By Wayne A. Meeks
Wayne A. Meeks examines the surviving files from Christianity's beginnings (some of which grew to become the recent testomony) and indicates that they're mostly fascinated by the best way converts to the stream should still behave. Meeks unearths that for those Christians, the formation of morals potential the formation of neighborhood; the files are addressed to not contributors yet to teams, and so they have between their fundamental goals the upkeep and development of those teams. Meeks paints an image of the method of socialization that produced the early varieties of Christian morality, discussing many components that made the Christians suppose that they have been a unmarried and "chosen" humans. He describes, for instance, the influence of conversion; the speedy unfold of Christian family cult-associations within the towns of the Roman Empire; the language of Christian ethical discourse as printed in letters, testaments, and "moral stories"; the rituals, conferences, and institutionalization of charity; the Christians' emotions approximately celibacy, intercourse, and gender roles; and their feel of the end-time and ultimate judgment. In each one of those parts Meeks seeks to figure out what's particular concerning the Christian point of view and what's just like the ethical parts of Greco-Roman or Jewish thought.
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Additional resources for The Origins of Christian Morality. The First Two Centuries
Nevertheless, it is clear that the intersection of theology and ethics in early Christian texts is different in notable ways from the connections made by pagan moralists of the same era. It will be important for us to try to sort out various ways in which Christian talk about God interacts with talk about behavior. Senses of an Ending Biblical theology in this century has been preoccupied-some would say "obsessed"-with the question of eschatology. Albert Schweitzer popularized the alarm that continental theologians began to feel, around the turn of the century, about the rediscovery of apocalypticism as the historical context of the Jesus movement.
He devotes a chapter of his book to "the conversion of Lucius," the story told in the eleventh book of Apuleius's novel Metamorphoses. Taking the story to have "more than a touch of autobiography," Nock compares it with a modern conversion to Roman Catholicism. 23 The old story that Apuleius used as the armature of his novel tells how a young man's experiments with magic leave him transformed into a donkey. After many adventures he receives the antidote that returns him to his normal shape. In Apuleius's retelling, the hero's salvation comes by the mediation of the goddess Isis, and his initiation into her cult leads him into lifelong devotion to her.
Yet the excelling per~ormed by these heroes of self-display is not eccentric or lonely: their epitaphs are crowded in with those of a host of similarly "unique" individuals, and all excel in virtues typical of the community at large. 13 The most frequent epithet on Greek tombstones is "good," chrestos, and the next most frequent is "harmless," alypos.
The Origins of Christian Morality. The First Two Centuries by Wayne A. Meeks