Have you wondered what the true nature of Christian theological diversity was during the last 70 years of the first century? For the longest time, Christians were led to believe that there was originally only one form of Christian faith and one form of Christian worship right from the start. It was only later that different, "heretical" Christologies arose, which then required creedal correction. But most church historians today recognize that this was, in fact, not the case. Even the New Testament reveals a sordid past of disparate and conflicting beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Apostles.
Case in point, Dr. John F. Lingelbach offers an examination of the two largest Christian movements at the time (the Pauline and Ebionite movements) that existed before the second century, as well as when those movements may have begun and the locations they most likely flourished. His article, featured in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Socio-Historical Examination of Religion and Ministry (SHERM), argues that the earliest Christian tradition was actually the one being persecuted by the Apostle Paul and that later, two breakaway movements splintered off from this tradition: the Pauline and Ebionite movements.
The paper concludes that during the first century, of these two splinter movements, the Pauline movement likely preceded that of the Ebionite movement, though they both flourished in many of the same locations. Of interest is the finding that all three Christian movements (the pre-Pauline tradition, Pauline, and Ebionite) flourished in Asia Minor, a cosmopolitan sub-continent which appears to have served as a geographic information nucleus through which diverse ideas easily proliferated.
You can read Dr. Lingelbach's entire article for free as part of the Global Center for Religious Research's commitment to continued exploration into uncharted and unique areas of study.