Fortress Press

Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity: The World of the Acts of the Apostles

Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity

The World of the Acts of the Apostles

Hans-Josef Klauck (Author), Brian McNeil (Translator)


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Klauck describes the religious world into which Christianity was born, by looking at it from the many experiences of the first Christians as recorded in Acts. For example: Peter encounters Simon the magician, the people of Lystra want to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas, and a soothsaying slave-girl is the occasion for conflict in Philippi. We come to Athens where Paul finds the city full of idols but also discovers an altar "to an unknown god" and delivers the famous Areopagus speech, and to Ephesus, where some burn their books of magic formulae, while others provoke a riot in the name of Artemis.

"Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity" makes for a fascinating account of these phenomena and their significance for Christianity historically and today.


  • A fresh treatment of the Book of Acts in light of Greco-Roman religions
  • Extensive bibliography
  • Multiple indexes
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • ISBN 9780800636357
  • Format Paperback
  • Pages 144
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Publication Date September 11, 2003


"A brilliant showcase of contemporary exegetical scholarship. . . . Thought-provoking and exciting reading."
— Jürgen Roloff, author of Revelation (Fortress Press, 1993)

"Klauck examines major texts in Acts to reveal how its irenic author shows at once what Christianity shared with and in what ways it differed from its cultural environment. Much in its world was humane, rational, and religious in a way that required the Christian message to accommodate itself to its audience's expectations without being drawn into patterns and categories of thought foreign to its own. A stimulating read indeed."
— Abraham J. Malherbe, Yale University

Table of Contents

  1. Establishing the Foundations (Acts 1–2)
  2. The Evangelist Philip (Acts 8)
  3. In Caesarea (Acts 10–12)
  4. The First Missionary Journey (Acts 13–14)
  5. Paul in Greece (Acts 16–18)
  6. Paul in Ephesus (Acts 19)
  7. The Journey to Rome (Acts 27–28)
  8. Retrospect and Prospect