What Made Early Christianity Different?
On Monday (19th) I head off to Hong Kong to give the Josephine So Lectures in China Graduate School of Theology. My topic for these (four) lectures is “What Made Early Christianity Different in the Roman World?” For a few years now, I’ve been wanting to get time to write a book-length discussion of this question, and the invitation to give these lectures has allowed me the opportunity to get it going.
The first lecture will address relevant issues in the current scholarly context and indicate how I aim to deal with the question, giving illustrations of why it’s valid. In each of the remaining three lectures I’ll focus on some aspect of early Christianity that I contend made it unusual in the Roman world. In lecture two, I propose that early Christianity advocated a distinctive pattern of religious belief and practice. Lecture three focuses on the distinctive religious identity advocated in early Christianity. In lecture three, I focus on early Christianity as a “bookish” religion, among other things emphasizing the remarkable place of texts in the young religious movement.
It’s my aim across 2015 to add discussion of some additional features of early Christianity, with a view to completing the book by the end of the year. I’ll be interested to see what the folks in Hong Kong make of these lectures.