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April 2015 Vol. 52 No. 8

Baker Academic


The following review appeared in the April 2015 issue of CHOICE:

Religion
52-4150
BR145
2014-20859 CIP
Early Christianity in contexts: an exploration across cultures and continents, ed. by William Tabbernee. Baker Academic, 2014. 602p bibl indexes ISBN 9780801031267, $42.99.

In this book, early “material evidence” gives information about the origins of Christianity in particular areas, providing physical and cultural contexts for the specific kinds of Christianity found in those places.  Entries on ten geographic areas are written by experts and lavishly illustrated to bring up-to-date archaeological findings into reach.  Each chapter contributor surveys features of a region prior to the introduction of Christianity, considering the area's geography, politics, economics, agriculture, social patterns, and (especially) religious thought and practice.  Then, drawing on a wide range of material culture findings—coins, inscriptions, mosaics, remnants of church buildings, and many other artifacts—a team of expert historians assembled by Tabbernee (director, Oklahoma Conferences of Churches) reconstructs the region’s specific form of Christianity. The chapters, each designating a region, include "The Roman Near East," "The World of the Nile," "Roman North Africa," "The Balkan Peninsula," and "Italy and Environs."  The book makes for fascinating reading, introducing highly intriguing dimensions of the ways early Christianity developed in the specific contexts in which it was variously set.  This volume is a splendid technical resource, highly recommended for both scholars and those searching for an engaging way to enter into the diverse nature of early Christianity.

--D. K. McKim, Memphis Theological Seminary

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.