How did the community we glimpse in the New Testament become an institution quite willing to have the emperor Constantine as a primary public partner? By tracing the use of resources, titles, and functions of leaders and patterns of honor giving, Wheatley traces from a wide variety of sources both acceptance and revision of Roman patronage in this countercultural community. Along the way, it is possible to see dissident groups like the Montanists and Marcionites more clearly and sympathetically, and to ask ourselves some pertinent questions about how a Christian community might function in the twenty-first century.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Once you've read this excellent book, you may wonder why long ago no one called your attention to this subject, so critically important for understanding the interpersonal challenges faced by the developing Christian movement. Without the knowledge about patronage and benefaction that Wheatley makes so accessible, students of both the New Testament and early Christian history miss perceiving the depth of Jesus' dynamic reversal of social values and the subsequent struggles of his followers to follow him." --S. Scott Bartchy Professor of the History of Religion, UCLA
"Alan Wheatley's book is a fine elucidation of how the reciprocity of ancient Greco-Roman patronage is continued, challenged, and transformed in the world of the early Christians. Wheatley's study not only treats the Pauline texts but most valuably continues his investigation of the ideology of Christian patronage through the end of the third century CE." --Ronald Mellor Distinguished Professor of History, UCLA
"Ideals associated with Jesus and Paul challenged the systems of patronal honor and benefaction long entrenched within Greco-Roman society. This learned and provocative book examines the revolutionary nature of those ideals and their impact on writers and authorities of the early church. The result is a refreshing assessment of the influence and vitality of radical Christian social teachings in the age before Constantine, and an important starting point for future scholarship." --Daniel F. Caner Associate Professor of History & Classics University of Connecticut
Alan B. Wheatley
Alan B. Wheatley is Associate Professor of History and chair of the Department of History and Political Science at Northwest Nazarene University in Nampa, Idaho.