By Study and Also By Faith

An LDS (Mormon) blog representing a search for knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Early Christian History

A friend recently introduced me to the fascination of early Christian history. Before that, my focus had been on medieval history with occasional forays into America's colonial history and other time periods. I had previously had a vague idea that the earliest Christians were a homogeneous group, believing the same things, teaching the same things. Now I am learning that they were as varied a group as you can imagine.

Early Christians were converts. They brought their previous beliefs and notions with them into their new religion. It colored their interpretation of this new gospel they had accepted. Toward the end of the first century and later, there began to appear many writings. Some of these were by Jesus' Apostles, some were by other Christians. Not everyone wrote under his own name, either. As time passed, these writings were copied and recopied. They were edited, sometimes unintentionally by those doing the copying, sometimes intentionally by those who wanted to make the teachings more compatible with their own views. These writings were all separate, not bound together in books, so some Christians had some teachings and other Christians had other teachings. After a considerable amount of time and much discussion and debate, we ended up with the canon of scripture that we now have in the Bible, but with the Apocrypha and other writings still available.

I find that learning about all this, plus all the histories and commentaries that were written then and still being written today, is what you might call a mind-boggling pleasure. One recent book that discusses these topics is
Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew by Bart D. Ehrman. In it, Bart D. Ehrman discusses discoveries, deceptions, forgeries, and the various beliefs of various groups of Christians. He speculates some on what might have been the result if a Christian group with different views and different sacred writings had prevailed. It makes for fascinating reading.

I am delving into all of this a little at a time and plan to post bits and pieces of what I learn as I go along. I am still very interested in medieval history and that will figure in some posts as well. The more I think about it, the less inclined I am to focus my blog on any particular subject. The whole world is just too intriguing!

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