What Kind of Book Was Papias Writing? Guest Post by Stephen Carlson

This is the second part of Stephen Carlson’s guest post on the important but now-lost work of the early-second century Christian author Papias.  In the previous post he talked about the mind-boggling abundance of wine and wheat there would be in the kingdom, based on Papias’s reporting of a “word of the Lord.”    Now he explains that saying, and in doing so develops a bold way of understanding what kind of book Papias actually was trying to write.   Most of ...

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The Passion for Origins

After I had engaged for a couple of months doing some real research and thinking seriously about my scholarly book on visions of and journeys to the realms of heaven and hell (tentatively entitled, for now, Otherworldly Journeys: Katabasis Traditions in Early Christianity), I thought I might start it all by doing a kind of history of research.   This is how scholarly books commonly used to start – especially books of German scholarship and American dissertations.  Chapter one would be ...

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The Original Obsession with Trips to the Afterlife

I have been interested in the early Christian texts that describe tours or visions of heaven and hell for a long time – I suppose since, when in graduate school, I first heard about the Apocalypse of Peter, which I have described on the blog before.   That’s not the sort of text we would have been reading at Moody Bible Institute.  (!)   But its description of the torments in hell – brief, yet lurid accounts of what will happen to ...

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Deciding on Which Books Should Be in the New Testament

I am in the midst of a thread in which I explain why it is puzzling that the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament, when the book of 2 Peter did.   So far I have talked about both books, as well as the Gospel of Peter, another Petrine book that did not “make it.”  Now I need to explain how church fathers decided which books would be accepted as official scripture and which not.  I’ve ...

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How Christianity Grew and Grew

This will be the final post on the new boxes in my Introduction to the New Testament; both of these are on a related topic, tied to my book The Triumph of Christianity, so I will include them both there.  One has to do with how miracles allegedly led to conversions of pagans to the new faith; the other charts the rate of growth that it appears the Christian church experienced in the early years.

 

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Another Glimpse ...

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Miraculous Conversions in the Book of Acts

This new box in my New Testament Introduction deals with one of the fascinating and best documented phenomena from early Christianity — that the earliest followers of Jesus were believed to be able to do great miracles, leading to the conversion of outsiders to the new faith.  This notion is recorded already in our earliest sources.  Here is what I say about it from the book of Acts, our first account of the spread of Christianity.

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Another ...

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Who *Was* the First Bishop of Rome?

I continue from my post of yesterday, in which a reader asked about whether Peter was really the first bishop in Rome (that is, the first Pope).    In my next post I’ll deal with the question, also asked, about if we have any solid information about how Peter died (crucified upside-down??)

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But who was the first bishop of Rome?  According to the second-century Irenaeus, it was a man named Linus, who was appointed to the office by Peter ...

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Thomasine Christians and Others, From After the New Testament

In this thread of posts I have been reproducing my comments on Gnosticism from the 2nd edition of my anthology, After the New Testament. In addition to the Sethians and the Valentinians, scholars talk about the school of Thomas and about yet other Gnostic groups that are not easy to identify with any of the other three or to group together in any meaningful way. Gnosticism was a messy group of religions! Here is what I say in ...

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The Valentinian Gnostics from After The New Testament

In my previous post I reproduced my Introduction to the Sethian Gnostics from the second edition of my reader in early Christianity, After The New Testament. One other highly important group of Christian Gnostics are known as the Valentinians. Here is what I say about them in the book

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Valentinians

Unlike the Sethian Gnostics, the Valentinians were named after an actual person, Valentinus, the founder and original leader of the group. We know about the Valentinians from the ...

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The Sethian Gnostics, from After The New Testament

In my previous post I reproduced the new discussion of Gnosticism in the second edition of my book After the New Testament. In this post and the two to follow I will reproduce my new discussions of the various “types” of Gnostic texts that I include in the anthology. Many scholars would consider this first type the most important historically: it is a group of texts produced by and for Gnostics known by scholars as the “Sethians.” Here is what ...

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