The Origins of Christian Morality   -     By: Wayne A. Meeks
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The Origins of Christian Morality

Yale University Press / 1993 / Paperback

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Product Description

This wise eloquent book describes the formative years of Christianity when Christians beliefs and practices shaped their unique moral order. Wayne Meeks illuminates the process of socialization that produced the early forms of Christian morality, showing what is distinctive about the Christian viewpoint and what is similar to the moral components of Greco-Roman or Jewish thought.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 285
Vendor: Yale University Press
Publication Date: 1993
Dimensions: 9 1/4 X 6 (inches)
ISBN: 0300065132
ISBN-13: 9780300065138
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

By the time Christianity became a political and cultural force in the Roman Empire, it had come to embody a new moral vision. This wise and eloquent book describes the formative years--from the crucifixion of Jesus to the end of the second century of the common era--when Christian beliefs and practices shaped their unique moral order.

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  1. Sacramento, CA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    2 Stars Out Of 5
    Disappointing and Irritating
    August 5, 2012
    Philip Tutt
    Sacramento, CA
    Age: Over 65
    Gender: male
    Quality: 2
    Value: 1
    Meets Expectations: 1
    This book began as a series of lectures given by Prof. Meeks at Oxford, in 1990 and 1991, with some earlier lecture material included. Unfortunately it reads pretty much like that throughout--more of a windy academic exercise than an informative journey of discovery into the origins of "Christian morality".

    For example, the author has an irritating habit of populating his development of a point with Greek (and occasional Latin) terms, usually centering around a New Testament text. This is the sort of thing one gets at a graduate seminar; it is to that venue that it should be confined. If I do not know Greek (or Latin), I am not thereby enlightened. If I do, I then I do not need the author's quote. The overall analysis suffers as a result.

    I had higher expectations of the book. The stated purpose, "to attempt to construct a kind of ethnography of Christian beginnings", is largely unmet, or works at cross-purposes with the analysis of some well and succinctly stated major themes in and underlying Christian thinking.

    For example, the author points out (in so many words) that there is a substantial and influential residue of superstition in Christian ritual. The challenge to the reader is to say why these are thought to reflect "truth", as opposed to their pagan counterparts. One thing that the author does suggest (a point with which I heartily agree) is that the mere persistence of Christianity over time is not an adequate answer.

    If I had my way with a revision, I would suggest that the author jettison chapters 1-8, and focus on the material (much of it admirable) in chapters 9-11. The "thesis" segment of the Postscript, which contains much of value, would be better stated and developed as a separate work.
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