“Trajectories” and “Interactive Diversity”
I’ve just received notice that my article, “Interactive Diversity: A Proposed Model of Christian Origins,” has been published in Journal of Theological Studies. The online version is available now, the paper-print form to appear in the next print issue of the journal.
In the article, I consider the strengths and weaknesses of the “trajectories” model of early Christianity proposed influentially by James Robinson & Helmut Koester, and propose what I consider a superior model: “Interactive Diversity”. The core problem with the trajectory-model is that it does not adequately reflect the complexity and interaction of various forces and versions/voices of earliest Christianity, oversimplying things. It rightly represents a recognition that there was significant diversity and also development, but I don’t think the model sufficiently reflects the complexity involved.
Moreover, I think examples of its application show that it can work mischief, later supposed stages of a trajectory used to interpret supposedly earlier stages. Whereas, the question begged is whether the phenomena in question really are part of some connected, essentially uni-linear development at all. And is it methodologically sound to construct such a hypothetical trajectory and then interpret earlier phenomena through later ones?
“Interactive Diversity” probably isn’t as catchy as “trajectory,” but I try to show why we need a model that takes account of the diversity of early Christianity and also the complex interaction of that diversity. I offer such a model that I hope may stimulate further discussion and perhaps correct and enhance our perception of this fascinating period of Christianity.
Oxford University Press (the publisher of JTS) now kindly allow authors to post the link to the online version of their published articles. So, if you’re interested, you can read the html version of my article here.