"Christ’s Associations" by John S. Kloppenborg

Christ’s Associations Connecting and Belonging in the Ancient City John S. Kloppenborg

Publication date:
14 Jan 2020
Yale University Press
536 pages: 235 x 156mm
27 b-w illus.

A groundbreaking investigation of early Christ groups in the ancient Mediterranean that reshapes the perception of Christian associations in the first three centuries of the Common Era

As an urban movement, the early groups of Christ-followers came into contact with the many small groups in Greek and Roman antiquity. Organized around the workplace, a deity, a diasporic identity, or a neighborhood, these associations gathered in small face-to-face meetings and provided the principal context for cultic and social interactions for their members. Unlike most other groups, however, about which we have data on their rules of membership, financial management, and organizational hierarchy, we have very little information about early Christ groups.
Drawing on data about associative practices throughout the ancient world, this innovative study offers new insight into the structure and mission of the early Christian groups. John S. Kloppenborg situates the Christian associations within the broader historical context of the ancient Mediterranean and reveals that they were probably smaller than previously believed and did not have a uniform system of governance, and that the attraction of Christian groups was based more on practice than theological belief.

John S. Kloppenborg is university professor and chair of the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. A specialist in Christian origins, he has written extensively on the Synoptic Sayings Gospel (Q) and the parables of Jesus. He lives in Toronto.

“This exceptionally important book offers a clearer understanding of who the early Christ followers really were, where they came from, and how their way of life eventually evolved into the preferred ‘religion’ of the Roman Empire.”—Anders Runesson, author of The Origins of the Synagogue