After reading what Eldon Jay Epp has written on the emergent church, I wish I was a part of the movement. Now, I bet you’re wondering what in the world Epp has written on the emergent church, right? Well, I had no idea he had written on the subject either until I came across his essay on “Textual Criticism in Exegesis” in A Handbook to the Exegesis of the New Testament, edited by Stanley Porter. Even more confused? Just read for yourself:
This is, in many ways, an enlightened and enlightening view of the transmission of the New Testament writings in the period of earliest Christianity, for it brings us into closer touch with the dynamic, vibrant activity within the emergent Church that, in turn, was situated in a real Greco-Roman life-setting that was equally vigorous and robust in its intellectual commerce. (58, emphasis mine)
So, Epp’s emergent church is the early church. Now, what helped make them so emergent?
We can well imagine the excitement of discovery when Christians of different localities encountered new apostolic letters or Gospels, whether personally while visiting another church, or through the private exchange of letters and documents. We can imagine the strength and comfort that arose from the knowledge that others, near and far, held the same spiritual convictions and doctrinal beliefs and were eager to share the documents in their possession that embodied and expressed those convictions. We can imagine the justifiable pride that congregations would develop as they acquired increasing numbers of these documents, which they would be quick to test by reading from them in services and utilizing them in their teaching, evangelism, and public defense. (58-9, emphasis mine)
I can hardly imagine what it would’ve been like to live then and receive a new letter or gospel! How incredible!