I am very happy to let you know that we have just received a few advance copies of Allen Brent’s book. I always say how pleased I am when announcing a new volume that has been recently published, though this time it is extra special as it is ‘my’ first book! Yes, this was indeed the very first manuscript I ever received to prepare for publication. My first dealings with the production department, my first attempts to secure endorsements and my first challenge in finding a suitable image for the front cover [and believe me – this last task poses a great challenge every time].
I am sure you can imagine my joy and excitement yesterday when Jo (our Production Manager – and the glue which holds T&T Clark together) brought a few advance copies to show us. It does feel wonderful to see it finished and printed.
Well, I should stop my ramblings here. A Political History of Early Christianity focuses on the reformation of republican religion and the exercise of political authority in Augustan society. This volume consists of 8 chapters that examine early Christianity and its triumph in Roman Empire.
We have received three commendable endorsements from Paul Foster, Mark Edwards and Alastair Logan, which are displayed below:
‘Allen Brent’s Political History of Early Christianity is breath-taking and ground-breaking. He argues that the Jesus Movement, from its earliest days until it blossomed into the officially sanctioned Christianity of the Roman Empire under Constantine at the start of the fourth century, was inextricably linked to and in tension with the political concerns of wider culture. However, Brent demonstrates that this does not reduce Jesus and the movement that evolved in his name to a group of mere social revolutionaries. Rather, the value-inverting and world-negating philosophy they espoused stemmed from deep-seated apocalyptic beliefs. Brent is master of four centuries of Christian history and deploys this knowledge to build a case that is convincing and compelling. A first-rate book from a first rate-scholar.’ - Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh, UK.
‘Allen Brent is one of the boldest and most seminal historians currently writing about Christianity in the ancient world. In his works on Hippolytus and Ignatius, he has already displayed his magisterial learning and his ability to shed new light on the history of ideas by the investigation of social and cultural backgrounds. If he is not one to be carried away on a bandwagon, he is also not one to neglect a theory merely because it is difficult or because it has become dangerously fashionable in other disciplines. His aim in the present book is to examine the relation between metaphysical theories and their political contexts, with a broad remit in the interpretation of the terms “metaphysical” and “political”. The writing is characteristically lucid, the scholarship impeccable, the argument brisk but incisive; if this chapter is an augury of the rest, we can expect another distinguished addition to a corpus of scholarship that is already impressive.’ – Mark Edwards, Christ Church, Oxford, UK.
‘Allen Brent’s latest book both marks a continuation of a long-term research project seeking to relate early Christianity to its pagan context, religious, political, social, and cultural, and a fruitful bringing together of a series of his concerns and interests. His reconstruction of pagan political theories from Augustus to Decius and demonstration of the influence of Stoicism is particularly valuable in this regard. Perhaps the most intriguing and stimulating chapters are the first two, arguing against much contemporary scholarship, particularly North American, that Jesus, whatever we make of him himself as a historical figure, cannot be separated from an apocalyptic understanding, and setting Mark’s Gospel firmly in the context of the turbulent events in Rome and Judaea of AD 68-9. In chapter six Brent offers a valuable discussion of Callistus and his significance, developing themes of his book on Hippolytus with further appeal to the archaeological evidence. But the book is a considerable achievement, offering an intriguing and plausible thesis about the way Christianity had to adapt its original apocalyptic vision to contemporary pagan views to survive and flourish, transforming paganism in the process, while in the end retaining some elements of apocalyptic. On the way he supplies various illuminating modern parallels as well as many provocative ideas typical of him (such as that Justin was a presbyter bishop and that Lucian knew Ignatius) in a book that will keep people arguing for some considerable time.’ – Alastair Logan, Department of Theology, University of Exeter, UK.
After reading these very enthusiastic review what else needs to be said? Oh, yes publication date: customers in the UK will be able to purchase this book in September, and those in the US will have to wait until November.