Pauline Christianity

From Academic Kids

The origins of Pauline Christianity lie in the teachings of Paul of Tarsus, who declared himself the "Apostle to the Gentiles," and its development in his circle and among his followers. In the history of Christianity (q.v. for detailed discussion), "Pauline Christianity" is a term commonly employed to specify the eventually dominant form taken by "official" or "catholic" (signifying "universal") Christianity, though it is also used in a technical sense for the teachings of Paul as recorded in the authentic Letters of Paul when distinguishing Paul's theology from that of the Johannine works.


Origins and Acceptance

The "Gentile church" as it was organized by Paul was amended by the tradition of Johannine theology in the 2nd century when it confronted and expelled heterodox teachings; in the 4th century the "official" form of Christianity was protected by Constantine, and formalized, as "Nicene Christianity" at the Council of Nicaea, 325, and was finally authorized by Imperial sanction in the Theodosian decrees of 391 in both the Eastern and Western Roman Empire.

Rival Doctrines

In speaking of 4th century Christianity, especially after the Council of Nicaea (325), it is useful to speak of the continuation of this mainstream tradition as "Nicene Christianity", in order to differentiate it from emerging and competing doctrines. Paul and his followers denounced other formulations of the Christian oral tradition as heresies. There were other interpreters of the message of Jesus: the Ebionites and Nazarenes and Didache form one contrast to Pauline Christianity; the religions of Gnosticism, Arianism and Marcionism form others.

For their part, according to Epiphanius of Salamis, the Ebionites denied that Paul was even born a Jew: They declare that he was a Greek....He went up to Jerusalem, they say, and when he had spent some time there, he was seized with a passion to marry the daughter of the priest. For this reason he became a proselyte [through the Saducee movement, hence his working for the Temple police] and was circumcised. Then, when he failed to get the girl, he flew into a rage and wrote against cirumcision and against the sabbath and the Law ~Panarion 30:16-19.

Development and The Apostle James

In the first couple of centuries after the Crucifixion, in opposition to this Pauline tradition—the forerunners of mainstream Christianity—there were various rival philosophies and formalized churches evolving. An important figure presumed by some modern scholars to be excluded from Pauline Christianity was James, the brother of Jesus, also known as James the Just. James was Jesus' brother according to the Gospels (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55-56) and Paul himself (Galatians 1:18). "James the Just" was the head of the Christians in Jerusalem, a "pillar of the church" according to Paul. The Book of Acts suggests that any conflict between James and Paul was resolved at the Council of Jerusalem, whose decision Paul was entrusted with delivering to the affected Gentile churches.

Modern Viewpoint

Some modern revisionists see Pauline Christianity as a method of taming a dangerous sect among radical Jews and making it palatable to Roman authorities. The difference between the teachings of Christ as continued by James, and those perpetuated by Paul can be fully explained in terms of the audience. Jesus preached to Jews. He was a voice against the corruption in the jewish religion. James continued this teaching focus, as leader of the Jerusalem Church, with both Aramaic speakers (Acts 1.19) and Greek speakers (Acts 6). The modern evolution of this teaching is manifest in the messianic jews of the current era. They do believe that Jesus was the manifest "Son of God" and the Messiah, but they identify themselves as Jews. Paul, as the "Apostle to the Gentiles," was trying to take the teachings of a jewish rabbi and make them relevant and interesting to the polytheistic gentiles. In order for for the fledgling Christianity to gain attention in the popular culture, the religion had to obtain a certain characteristics common to the other gods and religions of that time.

Most Christians believe that "Pauline Christianity" is a tautology, that Paul's organization is the only Christianity or that Paul did not alter the teachings of Jesus. According to Acts 15, James decreed that Christianity was for the Gentiles and not just for the Jews, and quoted the prophet Amos in support of this position. The Jerusalem council at which James presided entrusted Paul among others with bringing their decision to Antioch. Thus Christians question the supposed division between Paul and James the Just despite the tension recorded between both groups in Acts (in particular Acts 21) and the Letters of Paul. Other critics point out that the expression, like most historical designations, is an anachronism, not used by Paul's contemporaries even though the term is alive and well in modern Christianity as shown in the references.


  • Adams, Edward and Horrell, David G. Christianity at Corinth: The Quest for the Pauline Church 2004
  • Badenas, Robert. Christ the End of the Law, Romans 10.4 in Pauline Perspective, ISBN 0905774930
  • Bockmuehl, Markus N.A. Revelation and Mystery in Ancient Judaism and Pauline Christianity
  • Brown, Raymond. Does the NT call Jesus God?, Theological Studies #26, 1965
  • Bruce, Frederick Fyvie. Peter, Stephen, James and John: Studies in Early Non-Pauline Christianity
  • Bruce, F.F. Men and movements in the primitive church: Studies in early non-Pauline Christianity
  • Dunn, James D.G. The Incident at Antioch (Gal 2:11-18) JSNT 18, 1983, pg 95-122
  • Dunn, James D.G. Jesus, Paul and the Law: Studies in Mark and Galatians 1990 ISBN 0664250955
  • Dunn, James D.G. The Theology of Paul's Letter to the Galatians 1993 ISBN 0521359538
  • Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew 2003
  • Elsner, Jas. Imperial Rome and Christian Triumph: Oxford History of Early Non-Pauline Christianity 1998 ISBN 0192842013
  • Gaus, Andy. The Unvarnished New Testament, A new translation from the original Greek free of doctrines and dogmas, ISBN 0933999992
  • Holland, Tom. Contours of Pauline Theology: A Radical New Survey on the Influences of Paul's Biblical Writings 2004 ISBN 185792469X
  • Martin, Dale. Slavery as Salvation: The Metaphor of Slavery in Pauline Christianity 1990
  • Maccoby, Hyam. The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity
  • Mount, Christopher N. Pauline Christianity: Luke-Acts and the Legacy of Paul 2001
  • Pietersen, Lloyd K. Polemic of the Pastorals: A Sociological Examination of the Development of Pauline Christianity 2004
  • Sanders, E.P. Paul the Law and the Jewish People 1983
  • Theissen, Gerd. The Social Setting of Pauline Christianity: Essays on Corinth 2004
  • Ziesler, John A. Pauline Christianity, Revised 1990 ISBN 0198264593

External link


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools