Another review of my Dynamics of Identity in Church History

Catherine M. Chin (University of California, Davis) has now published a review of my Dynamics of Identity book in the latest volume of Church History 80 (2011), 371-73. She has some interesting observations on the book, as well as insightful critique.  You can access the article through Cambridge journals online here if your university has a subscription.  I also notice that has the full text of the review available for free at this point.  I’ll be adding some excerpts from reviews to the companion site here.

For now, here is an excerpt:

“The primary contribution of the work to early Christian studies, and to the study of ancient religion more generally, lies in how few pages are actually spent on “early Christians,” and how many are spent on their world. Harland’s work is a social-historical analysis of ethnic, familial, and association identity markers in the Eastern Roman Empire, and his limited discussion of early Christian sources is firmly embedded in this context. Harland uses contemporary social-scientific models of identity theory, ethnic studies, and migration studies, and applies these models primarily to understudied inscriptional evidence, in order to explore the social and ideological contexts in which early Christian groups first came into being. This is important and enlightening work, and the focus on contemporaneous non-Christian identity markers and identity groupings is a welcome addition both to the literature on religion in the Roman world and, more indirectly, on the growth of the new Christian movement.”