In the early ’70s, James M. Robinson (Claremont) and Helmut Koester (Harvard), both students of Bultmann, broke new ground in their Trajectories through Early Christianity. The eight essays that comprise this volume seek a wholesale redefinition of the task of New Testament studies, as well as illustrating this newly conceived task.
Robinson and Koester claim that the New Testament cannot be read apart from other early Christian literature and that the regnant designation of "canon" is misleading because it obscures the essential fluidity of early Christianity. Robinson and Koester not only question the artificial limits of the New Testament as a whole, but also the utility of the most commonly accepted forms ( Gattungen) that constitute the New Testament.
In the end, even the labels "orthodoxy" and "heresy" should be abandonedalong with an outmoded belief that orthodoxy preceded heresy and formed the center of Christianity. From its birth, Christianity was pluriform, and what later came to be known as "orthodoxy" and "heresy" were only two of many equally legitimate trajectories running through Christianity.
Robinson and Koester’s bold wrestling with the basic question of Christian origins proves as instructive today as it did over forty years ago: was there ever identifiable unity in early Christianity, or has diversity always been the measuring stick?
About the Author
James M. Robinson (1924-2016) taught as Professor of Religion Emeritus at Claremont Graduate University.
Helmut Koester (1926-2016) was John H. Morrison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School.