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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities
Stewart, Alistair C.

Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014 pp. xx + 394. $50.00



Description: This work provides a new starting point for studying the origins of church offices. Alistair Stewart, a leading authority on early Christianity and a meticulous scholar, provides essential groundwork for historical and theological discussions. Stewart refutes a long-held consensus that church offices emerged from collective leadership at the end of the first century. He argues that governance by elders was unknown in the first centuries and that bishops emerged at the beginning of the church; however, they were nothing like bishops of a later period. The church offices as presently known emerged in the late second century. Stewart debunks widespread assumptions and misunderstandings, offers carefully nuanced readings of the ancient evidence, and fully interacts with pertinent secondary scholarship.

Subjects: Bible, New Testament, Early Christian Literature, Literature, Methods, Linguistics, Philology, Historical Approaches, History, History of Judaism, Early Church Origins, Dead Sea Scrolls

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Review by Judith M. Lieu
Published 8/10/2015
Citation: Judith M. Lieu, review of Alistair C. Stewart, The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2015).


Review by David J. DeVore
Published 7/6/2017
Citation: David J. DeVore, review of Alistair C. Stewart, The Original Bishops: Office and Order in the First Christian Communities, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2017).


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