The book I mentioned in the previous entry has many interesting things to say about the 1st century. For example, it includes a letter written by Pliny in 109 CE that is the earliest known description of what went on in an early Christian service.
It also discusses the development of Christianity in stages: Alpha (Jesus and his teaching), Beta (Paul and his followers and their change of the teaching), Crisis (the excommunication of Jesus followers from the synagogues and Judaism), and Gamma (the various understandings that included direct knowledge).
The Alpha understanding, and Arius its main proponent in 325 CE at the Council of Nicaea, "lost" to Athanasius' view. In fact the main reason for calling the Council was Constantine wanted unity and no debate about what the Church taught.
Mark, being the earliest Gospel written. tells us a lot about Alpha Christianity, although, Brooks and others, say there are insertions that can be detected by discontinuity (obvious brief changes of topic) and other research tools such as use of language, style. etc.
It is interesting to read Mark and just notice what he does not say. You can go to Bible Gateway and read it in various translations:
I like the Message Translation, as it is in current language. You can choose whatever translation or translations you prefer. I also suggest you read the book of James, the brother of Jesus. I hope you will try this experiment.
I think it is important to distinguish what Jesus was about and not so much about what others, later thought, although later thought is interesting as it shows what people thought at that time and what Jesus came to mean to them.
Basically, Alpha thought is about being a good person, doing good deeds, making spiritual choices, helping to bring the Kingdom of God into actuality here on earth, honoring God with our lives as told in Mark and James. Beta thought is you just have to believe in the crucifixion and resurrection because Jesus was a blood sacrifice to save us from our bad choices, it's about the next life being the Kingdom and not this one. It was a huge shift from Alpha to Beta- a vastly different God and a vastly different Jesus.
I definitely lean to the Alpha view with a touch of Gamma.Where do you stand?