I misread your line of reasoning. I thought that your final sentence
was a conclusion drawn from the foregoing, so I read your mail
wrongly. It does seem to me, though, that often people start with the
premis of theological inconsistencies in scripture and end up proving
theological inconsistencies based on this premis.
But you raised an interesting point.
>The Jesus people (his eyewitness followers, friends and family) DID hold
>very different points of view than the early Christian (meaning gentile)
>church. 4G, IMO, spans thiose different cultures, communities and moments
Wasn't all early Christianity essentially Jewish? Paul, the apostle
to the gentiles was extremely Jewish in his way of thinking. He
didn't compromise at all and bullied those under his charge into
accepting exactly his view. So weren't the gentiles essentially
forced into accepting something that was very Jewish? At least in the
very early stages.
But there seem to have been serious conflicts within this Jewish
circle. I recently saw a suggestion (C.K. Barrett in 'Conflicts and
Challenges in Early Christianity', ed. D.A. Hagner) the idea that
Paul was not only in conflict with Peter, but was, by association,
essentially in conflict with the whole of the inner circle (John,
James, Peter). Barrett believes that these are the 'superapostles'
about whom Paul talks sarcastically in II Cor.
For me, this theory seems to have a basic problem. If the BD was John
and if 4G and 1J reflect his theological standpoint, wouldn't that
mean that John was vaguely anti - sacramental and therefore likely to
be on exactly the same side as Paul about matters related to
circumcision, ceremonies, etc? Furthermore, it had always struck me
that although there is an obvious shift of emphasis between John and
Paul, they seem to be in broad agreement. Does this substantiate the
argument that the BD was not John? Or would this suggest that John
came round to Paul's way of thinking after Paul was dead? Or is there
some less simplistic way of looking at this?