A Short History of Early Christianity

Committed Christians consider the first two centuries of „early Christianity“ as a particularly „pure“ form of Christianity, unspoilt by the constrictions of an institutionalized church. But this particular brand of „early Christianity“ was but one of several currents in the Jewish communities of the Roman Empire. Hence for Micha Brumlik the genesis of Christianity is also a process of mutual delimitation between Christians and Jews.

Christianity did not come into existence by an act of „revelation“ ex nihilo. On the contrary, after the death of the Nazarene, a charismatic Jewish preacher, it took some three hundred years of delimitation against Judaism in order to find a fixed dogmatic form. At the beginning quite a number of Jews were willing to worship Jesus as a messiah, and it wasn’t just disciples of Jesus who went out as missionaries among the heathens. At the same time the philosophical mysticism of the Hellenic world – Neoplatonism and the esoteric doctrine of Gnosticism – began to exert its influence on Jewish-Christian thought. It wasn’t until the dogma of Christ’s divinity and the Trinity had taken root, that Christianity and Judaism finally parted company. But this dogma remained controversial for a long time, and it took the Emperor himself to force a theological compromise that all sides would accept.

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Micha Brumlik

Micha Brumlik was born in 1947. After a few years working as an assistant lecturer in Göttingen, Hamburg and Mainz, he started teaching education at Heidelberg’s Ruprecht-Karls-University, focussing on social education. Since 2000 he’s been teaching general education at Frankfurt’s Johann Wolfgang Goethe University focussing on "Theories on education and culture". From 2000 to 2005 he was the director of the University’s Fritz Bauer Institut, a study and documentation centre for the history and historical impact of the Holocaust.

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