Christoph Markschies, Christian Theology and Its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire: Prolegomena to a History of Early Christian Theology

Published in 2015.

Translated by Wayne Coppins

For the Baylor University Press page, see here.

For the Table of Contents/Front Matter, see here.


Christian Theology and Its Institutions in the Early Roman Empire is one of the most important books on early Christianity published in the last twenty years. Christoph Markschies lays the groundwork for an innovative history of pre-Nicene theology that takes into account both unity and diversity. Thanks to this excellent translation, even more scholars and students will learn from this exciting study.” — David Brakke, Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History, The Ohio State University

“The translation of Christoph Markschies’ Kaiserzeitliche christliche Theologie und ihre Institutionen into English is to be warmly welcomed, both to introduce anglophone readers to a tradition of scholarship, and to provoke a wider discussion of how we may after all speak of early Christian theology.” — Judith Lieu, Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

“Rejecting a ‘history-of-ideas’ approach to the development of Christian theology in the second and third centuries, Markschies explores how the institutional contexts in which theologizing took place shaped the ‘plural identity’ of ancient Christianity. A significant attempt to move beyond the framework of ‘orthodoxy and heresy’ in early Christian studies.” —Elizabeth A. Clark, John Carlisle Kilgo Professor, Emerita, Duke University

Published Reviews of the English Version

If an apparently disproportionate amount of a short review has been devoted to a mere 8 percent of the text, it is because of the importance of these pages: Markschies’s thrust is toward a model of the history of theology where the entire theology (explicit and implicit) is mediated by and through institutions, being conditioned by that transmission. This is a significant and welcome departure from a narrower model of theology as the annals of
the thoughts of great and influential theologians. In particular, too few histories of early Christian theology have deigned to consider the fragmentary remains of ancient liturgies. — Joseph Azize, RBL 04/2018 (see here)

Christoph Markschies’s ambitious and rewarding book explains how new theological ideas emerged in early     Christ­tianity. Theology was embedded in institutional forms, and theological diversity can be explained by the diversity of Christian institutions. Highlights include a terrific section on Origen’s school and a magisterial account of the normative function of the biblical canon. — Ben Myers, The Christian Century: see here; cf. here.

“Markschies convincingly demonstrates that the reality saw gradually developing, diverse institutions in specific contexts, which gave birth to various theologies. English-speaking scholars and students of what should now be called late-antique Christianities will benefit hugely from this important contribution” — Kimberley Fowler, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 38.5 (2016): 113-114.

“In general, the Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity is good for English speaking scholarship. The previous volumes in this series devote themselves to the study of New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew, and Canon. This new volume by Markschies now affords English-speaking scholars to garner quick access to a leading German figure within early Christian scholarship. With the language barriers between the two continents, Anglophone scholars may quickly hear the voice of modern German critical scholarship. …  It is without reservation that early Christian scholars should consult and read Christian Theology and Its Institutions  Markschies’s complementary model is a critical feature to grasp for critical readings of early Christianity. Early Christian scholars can hear first hand from European scholarship that is shaping the critical guild.” — Shawn Wilhite, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 20.2 (2016): 111-14 (see also here).

Cette foisonnante synthèse, nourrie par une bibliographie de près de cent pages, se propose de repenser l’histoire de la théologie chrétienne des iie et iiie siècles principalement, en dépassant la dichotomie, traditionnelle dans les universités allemandes, entre la Kirchengeschichte et la Dogmengeschichte. C. Markschies souhaite montrer comment la pluralité des institutions du christianisme ancien a été, pour la période étudiée, la source d’une diversité théologique. — Arnaud Perrot, Apocrypha 27 (2016), pp. 230-232.

Blog Responses

Ben Myers’s Tweet Review (here; cf. here)

For Wayne Coppins blog posts on this volume, see here.

Reviews of the German version

See here.

Other Links

For the Mohr Siebeck German Version see here.

For Markschies’s English-Language Publications, see here.

For Markschies’s “German Scholars” post, see here.

For audio-video material by Markschies, see here.

For Markschies’s University webpage, see here.

For Markschies’s page, see here.

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