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Unisa Press

from jesus christ to christianity

early christian literature in context

Edited by Gerhard van den Heever and Eben Scheffler

Where and when did Christianity begin? What role did Jesus of Nazareth play in the origins of Christianity? Where does early Christian literature fit into this?

The popular picture of Christian origins seems to dictate obvious answers to these seemingly elementary questions. Historical reflection and scholarship during the past two centuries have convincingly demonstrated that all is not so simple.

Christianity might be a religion of the Book. It might also be a religion of a person. Viewed historically, however, the link between Jesus Christ and Christianity is not as secure as might seem at first glance. Early Christian literature, too,does not provide immediate access to the origins of Christianity or the person of Jesus Christ.

Rather, early Christian discourse presents an astonishing variety of religious imaginings of social formation and world making, in the course of which Christian culture and images of Jesus Christ were constructed in dialogue with social and cultural contexts.

From Jesus Christ to Christianity. Early Christian Literature in Context is therefore a book about contexts: contexts of book, person and religion.

The work

  • presents a concise, yet comprehensive, survey of the Graeco-Roman context and cultural frameworks from which Christianity was born

  • includes a survey of the historical figure of Jesus and the scholarly constructions of him

  • offers a comprehensive survey of early Christian literature in its contexts: from the earliest Jesus traditions to the end of the second century, showing the ‘multiple births of Christianity’ – woven together from different traditions and cultural strands – finally, to become the main stream, orthodox, yet very diverse and multiform, Christianity of the fourth century.


A unique and ground-
breaking study of:
  • the origins and creation of early Christianity

  • historical Jesus and the scholarly constructs about him

  • the matrix of early Christian literature in its contexts

The content – which extends beyond the New Testament to hidden material excluded 
from the Bible – encourages one to correlate and integrate phenomena in the New Testament writings in a 
manner that is appropriate
and instructive for the twenty-first century.


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Item 6801
Soft cover 2002 
240 pp with photographs 

ISBN 1 86888 196 2 
SA price R99,00 (VAT incl)
Other countries in Africa R121.80 (airmail incl)
Overseas US$13.80 or GB£9.50 (airmail incl)