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A central concern in 1st century Judaism was the covenant with God, and the status of the Jews as the chosen people. Many Jews believed that this covenant would be renewed with the coming of the Messiah. The Law was given by God to guide them in their worship of the Lord and in their interctions with each other, "the greatest gift God had given his people."
The main sources of information regarding Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels, and to a lesser extent the Pauline epistles and the New Testament apocrypha.[web 7] The Gospels are theological documents, which "provide information the authors regarded as necessary for the religious development of the Christian communities in which they worked."[web 7] They consist of short passages, pericopes, which the Gospel-authors arranged in various ways as suited their aims.[web 7]
The Synoptics present different views on the Kingdom of God.[web 7] While the Kingdom is essentially described as eschatological, becoming reality in the near future, some texts present the Kingdom as already being present, while other texts depict the Kingdom as a place in heaven that one enters after death, or as the presence of God on earth.[web 7][note 4]. Jesus talks as expecting the coming of the "Son of Man" from heaven, an apocalyptic figure who would initiate "the coming judgment and the redemption of Israel."[web 7] According to Davies, the Sermon on the Mount presents Jesus as the new Moses who brings a New Law, the Messianic Torah.
Death and resurrection
His ministry was ended by his execution by crucifixion. His early followers believed that three days after his death, Jesus rose bodily from the dead and was exaltated to Divine status. Paul's letters and the Gospels document a number of post-resurrection appearances and the resurrection of Jesus "signalled for earliest believers that the days of eschatological fulfilment were at hand."[web 8] The resurrection was also seen as the exaltation of Jesus, "the action in which God designated Jesus as the unique divine Son, Lord, and monarch who is to preside in the submission of all things to God's kingdom,"[web 8] forming the basis and impetus of the Christian faith and devotion.[web 8] His followers expected Him to return in the near future, ushering in the Kingdom of God.[web 7]
There is widespread disagreement among scholars on the details of the life of Jesus mentioned in the gospel narratives, and on the meaning of his teachings. Scholars often draw a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, and two different accounts can be found in this regard.
Critical scholarship has discounted most of the narratives about Jesus as legendary, and the mainstream historical view is that while the gospels include many legendary elements, these are religious elaborations added to the accounts of a historical Jesus who was crucified under the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate in the 1st-century Roman province of Judea. His remaining disciples later believed that he was resurrected.
Contemporary scholarship places Jesus firmly in the Jewish tradition, Five portraits of the historical Jesus are supported by mainstream scholars, namely the apocalypticprophet,[note 5] the charismatic healer, the Cynic philosopher, the Jewish Messiah, and the prophet of social change. The most prominent view of Jesus is as a Jewish apocalyptic or eschatological teacher.[note 6] A primary criterion used to discern historical details in the "third quest" is that of plausibility, relative to Jesus' Jewish context and to his influence on Christianity.
Liturgical services were based on repeating the actions of Jesus ("do this in remembrance of me"), using the bread and wine, and saying his words (known as the words of the institution). The rest of the liturgical ritual is rooted in the Jewish Passover, siddur, the Passover Seder, and synagogue services, including the singing of hymns (especially the Psalms) and reading from the scriptures. At first, Christians continued to worship alongside Jewish believers, but within twenty years of Jesus' death, Sunday (the Lord's Day) was being regarded as the primary day of worship.
Early Christian beliefs were proclaimed in kerygma (preaching), some of which are preserved in New Testament scripture. The early Gospel message spread orally, probably originally in Aramaic, but almost immediately also in Greek. Christian groups and congregations first organized themselves loosely. In Paul's time there were no precisely delineated functions yet for bishops, elders, and deacons.
