Diversity, “Orthodoxy,” and “Heresy”: Quartodecimanism as a Test Case of the “Bauer Thesis”

The Quartodeciman controversies of the second century reflect complexities that should inform and temper iterations of the so-called “Bauer thesis.” The core issue concerned the ecclesiastical celebration of the Christian Pascha (Easter), as the Quartodecimans tied their liturgical calendar to the Jewish 14th of Nisan. Walter Bauer’s monumental and highly influential Rechtgläubigkeit und Ketzerei im ältesten Christentum (1934) did not devote an extended discussion to the Quartodeciman ruptures. Instead, scattered passages made passing references to Quartodecimanism. Bauer’s focus was upon the authoritarian role of the Roman church in the disputes, and he particularly underscored the heavy-handed and ostensibly “violent” approach of Victor of Rome. Yet Bauer’s facile review of Quartodecimanism overplayed the inter-regional nature of the conflict (Rome vs. Asia Minor), ignored the intra-local tensions (within Laodicea and probably Rome itself), overlooked the diversity of practices within Quartodecimanism, exaggerated the “heavy-handed” approach of Victor, and neglected the church councils outside of Rome that addressed the issue prior to Victor. What emerges from this study is a nuanced understanding of the complexities associated with “orthodoxy,” “heresy,” unity, and diversity in the second century. While Bauer’s geographical approach yields valuable insights, his general conclusions do not mirror the complexities of diversity in early Christianity.

4 thoughts on “Diversity, “Orthodoxy,” and “Heresy”: Quartodecimanism as a Test Case of the “Bauer Thesis””

  1. Paul always delivers high
    Paul always delivers high quality. Is it recycling some earlier ideas he has explored? Is Bauer Thesis as relevant as it has been in the past? I am always highly impressed with his scholarship, but this one feels a tad stale.

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  2. I am scoring this high
    I am scoring this high because the quality will be good and the paper should be considered for the general program if it is not incorporated into our sections.

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  3. Bauer deserves the challenge
    The presenter is in fact reliable and this paper belongs in either this or the general sessions. The thesis is clear, the target is identified (the authority rubric of Bauer), the research on the historiographical treatment requires research evidenced, and the familiarity with the early church landscape is impressive. This is sound. As a measure of a variety of presenters in this section, this proposer has not presented here since 2017.

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