Christianity in the Second Century

By Sean Finnegan


1. Jewish Christianity
2. Asceticism
3. Marcion
4. Gnostics
5. Christologies in the 2nd c. Jewish Christianity

Patricia Crone: “Originally, the bastion of law-observing Christianity was the Jerusalem church, the undisputed center of Christianity until the first Jewish war with Rome (AD 66–70). When this war broke out, the Jerusalem Christians reportedly fled to Pella (Ar. Fiḥl) in the Decapolis in Transjordan, and though some returned to the devastated city in 70, they were expelled again after the suppression of Bar Kokhba’s revolt in 135, when Hadrian forbade Jews to reside in Jerusalem. Thereafter, Jewish Christians were concentrated in the Aleppo region in northern Syria, in the Decapolis around Pella…and in the Dead Sea region, as we know from Epiphanius (d. 403) and Jerome (d. 420). They would seem also to have been present in the Golan, where excavators of an abandoned village have found lintels decorated with a combination of crosses, menorahs, and other mixed Jewish and Christian symbols, probably indicating that the building was a Jewish Christian synagogue.

After Epiphanius and Jerome, however, we have no certain evidence for the existence of Jewish Christians in Greek, Latin, or Syriac sources written before the rise of Islam.”1

For Nazarenes see Epiphanius, Panarion 29.7.1-6; 29.9.2-4

For Ebionites see Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.27.1-6


• ἄσκησις, askesis = exercise, training
• asceticism is the rigorous pursuit of discipline in avoiding bodily pleasures
• Examples
• Acts of Paul and Thecla
• Proto-Gospel of James
• Acts of John

Marcion of Sinope

• Lived from 85 to 164
• Founded his own churches
• God of the OT is not the God of the NT
• Docetism: Jesus only appeared human
• Canon: list of books in the Bible

1 Patricia Crone, “Jewish Christianity and the Qurʾān (Part One)”, Journal of Near Eastern Studies, vol 74, no 2 (October 2015), 226.


• believed in pre-creation myth
• they were Platonists who accepted his creation account, called Timaeus


• streamlined Gnostic religion and brought Jesus to a more central role
• followers attended mainstream churches on Sunday, but then studied “deeper truths” during the week

Christology in the 2nd Century

• Dynamic Monarchians (Ebionites, Nazarenes, Didache, 1 Clement, Hermas, Theodotus of Byzantium)
• Docetists (Marcion, Gnostics, Valentinus)
• Logos Subordinationists
(Psuedo-Barnabas, 2 Clement, Justin, Irenaeus)
• Modalistic Monarchians (Praxeas)

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Christianity in the Second Century

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