That Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah or Christ, is the founder of Christianity is held as an unquestionable assumption by many Christians is obvious, but careful scholarship requires that the assumption be qualified, if not refuted. A founder may be defined as a person who establishes, initiates, originates or lays the foundations of an idea, movement, group or institution . Identifying a founder of Christianity then will require one to determine with which person did the religion originate, who established it, who introduced it as an idea or movement, and who gave it its structure and organisation.
As we shall see, this task is not a clear-cut one. The origins of Christianity were fraught with much controversy, and its development into the organized religion and group of religious systems that we now call Christianity cannot be said to have been a smooth and linear one. This paper then explores the above question along three axes: Jesus as the founder of Christianity; Jesus as the originator of a Jewish Messianic sect that “posthumously” became Christianity; and the apostles as the founder of a Jewish sect that became Christianity through the interpretations and Christology of Paul. ...Show more