Early Christianity Reading

I started reading up on Early Christianity in the fall of 2011. As I type (August 2013) I’m still in the middle of this, having read through the 4th and 1st and 2nd centuries, in that order. This page is so I can find my posts on this topic more easily. It’s just becoming too hard for me to go back through the blog over the past couple of years by using tags, keywords or my memory. Even though this is mainly for my benefit, I hope readers of this blog will find it useful as well.

This will not contain everything I’ve ever written on Early Christianity, just posts made since November, 2011. Also, there will be posts about associated topics such as paganism, power structures, etc., which I read within the context of this effort. After all, Christianity didn’t start out in a vacuum and I had other things I needed to learn. The most recent posts will be on top.

If you’re interested in the books I’ve read, you can see those through my Library Thing Tag Page. Look for books tagged, “Read 2012” or “Read 2013.” And if you’re reading this page in 2014 and I’m still on this (pretty sure I will be) look for those tags too. There are a few outliers listed but the vast majority of the books with those tags will have been read for this purpose.

  • Posted May 11, 2015: Slavery and Early Christianity Did Christians view slaves any differently from how traditional Romans did? Did this change slavery and slaveholding in the Roman Empire?
  • Posted January 24, 2015: Early Christianity: The Nature of Persecutions If you read many Early Christian sources you’d think that Christians were the target of almost constant persecution. This post offers some of my thoughts on why this probably wasn’t the case and why smaller, localized, sporadic persecutions may have taken place.
  • Posted February 9, 2014: Did Origen Castrate Himself? The story of Origen castrating himself has been told and re-told since the early 4th century. In this post I discuss my thoughts on whether he actually did this.
  • Posted February 8, 2014: What do I do with Origen?. Origen was a very important figure in Early Christianity. But a great deal of his material has come to us from translations which have usually been considered corrupt. This post mentions my struggle over how to address this.
  • Posted February 3, 2014: Tertullian XII: Summary. A few final thoughts on Tertullian.
  • Posted January 29, 2014: Tertullian XI: Just a Few More Topics. Amazingly I had several more aspects of Tertullian’s writings which I wanted to cover and I jammed them into one final topical post.
  • Posted January 25, 2014: Tertullian X: Women. Tertullian has a reputation of being pretty negative towards women and I discuss this here.
  • Posted January 20, 2014: Tertullian IX: Sex. This post discusses Tertullian’s belief that fornication and adultery are among the most heinous of crimes which a Christian may commit. It also sheds a little light on the Montanist-Church conflict.
  • Posted January 18, 2014: Tertullian VIII: Repentance and Penance. Tertullian is the first Christian author that I know of who requires physical acts of penance for the forgiveness of post-baptismal sins.
  • Posted January 16, 2014: Tertullian VII: The Nature of Christ and Flesh. In opposing the opinion of some heretical groups that Christ was never actually present in the flesh on Earth, Tertullian provides an interesting viewpoint on Christ and man’s flesh.
  • Posted January 12, 2014: Tertullian VI: Marriage, Re-Marriage, and Military Service. I included this post to illustrate two things. The first was how Tertullian’s thoughts changed over time. The second was to indicate a contrast in how he viewed a situation a Christian was already in/involved with at the time of conversion compared with whether a Christian could enter into that situation after baptism.
  • Posted January 9, 2014: Tertullian V: Purgatory. From what I’ve read, Tertullian is the earliest Christian author to advocate the existence of a location where souls may be purged of their sins prior to reaching Heaven.
  • Posted January 6, 2014: Tertullian IV: Baptism and Original Sin. Tertullian substantially advances these two concepts, taking us much further in the direction of what would become Church Doctrine, particularly regarding Original Sin.
  • Posted January 4, 2014: Tertullian III: Defining the Trinity. I found Tertullian’s detailed discussion of the nature of the Trinity to be one of his most important contributions to the evolution and development of Medieval and Modern Christianity.
  • Posted January 2, 2014: Tertullian II: Against Philosophy. My second post on Tertullian talking about his method of argument and his opinion of Philosophy.
  • Posted December 31, 2013:Tertullian I: Ascetic Theologian. My introductory Tertullian post with a short bio and my overall impressions of him.
