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Parting of the Ways: The Roman Church as a Case Study (Interdisciplinary Studies in Ancient Culture and Religion) [Paperback]

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Pages   404
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.6" Width: 6.28" Height: 0.99"
Weight:   1.5 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 26, 2004
Publisher   Peeters Publishers
ISBN  9042913363  
EAN  9789042913363  


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Item Description...
This book seeks to inject into the general discussion of the "Parting of the Ways" of Judaism and Christianity the social realities of the separation of a particular Christian community and a particular Jewish community. By drawing upon the literary and the historical data available concerning the church in Rome, Spence seeks to discover when and how Christians came to see themselves as an identifiably distinct community. His findings will surprise those who see the "Parting of the Ways" as a slow process. He argues that although the "parting" was early, it was not without its complications. Drawing upon the work of Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion, Spence suggests that within the church in Rome there was a struggle between those who saw the church as a Jewish sect and those who saw the church as a Roman cult - a struggle already underway when the Apostle Paul wrote Romans. This struggle, however, was not an even one, because it was the cultists, those for whom the church's primary social location was the pagans of Rome, who held the positions of power over the numerically smaller sectarians who sought to maintain the church's primary identity as a Jewish sect acceptable within the synagogues of Rome.

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Church Formation in NT writings  Oct 21, 2004
The Parting of the Ways: The Roman Church As a Case Study by Stephen Spence (Interdisciplinary Studies in Ancient Culture and Religion, 5: Peeters: David Brown Book Company) This book seeks to inject into the general discussion of the "Parting of the Ways" of Judaism and Christianity the social realities of the separation of a particular Christian community and a particular Jewish community. By drawing upon the literary and the historical data available concerning the church in Rome, Spence seeks to discover when and how Christians came to see themselves as an identifiably distinct community. His findings will surprise those who see the "Parting of the Ways" as a slow process. He argues that although the "parting" was early, it was not without its complications. Drawing upon the work of Rodney Stark, a sociologist of religion, Spence suggests that within the church in Rome there was a struggle between those who saw the church as a Jewish sect and those who saw the church as a Roman cult - a struggle already under-way when the Apostle Paul wrote Romans. This struggle, however, was not an even one, because it was the cultists, those for whom the church's primary social location was the pagans of Rome, who held the positions of power over the numerically smaller sectarians who sought to maintain the church's primary identity as a Jewish sect acceptable within the synagogues of Rome.

Stephen Spence was born in Scotland and raised in Australia. He has degrees from Melbourne University, Asbury Theological Seminary, the Bible College of Victoria, and a Ph.D. from Fuller Theological Seminary. In 1997 Stephen was appointed to the position of Lecturer in New Testament and Theology at Burleigh College (Adelaide, South Australia) and in 2001 he was appointed Principal. He is married to Colleen and has two teenaged children, Elissa and Jordan.
Excerpt: It is the goal of this study to bring into focus what is often left in the background when the New Testament is studied - the struggles of a new religious movement to establish itself as an independent community. It has long been our conviction that each New Testament document addresses this struggle at some level, and to read these documents as if the Church as we have come to know it was already a conceptual, if not social, reality would be to seriously misread them. Not surprisingly, this anachronistic practice is epidemic among the members of today's Church. However, we believe that this practice can still be found in many current New Testament studies. Even when there is recognition of doctrinal development through the New Testament period, there is little recognition both of the social development of the Christian community and of the impact that this would have had upon the theologising of the early church.
It is the intent of this study to consider the social development of one particular Christian community: the church in Rome.' This community was not chosen because it is representative of all the developing churches of this period; no church could function in this role. The historical and social accidents of each individual church are too great to generalise from one to another. Neither was this community chosen because the evidence available is complete; it is barely adequate, even though it is as plentiful as that of any first-century church. The church in Rome was chosen because the evidence associated with it provides us with an opportunity to see the changes that time brought. Snap-shots of the church in 49 C.E., in 57 C.E., in 64 C.E., and then around the end of the century, when juxtaposed, provide us with some sense of this community's development. Of course, juxtaposing does not tell the tale by itself. The connections that are made and the implications that are drawn from these connections owe themselves to the interpreter's under-standing of how such a new religious movement might be expected to develop.
This study, then, must not only undertake the task of historical analysis but also that of sociological reconstruction. It is not a case of whether or not an investigator of the early church chooses to use sociological theory in this process, but a case of whether or not they will be explicit in their use of it. It is for this reason that we have chosen to investigate various theories associated with analysing sects and cults. This field within the discipline of the sociology of religion is a developing one, and it is our hope that the work presented here will contribute to a better-informed use of sect-theory.
The church in Rome has already been the object of much study, so it is unlikely that our observations or our conclusions will provoke much surprise. Yet, we believe that the observations made will con-tribute to a better understanding of the church in Rome, that the methodology employed will contribute to a better understanding of the significance of these observations and that the conclusions reached will suggest new possibilities for how we read the texts associated with this particular developing Christian community.
 

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