Christ: The Roman Ruse

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Prologue

Due to the continued alarming rise of Prosperity Theology in Texas, Bible-belt States, and the American Midwest since the 1950’s and more so through the 80’s and reaching the 21st century, I was compelled to write this post.

Current American Pentecostal-Charismatic waves of hyped emotional (sales) events, miracle-movements, and mega-church services with theatrical pastors, ministers, bands, and electronic-digital and lighting special-effects — e.g. Oral Roberts, Robert Tilton, Joel Osteen, or Kenneth Copeland to name just four — are rising and now threaten our once Constitutionally accorded church-free politics. It’s a 232-year old pillar of Constitutional Democracy: the Separation of Church and State. This is supposed to be taught and properly learned in every single American public middle and high school Social Studies classroom! If this is no longer the case, then I am disturbed and obliged again to publish yet another blog-post targeting the sham: fraudulent Christianity.

Sincere apologies to my more laid-back followers who enjoy my other subjects and the mantra “Live and Let Live.” I will return to those subjects, I promise.

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A Simple Question

Was Jesus a Jew? It is a straightforward question. It is a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no. But can he be both at the same time? Can he be a Jew and also be a non-Jew? If these three questions can’t be answered simply yes or no, then why or why not? There are approximately 2.18 billion people in the world today that claim the answer is very simple, but when each one personally explains, it becomes very complicated, very controversial, and includes fabricated history that will never be understood by any intelligent, neutral person. And certainly not by consensus of other 2.18 billion Christians (minus 1) world wide. Why is this? Why all the ambiguity?

Now THAT answer is quite simple:  the three cancerous D’s to genuine, pure, authentic Messianism. What are they? They are deform, deface, and divert. In other words, ambitious Hellenic Romans were always on the lookout for a new cult, a new better God-Goddess, took a weird Jewish concept of Messiah(s) and they deformed it, defaced it, and diverted it into a wholly distinct and new, but illegitimate religion.

ROMAN REPUBLIC and IMPERIAL CULTURE
The full history of Greco-Roman society undeniably demonstrates few-to-no delineations between matters of state, expansion, conquest, and religion. They were for the most part one in the same. There is one facet of Greco-Roman culture that can never be overstated and I must drive this home to you. The early Roman Republic, the Principate, as well as the final Imperial Eras all followed the same inclusionist arrangements as Alexander the Roman leisureGreat employed on conquered peoples. In more precise terms, Rome, her leaders, officials, and her citizens always absorbed to some large or small degree foreign cults and practices from cultures they conquered and/or annexed. As victors, they generously modified them, rejected them, or overhauled them into an almost unrecognizable new religion/cult proud of their ingenious creativity with the gods for the envious glory of Rome. This was centuries-old Hellenistic convention over their vanquished or enslaved for all the world to see. Hellenist people always tinkered with, reinvented, and disassembled any and all new and foreign concepts or ideologies. In three words, syncretism on steroids.

With this understanding, let’s consider what actually was done to Jesus’ full Jewishness, steeped in the full meaning of Torah, 3-D’d by the post-74 CE Patristic Church Fathers and Archbishops.

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You Can’t Pre-select Your Pedigree and Un-Pedigree Your Pedigree
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Tactic #1 – DEFORMING the FAMILY HERITAGE
Here’s the shtick. If you are a biological offspring of two parents, you cannot un-biologize your biology from them. You will always have their genetics, and their parents’ genetics, and so on. You also cannot unfamilialize your family heritage… unless you are given up for adoption or kidnapped as an infant; then maybe, just maybe that is possible. But biologically you will always have at least a microscopic measure (or more) of your family’s genealogical heritage.

Ah, so we DO have a simple answer to Was Jesus a Jew? Yes. Yes he was. It’s that simple. He can never not be a Jew! Period!

However, between the end of the First Jewish-Roman War (74 CE at Masada) and the First Council of Nicaea convened by and for Emperor Constantine the Great in 325 CE to imperially make “Christ” (as opposed to Yeshua/Jesus) one-in-the-same with the singular Almighty God/Yahweh. Jesus was re-branded or Constantinized by one Hellenic Roman emperor (a Gentile man at that) into a/the God of the Universe. See the meaning and purpose of the Roman symbol of Jupiter holding Earth, the Globus-Orb. This was a common Greco-Roman tradition of superior dominance and Apotheosis that Constantine understood, believed, and enforced. Hellenic Gentile Archbishops and upper-echelon Romans increasingly wanted to be separate, distinctly above, a step-ahead of the God’s first Chosen People (Jews; all Jews) and overhaul their dead Messiah and make it their own living God-Christ in good Greco-Roman tradition—defying all logic they shuffled around, pedigreed, pseudo-pedigreed AND un-pedigreed the historic Jewish Tannaitic Messiah for their theological pedigree of a Greek Christ.

