Throughout the early centuries of Christianity, the Roman government continually tried to suppress the new religion. Ultimately it failed, but only after a long period of struggle, misunderstanding, and persecution. Grant has placed this clash between government and Christianity in the context of the entire history of the policy of Roman rulers concerning religion.
Tracing the government's attitude toward foreign religions from the early days of the republic on through the empire, Grant shows how Rome tried to preserve its religious and cultural traditions from all external influences. Thus, there was a long series of legal and judicial precedents for treating Christianity as subversive. The author analyzes these precedents and the particular teachings of Christianity which set the state against it.
This is a scholarly study, but it is written with clarity and conciseness. Within its scope is a broad sweep of a dramatic period in religious history, a period which contains many fascinating parallels to the fight for freedom and human rights in the world today.
Endorsements & Reviews-
The story of relations between Christianity and the imperium Romanum is now again a very hot topic in New Testament and early Christian studies. Robert M. Grant's classic study situates specific moments of encounter in relation to Roman religion and ruling ideology, on the one hand, and diverse Christian responses to the empire, on the other. In a highly readable account of the history from Jesus to Constantine, Grant provides a characteristically cogent analysis of the evidence for persecution, forms of accommodation, and ultimately, limits of compatibility between the "Christian cross" and the "Roman sword."
Margaret M. Mitchell, University of Chicago
Robert M. Grant
Robert M. Grant is Carl Darling Buck Professor Emeritus, Department of New Testament & Early Christian Literature and Divinity School, University of Chicago. Throughout the academic world he is recognized as a foremost authority on ancient Christianity. He is the author of over 30 books on early Christianity, including Paul in the Roman World, A Short History of the Interpretation of the Bible, Gnosticism and Early Christianity, The Early Christian Doctrine of God, and Augustus to Constantine.