Nine years ago when I was discussing on the blog the topic of the current thread — the wide diversity of early Christianity — I took the occasion to mention a book that I had just read and found to be unusually interesting and enlightening.   It is by two Italian scholars, married to each other, who teach at the Università di Bologna: Adriana Destro, an anthropologist, and Mauro Pesce, a New Testament specialist whose teaching position is in the History of Christianity.

Their book is called Il racconto e la scrittura: Introduzione alla lettura dei vangeli.  It is about all the things I am currently interested in:  the life of Jesus as recounted by his earliest followers, the oral traditions of Jesus, and the Gospels as founded on these oral traditions.  In it they develop a theory that I had never thought of before.  I’m not sure all the evidence is completely compelling, but the overall view is very interesting and very much worth thinking about.  As an anthropologist, Prof Destro looks at things in ways differently from most of us who are text-people; and she and Prof. Pesce together apply these thoughts to our early Christian writings.

The aspect of their book of particular relevance to this thread on the diversity of early Christianity has to do with the evidence found in our Gospels themselves that different followers of Jesus from the very beginning – the VERY beginning – may have had different perspectives on who he was, what he taught, what he meant, and why he was important.

What the two of them do is focus on the places mentioned in the Gospels.   There are two sets of data that are interesting:

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