Klauck has written a college-level reference to the religious practices that were common and widespread at the inception of Christianity. He examines antiquarian sacrificial cults; popular belief systems of the day—astrology, magic and soothsaying; the imperial cult worship of rulers and emperors; and Gnostic transformation. The Religious Context of Early Christianity is a scholarly researched and meticulously presented reference work, which is a welcome addition to Christian studies in that it provides contextual information regarding Christianity’s place in the Graeco-Roman empire.
Klauck’s approach is to select the material most important for the students of early Christianity. . . . One can say without hesitation that the author has succeeded admirably in his attempt at compressing vast fields of complicated materials into a survey that is both manageable and informative. His key to success was concentration on matters of fundamental importance and prudent selection of primary texts, coupled with interpretation and bibliographies reflecting the current state of research. . . . Klauck’s work represents a major achievement.
—Hans Dieter Betz, Journal of Biblical Literature