What is the historical and scientifically accurate account on how did Christianity begin and who started it?
Most would say Christianity started with the claimed individual now called Jesus. I would say is we simply say there could have been such a man and I am not confirming there was an actual Jesus as stated in the new testament but what is sure is he was no Christian as we think of it to day. What so call earliest historical Christianity started as the Jewish Jesus movement or stated differently it could be called the rabbi Jesus Jewish movement. So the question is about partings of how Jesus Judaism became separated to just Christianity separated from Judaism.
Today the concept of “Jewish Christians” may sound like a confusion of two religions. However, to understand the origin of Christianity, one must begin with the population of Jewish Christians who lived during Jesus’ lifetime, assuming for the moment such a man existed. This does not mean I am sure even some human person now thought of as jesus ever existed.
The origin of Christianity are to be understood by examining the characteristics of the Jewish Jesus movement to see how it developed into a distinctly gentile religion. In the New Testament, Jesus only preaches to a Jewish audience. After the crucifixion, we can surmise the apostles began to champion a new faith in Jesus and the ranks of the Jesus movement (known as “the Way” at the time) swelled to 3,000 Jewish converts. At first, these followers were distinctly Jewish, following Mosaic law, Temple traditions and dietary customs. With them the Jewish monopoly in the new movement came to an end. Jewish and gentile Christianity was born. As gentiles joined the Jesus movement, focus on Jewish law decreased and we start to see the origin of Christianity as a distinct religion. Jewish Christians in Jerusalem participated in separate Jewish services from the gentile Christian population, and while the two groups agreed on Jesus’ message and importance, the separate rites and communities led to increasing division between the groups.
Archaeological discoveries show Christians begin to build churches did not happen until after 313 A.D. when the emperor Constantine made Christianity a licit religion of the Roman Empire. For almost two hundred years after the crucifixion, Roman cities are entirely devoid of any trace of early Christians; to date, no one has ever found any object that’s been plausibly connected to them. If the word “Christ” does indeed refer to the biblical Jesus Christ, then it would be the first known written reference to Christ and might provide evidence that Christianity and paganism at times intertwined in the ancient world. For almost four hundred years, there were no manger scenes anywhere in the Roman world.
There were no crucifixes displayed in homes or schools. There weren’t even any bound Bibles. At the beginning of the Christian movement, in the first hundred years of the post-Jesus era, encounters with Jewish Christians (also called Judeo-Christians) distinguishable from gentile Christians were a daily occurrence both in the Holy Land and in the diaspora. During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, “the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:5; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5).
On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The so called mission of the 11 apostles to “all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) is a “post-Resurrection” idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscriptsa). Jesus’ own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews.
Jesus was not the founder of Christianity as we know it today. Most of the New Testament doesn’t even concern the historical Jesus. The Apostle Paul and his followers define what became Christianity.
What can we reliably know about Paul and how can we know it? As is the case with Jesus, this is not an easy question. Historians have been involved in what has been called the “Quest for the Historical Jesus” for the past one hundred and seventy-five years, evaluating and sifting through our sources, trying to determine what we can reliably say about him. As it happens, the quest for the historical Paul began almost simultaneously.
The problem the quest for the historical Paul: There are four different “Pauls” in the New Testament, not one, and each is quite distinct from the others. Thirteen of the New Testament’s twenty-seven documents are letters with Paul’s name as the author, and a fourteenth, the book of Acts, is mainly devoted to the story of Paul’s life and career—making up over half the total text.
A possibly authentic or Early Paul: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans, Philippians, and Philemon (50s-60s A.D.) nothing else is for sure historical Paul. So that is around 6 books out of 13 books of the New Testament attributed to historical Paul. and New Testament scholars today are generally agreed on this point.
Moreover, Paul is reportedly Hebrew born in Tarsus, a city in the Roman in southern Turkey (Acts 9:11, 30; 11:25; 21:39; 22:3) but we must doubt Paul being born in Tarsus since Jerome, the fourth century Christian writer, knew a different tradition. He says that Paul’s parents were from Gischala, in Galilee, a Jewish town about twenty-five miles north of Nazareth, and that Paul was born there.
