• Sources of Christianity – Bastiaan Baan

    by  • 11 October 2017 • Anthroposophy, Bastiaan Baan • 0 Comments

    To many people in the Christian Community the apostles provide an endless source of fascination and inspiration. In particular Peter, Paul and John are all hugely important in helping us to begin to understand the early roots of Christianity. In our latest blog post Bastiaan Baan introduces his new book Sources of Christianity, which paints a fascinating picture of these particular three apostles, and which has been co-written with Christine Gruwez and John van Schaik.


    Originally, Christianity did not have dogmas; it was a ‘unity in diversity.’ The twelve apostles each understood and interpreted Jesus Christ in their own individual ways. This explains why Christianity developed a very different form in India (where it goes back to the apostle Thomas) from the way it grew, for instance, in Russia (where the foundation was laid by the apostle Andrew).

    Besides the twelve views developed by the twelve apostles, history has always recognized three principal apostles who inaugurated the three fundamental and essential forms of Christianity: Peter, Paul and John. Thus, for instance, the philosopher and theologian Schelling distinguishes Petrine, Pauline and Johannine Christianity.

    This book is the result of a series of lectures in 2006/7 on these three forms of Christianity. John van Schaik gave the lectures on Petrine Christianity, Christine Gruwez on Pauline Christianity, and Bastiaan Baan on Johannine Christianity.

    In three groups of three lectures each, we tried to trace the development of Christianity. First, we searched for pre-Christian sources that were available to these three apostles. Of course they connected, each in their own way, to streams that existed already before Christianity. In their manifestation, they show aspects of their own natures. Thus Peter builds on the foundation of Old Testament language and imagery so as to anchor Christianity in the Jewish tradition. Paul, who grew up as a Jew in Hellenistic culture, connects with Greek thought and becomes the ‘apostle to the heathens’. And John, the author of the most spiritual gospel builds on streams that are oriented toward the future, such as that of the Essenes with their apocalyptic scriptures.

    Bastiaan Baan

    From left to right the apostles: John, Peter, Mark and Paul.

    During the lectures, which we prepared and reviewed together, it became clear that we often approached a particular theme in very different ways. These differences did not diminish our collaboration, but strengthened it. Pursuing an independent and free path of thought and spirit, the three authors were able to put ‘unity in diversity’ into practice. This does not mean that each of us always fully subscribes to the contributions of the other two, but that we were able to view each other’s approach with growing respect. By this method of freely commenting on each other’s work, a palette of different styles and views has emerged…

    The three approaches to Christianity are not only interesting from a psychological point of view, but it seems as if a supra-personal element wants to come to expression in the three different views. This element is also incorporated in the different contributions more implicitly than explicitly.

    In the different Messianic expectations in the Old Testament we recognized a certain trinity that led the three apostles Peter, Paul and John to develop different views of the Messiah – not in the sense of mutually exclusive theologies, but in the sense of unity in diversity. This discovery was a great inspiration to us: that each of these three streams complements the other two, and even needs the other two to approach the reality of Jesus Christ.

    There is one being that can truly say, ‘I am the truth’ (Jn 14:6). When people with their inevitable limitations, collaborate, more than the work of all the individuals is able to come to light. We view this book as an effort to arrive, through collaboration, at more than the sum of the parts. At any rate, we inspired each other to come to new ways of looking at things and ideas, which are documented in this book.


    Bastiaan Baan - Sources of Christianity

    About the Book

    Sources of Christianity is the latest book from Bastiaan Baan offering a fascinating exploration of the three apostles Peter, Paul and John their connections, differences and continuing relevance to understanding Christianity. The book is available to buy now.

    About the Author

    Bastiaan Baan worked as a teacher in the Netherlands before being ordained in 1981. He was a Christian Community priest in the Netherlands and is currently director of the priests’ seminary in Spring Valley, NY. He lectures widely, and has written many books including Lord of the Elements, and Old and New Mysteries.

     

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