This study of the formation of the Church begins with the earliest Christian community in Jerusalem, led by Jesus' disciples, and ends with the expansion of Christianity into various regions of the Roman Empire. Tracing the formative pains of the Church from its birth through its separation from Judaism, and into its struggle against Gnostic and pagan influences, the author demonstrates how early Christians deepened their loyalty to the apostolic tradition by wrestling with internal and external challenges.
The author appeals to the general reader as well as the scholar by answering perennially popular questions: Did Jesus marry? Who was responsible for the crucifixion? What is the relationship between philosophy and theology? and How were the Scriptures compiled? The volume concludes with teachings of the church father Irenaeus of Lyons, who presents an image of a Church shaped by ministry, canon, creed, and openness to the world- a Church that, by method and model, offers a solid base for growth in the following centuries.