SIX REQUISITES FOR JEWISH MESSIAHSHIP
According to Ezekiel 37:24-28 in the Tanakh, as well as corroborated in the books of Zephaniah, Isaiah, Micah, 1 & 2 Chronicles, 2 Samuel, Jeremiah, Psalms, Genesis, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, there are six (6) requisites for the Jewish Messiah(s):

  1. He must be Jewish. (Deut 17:15, Num 24:17)
  2. A descendant of the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:10) and a direct male descendant of both King David (1 Chron 17:11, Psa 89:29-38, Jer 33:17, 2 Sam 7:12-16) and King Solomon. (1 Chron 22:10, 2 Chron 7:18)
  3. He must amass all the Diaspora and return them to Israel. (Isa 27:12-13, Isa 11:12)
  4. He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1)
  5. He must usher in global peace. (Isa 2:4, Isa 11:6, Micah 4:3)
  6. He must convince the entire world population to acknowledge and worship one God:  Yahweh. (Isa 11:9, Isa 40:5, Zeph 3:9)

If any Jewish claimant failed to fulfill even one of those requisites, he was NOT a/the Messiah(s). Period, no exceptions. Historical Jesus did fulfill #1, but never fulfilled the remaining five. Regarding his genealogy and #2, Hebrew Scriptures unequivocally states that a Jew’s genealogy and tribal heritage are established exclusively through one’s biological genetic father (Num 1:18, Jer 33:17). Hebrew Scriptures says nothing about anything outside of those parameters, much less exceptions for invisible male sperm from deities. And the Messiah’s maternal line is irrelevant as claimed in Luke.

There are two more critical problems with the New Testament Gospels’ not aligning at all with Messianic requisites. First, attempting to prove Jesus’ genealogy through Joseph’s lineage as recorded in Matthew 1:1-17, specifically 1:11-12, is not possible, a Greek mistake by the Gospel authors’ because of Jeremiah 22:30! Authentic Hebrew Scripture has King Jeconiah leaving no descendants; none.

So said the Lord: Inscribe this man [Jeconiah] childless, a man who will not prosper in his days, for no man of his seed shall prosper, [or by] sitting on the throne of David or ruling anymore in Judah.

This disqualifies Jesus as Messiah. Second, the genealogies of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 make matters worse and more embarrassing for the Hellenic Gospel authors, scribes, and editors. As mentioned, a Jew’s tribal-membership is established only by the paternal bloodline. Hence, Luke 3 is immaterial. But for the sake of indulgence, lets look closely at Luke’s portrayal of Mary’s genealogy, Jesus’ mother. Luke 3:31 reads:

…the son of Melea, the son of Menna,
the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan,
the son of David…

This genealogical version in Luke also contradicts the Messianic requisite in 1 Chronicles 22:9-10 in the Tanakh—the Messiah(s) is/are to descend from Solomon, not Solomon’s brother Nathan. Lastly, Jesus never came close to fulfilling the other four requisites. Renowned biblical scholars Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan along with many others agree that the antithetical versions of Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are later retrofits to bolster Greco-Roman Messiah-to-Christ agendas. I completely agree with them based on the broader historical contextual factors influencing schisms of the time-period between zealous Judaic-Messianism and ascending Roman Christology.

From this wider lens outside the 2nd thru 4th century Apostolic/Patristic Church Fathers’ heavy biases, we can see the nascent Hellenic Fathers and bishops struggle to grasp Jewish Messianism-Eschatology in its proper setting. Or they had no desire to understand it from the Jewish Second Temple period. Lazy, arrogant, perhaps by the time of Marcion, Irenaeus, and Tertullian they had more pressing Earthly priorities. Nonetheless, they were predictable. They simply took liberal license to deform Jewish Messianic concepts and requisites to implement centuries-old Hellenistic Roman-centric interpolations and extrapolations for their Greek Neo-Christ caricature.————

Overhauling and Rewriting History: For the Victor Go the Spoils
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Tactic #2 – DEFORMING JEWISH MESSIANISM
This will be a very quick introduction of setting the scene, putting in place the background to how the early Hellenic Roman Church deformed Jewish Messianism. It must be accepted as fact that not one single Apostolic-Patristic Church Father of earliest Christianity was born a Jew. From Clement of Rome to Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna, through 7-8 more over the next four centuries, to John of Damascus and Isidore of Seville in the 7th and 8th centuries, not one revered Greek, Latin, Syriac, or African Church theologian had any Jewish heritage or education whatsoever! What does that say about any Gentiles understanding proper Second Temple Judaism/Messianism?

There are a few prime polemic examples in chronological order of composition. First, is the Epistle of Barnabas (70 – 132 CE) author unknown. The revered Greek Father Origen considered this epistle authoritative, but not canonical. This epistle is a radical anti-Semitic treatise. Most scholars place its composition in Greek Alexandria. As early as Chapters 3-4, the author(s) accuses Judaism of misunderstanding their own Laws and to stop celebrating the Jewish Sabbath, but instead celebrate the Christian Sunday, Jesus’ resurrection. This is a harsh slap on the Jewish face by a Greek Gentile. By Chapter 6 the author was telling Jews how to interpret their own Pentateuch, prophets, and Ketuvim!

Second would be the Greek Christian Aristides in his Apologia (123 – 124 CE). Aristides attacks the gods of various nations as inferior including Greeks, however, gives tiny credit to Jews for worshiping angels and ritual laws. But high praise is given to Christians for tracing their lineage back to Christ practicing pure benevolence and love. Hence, Judaism is minimized.

Fathers of the Church

Early Greek Church Fathers

Third is the Greek Aristo of Pella and his Dialogue of Jason and Papiscus (c. 140 CE). This letter no longer exists, but is mentioned by Greek theologians Celsus and Origen, and indirectly too by Eusebius and Jerome as an exchange/debate between a Hebrew-Christian and a Jew of Alexandria. According to these Greek Fathers Aristo showed why God turned His back on Jews for crucifying Christ—a wrong exegesis of Genesis and Psalms with Galatians 3:13—so God used Emperor Hadrian to shamefully banish them from Jerusalem and Judea.

