Where Are All the Heretical Bishops in the Second Century?

A number of my recent posts (e.g., see here) have been dealing with Walter Bauer’s 1934 book Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity which insists that Christianity was wildly diverse in the earliest centuries and that the heretics outnumbered the orthodox. It was not until the 3rd and 4th centuries, it is argued, that the orthodox began to turn the tide.

But let’s test this theory by asking a simple question: who were the bishops in second-century Christianity?  If heresy was as widespread as orthodoxy, we should expect to find a number of bishops that are openly Marcionite, Ebionite, Gnostic, and beyond.

The problem for Bauer’s thesis is that …

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One of the Clearest (and Earliest) Summaries of Early Christian Beliefs

Since I am currently writing a book on Christianity in the second century, my research has been focused on some of our earliest patristic texts.  These texts are a treasure trove of fascinating statements and declarations that provide tremendous insight on what early Christians really believed.

Some of my prior posts on this theme include discussions of the persecution of Christians, early Christian sexual ethics, the divinity of Jesus, and the doctrine of substitutionary atonement.

Most recently, I came across an amazing paragraph in one of our earliest Christian apologies.  Aristides, a converted Athenian philosopher, wrote an apology to emperor Hadrian around 125 A.D.  As such, …

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