Tuesday, 14 July 2009

A True History of the Not-So-True Church (Pt.2)

I've been pondering over how to continue this posting (on the surprising probable fate of the first century Sabbath-keeping church) without chasing after too many red herrings. I'm fascinated by the Pseudo-Clementine literature and a host of related issues, but - (a) I don't have the time to cover all that, and (b) most readers here would probably tune out rapidly anyway. Solution? Here's a reading list if you want to investigate the background for yourself.
  • Michael Goulder. St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions. Westminster John Knox, 1994.
  • Gerd Ludemann. Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity. Westminster John Knox, 1996. [chapter 3]
  • Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early Church. Fortress Press, 1969. One of the few books specifically on the subject over the last 40 years. Surprisingly readable, but long out of print and expensive to get hold of (I picked up a copy second hand for a modest six bucks - my lucky day - but I've seen it going for well over $200.)
  • Matt Jackson-McCabe (ed.) Jewish Christianity Reconsidered: Rethinking Ancient Groups & Texts. Fortress Press, 2007. For a more general and recent overview: it's a mixed bag though, drawing on a variety of views from several scholars.
In order to give a potted presentation though, I'm drawing on another title.
  • Hans Kung, Christianity: Essence, History, & Future. Continuum, 2004. [pp. 102-109]
Kung's is a broad survey of Christian history, but the section cited provides a tidy summary of the main thesis (to be discussed in part 3), which is also supported by Schoeps.

Before going on to the major suggestion Kung makes, it may be worth noting that he is one of the most widely read contemporary Roman Catholic theologians, has held a professorship at Tubingen for many years, and was a leading architect of Vatican II. With the conservative papacies that followed on from John XXIII Kung has become one of that church's most incisive critics, while remaining within. In other words, we are a long way from either Dugger & Dodd or Hoeh.

So much for preamble. Next time we'll move to the crux of the matter.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael Goulder. St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions. Westminster John Knox, 1994.

makes it sound like Peter & Paul were at odds with their teachings. they weren't, they were in agreement.



Gerd Ludemann. Heretics: The Other Side of Early Christianity. Westminster John Knox, 1996.

sounds like there are 2 sides to Christianity. there aren't. there is only one.


Hans-Joachim Schoeps, Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early Church.

oh there were some for sure, but they got them worked out. those that disagreed left. remember, only those called by God are in during this age, so no one is lost forever, yet.



and who knows about the others.....it's generally not a good idea to judge books by their covers. i'm just pointing out what the titles seem to infer.

wonder why people are so quick to take the words of men over the words of God?

Gavin said...

*Sigh*

Tom Mahon said...

Gavin said

>>most readers here would probably tune out...<<

I think you are right! If experience is anything to go by, most people here are specifically interested in bashing HWA and those who were once associated with him! Bashing HWA doesn't require any rational thought, for as Dr. Johnson observed: "Criticism is a goddess, easy of access and forward of advance."

>>Solution? Here's a reading list if you want to investigate the background for yourself.<<

This list is bound to cause consternation amongst most of your readers. For to obtain the books will cost money, to read them will rob some here of the time they devote to less pressing matters, and to comprehend and comment on their contents would only cause you to despair at the intellectual capacity of most of your readers.

As for me, I tend to give biblical scholars a very wide berth, as they are not privy to the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

A credible history of the the true church would have to be inspired by God for me to believe it. For over the centuries, the true church was frequently infiltrated by heretics, who often gain control, like Joe junior, and who then proceeded to blot out any record of the truth. So 2000 years later, we are left with a farrago
of speculative ideas and opinions, penned by men who love to be called scholars, or should that be intellectuals!

Anonymous said...

The Armstrongism, it is strong with these ones lately, Gavin; is there something in the water??

Anonymous said...

Once upon at time we were in a place where we had pat answers to every issue, and "just so" stories from the bible to back them up. That was back when we were members of "god's elite". It appears the first commenter is still in that place.

The Skeptic

Byker Bob said...