Finally, there is Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho(n) (155 – 160 CE). He explicitly lays out that current Christianity, as he perceived it at that time—and as a Greek academic of Socrates and Plato—was the new law of God for all of humanity forever. Dialogue with Trypho sets out to audaciously substantiate his Greek Jesus was the Messiah-Christ. Justin utilizes a considerable amount of Jewish Aggadic material which renders his Hellenic portrayal of the Jewish philosopher Trypho imaginary and his concessions to Justin impossible.

Tactic #3 – DEFACING and VANDALIZING MESSIANIC JUDAISM
After many key figures and groups of Temple Judaism and Palestinian Judaism were exterminated or dismantled and pushed out of Jerusalem and the Levant by the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE and irrevocably at Masada in 74 CE, Hellenic-Herodian traditions favored by Gentile Romans were primed to fill the socio-religious void left behind by Vespasian’s seven Roman Legions.

Dr. Isaac W. Oliver, Ph.D, of the University of Michigan and Judaic-Religious Studies at Bradley University, reassesses “The Way” Movement and earliest Christianity like this:

It would seem that the liminal status of Messianic Judaism is still hard for many, whether secular or religious, to swallow, but the movement’s presence reminds New Testament scholars of all stripes and colors about the primary role that early Jewish followers of Jesus played in the formation of the Jesus Movement. As Joel Willits points out in his treatment of Revelation, readers approach the New Testament (or any other text for that matter) with certain presuppositions, which “are often the most determinative factor in an interpretation.”[36] These include sets of questions and interests that exist even before a given text is encountered, prioritizing certain matters of inquiry above others and thus conditioning the reading process and its final interpretive outcome. Not surprisingly, when some “Gentile Christian” scholars studied New Testament passages as Acts 15; 21:20-24 and 1 Cor 7:7-14, they overlooked what these passages might have meant or implied for Jewish followers of Jesus, focusing instead on the Gentile Christians addressed in these writings. Messianic Jews have naturally handled the same passages with other questions and priorities in mind, being interested, similarly to many of Jews who wrote the documents now contained in the New Testament, in faithfully maintaining their identity as Jewish followers of Jesus. Their drawing attention to these neglected issues should be welcomed as a further contribution toward the ongoing endeavor of reassessing much of early Christianity, a thoroughly Jewish phenomenon, whose Jewishness was more pervasive lasting than previously thought. (emphasis mine)
Oliver, Isaac W. “MESSIANIC JEWS AND THE EARLY JEWISH FOLLOWERS OF JESUS.” Hebrew Studies 57 (2016): 367-75. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44072311.

It cannot be stressed enough how prevalent was the increasing number of Hebrew discrimination treatises by Greek Christian theological Fathers after 70 CE and 160 CE with Justin up to and beyond the early 8th-century CE with John of Damascus. From all aspects, traditions and Hebrew scriptures it is/was impossible for Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus) to be the/a Messiah. For a complete view of the Greco-Roman Fathers defacing Second Temple Jewish Messianism and the context that Jesus’ Movement participated, click here and here.

Unfortunately, Jews from the mid-Roman Era to Late Antiquity to Post-Classical Era Jews around the Eastern Mediterranean along with their Tannaitic, Oral Torah, Mishnah-Tosefta Judaism were practically wiped-out… to later be replaced by Hellenic literature, i.e. the canonical Christian Bible and non-canonical corpuses. Fortunately, not all Talmudic literature and commentaries were destroyed by Vespasian’s Legions, anti-Semitic Church Fathers and acolytes, or hidden and lost forever! The Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran are the most prolific, epic lens into Judaism prior, during, and after the life of Jesus. They are some of the most treasured, authentic scrolls in all religious literature of the world secondary only to the Gandhāran Buddhist, Kesh Temple Hymnal tablets, and Hindu Veda texts. Modern intellectuals do indeed have a litmus-test library to reliably and objectively test the juggernaut’s integrity, to peer under the Goliath’s pteruges/skirt if you will, that is/was Roman Christology/Christianity!

Tactic #4 – DEFACING ALL OF JUDAISM
As more and more new unanticipated theological, eschatological, and scriptural problems and contradictions arose against early Christian Church leaders and bishops during the 2nd, 3rd, and early 4th centuries in connection with their Christ versus Yeshua bar Yosef’s Messianic Jewish heritage, Hellenic-Pauline Gentile Church leaders recognized they had to further depart, distance themselves, and sever all ties from Judaism and their Messianic doctrines to appear legit to all non-Jews. Enter the imperial Roman fathering of blatant anti-Semitism.

Martin_Luther

Martin Luther

The presstitution that the Palestinian Jews killed Jesus Christ is categorically and unequivocally wrong. Greco-Roman Christians instigated the resentment, humiliation, and stigmatization of Jews from 70-74 CE through at least the 17th-century, and Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation and his book On the Jews and Their Lies carried it to a darker abyss. Case and point:

[The Jews are] venomous beasts, vipers, disgusting scum, canders, devils incarnate. […]

Their private houses must be destroyed and devastated, they could be lodged in stables. Let the magistrates burn their synagogues and let whatever escapes be covered with sand and mud. Let them be forced to work, and if this avails nothing, we will be compelled to expel them like dogs in order not to expose ourselves to incurring divine wrath and eternal damnation from the Jews and their lies. […]

…we are at fault in not slaying them…

Of course at the turn of the 20th-century came the Holocaust. And today in the 21st-century the U.S.’s nagging centuries-old problem of white-supremacist, neo-Nazi and neo-Confederate, anti-Federal militias, and Christian-Identity groups keep feeding the monsters of discrimination, persecution, and hate. But let us return back in time to the Roman Principate-Dominate Era in the Eastern Mediterranean.

