Review of Evangelism in the Early Church
Reviewed by Kwasi Kena
Evangelism in the Early Church
by Michael Green
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970; Revised Edition, 2004
474 pages. ISBN: 0802827683
Evangelism in the Early Church is not for the novice. Author Michael Green writes in a thorough, scholarly manner. I recommend this book to clergy, seminarians, and laity who wish to acquire a solid historical understanding of the development of evangelism, beginning with the first-century church.
The revised edition of Michel Green's Evangelism in the Early Church is the unique product of a scholar who is deeply committed to both theology and evangelism. Fundamentally, this is a book about the unwavering efficacy of the gospel in the first two hundred years of the Christian movement. This movement prevailed despite challenges posed by Jewish monotheists, Greek and Roman unbelievers, and the inadequacies of the first disciples.
Key Questions Answered
Green answers many of our classic questions: "What were the pathways for evangelism, and what were the obstacles to evangelism?" "How was the evangel described, and what were the accompanying challenges of sharing the evangelwith Jews and Gentiles?" "Who were the early evangelists?" "What were their motives, methods, and strategies?"
Originally published in 1970, this book now appears in its revised 2004 form because of the many academic and cultural changes that have occurred over the past three decades. Green's updated scholarship offers thoughtful insights about early evangelism constructs and efforts that can counterbalance the widely held assumptions above. An examination of Green's analysis should also quiet protests about the difficulty of spreading the gospel in today's society as if our obstacles are more difficult than those presented by the Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures.
The Evangel — A Three-Fold Description
Green's thorough description of what constitutes the evangel is most helpful. Three Greek terms provide a well-rounded understanding of the evangel: euaggelizesthai, marturein, and kerussein. Translated, these three words mean: to tell good news, to bear witness, and to proclaim. Green provides detailed explanations for the above terms and outlines the ways that the early disciples shared the good news, witnessed, and proclaimed the gospel in their environments.
Scholarly But Accessible
The solid scholarship contained in Green's work is not just for academic musing. The fundamental concepts of evangelism and its practice in the early church are useful to readers because of the renewed interest in discovering God, the supernatural, and the gospel today.