The Birth of Christianity

The Birth of Christianity

The Birth of Christianity

The Birth of Christianity

Excerpt

Albert Schweitzer writes: 'The great and still undischarged task which confronts those engaged in the historical study of primitive Christianity is to explain how the teaching of Jesus developed into the early Greek theology, in the form in which it appears in the works of Ignatius, Justin, Tertullian, and Irenaeus. How could the doctrinal system of Paul arise on the basis of the life and work of Jesus and the beliefs of the primitive community: and how did the early Greek theology arise out of Paulinism? Strauss and Renan recognised the obligation and each endeavoured in a series of works to trace the path leading from Jesus to the history of dogma. Since their time no one who has dealt with the life of Jesus has attempted to follow this course.' This judgement is rather shallow in nature, as the real problem is not only to discover how Christian theology and dogma were formed but also, what is especially important, to discover how the church developed its constitution. For Christianity cannot be reduced to a theology. In addition Schweitzer's appreciation of the paths criticism has followed is somewhat sweeping. But it has to be recognised that research has produced much more both in volume and importance on points of detail than in the way of general outlines and attempts at explanation of the whole. It is very tempting . . .

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