The New Testament as a canonical collection emerged during the first three to four centuries; so the Early Church is the context in which this [was] happening. Fundamental questions were asked in this period, and answers formulated, and we live in the light of these.
... so much [understanding of Jesus and Judaism] has changed since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls ...
I suppose I function as a historian as well as a theologian because my interests lie in how history and theology intersect. How do you speak of Christian belief within the intellectual parameters of the time? I wrote about Marcion because he was struggling with the relationship between the God described in the Old Testament — not that he would have thought of the Old Testament in the same way as we do — and the God of contemporary philosophy. God as the creator of flawed matter is a problem for him, and the question in what way the...figure of Jesus represents the divine was a problem that a lot of people were struggling over.
We don’t know much about him as a person, because we know of him only through people who opposed him. But I was interested in the second century, in Christianity as it emerged as a separate religion; and, in addition, he had become such a stereotyped figure for his supposed rejection of the Old Testament — which was such a slogan label. I was interested in reconstructing how he fitted in with the social and intellectual framework at the time.
Marcion has often been seen as a seminal figure in the formation of the New Testament canon, and in the development of structures and patterns of thought. He was the first person we know of who tried to collect, edit, read, and interpret St Paul’s letters consistently. He also marks the emergence of the idea of heresy as the excluded “other” to orthodoxy, which is key to the way Christianity developed. We may take that model for granted, but was it inevitable?
People’s ideas about the Early Church can be a fantasy, ignoring the realities of slavery, which even early Christian writings take for granted, or the restricted roles available for women; and, although we appeal to ideas of family, family meant something very different in that period. On the other hand, early Christianity is a source of inspiration, and a check against later developments that came to be seen as unchangeable.
Our own intellectual difficulties with the biblical outlook arise because we do not live, as they did, in a three-storey universe (i.e. heaven, earth, and “hell”). We have different understandings of what it is to be human, and our whole way of thinking about human and divine experience is going to be totally different from the first century. We need to get our mind round that when we imagine the Early Church.
Even the Bible never “says” or “tells us” anything. People read, interpret, and use texts. Nowadays, there is less sense than a generation or two ago that any particular method of interpretation is more authentic or appropriate ...
https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/ ... -cambridge
Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
in part -
Judith Lieu wrote: The New Testament as a canonical collection emerged during the first three to four centuries; so the Early Church is the context1 in which this is happening.
1 Interestingly, Jörg Rüpke proposes
Christianity had thus been invented historiographically [in the 2nd century] by means of the gospels and the Acts of the Apostles complemented by collections of letters. There was as yet no actual community.
Rüpke, Jörg. Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion (p. 358). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.
Rüpke had previously said
Marcion organized his group of followers of Christ as a decidedly non-Jewish entity. He was perhaps not the first to undertake such a project, but he was certainly the first to give it a durable form, which in this case proved capable of persisting at least into the fifth century AD.129
He found a theoretical, easily memorizable justification for his anti-Jewish position by reversing a prevailing dualistic narrative: evil was not to be identified with any kind of demon, but with the creator god as depicted in the Pentateuch. The god of Jesus Christ, as described in the available texts by Paul, was the positive antagonist of that ancient figure.130
The most influential aspect of Marcionism, however, was neither the institutions it created nor any accompanying rituals, but its historiographical groundwork. In outlining a simple biographical schema, replete with current anecdotes and quotations —here I am following the increasingly mooted, even if still radical position of a second-century date for the canonical gospels and the Acts of the Apostles— Marcion’s portrayal of the life of an apocalyptic visionary and peripatetic preacher, from his first emergence to his rather unusual execution, could be seen as the model of a life turning away from Judaism. He thus orchestrated a rupture that he relocated a century into the past, carefully keeping his narrative free of contemporary references.131 ...
... Marcion invented something new. In the literary environment of the Roman Empire as described, nothing was more natural than to write a Greek-language “biography” as a founding document for a new religious network. Marcion’s opponents reacted immediately with a weighty intellectual exchange of the sort that a metropolis like Rome made possible; and, as was usual in historiography, they reacted with competing versions.133
Rüpke, Jörg. Pantheon: A New History of Roman Religion (pp. 355-356). Princeton University Press. Kindle Edition.