Download e-book for iPad: Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature by Delmer M. Brown

By Delmer M. Brown

ISBN-10: 0521223520

ISBN-13: 9780521223522

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On the other hand, most city dwellers would have some awareness of literary norms, since all reading was aloud, often in social settings, and all public communication reflected rhetorical conventions. Indeed, the majority of illiterate people would have been familiar with writing and its uses, employing scribes to write letters or other necessary documents. The ‘notebook’ would be the everyday vehicle for records rather than the literary roll; so here is the context in which handy collections of teachings or testimonies would begin to be compiled.

Orthodoxy was regarded as the pure and pristine truth revealed, later distorted by heretics. The notion that doctrine developed through history, however, stimulated an interest in the contribution made by heresy to that development. Furthermore, concern to discover the historical Jesus or the historical Socrates was paralleled by a fascination with reconstructing the life and teaching, not only of approved characters, but also of notorious heretics. 3 The long-familiar extant literature had to be placed in a much larger literary context, indeed an ever-expanding environment as theories of the non-Christian – indeed pre-Christian – origins of gnosticism subordinated the orthodox texts 6 Cambridge Histories Online © Cambridge University Press, 2008 Introduction within a larger interpretative framework.

This seems moreover to be the case with other gnostic writings in the form of the revelation dialogue. Thus the Apocalypse of Peter (NHC VII, 3),6 in which Jesus interprets for Peter the meaning of three visions which the latter has had, is clearly addressed to Christian gnostics who find themselves under attack by the leaders and other members of the Church. It explains this phenomenon as due to the congenital spiritual blindness of those whose natural home is this world; and it assures Peter that he, to whom ‘mysteries’ have been revealed, will convey them ‘to those of another race who are not of this age’.

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Cambridge History of Early Christian Literature by Delmer M. Brown

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