History of early Christianity
The earliest followers of Jesus comprised an apocalyptic, Second Temple Jewish sect of Jewish Christians. Eventually, the inclusion of Gentile God-fearers led to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion, and the condemnation of Jewish Christians as heretics.
In the Ante-Nicene Period (literally before Nicaea) following the Apostolic Age, both incredible diversity and unifying characteristics lacking in the apostolic period emerged simultaneously. Part of the unifying trend was an increasingly harsh rejection of Judaism and of Jewish practices.
By the beginning of the Nicene period, the Christian faith had spread throughout Western Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, and to North Africa and the East. Historians commonly use the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and Emperor Constantine I's toleration and promotion of Christianity in the Roman Empire to mark the end of early Christianity and the beginning of the era of the first seven ecumenical councils.
Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as 'The Way' (ἡ ὁδός), probably coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" (Greek: Χριστιανός) was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" (Greek: Χριστιανισμός) was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD.
Christianity "emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine" in the syncretistic Hellenistic world of the first century CE, which was dominated by Roman law and Greek culture. During the early first century CE there were many competing Jewish sects in the Holy Land, and those that became Rabbinic Judaism and Proto-orthodox Christianity were but two of these. There were Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots, but also other less influential sects, including the Essenes. The first century BCE and first century CE saw a growing number of charismatic religious leaders contributing to what would become the Mishnah of Rabbinic Judaism; and the ministry of Jesus, which would lead to the emergence of the first Jewish Christian community.
A central concern in 1st century Judaism was the covenant with God, and the status of the Jews as the chosen people. Many Jews believed that this covenant would be renewed with the coming of the Messiah. The Law was given by God to guide them in their worship of the Lord and in their interactions with each other, "the greatest gift God had given his people."
The Jewish messiah concept has its root in the apocalyptic literature of the 2nd century BC to 1st century BC, promising a future leader or king from the Davidic line who is expected to be anointed with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age and world to come. The Messiah is often referred to as "King Messiah" (Hebrew: מלך משיח, romanized: melekh mashiach) or malka meshiḥa in Aramaic.
In the Synoptic Gospels Jewish eschatology stands central. After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus teaches extensively for a year, or maybe just a few months, about the Kingdom of God (or, in Matthew, the Kingdom of Heaven), in aphorisms and parables, using similes and figures of speech. In the Gospel of John, Jesus himself is the main subject.
The Kingdom is essentially described as eschatological, becoming reality in the near future. Jesus talks as expecting the coming of the "Son of Man" from heaven, an apocalyptic figure who would initiate "the coming judgment and the redemption of Israel." According to Davies, the Sermon on the Mount presents Jesus as the new Moses who brings a New Law, the Messianic Torah.
His ministry was ended by his execution by crucifixion. His early followers believed that three days after his death, Jesus rose bodily from the dead and was exalted to Divine status. Paul's letters and the Gospels document a number of post-resurrection appearances, and the resurrection of Jesus "signalled for earliest believers that the days of eschatological fulfilment were at hand." The resurrection was also seen as the exaltation of Jesus to the status of divine Son and Lord. His followers expected Him to return in the near future, ushering in the Kingdom of God.
Since the 18th century, three scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were often developed during each specific phase. Scholars involved in the third quest for the historical Jesus have constructed a variety of portraits and profiles for Jesus, most prominently that of Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet or eschatological teacher.
Apostolic Age (1st century)
The first part of the period, named after the lifetimes of the Twelve Apostles as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, is called the Apostolic Age. The Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples to spread his teachings to all the nations of the world.
After the death of Jesus, "Christianity [...] emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine." The first Christians were all Jews, either by birth or conversion ("proselytes" in Biblical terminology), who constituted a Second Temple Jewish sect with an apocalyptic eschatology.
The New Testament's Acts of the Apostles and Epistle to the Galatians record the existence of a Christian community centered on Jerusalem, and that its leaders included Peter, James, the "brother of Jesus", and John the Apostle. The Jerusalem Church "held a central place among all the churches," as witnessed by Paul's writings.
Growth of early Christianity
Christian missionary activity spread Christianity to cities throughout the Hellenistic world and even beyond the Roman Empire. Over forty existed by the year 100, most in Asia Minor, such as the seven churches of Asia, and some in Greece and Italy.
