11 January 2010

Book: A Political History of Early Christianity

Allen Brent's monograph "A Political History of Early Christianity"
(T & T Clark, September 2009) contains a chapter on "The Political Theology of the Augustan Revolution: Cosmic Reconstruction":


Publisher's description: "Allen Brent examines early Christianity and its triumph in Roman Empire. Starting with the description of the apocalyptic movement of the earliest form of Roman [Markan] Christianity, Brent moves on to illustrate various aspects that have made Christianity so powerful. Explaining numerous ideas involved in the rising of the Christianity, such as metaphysical reality, church organisation, nascent Trinitarianism, Allen Brent also emphasizes the impact of emperor Constantine's position in the new Christian cosmic and political order: a Trinity of distinct coequal and co-eternal persons was to trump the claims of an imperial monarchy reflecting a cosmic one. Brent discusses the Christian history in the general context of political movements that seek initially to achieve a 'root and branch' transformation of present society."

Reviews: "Allen Brent's Political History of Early Christianity is breath-taking and ground-breaking. He argues that the Jesus Movement, from its earliest days until it blossomed into the officially sanctioned Christianity of the Roman Empire under Constantine at the start of the fourth century, was inextricably linked to and in tension with the political concerns of wider culture. However, Brent demonstrates that this does not reduce Jesus and the movement that evolved in his name to a group of mere social revolutionaries." (Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh)

"His aim in the present book is to examine the relation between metaphysical theories and their political contexts, with a broad remit in the interpretation of the terms 'metaphysical' and 'political'. [...] The writing is characteristically lucid, the scholarship impeccable, the argument brisk but incisive". (Mark Edwards, Oxford)

Allen Brent was formerly Professor in History at James Cook University of North Queensland, Australia, and is now a member of the Faculty of Divinity at Cambridge.

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