June 4th, 2012


Robin M. Jensen.
Baptismal Imagery in Early Christianity: Ritual, Visual, and Theological Dimensions.
Grand Rapids (MI), Baker Academic, 2012, 256 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-8010-4832-6
Price: $24.99


Robin Jensen, a leading scholar of early Christian art and worship, illuminates the theological meaning of baptism by exploring multiple dimensions of the early Christian baptismal rite. She examines five models for understanding baptism, showing how visual images, poetic language, architectural space, and symbolic actions signify and convey the theological meaning of this ritual practice. Considering image and action together, Jensen offers a holistic and integrated understanding of the power of baptism. The book is illustrated with photos and will be useful to professors and students in courses on theology, ritual studies, liturgy, and sacraments as well as to art historians and archaeologists.

Table of contents:

1. Baptism as Cleansing from Sin and Sickness
2. Incorporation into the Community
3. Baptism as Sanctifying and Illuminative
4. Baptism as Death and Regeneration
5. Baptism as the Beginning of the New Creation


Robin M. Jensen (PhD, Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary) is Luce Chancellor's Professor of the History of Christian Art and Worship at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She has authored several books, including Face to Face: Portraits of the Divine in Early Christianity and Understanding Early Christian Art.


"So clear and direct it can easily serve as a solid introductory text; at the same time it is so thoroughly researched it will serve scholars of early Christian history, liturgy, and art for years to come. This much-welcome and much-needed volume is not to be missed."--Todd Johnson, Fuller Theological Seminary

"This volume illumines the multiple biblical metaphors that evoke the meaning of baptism, offers a lucid and richly attested account of early church baptismal practices, and awakens the imagination of readers to engage in contemporary celebrations of baptism with renewed vitality. The book demonstrates that metaphor, architecture, visualization, and liturgy are not mere applications of theology but rather help constitute theology, and it does so in a way that is both accessible to students and instructive for veteran pastors and theological educators."--John D. Witvliet, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary

"Robin Jensen brings her scholarly acumen and aesthetic sensibility to the interpretation of the principal motifs of the early Christian baptismal ritual. Adding to her impressive writings on the subject of baptism, Jensen addresses this book to a more popular audience but with solid scholarly support. These thematic studies elucidate the effects and meaning of the baptismal liturgy as a sensory, symbolic, and spiritual experience for its recipients."--Everett Ferguson, Distinguished Scholar in Residence, Abilene Christian University


Creeds, Councils, and Controversies: Documents Illustrating the History of the Church, AD 337-461
Еdited by J. Stevenson and W. H. C. Frend
Grand Rapids (MI), Baker Academic, 2012, 504 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-8010-3970-6
Price: $45.00


This sourcebook of primary texts illustrates the history of Christianity from Nicaea to St. Augustine and St. Patrick. It covers all major persons and topics in the "golden age" of Greek and Latin patristics. This standard collection, still unsurpassed, is now available to a wider North American audience.


J. Stevenson (1901-1983) was a Fellow of Downing College, University of Cambridge.

W. H. C. Frend (1916-2005) was chair of ecclesiastical history at the University of Glasgow, a Fellow of the British Academy, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.


"This collection of documents from the world of early Christianity is not only handy but also enlightening. Here, one has immediate access to ancient words on Gnosticism and Arianism, baptism and persecution, and canon and controversy. Here, in the antique, one may find something rare, something lovely, something new."--D. Jeffrey Bingham, professor of theological studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

"Professors of early Christianity will enthusiastically welcome the reprinting of these two extremely well-selected and unsurpassed collections of documents [A New Eusebius and Creeds, Councils and Controversies]. These two textbooks have long set the standard for collections of original documents illustrating the practices and thought of early Christians. It is extremely useful for those who teach this period to have these texts back in print."--Kevin Madigan, Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History, The Divinity School, Harvard University

"J. Stevenson's classic two-volume compilation, A New Eusebius and Creeds, Councils, and Controversies, assembles snippets from a wide range of hard-to-find materials: acts of Christian martyrs, conciliar documents, fragments from heretics and persecutors, inscriptions on coins and catacombs, snatches of gossip in scattered letters. The final result is a brilliant mosaic of early Christianity."--William Harmless, author of Augustine in His Own Words


Ronald J. Sider
Early Church on Killing, The: A Comprehensive Sourcebook on War, Abortion, and Capital Punishment
Grand Rapids (MI), Baker Academic, 2012, 224 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-8010-3630-9
Price: $27.99


Noted theologian Ron Sider lets the testimony of the early church speak in the first of a three-volume series on biblical peacemaking. This volume offers a thorough, comprehensive treatment on topics of perennial concern--war, abortion, and capital punishment--providing English translations for all extant data directly relevant to the treatment of these issues by the early church until Constantine. Primarily, it draws data from early church writings, but other evidence, such as archaeological finds and Roman writings, is included. The book contains brief introductions to every Christian writer cited and explanatory notes on many specific texts. The Early Church on Killing will be a helpful text in courses on ethics, theology, and church history.

