I received confirmation at the end of last week that the publisher I've been talking to since last summer is going ahead with my New Testament social history book project. They are proposing a 192 page, full colour, hard back, small coffee table type book that will hit the shops sometime late next year. This is really very exciting - if a little scary!
This is what the pitch said:
The World of the Early Church: a social history is a book exploring the world in which the earliest Christian communities lived; that period from the mid-30s AD to the opening decades of the Second Century. This is the story of a world dominated by a single empire that was reaching the heights of its power and influence. The Roman world forms the essential social and cultural backdrop to the emergence of the Christian movement.
We will explore ordinary life in the empire – where people lived, how they made ends meet, what they ate, where they went for leisure and entertainment. We’ll ask what ordinary people did for a living and where they did it and we’ll look at social relationships, how people understood their place in the world in relation to others and, very importantly, the gods
This will enable us to focus on those communities (churches) that we know about from the letters of Paul and other missionary authors – what strata of society did they come from, where did they meet, how did they support one another, why did they attract sometimes adverse reactions from their neighbours.
But the book will also look at the social context of Jesus and his ministry and ask how a rural Jewish renewal group became one of the fastest-growing urban movements through the first century.
All I've got to do now is write it!