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Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (Gender, Theory, and Religion)

Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (Gender, Theory, and Religion) Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Conventional histories have understood Christianity as a religion that from its beginnings sought to transcend ethnic and racial distinctions. Denise Kimber Buell challenges this view by revealing the ways in which ethnicity and race were central to how early Christians defined Christianity. In her readings of various early Christian texts, Buell considers the use of "ethnic reasoning" to depict Christianness as more than a set of shared religious practices and beliefs. By asking themselves, "Why this new race?" early Christians positioned themselves as members of an "ethnos" or "genos" distinct from Jews, Romans, and Greeks.

Synopsis:

Why This New Race offers a radical new way of thinking about the origins of Christian identity. Conventional histories have understood Christianity as a religion that from its beginnings sought to transcend ethnic and racial distinctions. Denise Kimber Buell challenges this view by revealing the centrality of ethnicity and race in early definitions of Christianity. Buell's readings of various texts consider the use of ethnic reasoning to depict Christianness as more than a set of shared religious practices and beliefs. By asking themselves, Why this new race? Christians positioned themselves as members of an ethnos or genos distinct from Jews, Romans, and Greeks.

Buell focuses on texts written before Christianity became legal in 313 C.E., including Greek apologetic treatises, martyr narratives, and works by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian. Philosophers and theologians used ethnic reasoning to define Christians as a distinct people within classical and ancient Near East society and in intra-Christian debates about what constituted Christianness. Many characterized Christianness as both fixed and fluid-it had a real essence (fixed) but could be acquired through conversion (fluid). Buell demonstrates how this dynamic view of race and ethnicity allowed Christians to establish boundaries around the meaning of Christianness and to develop universalizing claims that all should join the Christian people.

In addressing questions of historiography, Buell analyzes why generations of scholars have refused to acknowledge ethnic reasoning in early Christian discourses. Moreover, Buell's arguments about the importance of ethnicity and religion in early Christianity provide insights into the historical legacy of Christian anti-Semitism as well as contemporary issues of race.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780231133340
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Subject:
Christianity
Author:
Buell, Denise Kimber
Subject:
Religion - Church History
Subject:
Identification (religion)
Subject:
Christianity - History - General
Subject:
Race -- Religious aspects -- Christianity.
Subject:
Ethnicity -- Religious aspects.
Subject:
Christianity-Church History General
Series:
Gender, Theory, and Religion
Publication Date:
20050831
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Pages:
280
Dimensions:
9.40x6.26x.85 in. 1.10 lbs.

Related Subjects

Religion » Christianity » Christian Church » History
Religion » Christianity » Church History » General
Religion » Comparative Religion » General

Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (Gender, Theory, and Religion)
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Product details 280 pages Columbia University Press - English 9780231133340 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Why This New Race offers a radical new way of thinking about the origins of Christian identity. Conventional histories have understood Christianity as a religion that from its beginnings sought to transcend ethnic and racial distinctions. Denise Kimber Buell challenges this view by revealing the centrality of ethnicity and race in early definitions of Christianity. Buell's readings of various texts consider the use of ethnic reasoning to depict Christianness as more than a set of shared religious practices and beliefs. By asking themselves, Why this new race? Christians positioned themselves as members of an ethnos or genos distinct from Jews, Romans, and Greeks.

Buell focuses on texts written before Christianity became legal in 313 C.E., including Greek apologetic treatises, martyr narratives, and works by Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Tertullian. Philosophers and theologians used ethnic reasoning to define Christians as a distinct people within classical and ancient Near East society and in intra-Christian debates about what constituted Christianness. Many characterized Christianness as both fixed and fluid-it had a real essence (fixed) but could be acquired through conversion (fluid). Buell demonstrates how this dynamic view of race and ethnicity allowed Christians to establish boundaries around the meaning of Christianness and to develop universalizing claims that all should join the Christian people.

In addressing questions of historiography, Buell analyzes why generations of scholars have refused to acknowledge ethnic reasoning in early Christian discourses. Moreover, Buell's arguments about the importance of ethnicity and religion in early Christianity provide insights into the historical legacy of Christian anti-Semitism as well as contemporary issues of race.

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