Perhaps the most enigmatic period of the Christian era, the second century was nonetheless decisive for the survival and posture of the fledgling churches. Their scriptural canon, liturgical practices, church structure, doctrinal norms - all were forged in the tumult of this century. Through deft use of available data and texts, Wagner brings this period to life. Selecting five fateful challenges - issues of Creation, human nature, Jesus's identities, roles of the church, and Christianity in society - he shows what was at stake for emerging Christianity in the social and religious currents of its Jewish and Greco-Roman environs and how five key personalities (Ignatius, Justin, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Irenaeus) responded. Wagner's text successfully brings events, ideas, persons and movements into a single framework.