  • Posted December 25, 2013: Taking Stock on Early Christianity Reading Progress. After 25 months I decided to take a look at where I was at on this project. From the perspective of how many books I still had left to read, I wasn’t doing so well.
  • Posted December 22, 2013: Semi-Random Thoughts, a Little on Tertullian and a Bit on Historical Models. A bit of a miscellaneous post but it includes some brief comments on my initial impressions of Tertullian.
  • Posted December 1, 2013: The Didascalia Apostolorum and Women in Early Christianity. The early third-century Didascalia Aposolorum reflects a more restrictive attitude towards women than earlier religious writings that I’ve read.
  • Posted October 13, 2013: The Apocalypse of Peter. Dante wasn’t the first person to get a guided tour of Hell and Heaven. The Apocalypse of Peter is the earliest surviving source for this type of visit.
  • Posted August 31, 2013: The Gospel of Thomas Thomas may provide a glimpse into very Early Christianity, perhaps the earliest glimpse we have.
  • Posted August 28, 2013: Clement of Alexandria II This post discusses Clement’s views on wealth and poverty.
  • Posted August 24, 2013: Clement of Alexandria I This first post on Clement discusses many of his themes including his effort to incorporate Greek thought and philosophy into Christianity.
  • Posted August 19, 2013: We Are Old This post discusses how early Christian authors tried to attribute as much antiquity to Christianity as possible.
  • Posted August 4, 2013: Irenaeus of Lyons Part I In this post I focus on Irenaeus as the first Christian heresiologist.
  • Posted May 24, 2013: The Second Century Apologists I’d just finished reading a bunch of material written by Christian apologists.
  • Posted February 10, 2013: Interregnum Number 1 This was a “taking stock” post mentioning a couple of things I’d initially believed which I was wrong about.
  • Posted January 24, 2013: The Acts of Andrew The Acts of Andrew made another nice Apocrypha to post about because so much of what is in it goes against many Christian norms yet it was very popular in the Early Medieval Period.
  • Posted January 21, 2013: The Acts of Peter I read a lot of Apocrypha over the winter and decided to post about a few of them. The Acts of Peter made a nice starting point.
  • Posted December 25, 2012: Book Review, The Historical Jesus in Context This is a book review. I almost skipped linking to it here as I already have a page for that but went ahead anyway.
  • Posted December 16, 2012: A Growing Fondness for Bones This post is about the growing Christian obsession with relics which can be traced from the mid-second century.
  • Posted October 26, 2012: The Construction of a Heresy Sara Parvis in Marcellus of Ancyra and the Lost Years of the Arian Controversy, 325-345 advances the idea raised by Gwynn and takes this one step further by stating that Marcellus and Athanasius basically invented Arianism as a weapon to use in the political battles they were engaged in with the Anti-Nicene party.
  • Posted September 22, 2012: Athanasius and Another “ism” I posted this right after finishing Athanasius of Alexandria to discuss David Gwynn’s assertion that Arianism was not nearly the structured, coherent, anti-Nicene movement as it has often been portrayed.
  • Posted June 9, 2012: Constantine, Panegyric and Conversion I was reading a book on panegyrics and this one written shortly after the Battle of Milvian Bridge caught my attention as the author seems confused over Constantine’s new religion.
  • Posted April 21, 2012: Quintus Aurelius Symmachus. In order to figure out what was going on between Christians and traditional Romans I had to learn about the Romans and Symmachus is a good place to start.
  • Posted January 7, 2012: Ambrose of Milan When I began I decided to use 381 as something of a dividing line, the year when Theodosius proclaimed Christianity the official religion of the Empire. Ambrose sort of straddles this period but I decided to start with him and work my way backwards, chronologically.
  • Posted December 6, 2011: The Problem With Paganism As I began reading about Christianity I started thinking about a few things, one of which how “Paganism” is such a broad generalization as to often be worthless. Of course I used it in the opening to this page so it still has some utility.
  • Posted November 20, 2011: My Early Christianity Starting Point Here I stated what I knew, or what I thought I knew, about Christianity at the time I started.
  • Posted November 14, 2011: My announcement post This is where I stated my intentions. At the time I had no idea I’d spend so much time on it but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been fun.


2 responses to “Early Christianity Reading

  1. persnicketythecat

    August 28, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    The most interesting things I find about early Christianity are how others viewed them, and what’s different from modern Christianity.


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