Recommended resources: Everyday life in the early church


We excerpted “A day in the life” from the Week in the Life series on early church faith by InterVarsity Press. You may enjoy reading the whole set: Ben Witherington III, A Week in the Life of Corinth (2012) and A Week in the Fall of Jerusalem (2017); Gary Burge, A Week in the Life of a Roman Centurion (2015); Holly Beers, A Week in the Life of a Greco-Roman Woman (2019); John Byron, A Week in the Life of a Slave (2019); James Papandrea, A Week in the Life of Rome (2019); and David deSilva, A Week in the Life of Ephesus (2020). 

To read nonfiction about daily life in the Roman Empire for both Christians and pagans, check out Peter Brown, The World of Late Antiquity, AD 150–750 (1971) and Late Antiquity (1998); Henry Chadwick, The Early Church (revised ed. 1993); Florence Dupont, Daily Life in Ancient Rome (1993); Gillian Clark, Women in Late Antiquity (1993) and Christianity and Roman Society (2004); Gregory Aldrete, Daily Life in the Roman City (2004); James Ermatinger, Daily Life of Christians in Ancient Rome (2007); and Kyle Harper, The Fate of Rome (2017).

Read more about social class and wealth in the early church in L. William Countryman, The Rich Christian in the Church of the Early Empire (1980); Peter Brown, Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire (2002) and Through an Eye of a Needle (2012); and Helen Rhee, Loving the Poor, Saving the Rich (2012) and (as editor) Wealth and Poverty in Early Christianity (2017). 

Understand marriage and family life by reading David Hunter, Marriage in the Early Church (2001) and (as editor) Marriage and Sexuality in Early Christianity (2018); David Balch and Carolyn Osiek, Early Christian Families in Context (2003); Kate Cooper, The Fall of the Roman Household (2007); Raymond Collins, Accompanied by a Believing Wife (2013); and Kyle Harper, From Shame to Sin (2013).

Learn more about formation and prayer in the early church in Paul Bradshaw, Daily Prayer in the Early Church (2008); Lev Gillet, The Jesus Prayer (1987); Roy Hammerling, ed., A History of Prayer (2008); Maxwell Johnson, Praying and Believing in Early Christianity (2013); Paul Blowers, ed. and trans., Moral Formation and the Virtuous Life (2019).

Understand how and why Christians were persecuted in W. H. C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church (1981); Stephen Benko, Pagan Rome and the Early Christians (1986); J. W. van Henten and Friedrich Avemarie, Martyrdom and Noble Death (2002); Robert Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them (2nd ed., 2003); Hugo Rahner, Church and State in Early Christianity (2005); George Kalantzis, Caesar and the Lamb (2012); and Wolfram Kinzig, Christian Persecution in Antiquity (2021).

Read about holiness, asceticism, and early monasticism in Derwas Chitty, The Desert a City (1966); Benedicta Ward, The Lives of the Desert Fathers (1981) and (as translator), Sayings of the Desert Fathers (1984); Peter Brown, The Body and Society (1988); Douglas Burton-Christie, The Word in the Desert (1993); Susanna Elm, “Virgins of God” (1994); and James Goehring, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert (1999).

Finally, get more information about the cities featured in our gallery and others in the Historical Atlas of Ancient Christianity (2014) edited by Angelo Di Berardino.

Christian History magazines

Read these past issues of Christian History related to this issue’s theme online; some hard copies are still available for purchase.

17: Women in the Early Church

27: Persecution in the Early Church

37: Worship in the Early Church 

47: Paul and His Times

49: Everyday Faith in the Middle Ages

51: Heresy in the Early Church

57: Converting the Empire

64: St. Antony and the Desert Fathers

80: First Bible Teachers

85: Council of Nicaea

96: The Gnostics

105: Christianity in Early Africa

110: Vocation and Calling

124: Faith in the City

135: Plagues and Epidemics 

144. Christian History in Images

Videos from Vision Video

Videos on the theme of this issue include The Apocalypse; Apostle Paul and the Earliest Churches; Augustine: A Voice for All Generations; the Book by Book study guides to Paul’s epistles; Crossing Rome; Exploring Ephesus; In the Footsteps of St. Peter; History of Christian Worship; The Lives of the Apostles Paul and Peter; Lost Legacy Reclaimed; Paul the Apostle; Paul the Emissary; Perpetua: Early Church Martyr; Pioneers of the Spirit: Augustine of Hippo; Polycarp; The Seven Churches of Revelation Rediscovered; The Story of the Twelve Apostles; To the Ends of the Earth; Trial and Testimony of the Early Church; and Torchlighters episodes on Augustine and Perpetua


The Fordham Ancient History Sourcebook and the Christian Classics Ethereal Library are, as always, great sources for primary sources discussed in this issue. Early Christian Writings focuses on texts from orthodox Christianity and other varieties of belief up to the Council of Nicaea. The Center for Early African Christianity has timelines, maps, and other resources. Extensive sites devoted specifically to Tertullian and Augustine also exist. CH 

By the authors and editors

[Christian History originally published this article in Christian History Issue #147 in 2023]

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