New Bed-Partners: Hellenic Overseas Judaism & Roman Social Welfare
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Tactic #5 – DIVERTING NON-ROMAN RESOURCES into ROMAN RESOURCES
Once Rome’s imperial frustrations—from Vespasian through the following three emperor’s up to Hadrian then Titus—of radical Jewish-Messianic zealots in Palestine were vanquished and surviving pockets of Jews lost all desire for independence, diversions from the actual facts of Jewish-Roman history as covered above were increasingly rewritten to accommodate a stronger, Monistic, orthodox Roman Church with a Roman Messiah, or Christ. Emperor Constantine made Greco-Roman Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire, and seized upon the most opportunistic silver-lined social crisis in Roman Principate history:  imperial socialism. With the aid of softer, more liberal Hellenic-Herodian Judaism, that is… not of the old Palestinian, Maccabean-Hasmonean Second Temple sectarianism, Constantine and his Greek Archbishops stabilized the internal fracturing and split of the empire via theological orthodoxy for almost two centuries.

Yet Constantine’s ecumenical commissions could not stop the self-inflicted hemorrhaging. As the golden age of imperial Rome faded, her aggressively ambitious nobility and aristocracy grew more corrupt, more greedy, and created a power-vacuum that was filled by the Greco-Roman Catholic Church. In 380 CE the Hellenic-Hispanian Emperor Theodosius the Great goes even further by declaring any pagan or non-Catholic Christian religion/cult heretical and illegal. One more step remained before non-Catholic/Christians, now all Jews included, were openly oppressed, persecuted (see Part II: Christian Persecution of Jews by James E. Seaver) and punishable by imprisonment and torture. This had begun in 392-395 CE.

Today, these three cancerous D’s above illegally incarcerated inside modern Protestant evangelical-fundamental Christianity and Catholicism. They have developed a vaccination of an antibiotic resistance/impunity upon the masses because far too many scholars, secularists, and intellectuals are not injecting the antibiotic of authentic, verified Second Temple Judaism/Messianism and Sectarianism as it applies directly and indirectly to Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus) the Nasoraean/Nasari. Jesus was most certainly closely associated with the Nasoraeans/Nazarenes/Nasara, the Ebionites, and the Essenes of Qumran. Some of Jesus’ authentic teachings in the Synoptic Gospels reflect themes of these three rural Jewish sects. However, Jesus was most certainly NOT the Hebrew Messiah! The later Greco-Roman “Christ™” caricature as shown here is a Hellenic impostor, a fraud of true Jewish Messianism!

What can moderate, or indifferent, neutral, independent observers and thinkers do today who, like me, are surrounded daily by a majority of scammed, duped Christological Faith-Followers, but don’t know how to dialogue with them? My first suggestion is to ask them my initial question above: Was Jesus a Jew? My second suggestion… commit fully, 110% to be a forensic investigator and specialist, similar to your favorite film/TV detective or homicide character, trying to solve your best friend’s murder. To be fair, have the Christological Faith-Follower to be your mature and civil companion in the investigation. It’s quite proper to hold them accountable to their commitment. It will show their level of integrity and honor, or lack of. Right?

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The Timelessness of Modern Forensic Science
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Why has forensic science become an increasingly reliable, trusted, and needed investigative component in criminology the last 20-years? The immediate answer to that is that prior to late 20th-century criminal trials/justice many defendants were falsely accused,setup/framed, and sentenced for crimes they did not commit. If you did not know people in high places to help, if you were disliked/hated, the presented (false) evidence painted a guilty verdict for the accused. In other words, unethical immoral men in positions of law-enforcement, law practice, overseeing judges, were able to manipulate legal cases according to personal and outlaw bias/ideology. This included the personal freedom or license to specific selected elite members for their self-defined enforcements (backed by authority) to exercise their own personal bigotry. Forensic science reduces or takes away man’s egocentric corruption, bias, and immorality.

What is forensics to the 21st century Spiritual-seeker?

From the 16th century, when medical practitioners began using forensic science to writings in the late 18th century that revealed the first evidence of modern pathology, to the formation of the first school of forensic science in 1909; the development of forensic science has been used to uncover mysteries, solve crimes, and convict or exonerate suspects of crime for hundreds of years.

Forensic science disciplines

Small sampling of disciplines in forensic science

The extraordinary scientific innovations and advancements in forensic science have allowed it to become a highly developed science involving a number of disciplines and thousands of specialized forensic scientists in everything from DNA and botany to dentistry, anthropology, seismology, meteorology, and many more.

The same forensic methodologies can be used in finding the means, motive(s), and opportunity, then establish the relational and full contextual dynamics between the victim (Jesus the Jew) and all known offenders and possible/probable offenders. Case solved. Then you are liberated completely to avoid the traps, deceptions, and fraudulent claims made by Christianity, or more accurately Christology. If you think you need more help, try my page Why Christianity Will Always FailYou are also welcome to contact me personally via my Contact Dwain page.

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For further expansions and reading on the ruse of Christianity:

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always — Open All Gift-horse Mouths!

