Through the kind permission of Wipf and Stock publishers, a free excerpt of Mission in the Early Church is now available for download HERE. Included in the excerpt is the first chapter entitled, "Backgrounds" and here is a small taste:
Any decent commentary on a book of Scripture will first include a section on background questions. Who was the author? The audience? From where was the book written? Where did the audience live? What was their history and what were their issues? What was the author’s purpose in writing? A thrilling investigation for some students, others quickly rush through the background matter to get on to the weightier matters of exegesis. Yet, hopefully, the latter group will eventually learn that some of the most exciting exegetical discoveries come through a useful background study of the context.
If this book is a commentary on mission in the early church, then the present chapter serves as that necessary background check that will surely unlock some mysteries and shine light on the practice and thought of early Christian mission. We will begin by asking, briefly so, where were they Christians in the world in the first eight and a half centuries? This first question will largely address the origins and initial development of Christianity in each region. Second, what were the political and social contexts in which missionaries labored? Finally, what were the currents of thought— religions, philosophies, and worldview—that the church encountered in its missionary expansion?
I'm very happy to share that my new book Mission in the Early Church has just been released. This project grew out of classroom lectures and discussion in history of mission courses taught over the past eight years and I pray it helps Protestants in particular answer the question: so what happened in mission between Paul and William Carey? At present, the book can be purchased at the Wipf and Stock web site or through Amazon. Below is a brief summary and some endorsements.
How did Christian mission happen in the early church from AD 100 to 750? Beginning with a brief look at the social, political, cultural, and religious contexts, Mission in the Early Church tells the story of early Christian missionaries, their methods, and their missiology. This book explores some of the most prominent themes of mission in early Christianity, including suffering, evangelism, Bible translation, contextualization, ministry in Word and deed, and the church. Based on this survey, modern readers are invited to a conversation that considers how early Christian mission might inform global mission thought and practice today.
"Edward Smither not only offers a much-needed corrective by covering a characteristic so integral to church, but he does it by balancing thorough scholarship with readability and contemporary relevance. Smither does not limit his narrative to expansion of Christianity in the West alone but provides a global perspective on early church history à la Andrew Walls."
—Allen Yeh, Associate Professor of Intercultural Studies and Missiology, Biola University's Cook School of Intercultural Studies, California
"Too many Christians suppose evangelism began when modern Westerners decided to bring the gospel to the ignorant masses of the world's darkest continents. As both a missiologist and ancient church scholar, Edward Smither is perfectly positioned to recover the truth that missions began in the New Testament and never stopped expanding during the church's earliest centuries. Writing with easy-to-read clarity and an expert's mastery, Smither tells a forgotten story that no Christian should miss!"
—Bryan Litfin, Professor of Theology, Moody Bible Institute, Illinois
"Smither in Mission in the Early Church has filled an important gap in historical mission studies by surveying the vibrant mission practice of the early church. Smither's insights into the way the whole church was mobilized for mission has profound implications for us today. The sheer variety of how this mighty stream of lay witnesses bore witness to Christ is nothing short of breathtaking! It's an enjoyable and informative journey—I recommend it."
—Timothy C. Tennent, Professor of World Christianity, Asbury Theological Seminary, Kentucky
"Mission in the Early Church is the book of choice for readers seeking a concise introduction to this oft-overlooked era of mission history. Smither thematically summarizes a vast array of sources to provide an overview of the early spread of the Christian faith. Sidebars and discussion questions connect the ancient story with our story on mission with God today."
—Craig Ott, Professor of Mission and Intercultural Studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois