Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Going To Church in the First Century

If you want an interesting but quick read, pick up this little 48-page book by Robert Banks. Banks is the author of the classic study on Paul's view of church: Paul's Idea of Community: The Early Housechurches in their Historical Setting.

Banks attempts through a simple fictive narrative to describe what a meeting of the first century church must have been like. The setting is in Rome at the house of Aquila and Prisca. The story is told in the first person by a guest, Publius Valerius Amicius Rufus.

Some might quibble with various details. Remember, this is fiction! However, it is based on some solid research and study by the author. Of course part of our challenge relates to the fact there is no "order of worship" program found in the pages of the New Testament! Perhaps there is a reason for the omission!

From the book:

"From a religious point of view the whole meeting left a lot to be desired. What had happened contained scarcely anything religious at all. They didn't even have a priest, let alone all the ritual that you expect. This wasn't quite what I had bargained for. Neither decently ritualistic nor exotically mysterious. All very simply and matter-of-fact. I wondered what their god made of this slipshod and common way of doing things. Not at all in the manner to which I would have thought a god was accustomed."
I recommend you form a reading group to discuss this book. I think it would generate quite a bit of lively discussion!

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