How much do we know about the Early Christian Church? Probably
not as much as you thought. Here are just a few things that might
Jesus spent his whole life as a Jew, and never claimed (even according
to the New Testament) to have founded a new religion.
Apart from the single (and perhaps questionable) proposition that
his followers should "Oppose not evil", not a single teaching of
Jesus as recorded in the New Testament was original, and almost
all were being actively taught in the same area and at the same
time that he lived.
Most of his titles (Rabbi, Messiah, Saviour, Son of God, etc) were
current at the time and were widely used of numerous claimants.
So were many of the phrases regarded as characteristically Christian
before the discovery of Essene documents at Qumran in the Twentieth
As far as anyone knows we have no first hand accounts of Jesus,
his sayings, his family or his life or death.
The oldest documents we know of - like the Gospel of Thomas, a
Gospel - were deliberately excluded from the New Testament when
it was assembled in the Third century.
We have no early text of any book of the New Testament. These books
were put together several generations after Jesus lived, and are
by their own admission written to encourage belief.
We have every sort of evidence that the texts that made up the
New Testament were continually tampered with and added to over generations.
We know for a fact that once Christians had agreed to enforce one
standard form of orthodoxy they sought out and destroyed all other
We know that the only bishops in the early Church were [Jewish]
bishops of Jerusalem.
We also know that the Cathars
of the Languedoc preserved a large number of distinctive features
from the Early
Christian Church, including features now known from recently
Gospels as well as Dualist
features that later became heretical.
If you are more interested in the Cathars of the Languedoc, you
might be more interested in Cathar Country Tours.