The really innovative developments in the period under review here illustrate what I mean by "radical diversity," and they are associated with figures and movements that came to be regarded (in some cases, rather quickly) as heterodox or "heretical" by "proto-orthodox" Christians. The high regard for traditions of belief and practice in early proto-orthodox Christian circles meant that they were often more suspicious of religious innovations and speculative thought than other circles of Christians seem to have been. That is, those who opposed these developments regarded the beliefs and practices as too innovative, and insufficiently compatible with the traditions they revered. As we shall see, the advocates of these radical innovations seem to have agreed that there were major differences between their beliefs and those favored by protoorthodox Christians. We should not necessarily imagine that all the differences in second-century Christianity were equally significant, or that they all correspond to clearly distinguishable groups. But in some cases it is a fair representation of matters as they were perceived at the time to refer to examples of "radical diversity." And where we can identify instances of radical diversity, they represent major innovations, and rival interpretations of belief and practice, over against the comparatively more traditional preferences that marked protoorthodox circles.
To be sure, for any form of religious belief and practice to survive across time and cultures, it must adapt. The claims of proto-orthodox circles to preserve primal Christian traditions can easily be shown to be simplistic, or at least only partly indicative of what characterized them. Actually, we could say that proto-orthodox Christianity succeeded more than competing versions of the faith, and became the generally dominant form of Christian faith precisely by adapting successfully. Proto-orthodox circles drew upon revered traditions, to