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Volume IV: Salvation
In VOLUME IV: SALVATION, we will be taking a pause from moving THE STORY OF THE CHRISTIANS forward in chronological order. In order to understand the people across the Roman Empire to whom the evangelium was directed, it is necessary to return to a subject first raised in Volume I, where we discussed the Hellenistic culture of the Mediterranean as characterized by individualism and cosmopolitanism. This age offered a vast marketplace of religious ideas to the citizens and subjects of the Roman Empire. Christianity arose in an environment of significant competition with other cults; in this volume we will explore some of the more compelling cults and
ideas that competed for people’s hearts and souls, specifically those that many scholars describe as “mystery religions,” which we will classify as “salvationist” religions. Christianity arose at a time when many competing cults were offering salvation. But what was the nature of the salvation that was offered by these many faiths?
We advise the reader to walk back from a modern understanding of salvation in a Christian context, as this conception has developed as a result of two thousand years of theological study and argument. As we shall demonstrate, the salvation held out to believers was a blessed afterlife, a concept we take for granted in the modern era, but one that was revolutionary in the ancient world.
As a belief in salvation was shared by many competing faiths in the Mediterranean world, we will show that a common “salvationist vocabulary” developed, a body of words, titles, epithets, rites, rituals, images, and symbols that could be readily understood and came to be shared amongst these faiths. This volume is amply illustrated with images from pagan, Jewish and Christian art which incorporate this shared salvationist vocabulary.
Chapters in VOLUME IV:
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