Bock

Jesus Puzzle Point 11 The Early Christian Movement Oct 15

We come now to point 11 of the Jesus Puzzle.

Here it is:

11) The initial variety of sects and beliefs about a spiritual Christ shows that the movement began as a multiplicity of largely independent and spontaneous developments based on the religious trends and philosophy of the time, not as a response to a single individual.

Evaluation:

We come now to point 11 of the Jesus Puzzle.

Here it is:

11) The initial variety of sects and beliefs about a spiritual Christ shows that the movement began as a multiplicity of largely independent and spontaneous developments based on the religious trends and philosophy of the time, not as a response to a single individual.

Evaluation:

Of all the questionable points made in the Jesus Puzzle, this one is perhaps the least credible—if that is possible. This is a claim that a movement emerged by a kind of spiritual spontaneous combustion. Does it really make sense that a movement became quickly organized and just kind of emerged out of nowhere from a figure who was no one? We are not talking about the creation of a mythic god here, for which there might be such precedent (at least centuries earlier after a long period of development, not a matter of years as we are dicussing here with the Jesus movement). No, what is being proposed here is that a created god was quickly turned into a human figure with a history and teaching with no one really responsible for the movement. Rather communities suddenly produced it and in instant variation. Instant coffee with many brands from the start! Simply put, this is sociologically incredible. Why? Because even the rising up of freshly venerated figures in the period in the Greco-Roman world are based on people who did exist whether or not they did everything attributed to them! In Judaism, this type of creative work is even less common. The claim does not fit the settings, either of them. Far more likely is that a figure inspired the development of this movement and then variations splintered off of it in various attempts to make it fit the milieu more easily. This ia generally how philosophical schools and religious movements emerge. A "charismatic" (using the term in its sociological sense) launches the new way.

4 Comments

  • Geoff Hudson

    The Earliest ‘Christian’ Movement
    My contention is that there was a prophetic movement within Judaism, led by the individual known as Judas the Galilean. This Jewish movement was anti animal sacrifice, but instead believed the Spirit of God could cleanse a persons spirit, and that the Spirit of God was the Lord to be obeyed. It was this movement of the Spirit that first spread to Rome due to persecution by the messianic priests and high priests who rejected Roman rule. And it was this movement that created the original documents of the NT before they were changed by later by Pauline editors.

    • bock

      Earliest ‘Christian” Movement dlb

      Geoff:

      Sounds like a very creative idea. How historically rooted is this? Where is the evidence for Judas the Galilean and what he taught and believed? What messianic priests and high priests do you have in mind? (I have never heard of the second cateoory- what high priest was a ‘messianic’?) Who are the "Pauline editors"?

      dlb

  • Jamie

    Early movement?
    Dr Bock,

    Love the blog! One question I have encountered frequently on this issue, is about the chronology of events presented in Paul and Acts. The contention is made that by the time Paul was converted, there were significant Christian communities in places like Damascus and Syria. They ask how it is possible the movemtents got so widespread and large in the time b/w Paul’s conversion and Jesus’ death. Who converted them! They then say the only solution is to either say Jesus cruxifiction is misdated, or that the movement had been in motion before Jesus’ died. WHat might you say?

    • bock

      Early Movement? dlb

      We have Pentecost and other feast days where people are moving in and out of Jerusalem and then going home, plus the movement of Hellenistic Jews, who may have joined the movement.

      dlb