Dr. Jeremiah Mutie has signed a book deal with Wipf and Stock Publishers. The volume’s title is The Quest for Early Christian Historiography: From F. C. Baur to Bart Ehrman. The thesis is, rather than having suddenly appeared, the extremely skeptical historicism of such scholars as Bart Ehrman, is instead the fruition of a long process that started with the Hegelian early church historiography of Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792–1860).
As many have observed, scholarly interest in early church historiography continues to grow with each passing day. One very recent example of these historiographies is Markus Vinzent’s Writing the History of Early Christianity: From Reception to Retrospection (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019). In this volume, Vinzent argues that the best approaching history from the present and reading it back to the past. Vinzent’s work serves to illustrate the continued need for a helpful early church historiography.
However, many other approaches to the reading of early church, have been characterized by extreme historicism. An example here is Bart Ehrman’s Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003) in which he argues that history of early Christianity is the story of “a movement from an originally broad variety of Christianities, ideologically in conflict with Proto-orthodoxy, to a later, but strategically superior ‘orthodoxy.” This work, instead of seeing the debates in the early church as between proto-orthodox and heresy (as the classical historiography has understood them over hundreds of years), sees them rather as competing “Christianities” with the prescribed “early Catholicism” winning the day. But how did we get the historiography of such scholars as Ehrman? What are the historiographical trajectories that led us to this point?
The argument of this book is that this trajectory was initially set rolling by the Protestant German Hegelian theologian and church historian, Ferdinand Christian Baur of Tübingen University. As such, the historiographical trajectory (obviously, with some twists and turns), will be traced as the chapters of the book unfold. Finally, a suggested historiography of the early church, will be offered (modified classicism).
This book is set to be released later this year