Heretics -- The Other Side of Early Christianity

Gerd Ludemann; SCM Press 1996;

reviewed by Rinney Westra. in Sea of Faith (NZ) Newsletter 23, October 1997

"This book shows that the official view that early Christianity was marked by a great harmony and that heresy emerged only at a later stage is wishful thinking. The first two centuries of the life of the early church were highly fluid and open, where Gnostics and 'Judaizers' also had their place alongside such people as Paul. In fact Paul can be seen as one of the main heretics of the early church, with Jewish Christians in Jerusalem led by James as the original orthodox party. In the course of time, however, Paul came to be seen as 'orthodox' and the Jewish Christians were turned into heretics! Power has as much to do with this as faith and theology. All this and much, much more is thoroughly outlined, discussed and documented. Included are some 90 pages of end-notes which are, in themselves, worth their weight in gold! Both Veitch and Ludemann treat their material as historians [do], and donot allow theology to over-ride or manipulate the historical data. In doing so they manage to bridge Lessing's 'unbridgeable' gap between faith and history, and provide us with a much sounder basic for Christian faith in the 21st century."