The first three centuries of the early church were a period of struggle, transition and growth. Recent attempts by historians and social scientists to understand this era have produced various and conflicting accounts. Indeed, some have sought to overturn the former consensus regarding which texts provide reliable evidence and how they should be interpreted. In this book, Paul McKechnie, a classical scholar, examines some key issues in the current debate. Which ancient sources are reliable? What was the social makeup of the early Christian movement? What can we determine about the growth rate and persecution of first-century Christians? What do we know about the second generation of Christians? Can we gain historical perspective on the diversity that traveled under the name Christian in the early centuries? The value of this study lies not in providing a comprehensive narrative of the origins and growth of the early church. It lies in critically examining key historical issues in sustained conversation with contemporary scholarship and the ancient sources. McKechnie will be valued by both students and scholars of early Christianity as an intelligent and informed companion who offers repeated and valuable insights into theis critical era of Christian beginnings.
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