"Jesus and After: The First Eighty Years," by E. Bruce Brooks (2017) – A review

An excerpt from "The Universalist Core of Christianity"
on Quaker Universalist Conversations.


Jesus and After: The First Eighty Years, by E. Bruce Brooks
(Studies in Early Christianity Series, Warring States Project,
University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2017)

Is the Christian scripture a moving text which changes with time? E. Bruce Brooks witnesses to such changes through an episodic philological analysis of Christian scriptures.

Brooks divides Christianity into three periods:

  1. Alpha Christians, who followed Jesus’s teachings during his lifetime and after.
  2. Beta Christians, who followed the teachings of Paul, with the addition of the doctrines of the resurrection and the atonement.
  3. Gamma Christians, who identified the importance of usually secret knowledge of their divine origin (gnosis).

The history of Christianity, in Brooks’ view, is the conflict of ideas among these three views, as reflected within the scriptural text of the second (“new”) testament. He indicates a similar structural understanding of conflicts within Judaism during this period.

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