Paul and the inclusion of Gentiles
Paul's influence on Christian thinking is said to be more significant than that of any other New Testament author. According to the New Testament, Saul of Tarsus first persecuted the early Jewish Christians, but then converted. He adopted the name Paul and started proselytizing among the Gentiles, calling himself "Apostle to the Gentiles."
According to Krister Stendahl, the main concern of Paul's writings on Jesus' role, and salvation by faith, is not the individual conscience of human sinners, and their doubts about being chosen by God or not, but the problem of the inclusion of gentile (Greek) Torah observers into God's covenant. The inclusion of Gentiles posed a problem for the early Christian community, since the new converts did not follow all "Jewish Law" and refused to be circumcised, as circumcision was considered repulsive in Hellenistic culture. According to Fredriksen, Paul's opposition to male circumcison for Gentiles is in line with Old Testament predictions that "in the last days the gentile nations would come to the God of Israel, as gentiles (e.g., Zechariah 8:20-23), not as proselytes to Israel." For Paul, Gentile male circumcision was therefore an affront to God's intentions. According to Hurtado, "Paul saw himself as what Munck called a salvation-historical figure in his own right," who was "personally and singularly deputized by God to bring about the predicted ingathering (the “fullness”) of the nations (Romans 11:25)."
For Paul, Jesus' death and resurrection solved this problem of the exclusion of the gentiles from God's covenant, since the faithful are redeemed by participation in Jesus' death and rising. According to Galatians 2:1–10 and Acts chapter 15,, Paul discussed the issue with the leaders of the Jerusalem ekklēsia, agreeing to allow Gentile converts exemption from most Jewish commandments, which opened the way for a much larger Christian Church, extending far beyond the Jewish community.
Hurtado notes that Paul valued the linkage with "Jewish Christian circles in Roman Judea," which makes it likely that his Christology was in line with, and indebted to, their views. Hurtado further notes that "[i]t is widely accepted that the tradition that Paul recites in [Corinthians] 15:1-71 must go back to the Jerusalem Church."
The inclusion of Gentiles is reflected in Luke-Acts, which is an attempt to answer a theological problem, namely how the Messiah of the Jews came to have an overwhelmingly non-Jewish church; the answer it provides, and its central theme, is that the message of Christ was sent to the Gentiles because the Jews rejected it.
Split of early Christianity and Judaism
Split between Christians and Jews
There was a slowly growing chasm between Christians and Jews, rather than a sudden split. Growing tensions led to a starker separation that was virtually complete by the time Christians refused to join in the Bar Khokba Jewish revolt of 132. Certain events are perceived as pivotal in the growing rift between Christianity and Judaism.
The destruction of Jerusalem and the consequent dispersion of Jews and Jewish Christians from the city (after the Bar Kokhba revolt) ended any pre-eminence of the Jewish-Christian leadership in Jerusalem. Early Christianity grew further apart from Judaism to establish itself as a predominantly Gentile religion, and Antioch became the first Gentile Christian community with stature. The Jewish Council of Jamnia (c. 85) may have been the occasion when the Jewish authorities decided to exclude believers in Jesus as the Messiah from synagogue attendance.
Around the year 98, the emperor Nerva decreed that Christians did not have to pay the annual tax upon the Jews, effectively recognizing them as distinct from Rabbinic Judaism. This opened the way to Christians being persecuted for disobedience to the emperor, as they refused to worship the state pantheon. From c. 98 onwards a distinction between Christians and Jews in Roman literature becomes apparent.
Rejection of Jewish Christianity
According to Dauphin, Jewish Christians constituted a separate community from the Pauline Christians but maintained a similar faith, differing only in practice. He argues that in Christian circles, "Nazarene" later came to be used as a label for those faithful to Jewish law, in particular for a certain sect. Moreover, he posits that these Jewish Christians, originally the central group in Christianity, and holding to orthodoxy except in their adherence to Jewish law, were not deemed heretical until the dominance of orthodoxy in the 4th century. The Ebionites may have been a splinter group of Nazarenes, with disagreements over Christology and leadership. They were considered by Gentile Christians to have unorthodox beliefs, particularly in relation to their views of Christ and Gentile converts. After the condemnation of the Nazarenes, "Ebionite" was often used as a general pejorative for all related "heresies".