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 For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,  and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,[note 13]  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
Two fundamentally different Christologies developed in the early Church, namely a "low" or adoptionist Christology, and a "high" or "incarnation Christology." The chronology of the development of these early Christologies is a matter of debate within contemporary scholarship.[web 10]
The "low Christology" or "adoptionist Christology" is the belief "that God exalted Jesus to be his Son by raising him from the dead," thereby raising him to "divine status."[web 11] According to the "evolutionary model" c.q. "evolutionary theories," the Christological understanding of Christ developed over time, as witnessed in the Gospels, with the earliest Christians believing that Jesus was a human who was exalted, c.q. adopted as God's Son, when he was resurrected. Later beliefs shifted the exaltation to his baptism, birth, and subsequently to the idea of his eternal existence, as witnessed in the Gospel of John. This evolutionary model was very influential, and the "low Christology" has long been regarded as the oldest Christology.[web 11][note 14]
The other early Christology is "high Christology," which is "the view that Jesus was a pre-existent divine being who became a human, did the Father's will on earth, and then was taken back up into heaven whence he had originally come,"[web 11] and from where he appeared on earth. According to Hurtado, a proponent of an Early High Christology, the devotion to Jesus as divine originated in early Jewish Christianity, and not later or under the influence of pagan religions and Gentile converts. The Pauline letters, which are the earliest Christian writings, already show "a well-developed pattern of Christian devotion [...] already conventionalized and apparently uncontroversial."
Early Christian beliefs regarding baptism probably predate the New Testament writings. It seems certain that numerous Jewish sects and certainly Jesus's disciples practised baptism. John the Baptist had baptized many people, before baptisms took place in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul likened baptism to being buried with Christ in his death.[note 15]
Communal meals and Eucharist
Communal meals originated in the early Church. The Eucharist was often a part of the Lovefeast, but between the latter part of the 1st century A.D. and 250 A.D. the two became separate rituals. Thus, in modern times the Lovefeast refers to a Christian ritual meal distinct from the Lord's Supper.
The Eucharist (; also called Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper, among other names) is a Christianrite that is considered a sacrament in most churches, and as an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during the Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passovermeal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the cup of wine as "the new covenant in my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember both Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross and his commission of the apostles at the Last Supper.
Paul was in contact with the early Christian community in Jerusalem, led by James the Just. According to Mack, he may have been converted to another early strand of Christianity, with a High Christology. Fragments of their beliefs in an exalted and deified Jesus, what Mack called the "Christ cult," can be found in the writings of Paul.[note 16] Yet, Hurtado notes that Paul valued the linkage with "Jewish Christian circles in Roman Judea," which makes it likely that his Christology was in line with, and indebted to, their views. Hurtado further notes that "[i]t is widely accepted that the tradition that Paul recites in [Corinthians] 15:1-71 must go back to the Jerusalem Church."
Paul was responsible for bringing Christianity to Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, and Thessalonica. According to Hurtado, "Paul saw Jesus' resurrection as ushering in the eschatological time foretold by biblical prophets in which the pagan 'Gentile' nations would turn from their idols and embrace the one true God of Israel (e.g., ), and Paul saw himself as specially called by God to declare God's eschatological acceptance of the Gentiles and summon them to turn to God."[web 13] According to Krister Stendahl, the main concern of Paul's writings on Jesus' role, and salvation by faith, is the problem of the inclusion of gentile (Greek) Torah observers into God's covenant.[web 14] The inclusion of Gentiles into early Christianity posed a problem for the Jewish identity of some of the early Christians. Observance of the Jewish commands, including circumcision, was regarded as a token of the membership of this covenant, and the early Jewish Christians insisted on keeping those observances. Gentiles were, by definition, not part of Israel, God's chosen people, and the new converts did not follow all "Jewish Law"[note 17] and refused to be circumcised, as circumcision was considered repulsive during the period of Hellenization of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Paul objected strongly to the insistence on keeping all of the Jewish commands, considering it a great threat to his doctrine of salvation through faith in Jesus. According to Fredriksen, Paul's opposition to male circumcison for Gentiles is in line with Old Testament predictions that "in the last days the gentile nations would come to the God of Israel, as gentiles (e.g., Zechariah 8:20-23), not as proselytes to Israel."