After Jesus, Before Christianity
The book undoes the pretentious “master narrative” of how Christianity emerged. In place of the myth of an orderly apostolic Church fighting heretics, this fresh scholarship has shown how under the thumb of the violent Roman empire a diversity of struggling groups were re-imagining how to belong. The first two centuries did not produce the Church victorious, but rather a plethora of ways for different ethnic groups to re-invent themselves in overlapping units that resisted Roman domination.
Notions of the first two centuries as different kinds of new covenants sometimes tangentially and sometimes centrally related to different Jesuses is not altogether new in recent scholarship. The Seminar is now sketching the arc of a rainbow of emerging movements sometimes in complementary and sometimes contentious relationship to one another; and it is painting accessible portraits of emerging and experimental identities over against Roman hegemony.
Westar, The Christianity Seminar