After Jesus Before Christianity: A Historical Exploration of the First Two Centuries of Jesus Movements (Hardcover)

After Jesus Before Christianity: A Historical Exploration of the First Two Centuries of Jesus Movements By Erin Vearncombe, Brandon Scott, Hal Taussig, The Westar Institute Cover Image
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From the creative minds of the scholarly group behind the groundbreaking Jesus Seminar comes this provocative and eye-opening look at the roots of Christianity that offers a thoughtful reconsideration of the first two centuries of the Jesus movement, transforming our understanding of the religion and its early dissemination.

Christianity has endured for more than two millennia and is practiced by billions worldwide today. Yet that longevity has created difficulties for scholars tracing the religion’s roots, distorting much of the historical investigation into the first two centuries of the Jesus movement. But what if Christianity died in the fourth or fifth centuries after it began? How would that change how historians see and understand its first two hundred years?

Considering these questions, three Bible scholars from the Westar Institute summarize the work of the Christianity Seminar and its efforts to offer a new way of thinking about Christianity and its roots. Synthesizing the institute’s most recent scholarship—bringing together the many archaeological and textual discoveries over the last twenty years—they have found: 

  • There were multiple Jesus movements, not a singular one, before the fourth century
  • There was nothing called Christianity until the third century
  • There was much more flexibility and diversity within Jesus’s movement before it became centralized in Rome, not only regarding the Bible and religious doctrine, but also understandings of gender, sexuality and morality.

Exciting and revolutionary, After Jesus Before Christianity provides fresh insights into the real history behind how the Jesus movement became Christianity. 

After Jesus Before Christianity includes more than a dozen black-and-white images throughout.

About the Author

Erin Vearncombe is a professor in the Faculty of Arts and Science at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the social realities of the earliest Jesus groups.

Brandon Scott is the Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament Emeritus at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa, and the author of many books.

Hal Taussig recently retired as professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He edited the award-winning A New New Testament and has published fourteen books.

The Westar Institute is dedicated to fostering and communicating the results of cutting-edge scholarship on the history and evolution of the Christian tradition, thereby raising the level of public discourse about questions that matter in society and culture.

Praise For…

“This book is a work of genius. You are about to read a book that possesses the potential to rewrite history.” — Sue Monk Kidd, bestselling author of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and The Secret Life of Bees

"With a prose cool, clear, and crisp, a tone positive, powerful, and persuasive, and a vision confident, collective, and collegial, After Jesus Before Christianity is good news, truth, and joy—as Christianity itself should always be." — John Dominic Crossan, author of The Birth of Christianity and Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography

“Here is a room full of forgotten stories about what it once meant to follow Jesus. Some are so strange that they tell me what a stranger I have become to my own faith. Others are so compelling that they refresh my sense of what this faith asks of me.” — Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Holy Envy

"There have always been Jesus people who challenged the assumptions of Empire and created refuge for the oppressed. This noble effort to uncover movements that were silenced reminds me of the saints who sing, 'I know Jesus for myself.'" — Bishop William J. Barber, II, President of Repairers of the Breach and author, We Are Called To Be A Movement

"Well-conceived, well-organized, honestly and bravely argued. It provokes consideration of what persistently haunts us as moderns." — Vincent L. Wimbush, Director of the Institute for Signifying Scriptures    

“Tracing the early history of Christianity from Jesus to Constantine, this book serves as an excellent preparation for the emergence of Christendom. Its timing is auspicious, given the current confusion in America about the definition of Christianity and the relations between Christianity, culture, and society.” — Burton L. Mack, author of The Lost Gospels

“After Jesus Before Christianity describes a time of widespread resistance to violence and oppression in the ancient world while also providing models of hope for modern day seekers of justice and wholesome spirituality.” — Chebon Kernell, executive secretary of Native American and Indigenous Ministries, United Methodist Church

“A ground-breaking, truth-telling account of the development of early Christianity, a must read and will have implications for generations.” — Liz Theoharis, director of the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary

Product Details
ISBN: 9780063062153
ISBN-10: 0063062151
Publisher: HarperOne
Publication Date: November 2nd, 2021
Pages: 368
Language: English