How were Christian life and community affected by their emergence into the larger Hellenistic world? What role did Hellenism play in Christianityís initial historical appearance? What was lost and gained?
Based on a lifetime of research and reflection, Metropolitan John D. Zizioulas provides an original overview of the decisive early encounter of Christianity and Hellenism from the first to the third century. He explores issues raised by their meeting, such as the close relation with Judaism and Hellenistic Judaismís role in the formation of the Christian self-consciousness, aspects of the developing life of the Christian communities, and the attempts made by the early Christian apologists and fathers to respond to the various challenges posed by the surrounding world. Drawing on the early sources of the Christian community (the gospels and the New Testament) and the patristic period (the apologists, Ignatius, Irenaeus), Metropolitan John offers a systematic theological evaluation of this long historical period. Approaching this formative yet still controverted relationship, Zizioulas discerns in those early roots the emergence of a communion ontology (being as communion), the importance of the eucharistic context for doing theology, and the soteriological and existential dimension of the Christian faith.