[web 9] For Paul, Gentile male circumcison was therefore an affront to God's intentions.[web 9] According to Hurtado, "Paul saw himself as what Munck called a salvation-historical figure in his own right," who was "personally and singularly deputized by God to bring about the predicted ingathering (the "fullness") of the nations (Romans 11:25)."[web 9]
For Paul, Jesus' death and resurrection solved the problem of the exclusion of the gentles from God's covenant, since the faithful are redeemed by participation in Jesus' death and rising. In the Jerusalem ekkl?sia, from which Paul received the creed of 1 Corinthisnas 15:1-7, the phrase "died for our sins" probably was an apologetic rationale for the death of Jesus as being part of God's plan and purpose, as evidenced in the scriptures. For Paul, it gained a deeper significance, providing "a basis for the salvation of sinful Gentiles apart from the Torah." According to Sanders, Paul argued that "those who are baptized into Christ are baptized into his death, and thus they escape the power of sin [...] he died so that the believers may die with him and consequently live with him."[web 15] By this participation in Christ's death and rising, "one receives forgiveness for past offences, is liberated from the powers of sin, and receives the Spirit." Paul insists that salvation is received by the grace of God; according to Sanders, this insistence is in line with Judaism of c. 200 BC until 200 AD, which saw God's covenant with Israel as an act of grace of God. Observance of the Law is needed to maintain the covenant, but the covenant is not earned by observing the Law, but by the grace of God.[web 16]
These divergent interpretations have a prominent place in both Paul's writings and in Acts. According to Paul, fourteen years after his conversion he visited the "Pillars of Jerusalem" to compare his Gospel with theirs. According to Paul, in his letter to the Galatians,[note 18] they agreed that his mission was to be among the Gentiles. According to Acts, Paul made an argument that circumcision was not a necessary practice, vocally supported by Peter, as documented in Acts 15.[note 19]
The inclusion of Gentiles is reflected in Luke-Acts, which is an attempt to answer a theological problem, namely how the Messiah of the Jews came to have an overwhelmingly non-Jewish church; the answer it provides, and its central theme, is that the message of Christ was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected it.
Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire occurred sporadically over a period of over two centuries. For most of the first three hundred years of Christian history, Christians were able to live in peace, practice their professions, and rise to positions of responsibility. Sporadic percecution took place as the result of local pagan populations putting pressure on the imperial authorities to take action against the Christians in their midst, who were thought to bring misfortune by their refusal to honour the gods.
The early Christians likely did not have their own copy of Scriptural and other church works. Much of the original church liturgical services functioned as a means of learning Christian theology later expressed in these works.
Taken as a whole, the collection is notable for its literary simplicity, religious zeal and lack of Hellenistic philosophy or rhetoric. They contain early thoughts on the organisation of the Christian ekkl?sia, and witness the development of an early Church structure.
In his letter 1 Clement, Clement of Rome calls on the Christians of Corinth to maintain harmony and order. Some see his epistle as an assertion of Rome's authority over the church in Corinth and, by implication, the beginnings of papal supremacy. Clement refers to the leaders of the Corinthian church in his letter as bishops and presbyters interchangeably, and likewise states that the bishops are to lead God's flock by virtue of the chief shepherd (presbyter), Jesus Christ.
The Didache (late 1st century) is an anonymous Jewish-Christian work. It is a pastoral manual dealing with Christian lessons, rituals, and Church organization, parts of which may have constituted the first written catechism, "that reveals more about how Jewish-Christians saw themselves and how they adapted their Judaism for Gentiles than any other book in the Christian Scriptures."
Split of Early Christianity and Judaism
Split with Judaism
There was a slowly growing chasm between Christians and Jews, rather than a sudden split. Even though it is commonly thought that Paul established a Gentile church, it took centuries for a complete break to manifest. However, certain events are perceived as pivotal in the growing rift between Judaism and Christianity.
