I started reading another book to review for the Southwestern Journal of Theology: Paul Trebilco’s The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius. The work is quite extensive in every respect, as evident in both the sheer size and desnsity of material, as well as the range of ideas and approaches, which the author is able to cover. The introduction is good in the questions it raises to lay out the framework of the massive enterprise to tackle scholarship both in its text and history. The section closes with a solid socio-scientific question, “What makes a group a group?” Pulling from J.H. Elliott, the author lists some qualities of a community:

  • a sense of commitment to the group as an entity that must be joined and in which members continue to experience a sense of belonging and some form of shared social life
  • group boundaries of some sort and ways of maintaining them
  • in connection with boundaries, at least some sense of “us” and “them”, and some understanding of attitudes to and interaction with “them”
  • common beliefs and perspectives, including ways of legitimating their existence as a distinct group
  • patterns of behavior
  • shared rituals of various sorts, including rituals for entry into the group and forms of worship
  • shared attitudes and values
  • distinctive language and symbols, including language for self-designation
  • distinctive worldviews and some form of shared narrative
  • loyalty to a particular tradition, and/or to particular people
  • some form of leadership and group structure or organization
  • some understanding of the locus of authority
  • mechanisms for group discipline and for the management of internal conflict