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Saul the Apostate – Part III

Continuing from Part II

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“Do not give what is holy to dogs,
and do not throw your pearls before swine,
or they will trample them under their feet,
and turn and tear you to pieces.”
— Jesus, Matthew 7:6

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Certainly a strong command to his disciples and words of warning to the crowd listening to Jesus on the Mount. To a modern reader a very ambiguous verse/sermon typical of cryptic non-Messianic Jesus, but it aligns with quasi-Sectarian Essene-Jesus. How so?

sermon-on-mountThe first generation Tannaitic traditions in the Jewish Mishnah (20 BCE – 80 CE) can give some context to the language of this sermon. Three key identifiers can be correctly deciphered out of the loose Greek Matthew translation. They are dogs, pearls, and pigs or swine. In the Tannaitic Mishnah dogs represent Gentile idolaters that “when driven by hunger, tears and devours young lambs.Pearls represent the rabbinical interpretations and discourse of the Torah, something precious and costly. Rabbis did not teach secrets of the Torah to Gentiles. And pigs/swine were always implied as the Romans as verified in Cicero’s “Divinatio in Caecilium.” Therefore, with this more unambiguous vocabulary, here is the proper Tannaitic version of Matthew 7:6:

Do not give what is holy to Gentile idolaters, and do not throw your Torah-secrets before the Romans, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Jewish-Essene Jesus further supports this new redone, unambiguous verse in Matthew 10:5-6 and 15:26. At the least, Jewish-Essene Jesus is teaching the crowd and his disciples a passive walk and love in the Torah and to never force the coming Kingdom of God (on Earth) onto Gentiles or Romans if they are not interested. This was not what Saul began teaching and it got Saul into lots of harsh trouble.

In 2 Corinthians 11:24-32 we see that Saul faced quick persecution by Jews after his “vision-revelation” and upon arriving in Damascus. More persecution from 2 Cor. 9 and Acts 16:22. Then he faced opposition from Jewish-Jesus’ immediate disciples, their disciples, and James the Brother of Jesus (Acts 15 and 21; Gal 2; James 2 vs Eph 2?). Not only is the harsh resistance inferred from the canonical NT, it is also confirmed by Eusebius’ Pamphilius, Iraneus’ Against Heresies, Origen’s Against Celcus, and Clement of Rome’s Recognitions that Saul’s early hardships were in both the Jewish and Jesus camps.

Clearly apparent is that Saul wasn’t following established Jewish proselytizing methods in the Didache adopted from the Synagogue’s Two Ways,” nor was he following Jesus’ disciples’ methods. Saul was just doing and teaching whatever he interpreted from his own seizures, very much like modern psych-patients do during and after their episodes. Consequently, Saul was viewed as attacking, if not at minimum undermining, both Judaism and the nascent Jesus-Movement authorities, the “pillars” (Gal. 2:9). Despite there existing today more details about Saul’s many disputes with both Jews in the Synagogues and the surviving pillars and disciples of Jesus’ closest followers, we are also able to decipher a much better idea of how and why Saul became the Spouter of Lies or if not, certainly treated as an Apostate.

Saul’s Two-Pronged Hellenic Attack on Jesus’ Judaism

Whether Saul/Paul realized it or not, he fueled and fanned the fiery, growing anti-Semitism between his Hellenic Rome and Judaism. He accomplished this in at least two different ways: 1) his conflicts with the Torah, part of Jesus’ core teaching, and its expanded Essene-Jesus function within Judaism in general, and 2) antinomianism which further fueled Jewish hate, and by default undermined Jesus’ principle of mutual love.

A Necessary Reminder First
It must be remembered when reading the epistles traditionally ascribed to Saul, only seven of the 14 are agreed upon by most Christian and non-Christian scholars as genuinely Saul’s letters. Two letters/epistles are evenly disputed and four are considered pseudographic, or written later by supporters of Saul. The true author of Hebrews is now considered unknown by almost all biblical scholars. There are also some known lost epistles mentioned in other epistles. The very oldest surviving codex of epistles by Saul (Papyrus 46) covers only from Romans 5:17 through Hebrews, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and ends in 1 Thess. 5:28. Papyrus 46 is from c. 200 CE, about 35-60 years after Saul’s earliest letters. From this papyrus biblical scholars know the scribe(s) made minor errors and miscalculations. What does this mean for us here?

Saul’s “genuine” letters (in gold below) and those two evenly disputed cannot be considered beyond a shadow of a doubt, 100% authentic words of Saul. Simple later “traditions” do not make a manuscript error-free. The later the copy, the higher the odds it was later tampered with or erroneously copied. Once again, the chronological order of Saul’s letters:

Chronological Order Canon

Notice that the letter to the Galatians could have been written around 60 CE. This is important to remember. As we continue, what will also become glaringly obvious was just how horribly the 2nd- and 3rd-century CE New Testament compilers/scribes and the Hellenist “Patristic Fathers” (and therefore all their descendant “Fathers”) turned their 4th – 5th-century canonical NT into a mishmash of nonsense; a complete cluster (tr)uck! Frankly, it’s bad and poorly constructed by men who knew too little about Sectarian Judaism/Messianism and its precise Second Temple intent. How did the Hellenistic Fathers get it all wrong?

Saul’s Conflicts & Confusion with the Torah and Judaism
While in Lycaonia of Asia Minor (Turkey), following the laws of the Torah, Saul circumcised his new disciple Timothy:

Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. (Acts 16:1-3)

Not only did 1st-century Greeks/Hellenists despise the Jewish custom of circumcision, but based on Saul’s other vehement teachings against the Law/Torah (Colossians 2), was this a blatant contradiction of himself? Now suddenly this Saul-behavior seems to align with Jewish-Essene Jesus’ teaching (Matt. 5 and Luke 16)! Why now are there exceptions to what Jewish-Jesus taught and Saul taught? The Hellenistic canonical NT is completely silent.

