This momentous question has surprisingly eluded the concentrated focus of historians and New Testament scholars. Perhaps it is because the story of early Christian mission encompasses so much of the history of early Christianity. And to tell that history is to traverse a broad spectrum of issues in contemporary New Testament studies, all of which have been investigated in specialized depth, though frequently unconnected to a unified picture.
On the other hand, as Eckhard Schnabel comments, those who have attempted to paint "the portrait of early Christian missions" have "often painted with brush strokes too broad. In this monumental study, Schnabel gives us both a unified and detailed picture of the rise and growth of early Christian mission. He then weighs the evidence for a mission of Jesus to Gentiles.
But the center of focus is the apostolic missionary activity as it is related in Acts, Paul's letters and the rest of the New Testament. Here is a study that seeks to describe all the evidence relevant to the missionary strategy and tactics of the early church, to explain the theological dimensions of the early Christian mission, and to integrate the numerous studies published in the last decades into a synthetic overall picture.
An outline of both is in Volume 1 and the indexes are in Volume 2.
World History and Worldview Studies
There has been no book on this topic of such significance since Harnack's Mission and Expansion over a century ago. Rich in its comprehensive coverage, Dr. Schnabel's book opens windows for the reader, letting in light from the New Testament, from the ancient church, and from the neighbors and rivals of the early church. Not since Adolf von Harnack's classic The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries, published a century ago, has the subject been surveyed in such encyclopedic breadth and depth.
As was the case with its illustrious predecessor, a work of this scope and detail inevitably affords plenty to chew on and to disagree with. But there can be no doubt that readers of every persuasion are in Professor Schnabel's debt for this admirably comprehensive and accessible account of the rise of Christianity. It will become a standard reference work for students of the early church.
Responding in kind to his German forebears, Schnabel argues that the Christian missionary movement began with Jesus himself and, offering his own account of its development, treats both the historical and theological dimensions. The result is an invigorating and thorough study of this relatively neglected, yet fundamentally important, subject. That, however, was not what was going on at ground level.
Finally someone has told the rise of the early churches for what it was: missionary stations intent on spreading the gospel about Jesus Christ. The last century saw only two major works in this field: the classical study of Adolf von Harnack and the smaller, but accessible, study of Michael Green. Aug 17, Matthew Fretwell rated it it was amazing. Same as Vol. Exhaustive and scholarly. Needs to be on every book shelf.
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It goes through the history of the theology of Missions in Judaism and Christianity. Nov 21, Drew Van Gorder rated it liked it. These two books were required reading for one of my seminary courses on the New Testament. They were pretty heady, but they also exhaustively detailed what the first hundred years or so were like for Christians. They also helped to explain why the religion of Christianity spread so quickly throughout antiquity. Chris rated it really liked it Aug 04, Jesse L Richards rated it it was amazing Feb 04, Gregory Linton rated it it was amazing Oct 03, Jason Gish rated it it was amazing Feb 22, Jon rated it it was ok Aug 22, Gordon Walker rated it it was amazing Aug 08, Duke Revard rated it really liked it Sep 29, Kanat Kalmakiev rated it it was amazing Jun 09, JF rated it it was amazing Mar 28, Don Anderson rated it really liked it May 25, Geoff rated it it was amazing Sep 30, Ian Mac rated it liked it Jan 24, Andrew added it Nov 15, Joseph John added it May 08, Jennifer marked it as to-read Sep 02, Sergio Fesiuk marked it as to-read Sep 22, Jonathan marked it as to-read Oct 04, Christopher marked it as to-read Jul 23, Arabicstudent marked it as to-read Aug 04, Stephen McDonald marked it as to-read Nov 12, Enter email address.
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The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Present Day by Justo L. González
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