In my last two posts I talked about the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy in early Christianity. The standard view, held for many many centuries, goes back to the Church History of the fourth-century church father Eusebius, who argued that orthodoxy represented the original views of Jesus and his disciples, and heresies were corruptions of that truth by willful, mean-spirited, wicked, and demon inspired teachers who wanted to lead others astray.
In 1934 Walter Bauer challenged that view in his book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. Bauer argued that in many regions of the church, the earliest known form of Christianity was one that later came to be declared a heresy. Heresies were not, therefore, necessarily later corruptions of an original truth. In many instances they were the oldest known kind of Christianity, in one place or another. The form of Christianity that became dominant by the end of the third century or so was the only known particularly in Rome. Once this Roman form of Christianity had more or less swept aside its opponents, it then rewrote the history of the engagement, so that later Christians all came to think that it had always been the majority view among Christians, going back to the days of Jesus himself.
There has been a veritable ton of research done in this field in the eighty years since Bauer published his book, and n some circles there is still controversy over the matter. As a rule, conservative Christian scholars….
THE REST OF THIS POST IS FOR MEMBERS ONLY. If you don’t belong yet, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!!!