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The Second Church

Popular Christianity a.d. 200–400


Ramsay MacMullen

Christianity in the century both before and after Constantine’s conversion is familiar thanks
to the written sources; now Ramsay MacMullen, in his fifth book on ancient Christianity,
considers especially the unwritten evidence. He uses excavation reports about hundreds of
churches of the fourth century to show what worshipers did in them and in the cemeteries
where most of them were built. What emerges, in this richly illustrated work, is a religion
that ordinary Christians, by far the majority, practiced in a different and largely forgotten
second church. The picture fits with textual evidence that has been often misunderstood or
little noticed.
The “first” church—the familiar one governed by bishops—in part condemned, in part
tolerated, and in part re-shaped the church of the many.
Even together, however, the two constituted by the end of the period studied (AD 400)
a total of the population far smaller than has ever been suggested. Better estimates are now
made for the first time from quantifiable data, that is, from the physical space available for
attendance in places of worship. Reassessment raises very large questions about the place of
religion in the life of the times and in the social composition of both churches.


Carl P. Cosaert

This volume applies the latest methodological advances in patristic textual analysis to explore the nature of the Gospel text used by Clement, an early Alexandrian father who wrote extensively on the Christian faith and filled his writings with thousands of biblical citations. After examining Clement’s life and use of the New Testament writings, the book lists all of his quotations of the Four Gospels and compares them to those of other Alexandrian Christians and to the most significant ancient Greek and Latin manuscripts. The book demonstrates that the form of the Gospels in Alexandria was in transition at the end of the second century and argues that Clement’s Gospel text reveals an Alexandrian influence in John and Matthew and a stronger Western influence in Luke and his citations of Mark 10. Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Theodoret of Cyrus

Commentary on Daniel


Robert C. Hill

Early Christians were fed by their pastors a solidly scriptural diet from both the Old and the New Testaments. The commentary on Daniel by Theodoret, a member of the school of Antioch and fifth-century bishop of Cyrus, illustrates the typically Antiochene approach to biblical texts and shows the commentator posing key questions such as, What is prophecy? or What does a prophet do? While demonstrating the moderation for which his approach to the Bible became proverbial, Theodoret here instructs his readers to see in the dreams and visions of Daniel the pattern of prediction and fulfillment that guarantees for an Antiochene the authenticity of true prophecy. This commentary, with Greek text and English translation on facing pages, will be valuable to biblical and patristic scholars, theologians, and church historians.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (


Edited by Jonathan Draper

Essays in this collection explore the complex relationship between text and orality in colonial situations of antiquity from Homer, Plato, and Mithras to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures and rabbinic tradition. Orality could be a deliberate decision by highly literate people who chose not to put certain things in writing, either to exercise control over the tradition or to preserve the secrecy of ritual performance. Exploring both theoretical issues and historical questions, the book demonstrates the role of text as a form of imperial control over against oral tradition as a means of resistance by the marginalized peasantry or marginalized elite of Israel and the early Church.
Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (


Carroll Osburn

As part of the Society of Biblical Literature’s The New Testament in the Greek Fathers series, this book examines the textual affinities of Epiphanius of Salamis in Acts, the Catholic Epistles, and the Pauline Epistles. Devising careful criteria for selecting quotations and following established criteria for analyzing patristic data, Osburn reverses the commonly accepted notion that Epiphanius systematically reflects an early form of the Byzantine text. While his text of the Catholic Epistles was likely Byzantine in character, the Greek text of Acts and the Pauline Epistles used by Epiphanius was common in the Eastern Mediterranean during the fourth century C.E. and is similar to the Later Egyptian text-form found in Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Ephraemi rescriptus. In addition to enriching our understanding of Epiphanius, this volume broadens our knowledge of the New Testament text in the fourth century.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Thomas and Tatian

The Relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron


Nicholas Perrin

The relationship between the Coptic Gospel of Thomas and the synoptic gospels has been a matter of long-standing debate. Some maintain that the sayings of Jesus in Thomas reflect a line of transmission independent of the synoptic tradition; others contend that the Coptic collection is finally a reworking of the Greek synoptic gospels. This book proposes a third possibility: namely, that the Gospel of Thomas depends on a second-century Syriac gospel harmony, Tatian’s Diatessaron, written in 175 C.E. Following a linguistic analysis of Thomas, the author argues that the Coptic collection is actually a translation of a unified Syriac text which at places followed the wording and sequence of the Diatessaron. The book argues for a late second-century C.E. dating of Thomas, rules out Thomas as a meaningful source for Historical Jesus research, and suggests possible links between Thomas and other mystical literature of the ancient near east.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Augustine: De fide et symbolo

Introduction, translation, commentary


An early Christian philosopher

Justin Martyr's Dialogue with Trypho, chapters one to nine. Introduction, text and commentary


van Winden