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The Early Christian Family
Edited by David L. Balch and Carolyn Osiek
From The Publisher:
Typical studies of marriage and family in the early Christian period focus on very limited evidence found in Scripture. This interdisciplinary book offers a broader, richer picture of the first Christian families by drawing together research by experts ranging from archaeologists to ancient historians.
By exploring the nature of households in the ancient Greco-Roman world, the contributors assemble a new understanding of ancient Christian families that is both compelling and instructive. Divided into six parts, the book covers key aspects of ancient family life, from meals and child-rearing to women's roles and the lives of slaves. Three concluding chapters explore the implications of all this information for theological education today.
David L. Balch
The ancient family in Judaism, in Christianity, and in the classical world is one of the most exciting areas of current research. This book marks an important contribution to the subject in that it demonstrates the value of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of family life in these diverse yet integrally related areas. Those of us who are used to working primarily with texts will find the work of the archaeologists to be illuminating; classicists and historians of early Judaism and Christianity will benefit from the contributions from within and outside their specific fields of expertise. Yet this volume is not only relevant to those interested in the ancient family; it also has contemporary resonances. It shows that diversity in family structures is not just a recent phenomenon that some bemoan and others celebrate but, rather, that the family and the household have long been fluid social structures that adjust, expand, and contract under a variety of circumstances. The book also challenges long-held assumptions about the household segregation of women and their activity in the development of the early church, among other issues. The literary, historical, and archaeological insights are rounded out by several studies that address contemporary concerns directly and productively. A fine collection.
Hardly any issue is more central to the social history of early Christianity than understanding the structure and character of the ancient household. This fine collection of diverse but richly complementary studies moves the discussion of that topic significantly forward.
—Wayne A. Meeks
While tightly focused on “family,” these broad-ranging studies gather their evidence in suggestively creative ways. The essays move easily and harmoniously between the Roman, Jewish, and Christian worlds in the same way that they bring together literary, archaeological, epigraphic, and theoretical concerns. In considering familial roles of women, men, children, and slaves, this carefully integrated book sheds fresh light on the contexts of early Christian families.
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About the Editors
David L. Balch is professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. Carolyn Osiek is professor of New Testament at Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas.
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