What is the church? Perhaps more importantly, what is it meant to be? How did its earliest members understand this body of which they had become a part? A textbook collection of fifteen essays by an international group of New Testament experts, brings together a dyamic range of perspectives on how the early Christians viewed the Church. Discusses the Church's origins, purpose and relations to Jewish Scriptures and to Jesus Christ. Explores the Church's place in the world and in God's plan. Examines its community life and worship, in theory and in practice. The concluding chapter draws together the various recurrent strands of early Christianity's relationship with Judaism. Concise and accessible, with reading lists for each chapter, the book covers every New Testament author and ranges in time from the Greek Old Testament to the Apostolic Fathers.