Sourcing Christianity

Scope: In its earliest expressions, Christianity drew from religious patterns in both Greco-Roman and Jewish cultures. Christian claims and convictions become more intelligible when placed in those overlapping contexts. We are limited in our access to all ancient religious traditions because of the nature of those traditions, the origin and nature of the sources, and the accidents of their preservation. Ancient literary and archaeological evidence can be amplified and clarified by the use of comparative methods drawn from the social sciences. Still further methodological considerations are involved when we turn explicitly to nascent Christianity itself: What sources are available, and how are they to be read? A phenomenological approach that uses every available source and means of analysis enables the richest sense of Christianity as a religious experience and movement.

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