April 2.docx

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14 Apr 2012
April 2, 2012
Conflict and Consolidation: The Development of the Christian Canon
Diversity in Early Christianity
- Christians of the first centuries of the common era were very
diverse in belief and practice; there was no one “orthodoxy” from
which “heresies” deviated.
- Movement not well-organized at this time; loosely connected across
the Roman Empire
- Picture of diversity in early Christianity a contemporary scholarly
opinion about how to look at the history of early Christianity
comes from Walter Bauer, book “Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest
Christianity” (1930s, trans. 1971) Argues against the traditional
understanding of the place of diversity in Christianity.
- Traditional historiographical understanding of the place of diversity
in earliest Christianity goes all the way back to writers in the second
and fourth centuries (Hegesippus and Eusebius)
- Eusebius Bishop in Caesarea Wrote on Church history.
- Eusebius’ theory about the development of early Christianity:
orthodoxy and heresy first, diversity and heresy later, but
orthodoxy and until eventually triumph.
- Bauer: region-by-region study of Christianity turns traditional
model of Eusebius on its head.
- “Orthodoxy” a long process whereby certain followers of Jesus
gradually define their own beliefs and practices as “true” over
against others who have had “false” belief and practice.
- Some of those who define things this way gradually get the
authority and influence to close these others out (“heresy” label,
now understood as “diversity”).
- ^Bauer did a region to region study of Christianity Saying
diversity came first then orthodoxy long process ^^
Diversity in Early Christian Literary Tradition
- Diversity in early Christianity is reflected in its literary traditions
(early Christianity as an outpouring of texts).
- Different Christian communities that sprang up in different parts of
the Roman Empire had very distinctive understandings of what it
meant to be a follower of Jesus, and they used distinctive texts to
support these views.
- Abundance of texts, specifically gospel accounts, created tension
within Christianity, but especially between Christians and non-
Christians best way to insult another group was to state that their
beliefs or writings were inconsistent.
- Christian texts very carefully in order to point Porphyry, b. 234CE
“Against the Christians”
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