Last evening CNN treated us to a 2-hour program on the development of Christianity from the time of Jesus to the Nicene Council (323 AD). There is plenty to like and probably plenty to disagree with. My questions today are:
1. What did you like and agree with?
2. What did you learn you didn’t know before?
3. What did you not like or disagree with?
I’ll start it off with this:
First, I found the graphics and images and art and imaginative stuff very good and suggestive. I found lots and lots to agree with. The choice of scholars was reasonable. Ehrman is a media darling today, but his view represents plenty of scholars in the academic community.
Second, the theme of the night was the diversity of Christianity in the first three centuries. Which leads me to two major problems:
1. If there was diversity, why did they choose to limit the first generation to Paul and Peter? Where was the apostle John — or at least Johannine Christianity — which virtually shaped the origins of Christianity orthodoxy: christology, etc. And if you are looking for diversity, why not more on Jewish Christianity — why not more on James? And, if you are really looking for diversity, why not a section on the kind of Christianity we find in the book of Hebrews?
2. How can we talk about the rise of orthodoxy and skip over Irenaeus, Ignatius, Tertullian and Athanasius — and show how they responded in their contexts to the challenges and gave major voices to the ongoing development of orthodoxy? We virtually jump from the NT to Constantine, and give the impression that orthodoxy dropped out of the sky when Constantine needed a political expedient to unify the empire.