Table of contents:

Part 1: Christian Writers before Constantine
1. Didache
2. The Epistle of Barnabas
3. First Clement
4. Second Clement
5. Apocalypse of Peter
6. Justin Martyr
7. Tatian
8. Irenaeus
9. Athenagoras
10. Clement of Alexandria
11. Tertullian
12. Minucius Felix
13. Didascalia apostolorum
14. Julius Africanus
15. Origen
16. St. Cyprian
17. Gregory Thaumaturgus
18. Dionysius of Alexandria
19. Archelaus
20. Adamantius, Dialogue on the True Faith
21. Arnobius of Sicca
22. Lactantius
Part 2: Church Orders and Synods
23. Apostolic Tradition
24. Three Later Church Orders
25. Synod of Arles
Part 3: Miscellaneous Items
26. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
27. Paul of Samosata
28. The Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena
Part 4: Other Evidence of Christian Soldiers before Constantine
29. "The Thundering Legion"
30. A Third Century Christian Prayer Hall Near a Military Camp
31. Epitaphs
32. Military Martyrs
33. Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History
34. An Early Christian Kingdom?


Ronald J. Sider (PhD, Yale University) is president of Evangelicals for Social Action and professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.


"In this very important work, Ron Sider returns to his roots as a church historian to offer an exceedingly careful, measured study of the literary evidence left by the early church on the morality of killing. This volume is entirely free of propaganda or polemics, following the evidence where it leads. This deceptively brief, highly disciplined study should prove to be authoritative in this field."--David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics and director, Center for Theology and Public Life, Mercer University

"In a most helpful way and with an evident knowledge of the primary sources, Ronald Sider presents in translation a comprehensive sourcebook of early Christian statements on the issues of abortion, capital punishment, and military service. . . . Sider confronts the reader with the relevant texts themselves and so allows us to make our own independent judgment on the important question of the early church's position on these difficult and yet highly relevant themes. This book will be an asset in the libraries of pastors and laypeople alike and a welcome text in college and seminary classrooms."--William C. Weinrich, professor of early church history and patristic studies, Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana

"The question of 'killing' has been a contested and debated issue from the earliest years of the church's history. May Christians serve in the military? Is abortion ever justifiable? What of the question of capital punishment? Ron Sider has produced an invaluable handbook of primary source material from an ancient Christian perspective that can serve the entire church well as we continue to face these thorny and often heartrending questions in a modern context."--Christopher A. Hall, chancellor, Eastern University
"In a time when violent death is all too common and wars of choice are undertaken all too readily, it is bracing to be reminded by this cloud of witnesses from the early church of the value that early Christians placed on human life and the severe judgments they issued on those who took it without cause."--Harold W. Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity, Yale Divinity School

"The composite portrait that these texts create is one of a radical Christian ethic and of a church that struggled to live into it. Even in the midst of this complexity, one can still see the outlines of a 'consistent ethic of life' in which aversion to the shedding of blood is paired with a willingness to lay down one's life in witness to the Prince of Peace. Should today's Christian communities have ears to hear this message, then the death-dealing powers that organize our world might have a genuine revolution on their hands."--Christian Collins Winn, associate professor of historical and systematic theology, Bethel University
"In recent years some have argued that the church of the first three centuries might have been somewhat ambivalent in its opposition to war and killing. Ron Sider's excellent and comprehensive sourcebook shows once again that, even though the practices of individual Christians might have deviated at times from what Christians are called to be and do, the uniform voice of the church before its rise to political power was one of unconditional rejection of war and killing in all its pluriformity. Against the cultural norms of power and the state's demands for obedience, early Christian writers responded with a bewildering call to love one's enemies and pray for one's persecutors. And that, as Tertullian insisted, sets Christians apart from all other people."--George Kalantzis, director, The Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies; author, Caesar and the Lamb: Early Christian Attitudes to War and Military Service