At its beginning Christianity was surprising, powerful, creative, world-shaking. Today in the West it is many times familiar, common, and expected, losing its power to surprise and transform. We have developed societal amnesia and ignorance of what Christianity originally was ? and what it still can be. We need to recover the surprise of Christianity. We need to ask the same fundamental questions as the early Christians, which will help us rediscover the surprising power of Christianity in our midst. Focusing on the surprise of the gospel message takes us into the heart of what it is to understand Christianity at all, and thus what it is to remember and relearn the life-giving power and witness that went with being Christian at the beginning. This remembering and relearning can, in turn, surprise us all over again and chart a course for our witness today.
C. Kavin Rowe is the George Washington Ivey Distinguished Professor of New Testament. His forthcoming book is Christianity's Surprise: A Sure and Certain Hope (Abingdon, 2020). He is the author of three other books: One True Life: the Stoics and Early Christians as Rival Traditions (Yale University Press, 2016), World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age (Oxford University Press, 2009, paperback 2010), and Early Narrative Christology (de Gruyter, 2006, repr. Baker Academic, 2009). He has published multiple scholarly articles and co-edited The Word Leaps the Gap (Eerdmans, 2008) and Rethinking the Unity and Reception of Luke and Acts (University of South Carolina Press, 2010). He is on the editorial board of several international peer-review journals and has also frequently written articles for faithandleadership.com.
Rowe has been a Fulbright Scholar, Regional Scholar for the Society of Biblical Literature, chair of the Society’s Southeastern Region New Testament section, president of the Society's Southeastern Region, and was elected to the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas. He was awarded a Lilly Faculty Fellowship, a Christian Faith and Life Grant from the Louisville Institute, the John Templeton Prize for Theological Promise, the Paul J. Achtemeier Award, and a Distinguished Scholars grant from the McDonald Agape Foundation.