Which Early Christianity?

Karen L. King

in The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Studies

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199271566
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Which Early Christianity?

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  • Religion
  • Christianity
  • Religion in the Ancient World


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It would seem that the questions ‘Which Christianity?’ and ‘Whose Christianity?’ were posed very early, even before the gospels and most of the New Testament literature had been composed, and at a time when the number of believers must have been very small indeed. Throughout the history of Christianity, diverse beliefs and practices would ebb and flow on the tides of historical change and conflict, navigating and sometimes floundering with ever-shifting geographical, social-political, and cultural contexts as Christianity expanded from a tiny movement to a global religion. The question is how to represent this ever-shifting diversity adequately. This problem has become increasingly urgent owing to several factors, prominent among them the rise of critical historical methodologies and new frameworks for the study of early Christianity; astonishing discoveries of previously unknown ancient texts from Egypt; and questions arising from new contexts, especially from ecumenism and the realities of local and global pluralisms.

Keywords: New Testament; Christianity; global religion; historical methodologies; Egypt; global pluralisms

Article.  8466 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religion in the Ancient World

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