This image is large and may not be laying out clearly on your browser. Try clicking on the image to see it better, and magnify if you need to. Or click on this link to download or view isolated. I had originally put this image together up to about the year 1000 for a debate on Christian origins. I got inspired to expand when I had to discuss origins of the Reformation and ideas from it. I think this is a useful reference post, and also might lead to some good discussion.
Because the reformation is so huge, I had to limit scope. At this point the chart covers the origins of the those sects that came to America from England, the English reformation and development. It doesn't include the minor dissenting sects that don't appear to have had influence on America.
Arrows are for strong influence or descent, these sects are interacting with one another and passing ideas between them just as religions today do. Coloring of the arrows is to help reduce visual complexity, and it doesn't mean anything beyond that. Where possible I've tried to include a sample work in parenthesis for each sect making it clear how I'm using the term and also demonstrating at a glance the evolution in thought. It is also for the early part, letting the chart do double duty explicating the origins of the bible.
In terms of the colors of the circles:
Salmon is for groups that are Jewish sects. They may have Christian aspects but they are not yet meaningfully Christian and are in some sense fundamentally Jewish or Samaritan.
Light Blue are proto-Christianities.
Yellow are full blown alternate Christianities, from ancient times. "Gnosticism" used in the religious sense.
Purple is for groups that I can meaningfully call Catholic, western or eastern rite.
Pink groups that broke away Catholicism. Sects that I would agree are "schismatic".
Dark Olive Green non-Christian religions.
Yellow-Green is for non-Christian groups with strong Christian influence.
Muddy Pink I'm using for Hermetic Christianity.
Dark-Brown for proto-Protestantism
Red-Brown for Protestantism
Magenta for the non-creedal sects of the Radical Reformation and their descendants
A few things worth noting.
- Christianity originated from a variety Jewish and Samaritan cults, which were not part of the mainstream nor the branch that survived.
- Catholicism represents a coming together of various groups. An early partial consensus, not some sort of original revelation.
- Christianity has always been highly diverse.
- The elements of the Protestant Reformation are very old. In a way, the Cathari and the Beguines are the father and mother of the reformation, with Christian Humanism playing an important role. Everything develops from the 13th century combination of:
- a desire for a lay church
- a theological neo-gnosticism lite
The other is I'm not sure about the Ebionites and the Elkasaites. If anyone has any suggestions there about the relationship please jump in. I think I'm going to need to jump into some Dead Sea Scrolls material to work this out.