What conditions cause the teachings and claimed revelations of certain religious figures in the Abrahamic tradition—e.g. Jesus, Muhammad—to lead to the formation of entire new religions, whilst others—e.g. Joseph Smith, Marcion of Sinope—simply produce sects of existing religions?
Reading up on the development and splintering of Abrahamic religions, I've been trying to work out why some religious leaders' teachings catch on more than others, but there doesn't seem to be an obvious rule. Is it just luck and timing?
Starting with Judaism, with its written and oral myths about the creation of the universe and such.† Jewish thinkers debated these stories and came up with differing interpretations of their lessons, but all remained under the banner of 'Judaism'.
Then, a Jewish man called Yeshua comes along and does the same, teaches and preaches, and is executed. His followers continue to spread his teachings and, over the next hundred years, write down accounts of his life, eventually forming a Christianity that is distinct from Judaism despite sharing the same mythology, rather than a 'Christian Judaism/Abrahamism'.
Later, a Roman man called Marcion of Sinope teaches a form of Christianity that separates the God of the Old Testament from that of the New. Marcionism, however, never gets beyond being considered a sect of Christianity.
Later still, an Arab man called Muhammad claims to have received a divine revelation. Despite the polytheistic background of his pre-Islamic Arab culture, Muhammad's teachings begin with the mythology of Abrahamism and the gospel stories of Jesus. He adds to this his own teachings and this becomes the religion of Islam, rather than 'Muhammadean Christianity/Judaism/Abrahamism'.
Later still, an American man called Joseph Smith claims to have received a divine revelation. Beginning with the mythology of Abrahamism and the gospel stories of Jesus, he adds on some further teaching, and this becomes Mormonism, considered a sect of Christianity.
And a little later, an Indian man called Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claims to have received a divine revelation. He takes the teachings of Islam and adds to them, producing Ahmadiyya, considered a sect of Islam.
Why the inconsistency? It doesn't seem to be number of believers—compare Mormonism's 16m adherents to Judaism's 14–17m.
It doesn't seem to be the teacher's political impact either—Muhammad united the Arab tribes, conquered Mecca and so on, but Jesus never led more than his group of apostles in his lifetime.
Is it really just luck of the draw?
† Presumably assembled from various more ancient stories (c.f. Zoroastrianism, Babylonian myths, etc.), but that's not important here.