Orthodoxy and Proto-Orthodoxy

The current thread on the diversity of early Christianity actually began as a response to a question raised by a reader, which was the following:

Dr. Ehrman, I do not know if others would find this interesting, but I would love to know how you developed the idea for The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. How did you go about researching it? How long did it take? Is it a once in a lifetime work?

My initial thought was ...

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Evaluating the Views of Walter Bauer

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 ...

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A Radically Different View of Orthodoxy and Heresy

In my last post I started discussing the terms “orthodoxy” and “heresy,” pointing out that their traditional/etymological meanings are not very helpful for historians.   “Orthodoxy” literally means the “right belief” about God, Christ, the world and so.   That means it is a theological term about religious truth.   But historians are not theologians who can tell you what is theologically true; they are scholars who try to establish what happened in the past.  And so how can a historian, acting as ...

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Why Did “Orthodox” Christianity Win: Part 2

In my previous post I talked about the “Eusebian model” for understanding the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy in earliest Christianity, and then about the counter-view set forth by Walter Bauer in his important study of 1934. What do scholars think today?

Only the most conservative scholars (fundamentalists and extremely conservative evangelical Christian scholars) still hold to a Eusebian view. For them, not only was Eusebius’s form of orthodoxy taught by Jesus (who told his disciples that he was fully God ...

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Why Did “Orthodox” Christianity Win?

QUESTION:

What I have been wondering lately is “why” did Christianity win out. There seemed to be much competition in the ancient world between the pagan polytheisms and monotheistic religions. Competition not only between the Jewish religion and Christian religion but within Christianity.

I would be interested in why you think the current version of Christianity won out. Was it purely a matter of cultural evolution and this form of Christianity seemed to benefit people the most, easiest to adhere to, most ...

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