I've found that it is simply impossible to shake most Armstrongites from their beliefs that Simon Magus founded the RCC, supplanting the "true" church, and leaving the preaching of the "real" gospel to be lost for 1900 years.

They also tend to believe, contrary to the early experience of Peter, the writings of Paul, and the edict from the Jerusalem Council, that the Gentile Christians were required to observe the vast majority of the tenets of Judaism prior to receiving the Holy Spirit.

And, they believe that Paul can be totally harmonized with Peter and James.

For the rest of us, the real history is fascinating. I've been investigating this on my own for several years now, and it is absolutely incredible what one discovers if one first rids oneself totally of agenda, Armstrongist or otherwise.

BB

GL said...

Do you really think that a die-hard Armstrongite would read a book written by someone NOT of the Armstrongite ilk? God forbid if any of these yahoo's ever went into a seminary bookstore and bought a book that would challenge their little minds. Armstrongism is dying because it's dwindling flock does not want to be challenged, to grow spiritually, or to learn things that Herb, Lord MerryDeath, Six Pack Flurry, Weinerdude Wienland, and Packatolla had absolutely no knowledge about. Sad.

kiwi said...

Well, it's interesting to note that the early Jewish Christians under James kept the Law of Moses, while others such as Paul dabbled occasionally in bits and pieces of it, such as when Paul took a vow, all the while encouraging the Gentiles to keep some holiness aspects of the Law but certainly not to become proselytes.
Any non-polemical study of this odd phase of church history would be interesting.
We were never taught to analyze these things objectively.
I think we ended up with the Book of the Law of WCG but then again, don't most denominations essentially produce their own "book of law" anyway?

Argh said...

Michael Goulder. St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions. Westminster John Knox, 1994.

makes it sound like Peter & Paul were at odds with their teachings. they weren't, they were in agreement.

Pious conviction with marginal insite and information if there ever was....sigh too

Corky said...

According to the book, Peter and Paul only agreed on one thing. That Peter would stay in Jerusalem and preach to Jews and Paul would stay out of Jewry and preach only to the gentiles.

Paul makes it very plain in Galatians that the apostles before him were full of it and it didn't matter to him what they thought.

By the time all the apostles were dead there was a dozen sects of Christianity, all arguing with each other over what the true gospel was.

Eusebius and Constantine put a murderous end to all that crap for about a thousand years. History tells what happened to sects that didn't agree with the "orthodox".

Doug Ward said...

Some other sources on early Jewish Christianity:

I think that the current _definitive_ source is

Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries, Edited by Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik, Hendrickson, 2007.

Another important source is this dissertation:

_Nazarene Jewish Christianity : from the end of the New Testament period until its disappearance in the fourth century_ by Ray A. Pritz, Magnes Press, Hebrew University ; Leiden : E.J. Brill, 1988.

Also worth mentioning is Jean Danielou's _The Theology of Jewish Christianity_ from the 1950s.

Gavin said...

Hey Doug, thanks for the heads up. Pritz looks promising, so will chase down some reviews. I've read Skarsaune's "In the Shadow of the Temple", but wasn't really impressed. Looking at the list of contributors to this book though, it could be worth checking out. Thanks again.

Jared Olar said...

"With the conservative papacies that followed on from John XXIII Kung has become one of that church's most incisive critics, while remaining within."

It should also be mentioned that, while Kung is a Catholic and is a theologian, the Catholic Church has barred him from teaching theology in any Catholic institution of higher learning, because his writings demonstrate that he's not a Catholic theologian but rather a theologian who is (nominally) Catholic. The "conservative papacies" to which you refer would be that of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Ratzinger) -- Paul VI's papacy was not a conservative one, and John Paul I's lasted just a month. It was John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger who disciplined Father Kung for his numerous departures from Catholic doctrine.

Which is not to say that Kung doesn't have some interesting or correct things to say about the development of the different kinds of Jewish Christianity that existed in the early centuries of the Christian Era.