Leave it to an 18th-century Rabbi to possibly sort out this one (of many) problematic, contradiction in the NT and with Saul. Rabbi Jacob Emden was considered one of the most acclaimed Rabbis for over three centuries. Many Rabbis considered him a Maimonides reincarnated. Here is Rabbi Emden’s clarification; my inserts [ ] and emphasis:

Christian scholars have assumed from certain passages in the Gospels that [Jesus] wished to give a new Torah to take the place of the Torah of Moses. How could [Jesus] then have said explicitly that he comes only to fulfill it? But it is as I have said earlier — that the writers of the Gospels never meant to say that the Nazarene came to abolish Judaism, but only that he came to establish a religion for the Gentiles from that time onward. Nor was it new, but actually ancient; they being the Seven Commandments of the Sons of Noah, or children of Noah, which were forgotten. The Apostles of the Nazarene then established them anew. However, those born as Jews, or circumcised as converts to Judaism (Ex. 12:49; one law shall be to him that is home-born, and unto the stranger) are obligated to observe all commandments of the Torah without exception. Rabbi Yaakov Emden, “Seder Olam Rabbah Vezuta” Hamburg, 1757

However, does this 18th-century Jewish Rabbinical extrapolation solve the many other problems in Saul’s epistles? After 200, 400, 2000 years why hasn’t this confusion and/or contradiction been fixed? Christians and Christianity has always blamed the Jews for killing Jesus. Why do so many Christians over the many centuries think that to be true? The answer? It began with Saul of Tarsus:

“You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus (1 Thess. 2:14b-15a)

And then antisemitic hostility continued more forcefully with the Patristic Fathers:

“Accordingly, these things have happened to you in fairness and justice, for you [Jews] have slain the Just One…” Justin Martyr, “Dialogue with Trypho” chapter 16

Blaming the Jews for Jesus’ execution was perpetuated all throughout the Crusades, the Medieval Era and into the modern era even to the Holocaust. But it started with Saul. However, it is most clear in the much later written four Gospels (Matthew 26:57-68, 27:25Mark 15:8-15Luke 23:3-23John 8:31-4718:29-40, 19:6-15) representing the fuller Hellenistic retrograde takeover of a failed(?) Jewish Messiah (Gospel-Jesus was never clear about this title) and rewriting the legend into a successful Roman Messiah with some Greek-Gnostic mysticism (Saul) interwoven. Examples of Gnostic and Sectarian mysticism?

Saul completely revamped, reinterpreted the ritual meaning of baptism. Immersing one’s self into baths or rivers was to him no longer a rite of cleansing and regeneration as Jews and Jewish sects such as the Essenes symbolized (Jewish-Jesus as well), for Saul it was a pseudo-death to the world and transformation into a spiritual resurrection with Christ (Romans 6:1-10). For Saul, the Lord’s Supper/Last Supper was a mystical magical union in Christ’s blood and body. This mimics exactly the Mithraic ceremony in the blood and body of Mithra. Justin Martyr even wrote the ritual was identical to early Christianity’s Last Supper ritual. Of course, Martyr was very biased to his own personal beliefs. The point is that the Mithraic ritual was also magical-mystical and hinted of Hellenic Gnosticism and Jewish Mysticism.

Saul’s new teachings, sacraments and “mysteries” (1 Cor. 10:20-21; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Thess. 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; Rom. 8:28-30, 9) which brought so many hardships upon himself from both Jews and new Judaeo-Christians (Essenes too), was teaching one thing:  Christ’s death. It was teaching atonement through his death and failure that put all believers perfectly right for God’s coming Kingdom of Paradise. It wasn’t righteous behavior and it wasn’t even faith in an all-forgiving, all-loving Father/God that achieved salvation. It was only Christ’s mystical judicial death. Experiencing that “death” and rebirth through a mystical and/or neurological state of mind (TL-epilepsy?) was how a Gentile became saved. The problem and confusion for Saul — a Hellenistic “mystic” — was that his path to salvation was NOT the path Jewish-Jesus taught in his real life, according to all extant sources:  Gospels, non-canonical testaments, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Essenes) combined.

Saul’s Antinomianism and More Jewish Hatred
Aside from the obvious fact few people rarely want or desire to be on the losing end of an event or organization, or repeatedly associated with a defeated and crumbling existence no matter what time-period it occurs, Saul’s letters progressively over time taught (see above image) further and further demarcation, even defamatory alienation, from all things Jewish by c. 55 – 57 CE when he wrote his letter to the Romans. Several biblical scholars like S.G.F. Brandon, F.C. Baur, and Barrie A. Wilson, chronologically follow Saul’s journeys, compared and contrasted to what was reported about him in Acts decades later, and quite clearly notice (as I do) his rising, antagonizing frustration with the losing people, or team if you will. Take 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians (with regard to Jews) and compare them to Romans and Ephesians(?) — and if Galatians was actually found to be written c. 60 CE — and Galatians 3, one cannot escape Saul’s antinomianism and anger toward authoritative Jews, Rabbis, and the Torah.

