Christian Origins and the Establishment of the Early Jesus Movement explores the events, people, and writings surrounding the founding of the early Jesus movement in the mid to late first century. The essays are divided into four parts, focused upon the movement’s formation, the production of its early Gospels, description of the Jesus movement itself, and the Jewish mission and its literature. This collection of essays includes chapters by a global cast of scholars from a variety of methodological and critical viewpoints, and continues the important Early Christianity in its Hellenistic Context series.
Christoph Heilig has an essay in it.
The table of contents is available on the publisher’s website. In what follows, rather than attempting to persuade you to either read this volume or ignore this volume, I will simply provide a few excerpts from this volume. And then you can decide for yourself, after seeing the table of contents, whether or not it is something that interests you and fits your research needs.
I will say that if you’re a student of the early church, this is a very valuable and helpful work. But, again, I think you should inevitably decide for yourself. Here are some of the things suggested herein:
- This study will focus on literary and tradition historical aspects of the Gospels’ presentation of Jesus’s disciples. Which strategies, models, and motifs are recognizable and from which cultural contexts are they derived? (p. 71)
- An important aspect of the Gospels’ representation of the disciples is the emphasis on their inferiority to their master. (p. 79)
- In comparison to the relatively small circles of students associated with rabbis, twelve disciples would have constituted a crowd. In rabbinic narratives usually only two or three students are mentioned by name, despite the fact that some general statements refer to the “many disciples” of R. Aqiva or other prominent rabbis. (p. 83)
- Sociologists have pointed to the significance of the “perceived popularity” of an individual: the more popular a person is considered to be, the more friends and adherents that person can gain in the course of time. (p. 84)
- New Testament scholars often accept as a given the assertion well stated by the Jesus Seminar: “The concept of plagiarism was unknown in the ancient world. Authors freely copied from predecessors without acknowledgment.” When looking at our Gospels, this assertion seems prima facie true, perhaps lending to its common acceptance. If however plagiarism was known (and condemned) in antiquity, then we are justified in asking if the Gospel of Matthew, for example, is guilty of plagiarizing the Gospel of Mark, i.e., Was Matthew a plagiarist? (p. 108)
- An Imminent Parousia and Christian Mission: Did the New Testament Writers Really Expect Jesus’s Imminent Return? (p. 242)
- This essay will explore this claim from the perspective of Mark and Paul. (p. 242)
- This essay will discuss the question of how recent trends in Pauline studies—the emergence of the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” (in the following: NPP)—have influenced the perception of the two foundational figures of Paul and Peter in relation to the historical question of how it came to be that Gentiles became an important part of the early Christian movement. (p. 459)
- In what follows, we will thus have to pay close attention to both how Wright’s and Dunn’s shared assumptions influence their interpretation of Paul and Peter regarding the “Gentile problem” and how they differ in their assessment due to specifics of their individual interpretive frameworks. (p. 463)
- On the one hand, there is no indication that Peter had ever changed his view on a Gentile mission since his encounter with Cornelius. There is in particular no reason to assume that a real change of mind occurred after the meeting in Jerusalem. (p. 483)
Naturally there are a whole array of other essays which could be excerpted but these four scholars have written the, to me, most interesting of the contributions to the volume. Hezser’s in particular is really a fascinating work, laced with amazing facts and details. Richards’ is perhaps the most groundbreaking (and potentially the most relevant for modern academia). Keown’s may be the most well written. And Heilig’s is, I think, the most learned and erudite.
The other essays in the work all participate in a mixture of fascinating, groundbreaking, well written and erudite. The whole is worth reading. The four above are worth reading most of all.