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Paul's Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in Their Cultural Setting, Revised Edition [Paperback]

By Robert J. Banks (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.44" Width: 5.42" Height: 0.63"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Nov 1, 1994
ISBN  1565630505  
EAN  9781565630505  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Robert Bank's widely read Paul's Idea of Community: The Early House Churches in their Cultural Setting is once again available to laypeole, pastors and scholars alike. In this extensively revised edition Banks has rewritten chapters for clarity, taken into account recent scholarship on Paul's writings, updated and expanded the bibliography, and added an index. This new edition retains, however, all the freshness and vitality of the original.

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More About Robert J. Banks

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Robert Banks (PhD, University of Cambridge), director and dean of Macquarie Christian Studies Institute in Sydney, Australia, is the author of many books, including "Redeeming the Routines." Bernice M. Ledbetter (Ed.D., Pepperdine University), former director of the De Pree Leadership Center at Fuller Theological Seminary, is adjunct faculty at Pepperdine University and principal of Ledbetter Consulting Group.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Too narrow in scope  Jun 13, 2008
While Banks provides some good insight into Paul's view of community, he overemphasizes a discontinuity with not only Paul's contemporaries, but with the OT teaching of community.

Also, He draws conclusions from texts about church size and gender role without considering the wider accounts. For example, in arguing for a house church-sized congregation he makes the statement "There is no suggestion that Christians ever met as a whole in one place" (p. 32). But he does not consider the claims of Acts 2 where thousands are gathered in one place. Nor does he address sufficiently the struggle to determine normative practice from descriptive conclusions.

Lastly, he glosses over meanings of biblical words offering questionable definitions without citation.

The result is a reconstructionist view of Paul and his view of community that I think falls short.
Paul's House Church Model  Jan 30, 2007
Banks' book does away with all arguments for the existence of the institutional church. Although this is not his stated aim... his work nevertheless communicates this truth.

I enjoyed Banks' investigation of other communal groups and his comparison of Judaism and the cults to what Paul was doing with the ekklesia. Banks' book reveals that Paul's idea of community was unique to anything in his day. Paul was intentional in his planting of house churches.

For those who desire to learn about the primitive church in the book of Acts. This book is for you. Banks covers many aspects of early church practice. He discusses the freedom of the Holy Spirit, the church as oikos (family), the gifts and ministry, the headship of Christ vs. the hierarchal leadership of man, and the role of the woman and slave within the community of believers. He discusses Paul's distinct use of words to describe the kind of community Christ desires for his Body.
I highly recommend this book.

I also suggest reading:
* Going to the Root: Nine Proposals for Radical Church Renewal
The Centrality of Jesus Christ (Works of T. Austin-Sparks)
Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community
Pagan Christianity: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices
Very good book  Aug 22, 2006
This review applies to the revised edition of Banks' book.

Banks is convinced that Paul, though not the first to formulate the concept of "community," was a major contributor to the idea as it applied to the church. Paul's global concept of church/community of believers includes (but is not limited to)the following ideas, each of which are discussed by Banks: (a) church as a household gathering; (b) church as a group characterized by a 'radical new freedom' (independence, dependence, and interdependence--all Banks' words); (c) church as a loving family; (d) church as a functional body; (e) church as a diverse group (in terms of role and function), yet characterized by unity.

The book is very lucidly written and amazingly accessible for an 'academic' work. The way Banks writes makes obvious that he understands the minds and lives of lay people (he's a professor of Ministry and Laity). This book could even be used as a study in a small group setting, but there is no study guide, so discussion leaders would need to provide their own questions.

I recommend this book.
Good, Not Great  May 18, 2004
Banks provides useful historical context in constructing Paul's understanding of community and early Christian interaction. The sum of his writing is a fairly concise vision of the early church presented with considerable breadth and above average clarity. If nothing else, Banks provides a readable summary of the issues at hand in the field. Sometimes, his conclusions tend to be unambitious: they do not seem to contribute much to the current field and many of the arguments and discussions he engages in are self-evident.
He does, however, prove to have some shortcomings. Primarily, I was offput by the complete lack of notes and extratextual explanations. Paul is complex and hundreds of years of commentary on the subject deserve more than (sometimes paltry) primary text citations and a by-chapter bibliography. The careful reader needs more to unlock the specifics of the theories presented and the definitions of problematic terms.
Other smaller issues also were apparent while reading. Acts was used to fill in the holes left by the spotty nature of the letters. That attitude, without explicity questioning the historicity of such a jump, is dangerous and presumptuous. More explanation of such evidence or the simple exclusion of it would have been helpful and more concise.
The last primary issue I had was that Banks, I think, does not extend his ideas far enough and reach into the motivating factors of Paul's actions. Why these types of communities? What motivated him? Why was it this way? These questions are not answered or distinctly addressed. Without that, we are left with a nonapocalyptic, watered-down version of the historical Paul that, while interesting, is not as rich or deep as it could be.
Excellent Book on House Churches  Nov 30, 2001
I am a youth pastor in a local church. I have often struggled with the current model we have of the American church. The traditions we hold so dear are so often not based on clear New Testament teachings. I have longed for a church where "one another" passages are lived out, where accountability is strong, where the pastor is not a CEO but a servant, where leaders are biblically chosen and where the Church is not divided on various theological camps. The only place to usually find this, sadly to say, is in cults (where the gospel is not preached in its power or truth).

Banks will offer you hope if you are like me and you are burned out on "church as usual." He will challange you to examine Scripture with fresh insights into house churches in their historical context. He will challange your notion of "Church" in our westernized thinking and will lead you to a biblical and fresh restoration of the true Church of Jesus Christ. We must move away from the Institutionalized church and return to the New Testament pattern that Banks gives in detail in this book.


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