Diversity and the Emergence of “Orthodoxy” in Early Christianity


Larry Hurtado's Blog

I continue to see some scholars stating as unquestioned fact that “orthodoxy” and “heresy” really only emerged after Constantine, that only with the power of imperial coercion could these categories operate, and that in the pre-Constantinian period all we have is Christian diversity, with no recognizable direction or shape to it.  In some cases, scholars will admit that with Irenaeus (late second century) and perhaps even Justin (mid-second century) we may see the early expressions of notions of “heresy.”  But a recent study by Robert M. Royalty, Jr., The Origin of Heresy:  A History of Discourse in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity (London/New York:  Routledge, 2013), marshals effectively evidence and argument that should correct such views.  The publisher’s online catalogue description is here.

Royalty essentially shows that, although the term “heresy” (Greek:  hairesis) came to be used in the now-familiar pejorative sense sometime in the second century…

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