Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations (2013)

Welcome to the new, thoroughly revised, online edition of the book Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations: Claiming a Place in Ancient Mediterranean Society (2013) with clickable links to inscriptions that are collected together on the sister-site Associations in the Greco-Roman World: A Companion to the Sourcebook.  This updated edition has many new illustrations, including colored photographs.

Here are your options:

This is an excellent study of the sociology of early Christianity, diaspora Judaism and other religious activity during the first two centuries.”
(Stephen Mitchell, University of Exeter. See more excerpts from reviews further below).

Book information

Philip A. Harland, Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations: Claiming a Place in Ancient Mediterranean Society (2nd revised edition with links to inscriptions; Kitchener, Ontario: Philip A. Harland, 2013). <> ISBN XXXXXXXX.



Part 1: Associations in Asia Minor (available to read online)
1 / Associations: Social Networks and Membership
2 / Purposes: Honoring the Gods, Feasting with Friends
3 / Symptoms of Civic Decline or Participants in Vitality?

Part 2: Imperial Cults and Connections among Associations
4 / Imperial Gods within Associations
5 / Positive Interactions and Imperial Connections
6 / Putting Tensions and Official Intervention in Perspective

Part 3: Synagogues and Congregations within Society
7 / Comparing Groups in Antiquity
8 / Judeans, Jesus-followers, and Imperial Honors
9 / Imperial Cults, Persecution, and the Apocalypse of John


Some excerpts from reviews of the first (2003) edition

“This is an excellent study of the sociology of early Christianity, diaspora Judaism and other religious activity during the first two centuries. . . . The methodology is exemplary.  . . . The scholarship throughout, ranging from sociological theory to studies of early Christian literature and Asia Minor epigraphy and archaeology is impressively up-to-date.  The book is lucidly written and well presented.  It deserves to be widely read and discussed.”

Stephen Mitchell, University of Exeter, Journal of Ecclesiastical History 55 (2004): 744-45.

“Harland’s purpose . . . is not simply to replace the old paradigm [of group-society tensions and sectarianism] by its opposite; rather, his goal is to show that the old paradigm represents only one in a range of options for our understanding of the sociological self-awareness of the early Christian groups.  And he achieves this goal with precision and clarity.”

Michael Kaler, Université Laval, Review of Biblical Literature 10 (2004) = Journal of Biblical Literature 123 (2004) 377-380.

“Harland’s clearly written, well-argued, and richly documented study . . . is a welcome addition to the body of new scholarship that challenges a number of long-standing historical assumptions on the basis of a thorough examination of archaeological evidence (architecture and art as well as inscriptions), a re-reading of Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian literature, and a sophisticated application of theories developed in religious studies.”

Luke Timothy Johnson, Emory University, Worship 78 (2004): 281-82.

“[A] brilliant volume like this can be either an introduction with a clear focus on how to use inscriptions and archaeological data or a finely tuned review of the methods employed to study them.  . . . No serious scholar of early Christian studies can avoid this volume.  It is pertinent, creative, well researched, and a good read.”

Frederick W. Norris, Emmanuel School of Religion, Church History 73 (2004) 836-837.

“Harland has produced a most impressive and rich study that will serve students and scholars alike.  It is a must read for all who study Christian origins and the ancient synagogue as well as first and second century Roman society generally.”

Anders Runesson, McMaster University, Biblica 86 (2005) 137-141.

“The extent and critical care Harland devotes to the issues . . . indicate that the socio-historical reconstruction of associations and imperial cult is more than a mere convenient backdrop for his historiographically orientated biblical studies . . . Particularly impressive is Harland’s use of epigraphic material, which is often the only remaining information on some associations.  This alone will make this book highly recommendable to students who seek an entry point to this material . . .”

Juan Garcés, King’s College London, Bryn Mawr Classical Review (2005.06.20).

“[T]his highly recommended book deserves a place among the best in biblical studies.  A fascinating read, it sheds new light on an important question in New Testament scholarship.”

J. Albert Harrill, Indiana University, Theological Studies 66 (2005): 668-69.

“What is impressive about Harland’s study is not only the erudition, but also the comprehensiveness.  What we have here is a study that not only cites literary, archaeological, epigraphic evidence, but also discusses and analyses them.  Far too many studies of the ‘world’ of the Roman Empire tell of the evidence, and do not really investigate what the evidence actually tells us.”

Pieter J. J. Botha, University of South Africa, Hervormde Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  61 (2005): 640-641.

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