Friday, July 27, 2012

Social Reality of Early Christianity

Meeks describes the social reality of early Christianity when he writes,

Christians had no shrines, temples, cult statues or sacrifices; they staged no public festivals, musical performances or pilgrimages.  As far as we know, they set up no identifiable inscriptions.  On the other hand, initiation into their cult had social consequences that were more far-reaching than initiation into the cults of familiar gods.  It entailed incorporation into a tightly knit community, a resocialisation that demanded (and in many cases actually received) an allegiance replacing bonds of natural kinship, and a submission to one God and one Lord excluding participation in any other cult.  Moreover, this artificial family undertook to resocialise its members by a continual process of moral instruction and admonition; hardly any aspect of life was excluded from the purview of mutual concern, if we are to believe the writings of the movement’s leaders.  The church thus combined features of household, cult, club, and philosophical school, without being altogether like any of them.[1]

[1] Wayne Meeks, “Social and ecclesial life of the earliest Christians” in Cambridge History of Christianity eds. Margaret M. Mitchell and Francis M. Young (Cambridge, 2008), 152.


Jeremy said...

Thanks for the quotation. Do you know which volume in CHC this is?

Sean said...

Vol. 1. Origins to Constantine. It's the only one edited by Margaret M. Mitchell, Frances M. Young and K. Scott Bowie.


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