De Efesoskristna. Teologisk mångfald och social identitet i den tidiga kristna rörelsen

  • Mikael Tellbe


Taking the point of departure from Walter Bauer's thesis that the early Christian movement in Western Minor Asia was dominated by "heresies", this article confirms the diversity of this movement and the rivalry and competitionbetween different Christ-believing groups in the geographical area of Ephesus. Rather than reconstructing the socio-historical world behind the texts, it is argued that the texts themselves create social identities, in particular as they shape the idea of the prototypical believer. Furthermore, in the struggle for authority and legitimacy, we could find different ways of protecting and defending the Jesus-tradition in the texts that belong to this geographical area: a) the apostolic and hierarchical structure of 1-2 Timothy; b) the charismatic and prophetical structure of the Book of Revelation, and c) the relational and egalitarian structure of 1-3 John. Although these texts express clear differences in theology, they also demonstrate a notable commonality in the way the story of Jesus Christ and what it means to follow him is told. As time went by, this story with its ethical implications came to keep certain groups of Christ-believers together, while others were cut off and excluded. Thus, it is concluded that Ephesus was more of "a center of orthodoxy" than Walter Bauer's thesis permits.