The Earliest History of the Christian Gathering

Origin, Development and Content of the Christian Gathering in the First to Third Centuries


Recent research has made a strong case for the view that Early Christian communities, sociologically considered, functioned as voluntary religious associations. This is similar to the practice of many other cultic associations in the Greco-Roman world of the first century CE. Building upon this new approach, along with a critical interpretation of all available sources, this book discusses the social and religio-historical background of the weekly gatherings of Christians and presents a fresh reconstruction of how the weekly gathering originated and developed in both form and content. The topics studied here include the origins of the observance of Sunday as the weekly Christian feast-day, the shape and meaning of the weekly gatherings of the Christian communities, and the rise of customs such as preaching, praying, singing, and the reading of texts in these meetings.
Open Access


Open Access

Biographical Note

Valeriy A. Alikin, Ph.D. (2009) in New Testament and Early Christian Literature, Leiden University, is a visiting lecturer at the Siberian Theological Institute, Omsk. His publications include several articles on aspects of the weekly gathering of early Christians.

Review Quote

"this book is an important step forward in the study of early Christian communities and liturgical development, building on foundational work on associative practices and the centrality of meals in the Greco–Roman world." – Richard S. Ascough, School of Religion, Queen’s University, in: Religious Studies Review 38/2 (June 2012)


All those interested in the origins and early development of Christianity and the weekly Christian gathering: theologians, liturgiologists, students of the New Testament and Early Christian literature, students of ancient history and of ancient religions, classical scholars.