Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Professor B.F. Meyer
Was there such a thing as "orthodoxy" in earliest Christianity? That was the question raised by Walter Bauer in his classic monograph, Orthodoxy and Heresy In Earliest Christianity. Bauer argued that the traditional Eusebian reconstruction of the primitive church was markedly defected, and against that reconstruction, he contended that heretical movements of the second century had as good a claim to apostolic traditions as did the catholic movement.
Although I agree with Bauer that the traditional reconstruction of the early church is unsound, I do not find that Bauer has offered a reconstruction engendering any firmer confidence. I challenge Bauer at two points. First, in chapter three, I attempt to determine whether Bauer's reconstruction makes sense of all the evidence. Then, I analyze the process by which groups come to self-consciousness. That is a two-sided matter. One is the fixing of a pool of acceptable diversity in which a group relates itself to the larger world of diversity (chapter four). The second is the process by which a group excludes various other diverse positions (chapter 5). Attention to these matters makes possible a more sensitive evaluation of the complexities that confronted the Christian community as it sought to define itself.
Having confined my investigation to the most significant area of the Christian mission at the turn of the century, my work provides a fresh reconstruction of the primitive church in western Asia Minor at a time when the process of self-definition was becoming the controlling issue.
Robinson, Thomas A., "Orthodoxy and Heresy In Western Asia Minor In the First Christian Century: A Dialogical Response to Walter Bauer" (1985). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1224.