Christianity and the Christian Church of the First Three Centuries

By Ferdinand Christian Baur and Peter C. Hodgson (editor)

A new translation of Volume One of Ferdinand Christian Baur’s classic account of the history of the Christian Church.

ISBN: 9780227177297


Christianity and the Christian Church of the First Three Centuries, the first volume in Baur’s five-volume history of the Christian Church, is the most influential and best known of his many groundbreaking publications in New Testament, early Christianity, church history, and historical theology. In it, Baur discusses such matters as the entrance of Christianity into world history, the teaching and person of Jesus, the tension between Jewish Christian and gentile Christian interpretations and their resolution in the idea of the Catholic Church, the opposition of Gnosticism and Montanism to Catholicism, the development of dogma or doctrine in the first three centuries, Christianity’s relation to the pagan world and the Roman state, and Christianity as a moral and religious principle.

This new translation is translated by Robert F. Brown and Peter C. Hodgson.

Additional information

Dimensions 254 × 178 mm
Pages 470

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792-1860) was Professor of Theology at the University of Tübingen. The Editor’s Foreword introduces the work, and the translators have added critical footnotes.

Peter C. Hodgson is Charles G. Finney Professor of Theology Emeritus at the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University. He has specialized in works by Baur and Hegel, as well as in contemporary issues of constructive theology.

Robert F. Brown is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Delaware. He has specialized in the history of philosophy and the philosophy of religion, with a focus on German idealism.


Editor’s Foreword
Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Second Edition

Part 1: The Entrance of Christianity into World History; Primitive Christianity
The Universalism of the Roman Empire as a Preparation for Christianity
Christianity and the Pre-Christian Religions
Greek Philosophy
Primitive Christianity and the Gospels
The Consciousness of Primitive Christianity and Its Principle
The Teaching about the Kingdom of God
The Person of Jesus and the Messianic Idea
The Death and Resurrection of Jesus

Part 2: Christianity as a Universal Principle of Salvation: The Antithesis of Paulinism and Judaism, and Its Equilibrium in the Idea of the Catholic Church
I. The Antitheses
II. The Mediation
III. Johannine Christianity

Part 3: Christianity As Ideal World-Principle and as Real, Historically Conditioned Phenomenon, or Gnosis and Montanism, and the Catholic Church as the Antithesis to Each of Them
I. Gnosis and Montanism
II. The Catholic Church as the Antithesis to Gnosis and Montanism
Part 4: Christianity as the Highest Principle of Revelation, and as Dogma
The Transition to Dogma
The Christology of the Synoptic Gospels, and Paul’s Christology
The Christology of the Book of Revelation
Christology in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and in the Deutero-Pauline Epistles
The Johannine Concept of the Logos
The Apostolic Fathers and the Early Church Fathers
The Monarchians
The Further Development of the Doctrine of Christ’s Divinity
The Big Picture: the Doctrines of God, Moral Freedom, and the Church

Part 5: Christianity as a Power Dominant in the World, in Its Relation to the Pagan World and to the Roman State
The Transition to a Position of Power
I. The Internal Aspects of Christianity’s Relation to the Pagan World and to the Roman State
II. The External Aspects of Christianity’s Relation to the Pagan World to the Roman State

Part 6: Christianity as a Moral and Religious Principle, in Its Universality and Its Limitations at This Time
The Universality and the Energy of Christianity’s Moral and Religious Principle
The Good Features of the Christian’s Approach to Morality
The One-Sided and Restrictive Character of Christian Morality
The Purer Moral Principles of Clement of Alexandria
More Lenient Moral Practices
The Christian Cultus

Index of Persons
Index of Subjects


Endorsements and Reviews

No historical theologian has contributed more than Baur to a rational understanding of Christian origins and history. Professor Hodgson is his outstanding English-language interpreter. His introduction and, with Robert Brown, lucid translation of this most important synthesis invites fresh assessments of modern New Testament scholarship by revisiting the origins of that discipline’s dominant paradigm.
Robert Morgan, University of Oxford

Long neglected or dismissed, Ferdinand Christian Baur is re-emerging as one of the most important Christian theologians of the nineteenth century. Christianity and the Christian Church of the First Three Centuries is the book that showcases Baur’s diverse theological interests most poignantly and powerfully. Peter Hodgson and Robert Brown have breathed new life into this important text with their definitive English translation. A masterful accomplishment, and a gift to students of Baur and of early Christianity!
David Lincicum, University of Notre Dame