In 1934, the German scholar Walter Bauer wrote a landmark work entitled Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity. The problem was that no one yet knew it was a landmark work. The Germans (and the world) had other things on their mind during this phase of European history.
But, in 1971 the book was translated into English. And with all the new found (largely American) fascination with apocryphal Gospels like the Gospel of Thomas, the English translation proved to be well timed.
Bauer’s core thesis was that early Christianity was profoundly diverse in terms of its theological commitments. Various Christian groups believed all sorts of contradictory things about Jesus, salvation, creation and a myriad of other Christian doctrines. [Read more…]