Dunn posits that there was a post-Nicene "double rejection" of the Jewish Christians by both Gentile Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism, and that the true end of ancient Jewish Christianity occurred only in the 5th century. Dauphin concluded that Gentile Christianity remained the sole strand of orthodoxy and imposed itself on the previously Jewish Christian sanctuaries, taking full control of those houses of worship by the end of the 5th century.
Ante-Nicene Period (c.100-325)
The 2nd and 3rd centuries saw a sharp divorce from its early roots. There was an explicit rejection of then-modern Judaism and Jewish culture by the end of the 2nd century, with a growing body of adversus Judaeos literature. Fourth- and 5th-century Christianity experienced imperial pressure and developed strong episcopal and unifying structure. The ante-Nicene period was without such authority and was more diverse. Many variations in this time defy neat categorizations, as various forms of Christianity interacted in a complex fashion to form the dynamic character of Christianity in this era.
Diversity and proto-orthodoxy
The development of doctrine, the position of orthodoxy, and the relationship between the various opinions is a matter of continuing academic debate. Since the Nicene Creed came to define the Church, the early debates have long been regarded as a unified orthodox position against a minority of heretics. Walter Bauer, drawing upon distinctions between Jewish Christians, Pauline Christians, and other groups such as Gnostics and Marcionites, argued that early Christianity was fragmented, with various competing interpretations. According to Bauer, orthodoxy and heresy do not stand in relation to one another as primary to secondary, but in many regions heresy was the original manifestation of Christianity.
The Ante-Nicene period saw the rise of a great number of Christian sects, cults and movements with different interpretations of Scripture, particularly the divinity of Jesus and the nature of the Trinity. These were called heresies by the leaders of the Proto-orthodox church, but many were very popular and had large followings. Some of the major movements were:
- Gnosticism – 2nd to 4th centuries – reliance on revealed knowledge from an unknowable God, a distinct divinity from the Demiurge who created and oversees the material world.
- Marcionism – 2nd century – the God of Jesus was a different God from the God of the Old Testament.
- Montanism – 2nd century – relied on prophetic revelations from the Holy Spirit.
- Adoptionism – 2nd century – Jesus was not born the Son of God, but was adopted at his baptism, resurrection or ascension.
- Docetism – 2nd to 3rd century – Jesus was pure spirit and his physical form an illusion.
- Sabellianism – 3rd century – the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three modes of the one God and not the three separate persons of the Trinity.
- Arianism – 3rd to 4th century – Jesus, as the Son, was subordinate to God the Father.
A Church hierarchy seems to have developed by the late 1st century and early 2nd century. (see Pastoral Epistles, c. 90–140) Robert Williams posits that the "origin and earliest development of episcopacy and monepiscopacy and the ecclesiastical concept of (apostolic) succession were associated with crisis situations in the early church."
Roger Haight posits the development of ecclesiology in the form of "Early Catholicism" as one response to the problem of church unity. Thus, the solution to division arising from heterodox teaching was the development of "tighter and more standardized structures of ministry. One of these structures is the tri-partite form of church leadership consisting of episkopoi (overseers); presbyteroi (elders), as was the case with Jewish communities; and diakonoi (ministerial servants). Presbyters were ordained and assisted the bishop; as Christianity spread, especially in rural areas, the presbyters exercised more responsibilities and took distinctive shape as priests. Deacons also performed certain duties, such as tending to the poor and sick.
Ignatius of Antioch urged churches to adopt this structure, writing that "You cannot have a church without these." In the 2nd century this structure was supported by teaching on apostolic succession, where a bishop becomes the spiritual successor of the previous bishop in a line tracing back to the apostles themselves. Over the course of the second century, this organizational structure became universal and continues to be used in the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches as well as in some Protestant denominations.
Important Church centers
Jerusalem was the first church and an important church center up to 135. The First Council of Nicaea recognized and confirmed the tradition by which Jerusalem continued to be given "special honour", but did not assign to it even metropolitan authority within its own province, still less the extraprovincial jurisdiction exercised by Rome and the other sees mentioned above.
Constantinople came into prominence only after the early Christian period, being founded officially in 330, five years after the First Council of Nicaea, though the much smaller original city of Byzantium was an early center of Christianity largely due to its proximity to Anatolia.
By the end of the early Christian period, the church within the Roman Empire had hundreds of bishops, some of them (Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, "other provinces") holding some form of jurisdiction over others.
