In this classic work, Wayne A. Meeks analyzes the earliest extant documents of Christianity-the letters of Paul-to describe the tensions and the texture of life of the first urban Christians. In a new introduction, he describes the evolution of the field of New Testament scholarship over the past twenty years, including new developments in fields such as archaeology and social history.Praise for the earlier edition:"Many readers are likely to join me in feeling that they have never been so close to their mixed and mixed-up spiritual ancestors as Meeks helps them to be. For those who are open to the possibility that they can find fresh angles on the familiar, this book is not only recommended; it is urged."-Martin E. Marty, Christian Century"A much-needed authoritative study."-J. L. Houlden, Times Literary Supplement"Those with any historical bent will be intrigued by the way a story usually overlaid with thick layers of theological speculation is unraveled...And those who simply have an interest in how groups form in any era ...will be fascinated by this case study of one particular community that has ramifications for understanding all other communities." -Robert McAfee Brown, New York Times Book Review "Should fascinate any reader with an interest in the history of human thought."—Phoebe-Lou Adams, Atlantic Monthly