One True Life


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The Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions

C. Kavin Rowe

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In this groundbreaking, cross-disciplinary work of philosophy and biblical studies, New Testament scholar C. Kavin Rowe explores the promise and problems inherent in engaging rival philosophical claims to what is true. Juxtaposing the Roman Stoics Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius with the Christian saints Paul, Luke, and Justin Martyr, and incorporating the contemporary views of Jeffrey Stout, Alasdair McIntyre, Charles Taylor, Martha Nussbaum, Pierre Hadot, and others, the author suggests that in a world of religious pluralism there is negligible gain in sampling from separate belief systems. This thought-provoking volume reconceives the relationship between ancient philosophy and emergent Christianity as a rivalry between strong traditions of life and offers powerful arguments for the exclusive commitment to a community of belief and a particular form of philosophical life as the path to existential truth.

C. Kavin Rowe is professor of New Testament at Duke University Divinity School and the author of Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke and World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age. He lives in Durham, NC.

“With this elegant exposition, Kavin Rowe compels us to revisit not only what we thought we knew about the early Christians and their Stoic contemporaries but also—in good philosophical style—the way we might know it. This revolutionary treatment offers a sharp challenge to those who suppose that what people believe can be separated from the whole life they lead. All those interested in early Christianity and its Greco-Roman context should ponder this book very carefully.”—Rt Revd Professor N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews

"This is a mature and provocative intervention into the modern practice of religious comparison: the powerfully argued claim that Stoicism and early Christianity are incompatible, in fact incommensurable, will raise scholarly debate on the possibility of comparison to a wholly new level."—John Barclay, Durham University

"Kavin Rowe's One True Life is a deeply challenging book—an uncomfortable read in the best sense. It is learned, often moving, and written with profound historical and theological intelligence. I wish I had the learning and the sophistication to have written this book."—Simon Gathercole, University of Cambridge

"Few New Testament scholars combine exegetical competence with real philosophical and theological sophistication. Kavin Rowe is one of the rare exceptions. In this remarkable book, Rowe reexamines how the Stoics and the early Christians thought we ought to live our lives and how these two schools of thought relate to one another."—Gary A. Anderson, University of Notre Dame

"Many books have been written on the relation between Christian thought and ancient philosophy, but Rowe eschews abstract ideas in this fresh and stimulating work. He deals with what Greco-Roman thinkers and Christians genuinely cared about: how to live within a moral or religious tradition. The startling claim the early Christians made is that there is a true way of life."—Robert Louis Wilken, author of The First Thousand Years

“Compelling”—Kristine Q. Baker, Washington Book Review

“Rowe's argument is forceful, erudite, and sophisticated.”—R. Goldenberg, Choice

“A truly marvelous book.”—Jeffrey Morrow, Catholic Books Review

“One of the most well-written, thought-provoking, and challenging books on early Christianity and its philosophical milieu published in recent years . . . masterfully argued, and in the end convincing.”—Brian J. Tabb, Themelios

“This careful, engaging, and timely book helps us better understand the stakes of Christian faithfulness and witness.”—Jonathan Tran, Christian Century

"Many will love the stand that he takes against the “acceptable” methods of the academic guild, and they will indeed declare a resounding “Yes!” to his penetrating critique of the all-too-common encyclopedic epistemology."—David E. Briones, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
ISBN: 9780300180121
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
344 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4