Cover

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Praise, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Series Foreword

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pp. xi-xiv

In his book The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, Robert Louis Wilken reminds us that “Christianity is more than a set of devotional practices and a moral code: it is also a way of thinking about God, about human beings, about the world...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xviii

In 1992 Fortress Press published a different version of this book under the title Marriage in the Early Church, in its series Sources of Early Christian Thought. In the twenty-five years since the publication of that book, a great deal of research...

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Part I. Introduction

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pp. 19-20

The purpose of this anthology is to introduce the reader to the wide range of texts that reflect early Christian thought and practice on the subject of marriage. Documents from the second to the sixth century are presented in chronological...

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1. The New Testament Evidence

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pp. 21-26

The world into which Christianity first emerged was profoundly ambivalent on the question of marriage. While the earliest Christians inherited from Judaism a rich tradition of reflection on marriage, other currents of thought, such as...

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2. The Greco-Roman Environment

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pp. 27-32

Marriage in the Roman world was something quite different from what it has come to be in the modern West. Although it was a state with serious legal implications, marriage itself was a private act that took place between free persons (slaves could...

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3. The Second and Third Centuries

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pp. 33-40

The Christian literature that appeared immediately after the New Testament, that is, early in the second century, generally did not give sustained attention to marriage. Documents such as the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians...

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4. The Post-Constantinian Church

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pp. 41-52

The rise of the emperor Constantine in the early fourth century and the gradual Christianization of the Roman Empire during the subsequent decades caused a shift of focus in early Christian thought and practice regarding marriage. On the...

Part II. Texts and Translations

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5. Hermas

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pp. 55-60

Little is known about Hermas, the author of the intriguing prophetic text known as the Shepherd. Numbered among the Apostolic Fathers—the generation of Christian writers who succeeded the original apostles—the work of Hermas is usually...

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6. Tertullian

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pp. 61-76

The first great Christian writer of the North African church, Tertullian of Carthage, flourished during the final years of the second century and early decades of the third. His writings span a large number of genres: from anti-heretical treatises...

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7. Clement of Alexandria

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pp. 77-98

Clement’s writings date from the final years of the second century, when he was a teacher and head of the school of catechumens in Alexandria. His major work is a three-part treatise, intended to lead the reader in three distinct stages...

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8. Acts of Thomas

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pp. 99-108

The next text in this anthology is an excerpt from the Acts of Thomas, a work originally composed in Syriac (ca. 220) and subsequently translated into Greek, Latin, Ethiopic, and Armenian. The Acts of Thomas seems to have originated...

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9. Methodius of Olympus

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pp. 109-118

Little is known about Methodius, who lived in the second half of the third century. He seems to have been a teacher in Lycia in Asia Minor and may have been bishop or presbyter in the town of Olympus. Some sources indicate that he died...

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10. Lactantius

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pp. 119-126

The life of Lucius Caelius Firmianus Lactantius (the “Christian Cicero”) spanned the last half of the third century and the opening decades of the fourth (ca. 250–326). Born in North Africa, he was a brilliant orator who held a chair in Latin...

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11. John Chrysostom

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pp. 127-152

Among the most prolific and most eloquent preachers of the patristic era, John Chrysostom was born and raised a Christian (ca. 349) in the city of Antioch. After a brief attempt to live an ascetic life on Mt. Silpios near Antioch, Chrysostom...

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12. Ambrosiaster

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pp. 153-170

The named “Ambrosiaster” (“Pseudo-Ambrose”) was coined in the early modern period to refer to the author of the first complete Latin commentary on the Pauline epistles. Subsequent scholars attributed to the same author a collection of...

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13. Jerome

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pp. 171-182

About a decade after Ambrosiaster composed his Commentary on the Pauline Epistles, Jerome, the prominent scholar, penned his famous treatise Against Jovinian. Writing from Bethlehem in 393, Jerome was responding to a Roman monk, Jovinian...

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14. Pelagius

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pp. 183-190

Best known as an opponent of Augustine’s teaching on the necessity of divine grace, the monk Pelagius was also deeply involved in propagating ascetic ideals in the households of aristocratic women at Rome between the years 390 and 410...

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15. Augustine

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pp. 191-234

Augustine of Hippo (354–430 CE) is the author whose discussion of marriage and sexuality was the most extensive— and the most influential—of all the writings contained in this anthology. As noted in the introduction, his book...

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16. Paulinus of Nola

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pp. 235-250

The following marriage poem or epithalamium (Carmen 25) was composed by the poet and ascetic writer Paulinus of Nola on the occasion of the wedding of Julian, future bishop of Eclanum, and his bride Titia (ca. 405). Paulinus was a prominent...

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17. Ecclesiastical Legislation

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pp. 251-264

One of the prominent features of the post-Constantinian church was the proliferation of meetings of bishops, known as councils or synods. Some of these dealt with pressing issues of doctrinal formulation, such as the Council of Nicaea in...

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18. Two Nuptial Blessings

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pp. 265-270

The final two texts in this anthology represent yet another genre of early Christian literature: the nuptial blessing. Included here are two sets of prayers for the blessing and veiling of a couple at a Christian marriage ceremony. It is...

Select Bibliography

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pp. 271-276

Index of Subjects

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pp. 277-280

Index of Scripture

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pp. 281-286

Index of Ancient Authors

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pp. 287-288

Index of Modern Authors

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pp. 289-291