Scholars generally acknowledge that the Christianity — as we know it today — was simply one among the many varying and competing sectarian beliefs amongst the early Christians in the first three centuries. This form of Christianity was, in fact, a minority faction in many localities and only much later did it attain dominance. In fact, the term “Christian” was in fact first used at Antioch1 and as such, Jesus(P) during his ministry would not have known it and would not have identified himself with it. Thus, in the first three centuries of Christianity, we are faced with a variety of competing beliefs and sects, with no one dominant or “orthodox” form of Christianity.
The prominent New Testament scholar, Prof. Bart Ehrman, explains:
Christianity in the second and third centuries was in a remarkable state of flux. To be sure, at no point in its history has the religion constituted a monolith. But the diverse manifestations of its first three hundred years – whether in terms of social structures, religious practices, or ideologies – have never been replicated.2
He continues further with: Continue reading