Pat Moauro, the editor of The Metaphysical Express (London, Ontario, Canada), has written a review of Disciples, which is posted below. Pat encourages anyone who wants a copy of this journal to e-mail him at patmor123 (at) gmail (dot) com.
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After reading Keith Akers’ newest book, Disciples, I must admit I found some of his information about the origins of Christianity startling and surprising. Although I left traditional Christianity many years ago in favour of metaphysical and New Thought Christianity, I was still somewhat taken aback while reading this book and its conclusions about Jesus Christ, the organization and church built around his name, and the way Christianity has splintered and shattered into hundreds of competing sects and groups, each claiming to be the “True” church founded by Jesus. Continue reading
If you’re in the Denver area, come hear me give a talk on “Christianity in the First Century and Today” on Sunday, May 4, at the First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 East Hampden Avenue, Denver, Colorado 80222. It will be held at 12:30 p. m. The event is the weekly “Community Forum.” It is scheduled to be held in the Colvin Commons; I will update this post if the room changes.
The church is at the northeast corner of Hampden and Colorado Blvd. Their phone number is 303-759-2770. For more information, check the web site of the First Universalist Church.
I will be interviewed by Mormon Vegetarian Radio (BlogTalkRadio) on Thursday, May 1, at 8 p. m. Mountain Daylight time (that’s 7 p. m.Pacific, 9 p. m.Central, and 10 p. m. Eastern). You can go to the above link and click on Episode 16. They have a copy of Disciples and I will be interested to see what sorts of questions they ask. I will have a copy of The Doctrine and Covenants, section 89. If you want to call in to the program with questions, the number is (347) 324-5516. UPDATE: If you missed the program, you can hear it here.
Ignoring the factionalism in the early church plays into the hands of the Christian traditionalists. When you try to identify the original foundational teaching in the New Testament, without taking into account the factionalism, it’s a confused mess. A variety of completely contradictory views about Jesus is possible. Jesus supported animal sacrifice, or Jesus opposed animal sacrifice; Jesus was apocalyptic, or Jesus was not apocalyptic; and so forth.
The end result is that there is no meaningful scholarly consensus on who Jesus was. Since the scholars don’t agree among themselves, there is no single scholarly consensus about Jesus that can effectively be set up in opposition to Christian traditionalism, and thus by comparison the Christian dogmas don’t look so bad.
But ignoring factionalism also plays into the hands of the mythicists — those who hold that Jesus is himself a myth. Continue reading
Addressing the question of factionalism in the early church is key to understanding what early Christianity was really about. Christian traditionalists would probably prefer to forget about the traumatic dispute between Paul and the other apostles, just a few decades after Jesus left the earth, which fundamentally altered the trajectory of Christianity. After all, “the apostles fighting with each other” — it’s not a pretty picture, and throws into question the whole traditional view of early Christianity. Continue reading
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
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
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.
Disciples is now available in Kindle (e-book) format!
You can order it on Amazon here.
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.