Spread of Christianity
Christianity spread to Aramaic-speaking peoples along the Mediterranean coast and also to the inland parts of the Roman Empire, and beyond that into the Parthian Empire and the later Sasanian Empire, including Mesopotamia, which was dominated at different times and to varying extents by these empires, and possibly into India. In AD 301, the Kingdom of Armenia became the first to declare Christianity as its state religion, following the conversion of the Royal House of the Arsacids in Armenia.
Various theories attempt to explain how Christianity managed to spread so successfully prior to the Edict of Milan (313). According to Rodney Stark, Christianity replaced paganism chiefly because it improved the lives of its adherents in various ways. According to Endsjø, another factor was the way in which Christianity combined its promise of a general resurrection of the dead with the traditional Greek belief that true immortality depended on the survival of the body, with Christianity adding practical explanations of how this was going to actually happen at the end of the world. According to Will Durant, the Christian Church prevailed over paganism because it offered a much more attractive doctrine, and because the church leaders addressed human needs better than their rivals. According to Bart D. Ehrman, Christianity offered a powerful alternative to the Roman religions, with its promise of salvation and a better, eternal life, and its powerful God. Its demand for exclusive adherence, and conversions of whole households, also contributed to its strength.
- It appears in the Acts of the Apostles, Acts 9:2, Acts 19:9 and Acts 19:23. Some English translations of the New Testament capitalize 'the Way' (e.g. the New King James Version and the English Standard Version), indicating that this was how 'the new religion seemed then to be designated' whereas others treat the phrase as indicative—'the way', 'that way' or 'the way of the Lord'. The Syriac version reads, "the way of God" and the Vulgate Latin version, "the way of the Lord".
- Sanders and Pelikan: "Besides presenting a longer ministry than do the other Gospels, John also describes several trips to Jerusalem. Only one is mentioned in the Synoptics. Both outlines are plausible, but a ministry of more than two years leaves more questions unanswered than does one of a few months."
- Christian eschatology relates to 'last things', such as death, the end of the world and the judgement of humanity. Eschatological passages are found in the Old Testament Prophets, such as Isaiah and Daniel; and in the New Testament, such as the Olivet discourse and the parable of The Sheep and the Goats in the Gospel of Matthew, in the General epistles, the Pauline epistles, and the Book of Revelation. Jesus prophesied that the end of the world and the Day of Judgement were imminent in sayings such as, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," (Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15) and "this generation will not pass away until all these things take place"
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Proselyte: "The English term "proselyte" occurs only in the New Testament where it signifies a convert to the Jewish religion (Matthew 23:15; Acts 2:11; 6:5; etc.), though the same Greek word is commonly used in the Septuagint to designate a foreigner living in Judea. The term seems to have passed from an original local and chiefly political sense, in which it was used as early as 300 BC, to a technical and religious meaning in the Judaism of the New Testament epoch."
- See also Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles
- Jewish Virtual Library: "A major difficulty in tracing the growth of Christianity from its beginnings as a Jewish messianic sect, and its relations to the various other normative-Jewish, sectarian-Jewish, and Christian-Jewish groups is presented by the fact that what ultimately became normative Christianity was originally but one among various contending Christian trends. Once the "gentile Christian" trend won out, and the teaching of Paul became accepted as expressing the doctrine of the Church, the Jewish Christian groups were pushed to the margin and ultimately excluded as heretical. Being rejected both by normative Judaism and the Church, they ultimately disappeared. Nevertheless, several Jewish Christian sects (such as the Nazarenes, Ebionites, Elchasaites, and others) existed for some time, and a few of them seem to have endured for several centuries. Some sects saw in Jesus mainly a prophet and not the "Christ," others seem to have believed in him as the Messiah, but did not draw the christological and other conclusions that subsequently became fundamental in the teaching of the Church (the divinity of the Christ, trinitarian conception of the Godhead, abrogation of the Law). After the disappearance of the early Jewish Christian sects and the triumph of gentile Christianity, to become a Christian meant, for a Jew, to apostatize and to leave the Jewish community.
- Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on Acts 19, http://biblehub.com/commentaries/jfb//acts/19.htm accessed 8 October 2015
- Jubilee Bible 2000
- American King James Version
- Douai-Rheims Bible
- Gill, J., Gill's Exposition of the Bible, commentary on Acts 19:23 http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/acts/19.htm accessed 8 October 2015
- E. Peterson (1959), "Christianus." In: Frühkirche, Judentum und Gnosis, publisher: Herder, Freiburg, pp. 353–72
- Elwell & Comfort 2001, pp. 266, 828.
- Burkett 2002, p. 3.
- Mack 1995.
- Ehrman 2012, p. 272.
- Ehrman 2012, p. 273.
- Theissen & Merz 1998, pp. 316–46.
- Lawrence 2017, p. 60.
- Ehrman 2014.
- The Jesus Quest: The Third Search for the Jew of Nazareth. by Ben Witherington III, InterVersity Press, 1997 (second expanded edition), ISBN 0830815449 pp. 9–13
- The Quest for the Plausible Jesus: The Question of Criteria by Gerd Theissen and Dagmar Winter, Westminster John Knox Press 2002) ISBN 0664225373 pp. 1–6
- Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell, Westminster John Knox Press 1999) ISBN 0664257038 pp. 19–23
- The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum 2009 ISBN 978-0-8054-4365-3 pages 124-125
- Mitchell, Margaret M.; Young, Frances M. (2006). The Cambridge History of Christianity. 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-521-81239-9.
- Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus by William R. Herzog (Jul 4, 2005) ISBN 0664225284 page 8
- Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 978-0195124743.
- Matt 3:2
- Matt 4:17; Mark 1:15
- Matt 24:34
- Bargil Pixner, The Church of the Apostles found on Mount Zion, Biblical Archaeology Review 16.3 May/June 1990, centuryone.org
- Galatians 2:9, Acts 1:13
- Hurtado 2005, p. 160.
- Vidmar 2005, p. 19–20.
- Hitchcock, Geography of Religion (2004), p. 281, quote: "By the year 100, more than 40 Christian communities existed in cities around the Mediterranean, including two in North Africa, at Alexandria and Cyrene, and several in Italy."
- Bokenkotter 2004, p. 18.
- Franzen 29
- Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church ed. F.L. Lucas (Oxford) entry on Paul
- Stendahl 1963.
- Dunn 1982, p. n.49.
- Finlan 2001, p. 2.
- Bokenkotter 2004, p. 19.
- Mack 1997, p. 91-92.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 156-157.
- Hurtado 2005, p. 168.
- Burkett 2002, p. 263.
- Davidson, p.146
- Franzen, p.25
- Wylen (1995). p. 190.
- Berard (2006). pp. 112–113.
- Wright (1992). pp. 164–165.
- Wylen (1995). pp. 190–192.
- Dunn (1999). pp. 33–34.
- Boatwright (2004). p. 426.
- Wylen, pp.190-192.
- Dunn, pp.33-34.
- Tabor (1998).
- Esler (2004), pp.157-159.
- Dunn 1991.
- Dauphin (1993). pp. 235, 240–242.
- Siker (2000). pp. 232–234.
- Bauer, Walter (1971). Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. ISBN 0-8006-1363-5.
- Williams, Robert Lee (2005). Bishop Lists: Formation of Apostolic Succession of Bishops in Ecclesiastical Crises. Gorgias Press LLC. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-59333-194-8. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
- presbyter. CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
- Haight, Roger D. (16 September 2004). Christian Community in History Volume 1: Historical Ecclesiology. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-0-8264-1630-8. Retrieved 26 October 2012.
- See, for example, Council of Jerusalem and Early centers of Christianity#Jerusalem.
- "Since there prevails a custom and ancient tradition to the effect that the bishop of Aelia is to be honoured, let him be granted everything consequent upon this honour, saving the dignity proper to the metropolitan" (Canon 7).
- Canon VI of the First Council of Nicea, which closes the period under consideration in this article, reads: "Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop ..." As can be seen, the title of "Patriarch", later applied to some of these bishops, was not used by the Council: "Nobody can maintain that the bishops of Antioch and Alexandria were called patriarchs then, or that the jurisdiction they had then was co-extensive with what they had afterward, when they were so called" (ffoulkes, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, quoted in Volume XIV of Philip Schaff's The Seven Ecumenical Councils).
- Michael Whitby, et al. eds. Christian Persecution, Martyrdom and Orthodoxy (2006) online edition
- Yisrael, Muzeon (1995). The Jews of India: A Story of Three Communities. ISBN 9789652781796.
