Baker Academic

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Jesus and the Chaos of History on Syndicate

I've been meaning to share this for nearly two weeks, but between the SBL Annual Meeting and the Thanksgiving holiday (and the return back to the semester), I haven't had the time.

Over at Syndicate, you can find a very interesting discussion of The Jesus Blog's very own James Crossley's recent book, Jesus and the Chaos of History. I haven't had time yet to work through all four discussions and James's responses to each. I was happy to offer one essay, and I especially enjoyed reading James's response to me. At this early date I can say that, from what I've read of it, Paula Fredriksen's piece is also very helpful. As an historian interested in Paul, I think James's assumptions about early/-iest Christianity (and especially Pauline Christianity) will need some refinement, and from what I could tell Fredriksen begins precisely this task. But, as I said, I will need to return to Fredkriksen's essay—not to mention dive into Helen Bond's and Brent Driggers's pieces—when the moment presents itself. Until then, you should check out Syndicate and, while you're there, add your own two cents.

Thank you to Chris Tilling and Christian Amondson for putting this discussion together.

–Rafael Rodríguez


  1. Thanks, though I'm not sure I discussed Pauline Christianity in depth and, as I say in my response to Paula, I'm not sure there's much disagreement between us

    1. James: I'm supporting your work particularly, overall. The idea that most people seem to be rightly noting, is the notion that in any given period there are not one or two, but hundreds of different reactions to contemporary events. So we have the chaos of history, like the chaos of the battlefield. Which might even give us hundreds of Christianities I suppose.

      To me though, if Christianity is the result of hundreds of individuals and cultural trends, then why should we speak as if Christianity appeared definitely, suddenly, around 1 to 33 AD?

      As an historian myself, typically I look for the origins of something in the time immediately preceding it. In the case of Christianity, that would be the intertestimental period and the Apocrypha. That era of Greek and then Roman, Hellenistic influence, c. 250 BC to 64 BC, looks especially important to me.

      So I see Christianity evolving from around 200 BC on.

      Lots of us also by the way, support your emphasis on the material or economic base of Christianity.

      Thanks also to Rafael also for noting the discussion on some of this. Ms. Fredriksen also seems to be one of the heavy hitters in this area.