Christoph Heilig’s Article Review of Bruce Winter on Church and Empire

Over at Biblical and Early Christian Studies, Christoph Heilig has a review of Bruce Winter’s The First Christians’ Responses to Emperor Worship, which is a fine read and a good entree into NT and empire studies.

Winter’s basic approach to research can both be regarded as giving rise to the strengths as well as the weaknesses, or at least limitations, of his work in relation to the broader debate concerning “Paul and Empire”: On the one hand, his focus on primary evidence allows him to reconstruct a context in which the question imposes itself forcefully on the readers of how Christians behaved in this situation and whether one should not expect this conflict to be reflected in the NT writings. On the other hand, Winter’s disinterest in current considerations on methodological aspects of the varied ways in which early Christian writers might have interacted with the Roman sphere also leads to a picture of the first Christians’ “responses” to divine honours of Caesars that one might judge to be too one-dimensional to satisfactorily account for the diversity as well as the profundity of Christians reactions to the Roman empire.


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