The Roman Empire (civilized world) was vast.
There was no iPhone uplink. There was no Internet.
There were no newspapers. Relatively few were conversant with reading beyond signs on shops and such.
Word of mouth was THE form of communication.
News spread slowly and by a process inimical to accuracy: conversation!
Sailors, tradesmen, merchants chatted and reported what had been heard.
Not unlike today, it was the outrageous and the dangerous topic that got the lead story.
Now how were a few Jews as persons without prestige, power or standing in this Empire going to CENTRALIZE CONTROL?
By the time any of them heard there was a problem it had already taken deep root. Consequently, standing around in Jerusalem
clucking over this and that was the LEAST effective means of governing, controlling, admonishing or correcting error.
How many epistles from Original Apostles do we have, anyway?
Paul remains the CHIEF MASTERMIND of othrodoxy solely on the existence of copies of his letters fired to and from congregations he (mostly himself) established.
How many "fires" was Paul constantly having to put out? How many times did he have to refute traveling competitors with "other" ministries contrary to his own?
The word COMPETITION is important here.
Christianity was not this ONE THING....which we NOW imagine 2000 years later.
Christianity was Judaism first.
...................... gnostic Pauline neo-Judaism.
.........................; neo-Platonic neo-christian cultism
as cell after cell subdivided over arguments, debates and ideas.
Just on the logistics and time frame involved we can see why there was NO CENTRAL GOVERNING BODY until the power of Rome was put behind an Emperor (Constantine) and his fetish for unity.
Early Church Fathers were all about one particular thing which stands out dramatically in their writings: HERESEY, APOSTACY, ORTHODOXY.
It was a constant struggle, debate, polemic and mud-wrestling event!
Take the writings of Papias of Hierapolis.
I URGE YOU to read the following even though it will take a few minutes. It proves an IMPORTANT POINT.
The point is this. The oldest and most dedicated interviewer of those still alive who knew or heard Jesus or his apostles wrote 5 books called
Interpretations of the Sayings of the Lord. What happened to these books? Read on:
Papias describes his way of gathering information:
- I will not hesitate to add also for you to my interpretations what I formerly learned with care from the Presbyters and have carefully stored in memory, giving assurance of its truth. For I did not take pleasure as the many do in those who speak much, but in those who teach what is true, nor in those who relate foreign precepts, but in those who relate the precepts which were given by the Lord to the faith and came down from the Truth itself. And also if any follower of the Presbyters happened to come, I would inquire for the sayings of the Presbyters, what Andrew said, or what Peter said, or what Philip or what Thomas or James or what John or Matthew or any other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which other of the Lord's disciples, and for the things which Aristion and the Presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, were saying. For I considered that I should not get so much advantage from matter in books as from the voice which yet lives and remains.
Thus Papias reports he heard things that came from an unwritten, oral tradition of the Presbyters, a "sayings" or logia tradition that had been passed from Jesus to such of the apostles and disciples as he mentions in the fragmentary quote. The scholar Helmut Koester considers him the earliest surviving witness of this tradition. [ 1 ]
Eusebius held Papias in low esteem, perhaps because of his work's influence in perpetuating, through Irenaeus and others, belief in a millennial reign of Christ upon earth, that would soon usher in a new Golden Age. Eusebius calls Papias 'a man of small mental capacity [ 2 ] who mistook the figurative language of apostolic traditions'.
One man's report was another man's bullshit!