The Hegelian dialectic, as applied to the historiography of the origins of Christianity, is, as Oscar Cullmann has said, a scientific dogma from which we should free ourselves. We will be able to do so in all honesty, however, only if we are able to give genuine substance to our affirmation of the distinctiveness of biblical revelation.
In almost all modern scholarship dealing with the origins of Christianity, there seems to be a general acceptance of the dialectical thesis of two trends in primitive Christianity—a Jewish Christianity of the earliest time, located in Palestine, and a Gentile Christianity of later development, located outside Palestine in the environment of Hellenism. Here the previously mentioned article by Oscar Cullmann (“A New Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel,” Expository Times, October, 1959, p. 8) supports the view that the Hegelian schematization is not satisfactory. In the Fourth Gospel, Cullmann states, there are incontestably Hellenistic elements but at the same time these are “closely related precisely to those Jewish and Jewish-Christian currents which we know particularly well, thanks to the recent discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Thus Hellenization did not arise as a later type of Christianity. Rather, any Hellenistic elements found in the New Testament must have coexisted with the origins of Palestinian Christianity, where Palestinian Judaism itself was not so homogeneous as we are sometimes tempted to believe.
In replying to those who have relativized the biblical revelation by the thesis that the New Testament has been influenced by pagan cults, we need to remember the following points:
1. Definite information about the doctrines and rites of the pagan cults in New Testament times is ...1
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