Saul's Epilepsy

Focal-fractal seizures of TLE

Let’s not lose sight, however, of the forest because of those few trees Saul insisted on playing with — with lighter-fluid, gas cans, and matches — dramatically (mystically) coming from his “divine revelations” via TL-epilepsy.  They were given only to him, and yet not first to Jesus’ closest disciples/students, or let alone any of God’s first chosen people of tiny nomadic Israel. Why the trickery? Or rather why the perpetual antinomianism necessary for the endless kinetic cycle of life, death, and evolution to which all things submit? Consider this…

Because Saul somehow deemed himself the procurator-divine-mediator for all Gentile humanity without pre-approval or preliminary discussion with any other authorities (i.e. Jerusalem Council) or proof, why and/or what made his antinomianism become popular and successful in the end? Why has any antinomian or monistic movement any better or worse than any others in the past? Was it because at that time in history (68 – 180 CE) it was the pinnacle, the most glorious days of the Hellenistic Roman Empire? Was it because of some ancient and contemporary tradition that the Latin God(s) favored the bold, victorious, and popular culture/lifestyle as Virgil poetically wrote in his Aeneid? And more apparent, the Latin God(s) did not favor losers or the constantly losing Jews. Pagan Rome held all the winning cards.

In Part IV, I will spell out how Saul — by going to the Hellenistic Roman Gentiles — in light of his challenges, antagonism, and disrespect to long-established Second Temple Judaism/Messianism and Sectarianism, was simply seeking larger psychological approval, acceptance, from his known tiny world. He wanted/needed validation for his ailment, his TL-epilepsy (revelations?), and his unconventional background in Merkavah/Heikhalat mysticism which almost all of his conventional (sane?) Jews rejected. So can one single man with TL-epilepsy dictate what sort of life was right, was best, and would be the most fulfilling presently or in the afterlife… for the entire world and all of humanity for all of time?

Until the next part, please feel free to again share your thoughts, ideas, or questions below.

————

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The Incarnation of G-Man

A quick exercise. I want you to list all the iconic, famous, notable people of which you are aware that mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen again or found. Take a minute to think long and hard. How many can you list?

Amelia Earhart is one that first comes to mind for me. The famous pilot and her Lockheed 10-E Electra disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in July 1937. Jimmy Hoffa is another well-known American Teamster who disappeared in July 1975. Glenn Miller, the famous big-band musician and composer, disappeared over the English Channel in 1944 and Michael Rockefeller, the 4th generation member of the famous American aristocrats the Rockefellers, disappeared in 1961.

What about young children that are still missing? How many famous cases and names of children can you list? According to ListVerse.com here are 10 Cases of Missing Children. Why did those ten children make ListVerse.com’s list or why did Earhart, Hoffa, Miller, and Rockefeller have their disappearances make regional or worldwide news? Answer this:  Why is it such an extraordinary news-event that these adults and children vanished? What’s the big deal? Was there something about those people who made their vanishing so dramatic? Was there controversy, wealth, or status surrounding those missing people? Is one of them anymore important than the other?

I want you to remember your answers to those questions as you continue reading. What if there had been a group of forecasters that weeks, months, years prior to all these vanishing adults and children said Sound the alarms! Person A, person B, child A, and child B will vanish for a long time or forever! And those forecasters (psychics?) explained how they would vanish. Would their foretelling make the disappearances more astounding? Of course they would. They would be predictions that would turn the world, or at least the local region upside down. Period. It would be as historical as mankind stepping on the Moon for the very first time.

∼ ∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼ ∼

No matter how many notable or controversial missing persons and children you can list, none of them will EVER matchup in fame or value to the one 12-year old boy I’m about to describe. No, correction. I am not the one who described him. The most famous book around the world — according to millions and billions of people past and present — will describe this one phenomenal 12-year old boy. Here is an introduction of this “boy” by Robert Deffinbaugh:

“There is nothing in fact or in fiction in the history of man which matches the mystery of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Humanly speaking, no one anticipated God’s intervention into human history by the birth of a child, born in a manger. Not even Judaism was looking for Messiah to come in this way. Furthermore, we have become so accustomed to the biblical narratives of the birth of our Lord and the credal formulations of the doctrines involved that we have often ceased to appreciate the mystery of the incarnation.

If we are to properly appreciate the mystery of the incarnation, we must first come to recognize the importance of the coming of our Lord as God incarnate.”
Robert Deffinbaugh, Th.M.- Dallas Theological Seminary and Bible.org

Indeed, “nothing that matches“. Nothing ever has and ever will match him… for the rest of time. A pretty lofty, magnanimous Earth-shattering claim, huh? And Mr. Deffinbaugh certainly isn’t the only minister or man-of-the-cloth or congregation member to make such a claim. Some 2.2 billion professed Christians knowingly or unknowingly profess it as well. God incarnate is well-known, well-established, and fully understood, which makes it obviously true! Yes?

“In Christian doctrine the Incarnation, briefly stated, is that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became a man. It is one of the greatest events to occur in the history of the universe. It is without parallel.”
Lehman Strauss, Philadelphia Bible Institute and Bible.org

Hebrew propheciesOne method 4th – 5th century CE Church Fathers used and now modern Christians and their apologists utilize to show doubters the divine will of their God and remarkable boy-Savior, are the “fulfillments” of many Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. According to these Fathers and subsequent preachers, bishops, cardinals, and ministers these passages that were spoken, taught, and scribed on papyrus centuries before Jesus’ birth plainly reveal Jesus as the coming Jewish Messiah. This simultaneously gives the biblical Scriptures of the Hebrew Bible and Christian New Testament their divine, unmatched inerrancy and infallibility for Christendom. The game-changer!

