Alikin - The earliest history of the Christian gathering

Valeriy A. Alikin - The earliest history of the Christian gathering: origin, development, and content of the Christian gathering in the first to third centuries
The periodical gathering of the Christian Church has a long and complex history. This present study endeavours to give a reconstruction of the earliest stages of this history. As a social and religious phenomenon, the early Christian gathering did not arise in a cultural vacuum. The Graeco-Roman world was saturated with cults and religious groups, movements, traditions, all with their own meetings and ceremonies.
 
This vibrant and variegated religious environment was the context in which the early Christian gathering took shape. Any attempt to trace the history of the early Christian meeting has to take this historical setting into account. The origins and early development of the Christian gathering should be seen within the context of the social and religious culture of the Graeco-Roman world, of which Christians and Jews formed part. In particular, since the central event of the Christian gathering during the formative period was a meal, the beginnings of the gathering should be considered in the context of the traditions held by various groups in the matter of communal dining.
 
As a rule, whenever early Christians met as a community, they shared a meal. In this, they did not differ from other groups and associations in the world surrounding them. Practically all clubs, associations and societies in the Graeco-Roman world held periodical gatherings in which a common meal or banquet formed a crucial, if not the main constituent. Such group meals tended to take place according to a traditional, more or less established pattern and conform to certain customs and rules which were virtually the same for all association meals.
In the Graeco-Roman world, the banquet, the formal evening meal, was an important social institution. Formal meals in the Mediterranean culture of the Hellenistic and Roman periods adopted a set, by and large fixed, form. The customs observed at meals could differ in details according to region and group, however, the evidence suggests that formal meals like group suppers and banquets strongly resembled each other in terms of their content and in the main were understood and interpreted in much the same way across a broad spectrum of Graeco-Roman society.
 

Valeriy A. Alikin - The earliest history of the Christian gathering: origin, development, and content of the Christian gathering in the first to third centuries

Leiden - Boston 2010 - 360
ISBN 978-90-04-18309-4  
 

Valeriy A. Alikin - The earliest history of the Christian gathering: origin, development, and content of the Christian gathering in the first to third centuries – Contents

Preface 
Abbreviations 
Introduction 
  • 1. A new approach to the study of the early Christian gathering
  • 2. A brief survey of previous research
  • 3.  The present study
Chapter One The Origin of the Weekly Gathering in the Early Church
  • Introduction
  • 1. The early Christian gatherings in the context ofGraeco-Roman culture
  • a. Gatherings of voluntary associations
  • b. Gatherings of pagan cult associations
  • c. Gatherings of Jewish associations
  • d. Gatherings of Christian communities
  • 2. Time and place of the gatherings of the early Church
  • a. The Sunday as the day for Christian community gatherings
  • b. The meeting places of the early Christians
  • 3. Content and order of the community gatherings in the early Church
  • a. The suppers of early Christian communities
  • b. Christian symposia
  • c. The order of the Christian gathering
  • 4. The leaders of the gatherings in the early Church
  • Conclusions
Chapter Two The Gatherings of Christians in the Morning Introduction
  • 1. The origin of the Christian gathering in the morning
  • 2.  The morning gatherings in the second and third centuries
  • Conclusions 
Chapter Three The Lord’s Supper in the Early Church 
  • Introduction
  • 1. The earliest history of the Lord’s Supper
  • a. The shape and function of the Lord’s Supper 
  • b. The Lord’s Supper and the Eucharist in Paul and the Didache
  • 2. The Last Supper of Jesus and the Lord’s Supper
  • a. The origin and function of the Last Supper tradition
  • b. The Lord’s Supper in the Gospel tradition
  • 3. The Eucharist in the second and third centuries
  • a. The Eucharist in the second century 
  • b. The Eucharist in the third century
  • Conclusions
Chapter Four The Reading of Scripture in the Gathering of the Early Church
  • Introduction
  • 1. The origin of Scripture reading in the Christian gathering  
  • a. Public reading at the Graeco-Roman banquet
  • b. Reading of Scripture in Jewish communal gatherings
  • c. Public reading in Christian communities 
  • 2. Development of the public reading of Scripture in the Christian communities
  • a. Public reading of Scripture in the early Church in the first century 
  • b. Public reading of Scripture in the second century
  • c. Public reading of Scripture in the third century
  • 3. The office of reader 
  • Conclusions
Chapter Five Preaching in the Gathering of the Early Church
  • Introduction
  • 1. The origin of preaching in the Christian gathering
  • 2. The development of preaching in the gatherings of the early Church
  • a. Preaching in the Christian gathering in the first century
  • b. Preaching in the Christian gathering in the second century  
  • c. Preaching in the Christian gathering in the third century  
  • 3. Preachers in the gatherings of the early Church
  • Conclusions
Chapter Six Singing and Prayer in the Gathering of the Early Church  
  • Introduction
  • 1.  Singing in the gathering of the early Church
  • a. The origin and locus of singing in the gathering of the early Church  
  • b. Singing and music in the Christian gathering during the fi rst three centuries  
  • 2. Prayer in the gathering of the early Church
  • a. The origin of prayer in the gatherings of the early Church  
  • b. The evolution of the eucharistic prayers during the fi rst three centuries  
  • c. Non-Eucharistic prayers in the Christian gatherings during the first three centuries  
  • Conclusions 
Chapter Seven Other Ritual Actions in the Gatherings of the Early Church  
  • Introduction
  • 1. The holy kiss 
  • 2. The laying on of hands and ordination  
  • 3. Ritual footwashing and oil anointing
  • 4.  Collections, almsgiving and off erings
  • 5.  Healing and exorcism
  • 6.  Liturgical acclamations and doxologies
  • Conclusions 
  • General Conclusions
Appendices
  1. The earliest history of the Christian gathering
  2. The order of the proceedings in the Christian gathering
  3. The frequency of the Christian gatherings and their distribution over the morning and the evening during the first three centuries
  4. An Ancient Religious Community Meeting at Sunrise
  5. Plans of two third-century Christian gathering places
Bibliography
Index of Ancient Sources  
Subject Index 
 

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