To what extent was early Christianity viewed as superstition by its contemporaries? Superstition was the standard category in Greco-Roman antiquity for defaming "debased" religion, and to situate early Christianity in its Mediterranean milieu it is necessary to understand what this label meant to those who used it. Fear is the defining element of superstition according to writers like Plutarch, who regard the emotion as a fundamental human problem.
Fear is likewise a recurring motif in the Epistle to the Hebrews, whose author holds up "confidence" as a Christian ideal yet also employs language which evokes fear in the starkest of terms. This work examines the articulation of Christian faith in Hebrews in the context of ancient debates about the propriety of fear. Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (www. sbl-site. org)