What did the changed view of early Christianity mean? After the First World War, God’s sending his son
into the world was no longer viewed in Protestant theology as a rational decision by God, but as a totally free decision of a sovereign deity freed from all historical constraints. In other words, God could have sent Jesus 500 years earlier or 1,000 years later. The necessary rational truth of early Christianity became the random historical truth of Jesus. Protestant research on Jesus “freed” Jesus’ person and message from all conditions of spiritual history and its historical setting.
Jesus was suddenly placed as an erratic block in a historical landscape with which he did not communicate. Attempts to understand Jesus from the Jewish point of view can’t really weaken this impression.
Then the First World War broke out, and that changed everything. The Christian cultural consensus
was challenged. History was no longer perceived as a rational development, but as a chaotic process. Protestant theology held on to the view that God guides history, although it was obviously no longer rationally guided but happened chaotically. God’s will could therefore no longer be understood as a historical necessity, so instead the theologians emphasised the erratic in God’s will, God’s freedom, and placed God in opposition to the chaos of the world and world history.
into an imperial monarchy was made necessary by historical circumstances – in other words it was a historical necessity – was not the emergence of Christianity on the eastern edge of the empire, on the dividing line to the hostile Parthians who ruled the Orient, also a historical necessity, dictated by historical conditions? This was the view of Paul and the early Christians, at any rate, and they named the inevitability of what they observed and experienced “God’s will”.
The emergence, evolution and historical development of Christianity was considered to be a rational truth, seen by Hegel as the unfolding in history of the world spirit – viewed as Christian, of course. This view prevailed up to the period of German idealism and the liberal theology of the 19th century.
The early Christians fixed the change of the astrological age
to the change of the spring sign of the Zodiac, from Aries to Pisces. What do the historians say? In the period of Constantine it is not hard to conclude that the Christianity of the 4th century AD was best suited to becoming an empire-wide religion.
But what about the early Christianity of the 1st century AD, a small Jewish sect, so unimportant that Flavius Josephus overlooked it? Or should we perhaps reconsider? Didn’t Jesus himself lay the foundation for Roman Christianity, long before Paul? Is Christianity perhaps more than a Jewish offshoot after all? Is Palestine, a religious melting pot, a pool of cultural and religious influences, perhaps necessarily the breeding ground for a new religion?
Emperor Augustus reshaped Rome into an empire when it was sunk in civil war and set new social standards; was this era perhaps also the compelling reason to found a new religion? The clash of Eastern and Western cultures took place in little Galilee on a model scale and much earlier than in the rest of the Roman empire, and reconciliation was needed much earlier; is it possible that this was the cultural and religious model for the Roman empire that faced the same conflicts at a later date?
Necessary rational truths and random historical truths
The real problem that historians of early Christianity
have to solve lies deeper, however. If Christianity is not ordained by a higher power, is its emergence random or a historical necessity? Is it, in Lessing’s words, a random historical truth or a necessary rational truth? To put it another way, is the emergence of Christianity a necessary requirement of the time or rather a random event?
Paul says in Ephesians 1: 10 that God sent his son when the right time, the Kairos, was fulfilled. The New Testament seems to be of the opinion that it was the deity’s free will to save mankind through his son Jesus; however, God’s goodness also forced him, so to speak, to carry out his intention.
I aim to scientifically examine and present the Jewish/early Christian narrative of events,
the religious and literary history of the Bible. What is the difference to theological Bible research? I search for scientific findings that are equally plausible for Christian and atheist scientists. Above all, I attempt to explain the Bible and early Christianity without the God hypothesis.
For this reason, I consider it unscientific to argue that only Christians can understand the truth and beauty of the Christian faith. Nor can I accept the argument that since only Christian sources for early Christianity exist, we must therefore adopt the Christian view of these Christian sources.
I would express the task I have set myself as follows: to research and present the origins of the Bible and early Christianity in relation to the history of events, ideas and literature as events within the natural world.
(Continued) 4. Sigmund Freud describes human personality in terms of the triangle of Ego, Superego and Id. Of course there are many other definitions
of personality in psychology; the details aren’t important. Descriptions of Biblical characters often break basic rules of psychological descriptions of human personality, so the historical credibility of the narrative is compromised.
A modern supplement of psychological characteristics, however, often leads to decorative novel-like elements that are inconsistent with the facts in the text. Thus Peter becomes the committed, quick-tempered disciple and Jesus becomes the very lovable Messiah. Both descriptions fail to match historical facts.