This interesting essay on the Gospel of Philip was published yesterday which has the novel thesis of how Christianity developed out of Chrestianity! From Chrestian to Christian: Philip Beyond The Grave by Martijn Linssen. See https://www.academia.edu/s/faa7f58532
Some initial thoughts:
- I read the essay. It’s an interesting thesis, certainly something to look into. We of course have a canonical instance of Christianity emerging out of a prior baptism cult, namely that of John the Baptist, and certainly the fact that John is so heavily mythologized in Mark in the mimesis/haggadic midrash/imitation image of Elijah it is certainly possible Mark had invented a famous and respected figure like John for Jesus to go beyond as greater, like Elisha replacing Elijah, whereas what really happened is Jesus never knew John and really emerged out of this replacement of the Chrestus cult. Moreover, the epistles speak of Jesus receiving the divine name and status at his death, which he didn’t already have, and the idea of the believer becoming born again as/with Christ living in them, which fits the essay too. We have the odd pericope of the arrest of Jesus where the disciples get violent, which could be historical because it’s unlikely the writers would have invented the disciples being violent, unless it points to these violent Chrestians.