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Group Description

This list is a medium for exploring the possibility that there was an earliest Christianity, here called Alpha, based on what Jesus taught in his lifetime (repentance, forgiveness, and obedience to a reduced Mosaic Decalogue), as distinct from the Resurrection or Beta theory of salvation, preached with special vigor by Paul, which, since it is based on an interpretation of Jesus' death, can have arisen only after his death, and must thus have come later.

Some key texts of Alpha are the Epistle of James, the Didache, and the pre-Pauline hymn quoted (with a slight addition) by Paul in Philippians 2. Alpha (non-Resurrection) doctrine is also preached in such later texts as the Clementine Recognitions.

This line of investigation turns out to have implications for other NT text problems, including John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, the post-Pauline period, the Luke-Acts dilemma, and the Johannine literature.

Alpha Christianity holds a regular informal meeting at national SBL each November,and also has a presence at the Eastern Great Lakes regional meeting each spring. This list is the discussion or prediscussion medium for topics coming up at those meetings, or for the informal and private consideration of draft papers being written by members. The list membership is kept small, and limited to those willing to make at least an occasional contribution (and a question is a welcome contribution), in order to maximize the value of the discussion.

The list is sponsored by the Warring States Project of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a section of the Project's web site is devoted to Alpha matters:


Normal scholarly expectations (civility, confidentiality, respect for priority) will apply. The Alpha Christianity list is managed in the common interest by E Bruce Brooks, Research Professor of Chinese at the Warring States Project of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Group Information

  • 28
  • Theology
  • Nov 23, 2010
  • English

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