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The Social World of Early Christianity

November 1, 2013 - November 2, 2013

Friday Lecture

From Jesus to Constantine: From Disunity to Unity

The myth of Christian origins maintains that early Christianity was a unity, a loving community. But far back into the mists of emerging Christianity, what we see is conflict and controversy. In this lecture we will examine the plurality and diversity in early Christian belief, why Christianity grew, why it succeeded and how Constantine imposed unity on the believers. (Scott)
Friday, 7:30–9 pm


Saturday Workshops

Social World of the Roman Empire and its Christian Communities

We will examine the social world of early Christianity, including the social/economic structure of the Roman Empire and the place(s) of women and slaves within it. The session will include a performance of “Women on the Way,” a rendition of the Gospel of Mark, as Artemisia, an imaginary late first century woman, might have told it. We will also look at the roles of slaves in early churches. Finally we will explore the forces that resulted in the increasing subordination of women and slaves in some Christian communities. (Dewey)
Saturday, 9:30–Noon

Imperial Images in Stone and Song

The dominant power in the ancient world was Rome and its Emperor. This dominance was not just military and political, but also ideological. The recognition of this imperial influence is important in understanding the emergence of the Christian movement. We will examine imperial images to understand the meaning of the Roman Empire and then explore the early Christian hymn embedded in Paul’s letter to the Philippians for its imperial imagery. Finally we will turn our attention to how Constantine turned the church into an empire. (Scott)
Saturday, 1:30–2:30

Implications for Contemporary Christianity

What does the active role of women and slaves in early Christianity tell us about the possible configurations contemporary Christianity might take? How might we begin to learn from the diversity of the past? How might we respond to today’s “empire?” (Dewey and Scott)
Saturday, 3:00–4:00 pm

Sponsoring Church

First Congregational Church of Auburn, UCC Auburn, CA

Local Contact

Barbara Grandstaff
(530) 885-9087


Dewey JoannaJoanna Dewey (Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union) is the Harvey H. Guthrie, Jr. Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies at Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of several books, including Mark as Story (with David Rhoads, 2012). 


brandon-scott-thumbBernard Brandon Scott (Ph.D., Vanderbilt University) is the Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament at the Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, OK. He is the author of several books, including The Trouble with Resurrection (2010) and Re-Imagine the World (2002).


All Sessions

  • Individual Rate $75
  • Pre-registration Rate (by Oct 18) $60
  • Additional Family Members $50

Single Sessions

  • Friday Evening Lecture $20
  • Saturday Morning Workshop $30
  • Saturday Afternoon Workshop $30

Refunds are available until two weeks before the event if requested in writing, minus a $10 administrative fee. No refunds will be given after that date.

Learn more about the Jesus Seminar on the Road (JSOR) program.


November 1, 2013
November 2, 2013
Event Category:


First Congregational Church of Auburn
710 Auburn Ravine Rd. Auburn, CA 95603 United States


Westar Institute
(503) 375-5323