Islam on Christian Factionalism

Factionalism in the early church is baffling to many people. Sometimes, important realities about a religion are more visible to outsiders than to the participants themselves — or even to the scholars of those religions.  To early Islam, the factionalism in its key early rival, Christianity, was obvious. This is from the Qur’an: Continue reading

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Factionalism in the Early Church

Christianity was shattered into many different factions at an unusually early stage. What do scholars make of the huge multiplicity of different Christian groups? For example, what caused it? Any ideas, scholars? Or anyone else?

For me, this is a central historical problem in understanding early Christianity. The vast extent of early Christian factionalism shifts our attention to the question, what caused this? Most likely, it is because the authority of the Jerusalem church was destroyed at an early stage. After the destruction of the temple in 70 CE, there was only a greatly weakened Jerusalem church, unable to provide direction to the many diverse gentile churches with which it had already experienced some considerable friction. The natural result was factionalism. Continue reading

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Review of “Disciples” by Brian Wagner

Here’s another review of Disciples:

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Keith Akers’ latest effort, Disciples:  How Jewish Christianity shaped Jesus and Shattered the Church, is a ground-breaking examination of a largely misunderstood period in Christian history.  Akers’ illumination of primary sources throws into question many long-held beliefs of the trajectory of early Christianity.  His systematic review of the surviving evidence gradually builds a formidable and convincing framework for an understanding of the early faith.  If you are interested in pre-Nicene Christianity, this is a must-read.

Brian Wagner, doctoral candidate, New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa.

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“Disciples” now available in Kindle format

Disciples is now available in Kindle (e-book) format!

You can order it on Amazon here.

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Aside

If you’re in Denver, come hear me give a talk on “Veganism and Christianity: Should We Care?” on Saturday, March 22, at the Rocky Mountain Miracle Center, 1939 South Monroe Street, Denver, Colorado.  It’s the monthly potluck of the Denver Vegans.  There will be a vegan potluck beforehand (gather at 6:00 pm, eat at 6:30) and I’ll start talking afterwards, probably about 7:00 or 7:15.

For more details, or to RSVP for the event, visit the Denver Vegans meetup listing for this event.

Christian / Vegetarian Dialogue II

Jesus and Nicodemus (H. O. Tanner)

What would a dialogue between Christians and vegetarians look like? Such a dialogue would make sense if both parties to the dialogue had something to bring to the table.

At the present time this is a dialogue in which no one seems to be interested. Christians (without intending to) have pretty much driven all the committed vegetarians out of the churches, and the vast majority of vegetarians are not Christians. Why am I interested in promoting a dialogue between two groups of people who in general don’t seem to be interested in talking to each other anyway? Continue reading

Posted in "Disciples", Christianity, Vegetarianism / Veganism | 17 Comments

Christian / Vegetarian Dialogue I

Jesus and Nicodemus (H. O. Tanner)

Is dialogue between vegetarians and Christians even possible? Although the modern Western vegetarian movement was originally started by Christian vegetarians (members of the Bible Christian Church, now defunct), Christian vegetarianism is scarcely even mentioned these days. Christians have largely rejected vegetarianism, and vegetarians are mostly non-Christian.

When exploring the possibility of such a dialogue with other vegetarians, the difficult thing to explain is “why Christianity?” Why not just present a straightforward ethical case for vegetarianism or veganism, based on the idea that animals are sentient beings and have rights? Let’s just leave religion out of it. When explaining this possibility to Christians, though, there is a completely different question: “why vegetarianism?” They typically are completely indifferent to vegetarian issues, if not downright hostile. Continue reading

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Who is the Audience for “Disciples”?

Jesus and Nicodemus (H. O. Tanner)

Several people have asked me who my target audience is for Disciples, or for my previous book The Lost Religion of Jesus. When I write about Christianity and vegetarianism, who is my audience? Christians? Vegetarians? Someone else?  A friend of mine writes the following question:

In order to explain that the founders [of Christianity] were vegetarian you also have to do a critical analysis which uncovers that Jesus and his followers never claimed that Jesus was god co-equal with the father. Fundamentalists do not want to listen to anything which would demote Jesus . . . non-fundamentalists and non-Christians are not particularly interested in reading anything about Jesus as vegetarian because they are just not that interested in reading about Jesus.

So what audience is left? Continue reading

Posted in "Disciples", Christianity, Vegetarianism / Veganism | 16 Comments

Review of “Disciples” on All-Creatures.Org

Frank and Mary Hoffman, who administer the All-Creatures.org website, one of the top Christian vegetarian websites in English, recently reviewed Disciples. Here’s what they said:

Disciples by Keith Akers is a very interesting and well researched book. The main focus of Disciples is to take an in-depth look at “Jewish Christianity” as it has commonly been called, which Akers contends may go back 1000 years or more before Jesus, which to us refers to a messianic movement. Continue reading

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Pious Fraud, Vegetarian Style

Bart Ehrman's book "Forged" deals mostly with ancient forgeries, but also with some modern forgeries

The New Testament includes many books whose actual authors are other than they are claimed to be. That is, they are forgeries — but made it into the New Testament anyway.  Paul’s two “letters to Timothy,” for example, were not actually written by Paul.  Forgeries are in a different category altogether than channeled works such as Rev. Ouseley’s The Gospel of the Holy Twelve or Levi’s The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the case of channeled works, the author is being straightforward: I had a dream or vision, in which God (or Anna Kingsford, or the Akashic Records) revealed these things. But in the case of forgeries, a manuscript is being advertised as being written by someone who in fact did not write it. Forgeries in the realm of religion are sometimes called “pious frauds.”

Two distinguished examples of modern “pious frauds” are the gospels by Nicholas Notovitch and Edmond Bordeaux Szekely. Both are sometimes innocently quoted by vegetarians to prove that Jesus went to India or that Jesus was a vegetarian. But neither of them constitutes real evidence about Jesus, or about anything else before the nineteenth century. Continue reading

Posted in Christianity, Historical Jesus, History, Religion and spirituality | 2 Comments