Christian Origins: From Messianic Movement to Christian ReligionChristopher Rowland (Minneapolis, MN/Augsburg/London: SPCK, 1985) 448 pp., $16.95, paperback
Christopher Rowland is known for his wide-ranging study of the apocalyptic literature— the visionary literature from the period 200 B.C. to 100 A.D., exemplified by Daniel in the Old Testament, Revelation in the New Testament and non-canonical books such as 1 Enoch.a He has now produced an even more wide-ranging study of Christian origins. This book is intended for students, but it is meant to be more substantial than standard general introductions. Rowland does not engage in detailed technical argument, but neither does he restrict himself to presenting consensus views. Rather, he proffers a definite thesis and develops it in a distinctive way. This thesis, that Christianity began as a Jewish eschatological sect, is neither novel nor especially controversial. Rowland goes further than most, however, in attempting to draw the lines of continuity between the early Church and its Jewish background.
The book may be divided into three main sections of approximately 100 pages each. (The final 100 pages are taken up with a helpful sketch of the sources, footnotes and extensive bibliography and index.)