One view that perennially springs up among biblical scholars is that Paul was the inventor of Christianity, or that Paul introduced the idea of a divine Christ to a church that earlier had simply followed the ethical teaching of a human Jesus. In this book Jerry Sumney responds to that claim by examining how, in reality, Paul drew on what the church already believed and confessed about Jesus.
As he explores how Paul's theology relates to that of the broader early church, Sumney identifies where in the Christian tradition distinctive theological claims about Christ, his death, the nature of salvation, and eschatology first seem to appear. Without diminishing significant differences, Sumney describes what common traditions and beliefs various branches of the early church shared and compares them to Paul's thought. Sumney interacts directly with arguments made by those who claim Paul as the inventor of Christianity and approaches the questions raised by that claim in a fresh way.