Review: Early Christian Mission

The publication of the present volume in English constitutes a major event in the missiological exploration of early Christianity (the work originally appeared in a one-volume German edition in 2002 and was translated by the author himself). A full century after Adolf von Harnack’s Die Mission und Ausbreitung des Christentums in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten, Schnabel’s work, over 1,900 pages in length, fills a major gap in the missiological literature by providing a treatment of the early Christian mission that considers not only the mission theology of the biblical material (as does P. T. O’Brien’s and my Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Missions, also published by InterVarsity Press), but sets the early Christian mission in its full-orbed historical and geographical context. Overall, Schnabel’s work is characterized by a magisterial command of the secondary literature. It truly represents an amazing achievement, especially in a day of specialization when it has become exceedingly difficult for any one person to master the vast amount of material that continues to be generated.

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