One way the diversity of early Christian communities is demonstrated is in the Gospel of Matthew, which takes place in the late first century CE. The community that Matthew discusses is part of the larger Jewish community that also ambiguously included some Gentiles who demonstrated faith in Jesus. This community followed the Law of Moses and Hebrew scriptures in a stricter way than many Jewish leaders. This adherence to the Jewish law in this stricter sense is similar to the Qumran community, was also Jewish, and also followed the Law of Moses more closely than other Jewish groups at the time (as found in the Dead Sea Scrolls). Matthew’s community’s interpretation of the law is evidenced in Matthew’s antithesis, which is unique to the book of Matthew, though some of it originated from the book of Mark, which supports Markan priority. In Matthew’s antithesis, Jesus tells his followers to obey the L...
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...ording to 1 Timothy, Thecla preached and had a very public role, as it is written, “and after enlightening many with the word of God, she slept with a noble sleep” (APT 43). Paul also commanded Thecla, “Go and teach the word of God!” (APT 41), showing that even he as a Christian leader endorsed a public and preaching role for women.
The many and diverse models of early Christian communities vary in many ways. Some such as the one depicted in The Acts of Paul and Thecla were written about to resist the traditional Greco-Roman culture, and in turn, the book was not canonized to become a part of the Bible. Others such as Matthew’s community show an example of one of the first Christian communities to include non-Jewish people. Though these early communities varied widely, they help give clues as to how Christianity began and how Christianity has become what it is today.
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