Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Bock on Orthodoxy before Canon

Darrell Bock has a very helpful post responding to one of the core claims of "Jesusanity" (the view of "cultural Christianity" that suggests Jesus was an important religious guide but that his person and theology are not central). One claim of "Jesusanity is that we cannot get back to the core theology of Jesus before there was a functioning canon. So we most posit in its place a "pluralist Christianity" or "alternative Christianities" rather than any kind of real or proto-orthodoxy in the earliest periods. Bock writes:
This claim is important because it argues that no one approach to Christianity can claim to be the one going back to Jesus at the exclusion of other options. However, there is a response to this claim. It rotates around four areas of activity in the earliest churches and their worship services. Those four areas are Scripture (i.e., the Hebrew Bible, what we call the Old Testament), Schooling (Doctrinal summaries), Singing (early Christian hymns), and Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord’s Table). Through each of these means teachers passed on core Christian theology and taught in a culture that presented material by means of orally sharing it.
Read the whole thing. The upshot: "The historical review shows there was such a thing as core orthodoxy that was being passed on in a culture used to teaching and functioning in an oral context."