Christianity: The First Two Thousand Years by David Lawrence Edwards

By David Lawrence Edwards

"David Edwards offers a delicate critique that's worthwhile to these with out professional wisdom and enjoyable to the theologically educated."
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They began with a serious look at the self: was it entirely material, entirely mortal, entirely corrupted, or was it a stranger in the world? So did various philosophical movements of the time. Gnostics taught that the deep, true self could be freed by knowing its origin and therefore its potential. So did many other spiritual teachers, saying that the soul had been imprisoned in one body and would be imprisoned in another by reincarna41 CHRISTIANITY: THE FIRST TWO THOUSAND YEARS tion after death unless it could break free.

Could it go on to speak about mysteries hitherto left to what Ignatius had called 'the silence'? Answers were given by groups which spread their messages with claims that what they believed was what Jesus had taught in secret to the inner circle of his disciples. The gospel of Thomas, widely circulated in the second century, was rediscovered in Egypt in 1945. It is the most interesting of 52 religious writings which a camel-driver discovered in a jar buried near the village of Nag Hammadi. It collects 114 sayings, many of which are very different from those used by Mark, Luke and Matthew and different also from the discourses in John's gospel.

He took the message of death and new life 'in Christ' along many roads. In the letters which are certainly his he shows no interest in the kind of theology that has been called metaphysical or speculative. He reminds the Corinthian church that although Christ 'was rich' yet he 'became poor' but he does not explain how the Lord was rich or how he became poor. He puts 'the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ' before 'the love of God' in his 25 C H R I S T I A N I T Y : THE FIRST TWO T H O U S A N D YEARS written farewell to Corinth.

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