Cultural Christians in the Early Church: A Historical and Practical Introduction to Christians in the Greco-Roman World

By: Nadya Williams
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In the middle of the third century CE, one North African bishop wrote a treatise for the women of his church, exhorting them to resist such culturally normalized yet immodest behaviors in their cosmopolitan Roman city as mixed public bathing in the nude, and wearing excessive amounts of jewelry and makeup. The treatise appears even more striking, once we realize that the scandalous virgins to whom it was addressed were single women who had dedicated their virginity to Christ.

Stories like this one challenge the general assumption among Christians today that the earliest Christians were zealous converts who were much more counterculturally devoted to their faith than typical church-goers today.

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