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Original Research

The earliest Jesus group in Jerusalem

Andries van Aarde

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 25, No 2 (2004), 711-738. doi: 10.4102/ve.v25i2.295

Submitted: 06 October 2004
Published:  06 October 2004


Church formation in the history of early Christianity emanated from the kerygma about Jesus after his death. The kerygma was based on memories of Jesus which were used in the Christian cult as both explanation and apology for the encountering of God through the traditions about  the crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended Jesus. The aim of the article is to argue that the term “the Twelve” served as a self-reference of the earliest Jesus group in Jerusalem. They regarded themselves as “apostles” and "prophets” of the “new Israel”, analogous to the twelve patriarchs in the Hebrew Scriptures. Reconstructing a trail from Jesus to the earliest group in Jerusalem to Paul, the article demonstrates a fundamental difference between Paul and the Jerusalem group. They understood the notion of “the Twelve” as exchangeable for “all of Israel”, represented by “all the apostles”. For Paul the concept “apostles” is an expansion of  “the Twelve” in Jerusalem. 

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Author affiliations

Andries van Aarde, University of Pretoria, South Africa



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