Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity

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Walter Bauer's Orthodoxy & Heresy has established itself as a classic refutation of the "myth" that "in the beginning" orthodoxy was there first & heresy was a deviation from the norm. Whatever one thinks of the thesis, one cannot bypass Bauer on early heresy any more that one can bypass Bultmann on Form Criticism or Harnack on the development of dogma. Today, it remains a good introduction to Christianity at the end of the 1st century & the beginning of the 2nd century.--Gerald Christianson, Church History, Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary
This brilliant & pioneering monograph inaugurated a new era of scholarship in the study of the New Testament & Christian origins, especially in America. It argued that early Christianity did not begin with a unified orthodox belief, from which heresies broke off at a later time. Rather, Bauer demonstrated that diversity stood at the beginning, while an orthodox church emerged only after long controversies during the early centuries. During recent decades, the investigation of newly discovered texts, such as the Gnostic Library of Nag Hammadi in Egypt, have fully confirmed Bauer's insights. There may be numerous details, which scholars today would see differently than Walter Bauer, whose word was 1st published in Germany 60 years ago. Nevertheless, Bauer's book has remained the foundation for all modern scholarship in this field, & it's must-reading for all who want to explore early Christian Communities. It's still challenging, fresh, fascinating & thought-provoking--without any question one of the truly great masterpieces of New Testament scholarship.--Helmut Koester,
New Testament Studies & Ancient Church History, Harvard Divinity School

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