I have spent three posts talking about the terms “orthodoxy” and “heresy” and why they are problematic; in doing so I have been explaining both the traditional view of the relationship of orthodoxy and heresy (as found, for example, in the writings of Eusebius) and the view set forth, in opposition, by Walter Bauer. So, where do we now stand on the issue, some 90 years after Bauer’s intervention?
As I indicated in my last post, there are some problems with Bauer’s analysis, but also much positive to say about it. Conservative scholars continue to hold to a more traditional view (e.g., conservative Roman Catholic and evangelical scholars); others find it *basically* convincing, even if they would write the details up very differently from Bauer.
I am very much, and rather enthusiastically, in this latter camp. It was when I was in graduate school, as a committed evangelical myself, but as one who was moving away from my conservativism based on my detailed research into the New Testament and the history of the early Christian movement, that I first encountered Bauer.
My Doktorvater, Bruce Metzger, recognized the importance of Bauer, and had all his students read his significant tome. Metzger was famous for asking, as one question on a student’s five-hour “History of Early Christianity” PhD exam, to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Bauer’s thesis. And so, in preparation for my PhD exams, I worked through Bauer very carefully. Moreover, I read a book Metzger strongly suggested as a “counter” to Bauer, a book by H. E. W. Turner, The Pattern of Christian Truth: A Study of the Relations Between Orthodoxy and Heresy in the Early Church.
Metzger found the latter book