Christian Evolution Model

Below is an updated model of how I think Christianity evolved from its early iterations to what eventually became the orthodoxy.

Last update:  January 20, 2017

For more, see previous posts I’ve written on the topic:




Author: Tim...Stepping Out

Tim Stepping Out

7 thoughts on “Christian Evolution Model”

  1. It seems we have a similar thinking. But it’s interesting that you have “Polycarp” coming after Tatian. May I ask why? I’m working on how the link between Marcion and Valentinus was made, and it has Polycarp’s name — literally — written on it. Polycarp/Apelles was pretty much doing everything he could to besmirch Marcion’s reputation, and I assume that the Pauline letters as we have them are as much his as they are Marcion’s. (I suspect that the name ‘Paul’ my be a derivative of Polycarp/Apelles/Apollos).

    Here’s a breakdown:

    Marcion/Simon Magus


    1. You’re probably right…sometimes when I’m doing these things, it’s sort of a “stream of conscious” situation. I think Polycarp is before Tatian…I’ll fix that soon.

      The link between Marcion and Valentinus is weird, but I think it’s pretty well solved with Carpocrates (AH i.25)…


      1. Ah, okay. I though you were getting at something else.

        Irenaeus, I think, in atempting to create his Apostolic lineage is duplicating individuals so as to separate their gnostic and heretical philosophies from the more orthodox and create proxies so as to attack. What tips me off is that he calls Florinus, a gnostic and Polycarp’s favourite student, which indicates to me that Polycarp was himself somewhat gnostic. But what’s more fascinating is that Polycarp’s name appears in John (15:5), a work which was a favourite to the Valentinians.

        Being made aware of the codex which contains the Prologue of Luke before John just answers all sorts questions. Tatian/Theophilus was attempting to bridge together the Syrian Johannine community with the church of Rome (I believe was exclusively Marcionite prior to 150). To this he synthesized his teacher’s text (Peregrinus/Ignatius/Justin/Hegesippus) with the Syrian John text to create the Diatessaron.

        Please if you have any critiques let me know as I want this to be as unassailable as possible.


      2. That sounds right – I’ve sort of arrived at the idea that the Johannines were not nearly as Orthodoxical as Irenaeus, et al would have had us believe, so the idea that there’s a lot more to Polycarp than what we get from Irenaeus makes perfect sense. Particularly in the Acts of John, when John said that he would walk next to Jesus but not see his footprints…of course, that’s no proof for an overarching theological position for the entire Johannine community (if there was such a thing), but couple that with the notion that the Johannines retained Paul, and that the Valentinians were the most copious users of the Gospel of John (AH iii.11.7), and that John is practically oozing with Gnosticism, and it all starts to come together.

        I like the idea of Irenaeus duplicating – that seems to be going on with Marcion/Paul/Simon Magus, although it is interesting that Justin Martyr mentioned Marcion, Menander, and Simon Magus as separate people 20 years earlier…then again, I do think that part of Against Heresies was the document that Justin Martyr referred to in his first apology when he said he has a big collection of all the heresies…frankly, that whole relationship makes me wonder how authentic Justin Martyr really is….


  2. This is really, really cool. I started creating something like this myself, though it’s not nearly as developed as yours. I have a pipe dream to add a time dimension to a chart like this, such that the blocks appear/disappear with time, although this could be difficult more difficult than at first blush since it’s difficult to know how much time passed between when certain mythologies/concepts were developed, written down, and when they influenced the other cults. Though even a rough approximation could be made without too much error.


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