What was Christianity?
It was like a pointillist painting:
Little dots, daubs, color splotches which only form a picture if viewed at a distance.
If you stand close, you see only the dots. The farther back you recede, however, the more the mind is tricked into seeing
shapes, forms, and finally "meaning."
HISTORY is that stepping back and away from original events to create "meaning" inside the mind of the viewer.
If we stop saying "Christ_ianity" and substitute MESSIAH_ianty or ANOINTED_ianty we get a grasp of it.
Messianic Jews had their own idea of Jesus. Gentiles accustomed to demi-gods had another idea of Jesus.
Arguments, debate, fistfights--led to forming the blobs and daubs into CHRISTIANITY.
WHAT WERE THEY REALLY CALLED?
How did these people refer to each other?
What words were really used in the Greek?
AKOLOUTHONTES is the term used in the NT. SEVENTY-NINE references to akolouthontes appears="followers."
Anything else? Yes.
MATHETAI is used NINETEEN times. Mathetai=learners (i.e. disciples.)
What were these persons following as akolouthontes (followers)? What were they learning as mathetai (learners.)?
Did they walk up to each other and say, "Are you in the TRUTH?"
They would ask if somebody was akolouthonte of He Hodos (Follower of the path.)
Okay--what was the path?
What did the teacher (Didaskale) teach?
There are about 41,000 denominations calling themselves "Christian." Each of these thinks THEY are correct and everybody else is not.
PORTRAIT of early Christianity
There were groups who came to chat and argue who had to be served drinks and snacks.
Who served this function? DIAKONOS (deacons) served.
Sometimes neighborhood groups wanted to get together with other neighborhood groups. Who arranged that liaison between neighbors?
These were called PRESBYTEROI or "Elders."
As in every movement, it takes somebody with a genuine drive and genius for promotion who can make things happen.
(Saul)PAUL of Tarsus was that guy. He had never (previously) met Jesus or spoken to his chosen (apostles) followers--but--
***************HE CLAIMED to have encountered a supernatural vision of Jesus.*************
This is like a modern day UFO sighting where a man gets kidnaped and probed by aliens!
It was a helluva exciting story! A great one to tell . . . and believe because it was exciting and definitive.
If you believed that story and Paul's letters (epistles) you began to have some kind of ORGANIZED teaching (or right belief: orthodoxy.)
Jesus' apostles (chosen ones) were not teaching the same thing Paul was teaching. But, Paul was INCLUDING Gentiles and corrupting the ironclad grip of Jewishness (Law of Moses) by making it non-binding!
If you don't think that was horrifying to Messianic Christians . . . think again!
Arguably, were it not for the fact the Romans destroyed the center of worship (Jerusalem) in 70 c.e.---Paul's version of Christianity probably would never have gained traction.
With Jerusalem destroyed, the Jews fled to avoid round-up and crucifixion leaving the door wide open for PAUL.
WHAT IS CHRISTIANITY?
Pretty much a reflection of an ongoing process.
It is like 'weather'.
The weather is only what it is AT THIS MOMENT.
Every single dot affects every other dot.
Your 'Christianity' may be sunshine while the other fellow's version is a thunderstorm.