In my book on the Christianization of the Empire, I probably will not be talking about *how*, exactly, Christianity started. That’s a very thorny issue and not directly germane to what I want to do in the book. And I’ve talked about it a bit in a couple of my other books, especially How Jesus Became God and Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene.
In the former book my main interest was precisely what the title indicates. There I argued that the key event that made the followers of Jesus come to think that he was a divine being was their experience of the resurrection. Looked at from another angle, though, that moment can be considered the key not only to later Christian views of Jesus, but also to the question of when Christianity started as a distinct set of beliefs and practices. Before the resurrection-belief, there was nothing about Jesus followers that would differentiate them in any truly significant way from other Jews. After the belief there was.
That may, of course, be granting too much power and authority to “hindsight.” In hindsight we can see that beginning with the belief in the resurrection the followers of Jesus started developing a distinctive set of views that would set them over against other Jews; and it may be that this hindsight is driving us to see the resurrection more as a “start” of something new rather than as a strict “continuity” with what was there before. But if you had to pick a moment when the new thing began, I would say that is it.
One implication of this, which seems common sense to a lot of people but is something that a lot of other people have never thought about, is that Jesus himself never
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