The destruction of Jerusalem and the consequent dispersion of Jews and Jewish Christians from the city (after the Bar Kokhba revolt) ended any pre-eminence of the Jewish-Christian leadership in Jerusalem. Early Christianity grew further apart from Judaism to establish itself as a predominantly Gentile religion, and Antioch became the first Gentile Christian community with stature.
The Council of Jamnia c. 85 is often stated to have condemned all who claimed the Messiah had already come, and Christianity in particular. However, the formulated prayer in question (birkat ha-minim) is considered by other scholars to be unremarkable in the history of Jewish and Christian relations. There is a paucity of evidence for Jewish persecution of "heretics" in general, or Christians in particular, in the period between 70 and 135. It is probable that the condemnation of Jamnia included many groups, of which the Christians were but one, and did not necessarily mean excommunication. That some of the later church fathers only recommended against synagogue attendance makes it improbable that an anti-Christian prayer was a common part of the synagogue liturgy. Jewish Christians continued to worship in synagogues for centuries.
During the late 1st century, Judaism was a legal religion with the protection of Roman law, worked out in compromise with the Roman state over two centuries. Observant Jews had special rights, including the privilege of abstaining from civic pagan rites. Christians were initially identified with the Jewish religion by the Romans, but as they became more distinct, Christianity became a problem for Roman rulers. Emperor Nerva decreed that Christians did not have to pay the annual tax upon the Jews, effectively recognizing them as distinct from Rabbinic Judaism. This opened the way to Christians being persecuted for disobedience to the emperor as they continued to refuse to worship the state pantheon.
From c. 98 onwards a distinction between Christians and Jews in Roman literature becomes apparent. For example, Pliny the Younger postulates that Christians are not Jews since they do not pay the tax, in his letters to Trajan. Christianity was not legalized until the 313 Edict of Milan.
44? Saint James the Great: According to ancient local tradition, on 2 January of the year AD 40, the Virgin Mary appeared to James on a Pilar on the bank of the Ebro River at Caesaraugusta, while he was preaching the Gospel in Spain. Following that apparition, St James returned to Judea, where he was beheaded by King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44 during a Passover (Nisan 15) (Acts 12:1-3).
51 - Paul begins his second missionary journey, a trip that takes him through modern-day Turkey and on into Greece
50-53? Paul's 2nd mission, (Acts 15:36-18:22), split with Barnabas, to Phrygia, Galatia, Macedonia, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, "he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken", then return to Antioch; 1 Thessalonians, Galatians written? Map2
51-52 or 52-53 proconsulship of Gallio according to an inscription, only fixed date in chronology of Paul
60 - Paul sent to Rome under Roman guard, evangelizes on Malta after shipwreck
60? Paul in Rome: greeted by many "brothers" (NRSV: "believers"), three days later called together the Jewish leaders, who hadn't received any word from Judea about him, but were curious about "this sect", which everywhere is spoken against; he tried to convince them from the "Law and Prophets", with partial success, said the Gentiles would listen and spent two years proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching the "Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 28:15-31); Epistle to Philemon written?
62 James the Just stoned to death for law transgression by High Priest Ananus ben Artanus, popular opinion against act results in Ananus being deposed by new procurator Lucceius Albinus (JA20.9.1)
^Sanders and Pelikan: "Besides presenting a longer ministry than do the other Gospels, John also describes several trips to Jerusalem. Only one is mentioned in the Synoptics. Both outlines are plausible, but a ministry of more than two years leaves more questions unanswered than does one of a few months."[web 7]
^The Kingdom is described as both imminent (Mark 1:15) and already present in the ministry of Jesus Jesus promises inclusion in the Kingdom for those who accept his message
^Catholic Encyclopedia: Proselyte: "The English term "proselyte" occurs only in the New Testament where it signifies a convert to the Jewish religion (Matthew 23:15; Acts 2:11; 6:5; etc.), though the same Greek word is commonly used in the Septuagint to designate a foreigner living in Judea. The term seems to have passed from an original local and chiefly political sense, in which it was used as early as 300 BC, to a technical and religious meaning in the Judaism of the New Testament epoch."
