Remaking the World of the Second Century CE
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Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Number of Pages: 336
Width: 15.6 cm
Height: 23.4 cm
M. David Litwa tells the stories of the early Christians whose religious identity was either challenged or outright denied. In the second century many different groups and sects claimed to be the only Orthodox or authentic version of Christianity, and Litwa shows how those groups and figures on the side of developing Christian Orthodoxy often dismissed other versions of Christianity by refusing to call them “Christian”. However, the writings and treatises against these groups contain fascinating hints of what they believed, and why they called themselves Christian. Litwa outlines these different groups and the controversies that surrounded them, presenting readers with an overview of the vast tapestry of beliefs that made up second century Christianity. By moving beyond notions of “gnostic”, “heretical” and “orthodox” Litwa allows these “lost Christianities” to speak for themselves. He also questions the notion of some Christian identities “surviving” or “perishing”, arguing that all second century "Catholic" groups look very different to any form of modern Roman Catholicism. Litwa shows that countless discourses, ideas, and practices are continually recycled and adapted throughout time in the building of Christian identities, and indeed that the influence of so-called “lost” Christianities can still be felt today.
There's no time better than the present to study early Christianity. Long-forgotten ancient writings that resurfaced in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have overturned traditional accounts of Christianity's rise. The task now is to rewrite that history in a way that takes into consideration all of the available voices, even those long ago dismissed as 'heretical.' Found Christianities takes up this challenge by restoring marginalized early Christian writers to their rightful place alongside the so-called Church Fathers as pioneers and influencers in Christianity's earliest centuries. * Geoffrey S. Smith, The University of Texas at Austin, USA * David Litwa's fascinating book tells the stories of those early Christians whom other Christians rejected by denying they were Christian. Navigating carefully amidst ancient sources, Litwa offers a comprehensive treatment of the varieties of second-century Christianity. I highly recommend this book for anyone wishing to understand the complex world in which Christianity evolved. * Outi Lehtipuu, University of Helsinki, Finland *