According to Jerome, when revolts broke out throughout Galilee following the death of Herod the Great in 4 B.C., Paul and his parents were rounded up and sent to Tarsus in Cilicia as part of a massive exile of the Jewish population by the Romans to rid the area of further potential trouble. Since Jerome certainly knew Paul’s claim, according to the book of Acts, to have been born in Tarsus, it is very unlikely he would have contradicted that source without good evidence. He was imprisoned, probably in Rome, in the early 60s A.D. and refers to the possibility that he would be executed (Philippians 1:1-26).
The book of Acts states Paul was born a Roman citizen, which means his father also was a Roman citizen. (Acts 16:37; 22:27-28; 23:27) But this cannot be as Paul says that he was “beaten three times with rods” (2 Corinthians 11:25). This is a punishment administered by the Romans and was forbidden to one who had citizenship. The earliest document we have from Paul is his letter 1 Thessalonians. It is intensely apocalyptic, with its entire orientation on preparing his group for the imminent arrival of Jesus in the clouds of heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:1-5, 23).
One might imagine Paul the former Pharisee with no apocalyptic orientation whatsoever, but it is entirely possible, if Jerome is correct about his parents being exiled from Galilee in an effort to pacify the area, that Paul’s apocalyptic orientation was one he derived from his family and upbringing. Luke-Acts tends to mute any emphasis on an imminent arrival of the end and he characteristically tones down the apocalyptic themes of Mark, his main narrative source for his Gospel. Paul connection to Jerusalem, or the lack thereof, has much to do with the oft-discussed question of whether Paul would have ever seen or heard Jesus, or could he have been a witness to Jesus’ crucifixion in A.D. 30. Since he never mentions seeing Jesus in any of his letters.
Paul never asked for any story of Jesus or Gospel to be written and this would include whoever wrote the other 7 letters using his name. The Gospel of mark was actually the first Gospel written after Paul’s death. Most scholars agree that Mark was the first of the gospels to be composed, and that the authors of Matthew and Luke used it plus a second document. Oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published. At present, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years 101 to 200).
Most general Bible readers have the mistaken impression that Matthew, the opening book of the New Testament, must be our first and earliest Gospel, with Mark, Luke and John following. The assumption is that this order of the Gospels is a chronological one, when in fact it is a theological one. Scholars and historians are almost universally agreed that Mark is our earliest Gospel–by several decades, and this insight turns out to have profound implications for our understanding of the “Jesus story” and how it was passed down to us in our New Testament Gospel traditions.
The problem with the Gospel of Mark for the final editors of the New Testament was that it was grossly deficient. First it is significantly shorter than the other Gospels–with only 16 chapters compared to Matthew (28), Luke (24) and John (21). But more important is how Mark begins his Gospel and how he ends it.
He has no account of the virgin birth of Jesus–or for that matter, any birth of Jesus at all. In fact, Joseph, husband of Mary, is never named in Mark’s Gospel at all–and Jesus is called a “son of Mary,” see my previous post on this here. But even more significant is Mark’s strange ending. He has no appearances of Jesus following the visit of the women on Easter morning to the empty tomb!
Mark gives no accounts of anyone seeing Jesus as Matthew, Luke, and John later report. In fact, according to Mark, any future epiphanies or “sightings” of Jesus will be in the north, in Galilee, not in Jerusalem.
This original ending of Mark was viewed by later Christians as so deficient that not only was Mark placed second in order in the New Testament, but various endings were added by editors and copyists in some manuscripts to try to remedy things. The longest concocted ending, which became Mark 16:9-19, became so treasured that it was included in the King James Version of the Bible, favored for the past 500 years by Protestants, as well as translations of the Latin Vulgate, used by Catholics. This meant that for countless millions of Christians it became sacred scripture–but it is bogus.