The Four Pillars Manuscripts
For his last couple of years, Kit was working on a new novel called
Four Pillars. Four Pillars is set some decades after the death
of Jesus, and tells some of the story of how a small group of Jesus'
friends and followers came to found the institutions we call Churches.
Kit had come to believe that there was not a single "Early Church",
nor were there two competing factions associated with Peter and Paul:
there were a variety of different groups, particularly associated with
Paul, Peter, James the Brother of Jesus, and John, "the disciple Jesus
loved". These characters are the Four Pillars of the story.
The first few chapters of Four Pillars are available here:
This essay contains a summary of some of Kit's research, and how
the different positions and parties are described in the New Testament
This is an early essay. It contains some of the material that appears
in the "Four Missions" essay, in an earlier (less carefully
referenced) form, and some further suggestions about why Paul's
version of the Church came out on top:
If you start to read through these documents, you'll see straight away
that Kit didn't believe that "the Early Church" was a united group of
believers imbued with the same spirit and the same vision. He'll
convince you quite quickly that this is a revisionist story propagated
through rose-tinted spectacles (like the Church's own notion that
Jesus was obedient, meek and mild). Instead, Kit found many of the
same tensions we see today – tensions over gender issues,
whether Christians are bound by proscriptions in the old Jewish Law,
obedience to an official Church hierarchy &ndash already gnawing at
the first generation of Christians. Kit's findings were not primarily
based on recent discoveries, recent books, or early writings
subsequently rejected by the Church – while he voraciously read
recent developments in New Testament scholarship, you'll see that
nearly all of Kit's conclusions follow directly from reading the New
Testament authors with a fresh mind and a persistent awareness that
doctrine is less important than people.