- Rodney Stark. The Rise of Christianity. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1996.
- Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009.
- Durant 2011.
- Ehrman, Bart D. (29 March 2018). "Inside the Conversion Tactics of the Early Christian Church". History. A+E Networks. Retrieved 5 April 2019.
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- Berard, Wayne Daniel. When Christians Were Jews (That Is, Now). Cowley Publications (2006). ISBN 1-56101-280-7.
- Boatwright, Mary Taliaferro & Gargola, Daniel J & Talbert, Richard John Alexander. The Romans: From Village to Empire. Oxford University Press (2004). ISBN 0-19-511875-8.
- Bockmuehl, Markus N.A. The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. Cambridge University Press (2001). ISBN 0-521-79678-4.
- Bokenkotter, Thomas (2004). A Concise History of the Catholic Church. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50584-1.
- Brown, Schuyler. The Origins of Christianity: A Historical Introduction to the New Testament. Oxford University Press (1993). ISBN 0-19-826207-8
- Burkett, Delbert (2002), An Introduction to the New Testament and the Origins of Christianity, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-00720-7
- Dauphin, C. "De l'Église de la circoncision à l'Église de la gentilité – sur une nouvelle voie hors de l'impasse". Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. Liber Annuus XLIII (1993).
- Duffy, Eamon (1997). Saints and Sinners, a History of the Popes. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-07332-1.
- Dunn, James D.G. (1982), The New Perspective on Paul. Manson Memprial Lecture, 4 november 1982
- Dunn, James D.G. Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways, A.D. 70 to 135. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (1999). ISBN 0-8028-4498-7.
- Dunn, James D.G. The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul. Cambridge University Press (2003). ISBN 0-521-78694-0.
- Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins (2005). ISBN 0-06-073817-0
- Ehrman, Bart D. (2012), Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6
- Elwell, Walter A. & Comfort, Philip Wesley. Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Tyndale House Publishers (2001). ISBN 0-8423-7089-7.
- Esler, Philip F. The Early Christian World. Routledge (2004). ISBN 0-415-33312-1.
- Finlan, Stephen (2004), The Background and Content of Paul's Cultic Atonement Metaphors, Society of Biblical Literature
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- Hurtado, Larry (2005), Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity, Eerdmans
- Mack, Burton L. (1997) , Wie schreven het Nieuwe Testament werkelijk? Feiten, mythen en motieven. (Who Wrote the New Testament? The Making of the Christian Myth), Uitgeverij Ankh-Hermes bv
- McGrath, Alister E. Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing (2006). ISBN 1-4051-0899-1.
- Siker, Jeffrey S. "Christianity in the Second and Third Centuries", Chapter Nine in The Early Christian World. Philip F. Esler, editor. Routledge (2000). ISBN 0-415-24141-3.
- Stark, Rodney. The Rise of Christianity. Princeton University Press (1996). ISBN 0-06-067701-5.
- Stendahl, Krister (July 1963), "The Apostle Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West" (PDF), The Harvard Theological Review, 56 (3): 199–215, doi:10.1017/S0017816000024779
- Tabor, James D. "Ancient Judaism: Nazarenes and Ebionites", The Jewish Roman World of Jesus. Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1998).
- Taylor, Joan E. Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins. Oxford University Press (1993). ISBN 0-19-814785-6.
- Theissen, Gerd & Merz, Annette. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press (1998). ISBN 0-8006-3122-6.
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- Wright, N.T. The New Testament and the People of God. Fortress Press (1992). ISBN 0-8006-2681-8.
- Wylen, Stephen M. The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction. Paulist Press (1995). ISBN 0-8091-3610-4.
- Larry Hurtado (August 17, 2017 ), "Paul, the Pagans’ Apostle"
- Larry Hurtado (December 4, 2018 ), "When Christians were Jews": Paula Fredriksen on "The First Generation"
- Stephen Westerholm (2015), The New Perspective on Paul in Review, Direction, Spring 2015 · Vol. 44 No. 1 · pp. 4–15
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Circumcision: In Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature
- Larry Hurtado (December 4, 2018), “When Christians were Jews”: Paula Fredriksen on “The First Generation”
- Berard, Wayne Daniel. When Christians Were Jews (That Is, Now). Cowley Publications (2006). ISBN 1-56101-280-7.
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