^According to Shaye J.D. Cohen, Jesus's failure to establish an independent Israel, and his death at the hands of the Romans, caused many Jews to reject him as the Messiah. Jews at that time were expecting a military leader as a Messiah, such as Bar Kohhba.
^Perhaps also Jewish law which was being formalized at the same time
^Hurtado: "She refrains from referring to this earliest stage of the "Jesus-community" as early "Christianity" and comprised of "churches," as the terms carry baggage of later developments of "organized institutions, and of a religion separate from, different from, and hostile to Judaism" (185). So, instead, she renders ekkl?sia as "assembly" (quite appropriately in my view, reflecting the quasi-official connotation of the term, often both in the LXX and in wider usage)."[web 9]
^Ecclesiastical historian Henry Hart Milman writes that in much of the first three centuries, even in the Latin-dominated western empire: "the Church of Rome, and most, if not all the Churches of the West, were, if we may so speak, Greek religious colonies [see Greek colonies for the background]. Their language was Greek, their organization Greek, their writers Greek, their scriptures Greek; and many vestiges and traditions show that their ritual, their Liturgy, was Greek."
"Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him."
See also :
"Hezekiah said to Isaiah, "What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me, and that I shall go up to the house of the Lord on the third day?""
^Ehrman: * "The earliest Christians held exaltation Christologies in which the human being Jesus was made the Son of God--for example, at his resurrection or at his baptism--as we examined in the previous chapter." * Here I'll say something about the oldest Christology, as I understand it. This was what I earlier called a "low" Christology. I may end up in the book describing it as a "Christology from below" or possibly an "exaltation" Christology. Or maybe I'll call it all three things [...] Along with lots of other scholars, I think this was indeed the earliest Christology.[web 12]
^According to Mack, "Paul was converted to a Hellenized form of some Jesus movement that had already developed into a Christ cult. [...] Thus his letters serve as documentation for the Christ cult as well."
^Generally understood to mean Mosaic Law as the Halakha was still being formalized at the time
^Four years after the Council of Jerusalem, Paul wrote to the Galatians about the issue, which had become a serious controversy in their region. There was a burgeoning movement of Judaizers in the area that advocated adherence to traditional Mosaic laws, including circumcision. According to McGrath, Paul identified James the Just as the motivating force behind the movement. Paul considered it a great threat to his doctrine of salvation through faith and addressed the issue with great detail in Galatians 3.
^According to 19th-century German theologian F. C. Baur early Christianity was dominated by the conflict between Peter who was law-observant, and Paul who advocated partial or even complete freedom from the law. Scholar James D. G. Dunn has proposed that Peter was the "bridge-man" between the two other prominent leaders: Paul and James the Just. Paul and James were both heavily identified with their own "brands" of Christianity. Peter showed a desire to hold on to his Jewish identity, in contrast with Paul. He simultaneously showed a flexibility towards the desires of the broader Christian community, in contrast to James. Marcion and his followers stated that the polemic against false apostles in Galatians was aimed at Peter, James and John, the "Pillars of the Church", as well as the "false" gospels circulating through the churches at the time. Irenaeus and Tertullian argued against Marcionism's elevation of Paul and stated that Peter and Paul were equals among the apostles. Passages from Galatians were used to show that Paul respected Peter's office and acknowledged a shared faith.
^Three forms are postulated, from Gamble, Harry Y, "18", The Canon Debate, p. 300, note 21, (1) Marcion's collection that begins with Galatians and ends with Philemon; (2) Papyrus 46, dated about 200, that follows the order that became established except for reversing Ephesians and Galatians; and (3) the letters to seven churches, treating those to the same church as one letter and basing the order on length, so that Corinthians is first and Colossians (perhaps including Philemon) is last.
^Bromiley, Geoffrey William (1979). International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: A-D (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (W.B.Eerdmans)). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 689. ISBN0-8028-3781-6.
^Barnett, Paul (2002). Jesus, the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times. InterVarsity Press. p. 21. ISBN0-8308-2699-8.
