From Jesus of Nazareth to Church of Jerusalem

From Jesus of Nazareth to Church of Jerusalem May 21, 2015

A commenter asked a good question about the geographical shift in early Christianity, from Jesus of Nazareth active primarily in Galilee according to the Synoptic Gospels, to a church whose leaders are based in Jerusalem.

One can certainly articulate reasons why a move of this sort would have made sense – Jerusalem was the hub of Jewish life and identity, after all.

But there is still less that is indicated about this explicitly in the New Testament than a historian would like.

We should of course ask whether the portrait of Jerusalem as the locus of activity is correct. On the one hand, Luke is the only of the Gospels that emphasizes that the disciples should remain in Jerusalem, and then in Acts he depicts the church spreading outward from there. But Paul, our earliest source, confirms this. And so why then do Mark and Matthew have the disciples returning to Galilee? They do not necessarily remain there, of course.

Other questions are worth asking. Might Jesus have moved his “base of operations” to Jerusalem by the end of his public activity? Perhaps the Gospel of John, and hints in the other Gospels, provide clues to this?

If the shift to being based in Jerusalem is post-crucifixion, then might the relocation have something to do with reverence for the tomb of Jesus?

What are your thoughts on this topic?

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