One of the problems with NT scholarship is that names were frequently appropriated. Acts and Luke are never referred to as by Luke. I kept hearing Lukan. The Revelation of John could not have been written by the beloved disciple. They weren't being fraudulent. By using the name, you showed you were a disciple or that you believed in a certain theology.
When I was in the Witnesses, I wanted to find the apostle Paul and spit on him for all his dumb moralisms. Once I was free, I discovered that only certain books were written by Paul. The very ones I had the most objections to were not written by Paul. Now I can discern it with the writing style. The authentic books have a certain argument pattern. After a while, you know the author. What I was left completely shocked me. The most beautiful prose describing a God that truly loves his creation. His main themes are love and grace. God loves me without my doing works. The contrast with the Witness teachings made me cry with joy.
Dominic Crossan is a scholar. I read one of his Paul books dealing with Paul's struggles with the Roman Empire. Not only did Paul not say the Timothy writings, they stand in stark contrast to Paul. Crossan makes a plausible claim that Paul was a feminist. Class distinctions within Christ's community were anathema to him. I am not a professional scholar. My Gnostic Scripture prof once remarked when we were discussing how awful teachers get tenure that she could have us believing anything.
One reading makes sense that people would suffer martyrdom. Certain truths are timeless. It isn't that I find myself rooted in the mainstream of Christian scholarship. An Episcopal priest once explained that the church is not a community of answers but a group of people asking questions within a community. These answers speak to my soul. They bring deep peace and joy. I always pull out a Bible and see what I think. Within my lifetime so much has come to light to shed new light on the scriptures and the surrounding culture. Now I comfortably live with doubt. Contrary to Witness admonition, I received higher education. The Gnostic take on a bad, warped creation by a lesser God and the very fact that of all the trees, the tree of Knowledge caused the expulsion from the garden. It never explains why Gnosis is bad. Like the Witnesses, you are not expected to ask questions. Many believe the stories are all just stories.
Another thought that occurs to me is that there was never, ever a golden age of Christianity where all believed Christ to be the same. They argue when Jesus is alive, they argue when he dies. Gnosticism is suppressed. The Creeds are articulated in the Middle East. Rome establishes Christianity as the same religion. Throughout Europe, conflict exists. People are slaughtered over such matters as whether to kneel or stand at Communion. Women are leaders in the church. Women are suppressed. And only some nut from Pittsburgh gets the authentic call in all this history. No Popes are privileged, not Luther nor Calvin, not Cramner or Lambert, just Russell. Does anyone want to buy this cool bridge that goes to Brooklyn?