The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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The Very Beginnings

June 11th, 2008 · No Comments · christianity, history

Two of my current research questions concern the origins of the Christian cult. The first is related to some earlier work I had to attempting to map the development of Christianity. I would like to be able to establish, as much as possible, the course of development. To this end, I am collecting as many “facts” as I can regarding the earliest Christians and their places of worship.

From these facts, I’m hoping to draw an atlas of ideologies and their development. Where the ideas begin, what areas they are accepted, how the area of acceptance morphs and moves over time. I don’t think there’s much chance of capturing actual group names or real leadership information, but I can, at least, trace the development of ideas. Some ideas can probably all be traced on a single map, others will likely need a map all their own.

The effort expended in tracing the earliest materials caused me to dream all night that I was having to locate some 1st century documents and kept getting all these late Greek treatises on the nature of God, instead.

The other question starts as a supposition that the reason one doesn’t find much 1st and 2nd century material is because it was a mystery religion, and therefore secret. What happened to blow its cover? If this is the reason why we don’t have the earliest material, what happened that this was no longer relevant? There must have been some need for common authority, and equal amounts of violence and competition for positions of authority. Did this competition spark a propaganda war that provides us with the earliest materials we do have?

I don’t really expect to ever find anything on this last question, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for it.