Title: Christ, the Image of the Church: The Construction of a New Cosmology and the Rise of ChristianityAuthor: James Constantine HangesSeries: Contexts and Consequences: New Studies in Religion and HistoryImprint: The Davies Group, Publisherssoft cover284 pp.USD 24.00ISBN 978-1888570953September 2006When and how does devotion to Jesus become distinctive enough to be called Christianity? Scholars have long recognized that Jesus' earliest followers continued to see themselves as Jews. Believing that Jesus lived on as the risen Christ did not demand that they part ways from the Jewish community. Even when non-Jews began to respond to the preaching about Jesus, their belief in Jesus as the risen Christ did not alone distinguish them from the Jewish members of the Jesus movement. The element that distinguished the first Christians must be sought elsewhere. Following Durkheim's description of the symbolic nature of group formation, this book argues that the earliest distinctively Christian communities are the Pauline churches, which arose as the result of the apostle's introduction of ecstatic Christ-possession to Greeks, who received the divine spirit free from mediation through the Torah. Paul's ethnically Greek communities symbolized themselves in the image of Christ as both a possessing and possessed spirit, and projected this Christ as the image of the community, cosmologically in such an innovative way relative to Torah that it requires description as a distinctive new religion.ContentsIntroduction Abbreviations Chapter 1 The Folly of the Cross Chapter 2 The Scandal of the Cross Chapter 3 Christ, the Image of the Church Chapter 4 The Age of the Spirit Chapter 5 Conclusion Notes Bibliography IndexReviews“Christ, the Image of the Church is a fresh, original study that is sure to make a significant impact on the field of New Testament studies, as well as on religious studies in general. One of its major theses; that religious experience, socially construed, is crucial to the understanding and interpretation of the emergence of new religions, is well argued and persuasively demonstrated. It rightly challenges and corrects interpretations of these phenomena that attempt to explain it solely in terms of the history of ideas and theological propositions. It is a mature work of scholarship and will surely make its mark on the field.” — Adela Yarbro Collins, Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale Divinity School. “Hanges is not the first to look to Pauline circles for the earliest instances of something different enough from Judaism that it could be called 'Christianity' ... but what Hanges brings to the table is a fresh theoretical argument for this assertion. Moreover, he mounts this argument within a larger context of contemporary Pauline scholarship that over the last several decades has seemed to be swinging in the opposite direction. I find Hanges' contribution attractive and most helpful. He has offered as succinct a solution as I have seen to handling some important issues that have preoccupied Pauline studies for a long while, and I would anticipate that his book is going to be very well-received…. I wish I had had Hanges' book as one of the studies for analysis by my students.” — Michael A. Williams, Professor and ChairDepartment of Near Eastern Languages & CivilizationUniversity of Washington. AuthorJames Hanges (PhD, University of Chicago) teaches in the Department of Comparative Religion at Miami University of Ohio.