A compelling account of Christianity’s Jewish beginnings, from one of the world’s leading scholars of ancient religion
How did a group of charismatic, apocalyptic Jewish missionaries, working to prepare their world for the impending realization of God’s promises to Israel, end up inaugurating a movement that would grow into the gentile church? Committed to Jesus’s prophecy—“The Kingdom of God is at hand!”—they were, in their own eyes, history’s last generation. But in history’s eyes, they became the first Christians.
In this electrifying social and intellectual history, Paula Fredriksen answers this question by reconstructing the life of the earliest Jerusalem community. As her account arcs from this group’s hopeful celebration of Passover with Jesus, through their bitter controversies that fragmented the movement’s midcentury missions, to the city’s fiery end in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, she brings this vibrant apostolic community to life. Fredriksen offers a vivid portrait both of this templecentered messianic movement and of the bedrock convictions that animated and sustained it.
“Prof Fredriksen offers a vivid portrait both of this temple-centred messianic movement and of the bedrock convictions that animated it and sustained it.”—John Singleton,Methodist Recorder
“A fascinating book about a crucial moment in Jewish history”—Jonathan Kirsch,Jewish Journal
“Rewarding”—Aaron Howard,Jewish Herald Voice(Houston)
“A succinct account of the earliest stage of what became Christianity . . . thought-provoking . . . intriguing . . . Fredriksen is always stimulating and writes with a verve that makes the ancient time come alive.”—Larry W. Hurtado,Marginalia