||Cambridge University Press
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Early Christianity in the context of Roman society raises important questions for historians, sociologists of religion and theologians alike. This work explores the differing perspectives arising from a changing social and academic culture. Key issues concerning early Christianity are addressed, such as how early Christian accounts of pagans, Jews and heretics can be challenged and the degree to which Christian groups offered support to their members and to those in need. The work examines how non-Christians reacted to the spectacle of martyrdom and to Christian reverence for relics. Questions are also raised about why some Christians encouraged others to abandon wealth, status and gender-roles for extreme ascetic lifestyles and about whether Christian preachers trained in classical culture offered moral education to all or only to the social elite. The interdisciplinary and thematic approach offers the student of early Christianity a comprehensive treatment of its role and influence in Roman society.