Highlighting the place of Stoic teaching in early Christian thought, an international roster of scholars challenges the prevailing view that Platonism was the most important philosophical influence on early Christianity. They suggest that early Christians were more often influenced by Stoicism than by Platonism, an insight that sheds new light on the relationship between philosophy and religion at the birth of Christianity.
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How usefully do distinctly Stoic ideas illuminate the meaning of first- and second-century Christian texts? This book suggests that early Christians--the authors of New Testament and noncanonical writings, including some early apologies--were often more influenced by Stoicism than by Middle Platonism. This insight sheds an entirely new light on the relationship between philosophy and religion at the birth of Christianity.
"This important collection of essays will be of interest to all those concerned with seeing the early Christian movement within the broader context of the Greco-Roman world. The focus on Stoicism here opens valuable new insights into aspects of early Christianity and will be a major stimulus for future research."--Christopher Tuckett, Pembroke College, Oxford
"This volume, a virtual compendium of important Stoic teaching, clearly illumines--through close and careful textual study--the original significance of many passages in early Christian texts that deal with personal and communal conduct, the nature of Christian freedom, mastery of the emotions, the importance of embodied life and moral progress, the relation between human freedom and divine providence, and the tension between the divine immanence and transcendence of the created order. Individually and collectively, this set of essays brings to our awareness the distinctive contribution to Christian thought of an often overlooked school of ancient thought."--John D. Turner, University of Nebraska
"This is a book for which we have been longing for many decades! The relationship between Platonism and Christianity has dominated academic debates while the influence of Stoicism has been largely neglected. This volume deftly treats all relevant areas in which Stoic influences may shape early Christian theology and in so doing transcends the Judaism/Hellenism divide."--Samuel Vollenwieder, Universität Zürich
Tuomas Rasimus (PhD, Université Laval; DrTheol, University of Helsinki) is research fellow in the department of biblical studies at the University of Helsinki and at the Institut d'études anciennes, Université Laval. He is the author of Paradise Reconsidered in Gnostic Mythmaking: Rethinking Sethianism in Light of the Ophite Evidence. Troels Engberg-Pedersen (DPhil, University of Oxford; DrTheol, University of Copenhagen) is professor of New Testament in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Copenhagen. He is the author or editor of eleven books and more than a hundred articles. Ismo Dunderberg (DrTheol, University of Helsinki) is professor of New Testament studies at the University of Helsinki. He is the author or editor of four books and numerous articles in the field of early Christian literature.
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