I just wanted to briefly respond to this in its own thread. I am highly sympathetic to syncretistic reconstructions of earliest Christianity. Ideas may have filtered in from all kinds of sources. I am also, however, highly skeptical of suggestions to the effect that Judaism was being appropriated in much the same way that Roman Mithraism may have appropriated a Persian religion: from a distance and with little or no intimate knowledge of the original cult. Or, even more extremely, the way modern practitioners of Wicca have appropriated a (probably completely fallacious) version of ancient Druidism. I do not think our extant evidence is very conducive to that degree of appropriation.
Syncretism can be treated as a spectrum, as it were, with extreme appropriation on one end and simple inheritance of religious ideas from one's forebears on the other. I am not certain where exactly on that spectrum you would set Christianity vis-à-vis either Judaism itself or a Jewish-Christian cult which may have arisen from Judaism, but I have reasons for thinking that the connection between Judaism and Christianity is pretty direct (namely, that sectarian versions of the former gave rise to the latter).
Your list does not include Jerusalem, but I would definitely associate Jerusalem with the origins of Christianity, at least to the same extent that I associate Corinth or Philippi, and probably more. I have given reasons elsewhere (having found myself persuaded by Peter Kirby) for thinking that there is a core to the Pauline epistles which predates 70 (in agreement with all known streams of Christian thought). But Paul describes Jerusalem as a highly influential church during that period....in my case, I note that all of the places that we normally associate with the origins of early Christianity appear to be in Asia Minor, Macedonia, Greece and later Rome, Syria and Alexandria by Egypt. Further, a large proportion of those sites are Roman military veteran colonies of Julius and Augustus Caesar of the late 1st century BCE (Corinth, Philippi, Troyas, Sinope) or major Roman cities (Thessalonika, Ephesus, Antioch, Alexandria, Rome) with the earliest sites for Christianity being Corinth, Thessalonika, Philippi, and Rome.
No sign of Christianity outside of much later tradition seems evident in the Levant until after the Bar Kokhba revolt when the area was heavily resettled by Roman emigrants. Also the spread of Christianity doesn't seem to radiate out from Jerusalem as would seem normal if that area was the source of this new cult. Rather, it seems to radiate out from Greece and Asia Minor.
Your observations about the radiation of Christianity from Greco-Roman cities are sound, but they do not seem to take into account the destruction of Jerusalem in 70. Of course after that point little or nothing would be radiating from Jerusalem. Of course the influx of settlers after bar Kokhba would be completely different people. We are not looking for the Catholic Church in more or less continuous occupation of Vatican City here; we are looking for a cult which would have been cut short in the most brutal fashion only decades after its formation.
And yes, of course Christianity became a predominately Greek and later Latin phenomenon in the Roman Empire (though also a Syriac phenomenon on the Eastern frontiers and beyond). If the original trunk had been cut off, then it would naturally be up to the branches to continue and propagate the new religion.
The only positive argument I offer in this section for a primitive Judaic church is the epistles of Paul, and I am still very much in the middle of evaluating those epistles; who knows what I may eventually conclude? But my main point here is that your observations are not actually good objections.
There is indeed a lot of contact with Greek and Roman ideas; but there is also a lot of contact (and, I believe, of a more constitutional nature) with Jewish ideas from before 70. Most notably, the Qumran scrolls frequently provide us with the best, most direct, and most illuminating parallels to the earliest Christian ideas. If Christianity began as a fringe Jewish sect in much the same intellectual milieu as the Qumran sect(s), then this overlap is easily explained. But, if Christianity arose only later, long after 70, and appropriated Judaism as its fictional basis, we would have to devise a mechanism by which those connections were made.Add to this the fact that the language of early Christianity is Koine Greek and not Jewish or Aramaic as one would expect from a cult originating from the Levant and one could make a case for Christianity not originating there.
While it is obvious that the early Christians data mined the Jewish works, it is the Greek translations of that literature that are being used not the Jewish and Aramaic originals, and Greek and Roman literature and philosophy are clearly and abundantly evident in early Christian thought and literature.
Same goes for ideas which later found their way into the Mishnah and which were probably never translated from Hebrew or Aramaic until centuries later: strong arguments have been made for various gospel materials having arisen from those Mishnaic streams, some of which betray a local knowledge of customs peculiar to Palestine. (I think here of Roger David Aus' work on the feeding of the 5000, for example.)
These are positive arguments for a close genetic relationship between Christianity and Jewish sects. The idea (in consonance with the Pauline epistles) that Christianity arose from Jewish sectarianism before 70 explains the data; if there is a better explanation for this data, I am completely open to it.
As for the main Christian language being Greek, well, Alexandrian Jews used the Septuagint, which was in Greek, and they treated it as holy scripture, no less inspired than the original Pentateuch of Moses:
Most Alexandrian Jews probably knew no Hebrew or Aramaic at all. Their language was Greek, so scriptures were furnished for them in their own language. Yet who would deny that Alexandrian Judaism originally derived from Judea? In my view Christians did much the same thing. They produced and translated texts in and into their own languages. Christians, in fact, became some of the premier religious translators of all recorded history, producing sacred and semisacred texts in Coptic, Armenian, Latin, Syriac, Ethiopic, Slavonic, and many other languages, right down to the present day.
I actually have a lot more to say concerning the language issue, since I believe our extant Christian materials to be positively teeming with evidence that at least some of the stories about Jesus and other topics originally circulated in Semitic languages, but that is a huge topic all its own.
The vast majority of names in the NT are quite simply appropriate for their time and place. In the Greek and Roman cities mentioned in the epistles we find Greek and Roman names; in the cities and villages of the Levant in the gospels we find Hebrew and Aramaic names (Simon, Judas, Matthew, Thomas, Jairus, Mary, and so on). There are definitely exceptions on both sides, and those exceptions are probably meaningful (I suspect, for example, that the names Philip and Andrew speak to the Hellenization of various places in Palestine, but it was very common, at any rate, for Jews to bear both Jewish and Greek or Latin names as alternates).Also the vast majority of names in the NT and other early Christian literature are Greek and Roman not Jewish.
This is not (yet) a positive argument for the view that Christianity derived from Judaism in some way, but rather a query about what import you are pouring into the names. What does it mean, for you, that stories and letters set in Greek and Roman locales have more Greek and Roman names in them, whereas stories set in Jewish and Galilean locales have more Hebrew and Aramaic names in them?
This concept used to have a lot of currency, but my view is that it has been completely debunked by modern investigators ranging from the relatively conservative Martin Hengel to the relatively liberal Margeret Barker. Christology, however, is a supremely complex topic probably deserving of its own thread(s).Not to mention that Jesus being the son of God is clearly a pagan concept that is foreign to Judaism.
Mormonism clearly descended from Christianity, yet Christians overwhelmingly reject Mormonism, and it remains a fringe group with respect to Christianity, with its own extra scriptures, practices, and beliefs. Again, this observation is not actually an objection, to my mind.Couple this with the overwhelming rejection of Christianity by the Jewish people and I feel that a Jewish origin for Christianity to be unlikely.
Does the violently anti-Catholic nature of Lutheran Protestantism seem odd for a religion that originated from Catholicism?The anti-Jewish nature of Christianity would seem odd for a religion that originated from Judaism.
(Not all branches of Christianity are or were anti-Jewish, by the way. The concept of "Judaizers" is early and pervasive.)