^L. Niswonger, Richard (1993). New Testament History. Zondervan Publishing Company. p. 200. ISBN0-310-31201-9.
^ abPaul L. Maier "The Date of the Nativity and Chronology of Jesus" in Chronos, kairos, Christos: nativity and chronological studies by Jerry Vardaman, Edwin M. Yamauchi 1989 ISBN0-931464-50-1 pp. 113-129
^Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times by Paul Barnett 2002 ISBN0-8308-2699-8 pp. 19-21
^Eusebius, Church History 3, 5, 3; Epiphanius, Panarion 29,7,7-8; 30, 2, 7; On Weights and Measures 15. On the flight to Pella see: Bourgel, Jonathan, "The Jewish Christians' Move from Jerusalem as a pragmatic choice", in: Dan Jaffe (ed), Studies in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, (Leyden: Brill, 2010), pp. 107-138 <https://www.academia.edu/4909339/THE_JEWISH_CHRISTIANS_MOVE_FROM_JERUSALEM_AS_A_PRAGMATIC_CHOICE>; P. H. R. van Houwelingen, "Fleeing forward: The departure of Christians from Jerusalem to Pella," Westminster Theological Journal 65 (2003), 181-200.
^ abcHitchcock, Geography of Religion (2004), p.281
^Despite its mention of bishops, there is no clear evidence in the New Testament that supports the concepts of dioceses and monepiscopacy, i.e. the rule that all the churches in a geographic area should be ruled by a single bishop. According to Ronald Y. K. Fung, scholars point to evidence that Christian communities such as Rome had many bishops, and that the concept of monepiscopacy was still emerging when Ignatius was urging his tri-partite structure on other churches.
^Burkett, Delbert (2002). An introduction to the New Testament and the origins of Christianity. Cambridge University Press. ISBN978-0-521-00720-7.
^Dunn, James D. G. (2013). The Oral Gospel Tradition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN978-0-8028-6782-7.
^Coveney, John (27 September 2006). Food, Morals and Meaning: The Pleasure and Anxiety of Eating. Routledge. p. 74. ISBN9781134184484. For the early Christians, the agape signified the importance of fellowship. It was a ritual to celebrate the joy of eating, pleasure and company.
^Burns, Jim (10 July 2012). Uncommon Youth Parties. Gospel Light Publications. p. 37. ISBN9780830762132. During the days of the Early Church, the believers would all gather together to share what was known as an agape feast, or "love feast." Those who could afford to bring food brought it to the feast and shared it with the other believers.
^Walls, Jerry L.; Collins, Kenneth J. (17 October 2010). Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation. Baker Academic. p. 169. ISBN9781493411740. So strong were the overtones of the Eucharist as a meal of fellowship that in its earliest practice it often took place in concert with the Agape feast. By the latter part of the first century, however, as Andrew McGowan points out, this conjoined communal banquet was separated into "a morning sacramental ritual [and a] prosaic communal supper."
^Davies, Horton (29 January 1999). Bread of Life and Cup of Joy: Newer Ecumenical Perspectives on the Eucharist. Wipf & Stock Publishers. p. 18. ISBN9781579102098. Agape (love feast), which ultimately became separate from the Eucharist...
^Daughrity, Dyron (11 August 2016). Roots: Uncovering Why We Do What We Do in Church. ACU Press. p. 77. ISBN9780891126010. Around AD 250 the lovefeast and Eucharist seem to separate, leaving the Eucharist to develop outside the context of a shared meal.
^"agape", Dictionary of the Christian Church (article), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN978-0-19-280290-3
Bockmuehl, Markus N.A. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. Cambridge University Press (2001). ISBN0-521-79678-4.
Bourgel, Jonathan, From One Identity to Another: The Mother Church of Jerusalem Between the Two Jewish Revolts Against Rome (66-135/6 EC). Paris: Éditions du Cerf, collection Judaïsme ancien et Christianisme primitive, (French). ISBN978-2-204-10068-7