

About the Editors

Tuomas Rasimus is a research fellow in the department of biblical studies at the University of Helsinki and at the Institut d’études anciennes, Université Laval. He is the author of Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking: Rethinking Sethianism in Light of the Ophite Evidence.

Troels Engberg-Pedersen is professor of New Testament in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author or editor of 11 books and more than 100 articles.

Ismo Dunderberg is a professor of New Testament studies at the University of Helsinki. He is the author or editor of four books and numerous articles in the field of early Christian literature.

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