Cc: Synoptic, Crosstalk
On: Alpha Christianity: An Invitation
As some will know, but I think it may be proper to mention generally, there has been some recent research done on the possibility that the beliefs of the earliest Christians, those who received their instruction from Jesus in his lifetime, did not include a theory of Jesus's atoning death (which, come to think of it, had not yet transpired at that time), and was based instead on a John-the-Baptist-like traditional nomism (as refined and simplified by Jesus), with a special emphasis on repentance and a sinless life thereafter, in expectation of an imminent Last Day judgement. Our name for this early belief is Alpha Christianity. The proposal is that Alpha Christianity is not only the oldest Christian belief, but that it continued to exist, to be organized, to propagate its views in Syria, Greece, and beyond (Paul, who was a convert to the later form of Christianity, contacts or contests it at Philippi, Corinth, and Rome), and to generate texts, well past the middle of the 1st century. (A possible connection with early Gnostic beliefs, which also tended not to include the concept of atonement, but to develop in a different direction, remains to be investigated).
Aspects of this view will be presented at two panels at the coming SBL meeting, and there will also be a special Additional Meeting, where those interested in developing the topic may meet and briefly discuss possibilities. The schedule of those meetings (with downloadable abstracts and handouts), along with some introductory material, including two relevant downloadable preprints from the Project's forthcoming journal, is available at this site:
Those who will not be at SBL but may nevertheless be interested in the subject are invited to get in touch with me by E-mail, at any time.
With thanks (and with apologies for cross-posting),
E Bruce Brooks
Warring States Project
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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