I want to take a closer look at these prophecies and subsequent meanings.

Taxonomies of Messianic Prophecies

There are four types of Messianic-Christian prophecies:  1) Birth, 2) Ministry, 3) Betrayal, and 4) Death. It must be noted that some of these four types are actual historical events that transpired before the Old Testament book and passages were written. However, these a posteriori issues are not the critical topics of my post and should be addressed another time in another blog-post. For now what is necessary to understand is how 50 – 400 predictions, the number,  came true and the miraculous impact of these Old Testament passages support/prove to the faithful Christian divine, incomprehensible odds of coming true when they were written and/or taught some 6 to 7 centuries before Jesus was born; the miraculous part. Most all radical Christians who immediately embrace past and present paranormal phenomena, will unequivocally admit that what the Bible says about Jesus’ nativity and the events surrounding his foretold birth are literally true. No ifs, ands, or buts. But for the sake of time, let’s consider just the popular birth prophecies.

Messianic Birth Prophecies — The most well-known, due to the widespread Roman Catholic Churches built between the late 5th-century to 16th-century, are these two about the virgin birth in Bethlehem:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”Isaiah 7:14

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”Micah 5:2

There are at least 12 more mainstream, supposed Messianic passages Christian apologists assert prove the phenomenal divine intervention through Jesus’ family, local events, his birth, and his time on Earth (click here if interested). The early Church Fathers, and all later Christian apologists today say this divine intervention by God was predicted some 6 to 7 centuries before Jesus. Christians claim today there are hundreds more passages proving Jesus’ mega-exclusive, spectacular arrival on Earth, not as a simple man, but as God’s one-and-only Son. I am not going to address every single one. Scrutinizing every single one would take months. The 12 passages I linked to above suffice.

Though I will not examine all 50 – 400 of the remaining Messianic passages of Jesus’ adult ministry, betrayal, and crucifixion — they do not apply right now to the subject of ancestry, birthplace, and his first 12-years — it is nevertheless hard for Christians not to be conscious of them when the Synoptic Gospels are not placed in chronological order. Further complicating this matter, the four Gospels focus most of their narrations on Jesus’ final four-ish years, from 29 to 32/33 years of age. Hence, with all the decades of a posteriori hindsight, it is quite awkward for the modern Christian to not envision Jesus more than just a regular boy, a sinful boy from the seed of Adam. The diversion seems to be his last 3-4 years. On the other hand, with all the hoopla of his Messianic birth, he is not just a common boy. He is “the One” from the Holy Father who embodies never-before-seen or heard… non-human abilities! Let’s add more hoop-lah. Enter the three Kings/Magi and the sensational celestial event over Bethlehem. How is all of this convergence possible?

Nativity sceneThere are three or four plausible explanations for what the “star” might have been, but mathematically none of them would’ve happened around the approximate time of Jesus’ birth and Herod’s final two years of ruling. Hubert J. Bernhard, educator and lecturer at San Francisco’s Morrison Planetarium, composed a 4-part series of record LP’s called “The Planetarium Lecture Series.” One of the episodes in his series addresses the Star of Bethlehem. Bernhard, along with many Christian apologists over the last two millenia, explained the events this way:

“If you accept the story told in the Bible as the literal truth, then the Christmas Star could not have been a natural apparition. Its movement in the sky and its ability to stand above and mark a single building; these would indicate that it was not a normal phenomenon, but a supernatural sign. One given from on high and one that science will never be able to explain.”Hubert Bernhard, The Planetarium Lecture Series.

Whatever created or moved the Star of Bethlehem it was bright enough for the Magi to journey from start to finish some 500-miles from the Orient/Babylonia to Judea. This most certainly would have been an event that thousands or millions of other people, astronomers, and star-gazers too would have seen. But for the time of Jesus’ birth, no one in that 500-1000 mile area (or beyond) recorded anything. Nothing. Despite this widespread omission and silence, for miracle-believing Christians these synchronizations of prophetic Hebrew passages, their fulfillment, and the cosmological spectacle cannot be understated. It was an unprecedented, epic, historical phenomena.

Inside evangelical circles then, what do we have regarding God’s newborn Messiah/Christ? One of the greatest events to occur in the history of the universe Strauss shouts without parallel“! Wow. “Without parallel“!

“When you read the record of the coming of Jesus into the world — born in a stable, born of a woman, reared in the woodshop of a poor Jewish carpenter — you could not grasp the truth that He was the God-man if the Scriptures didn’t reveal it.”Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Suddenly and astoundingly the long-awaited foretold boy phenom known as Messiah-G-man vanished! Gone.

And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travelers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.” He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favor.Luke 2:42-52

Those passages are the very last words written about the boy-wonder, Messiah-G-man for the next 17-years!

What is very odd, very suspicious of this disappearance at this point in the Gospels is that with such spectacle of a newborn King, heralded by a supernatural cosmic event — that summoned other kings/magi hundreds of miles away — forced King Herod of Judea to slaughter hundreds or thousands of baby boys, of which is also not recorded by anyone in the province or region, especially by Roman historians or scribes, no one seems to care… except the Gospel authors many decades later. These events also (a decade later) have a 3-day 2-night lost Messiah-G-man who mesmerized and dumbfounded Rabbis in the Temple.

Jesus in TempleAmazingly, all of this Earth-shattering Gospel news becomes un-news worthy! Basically, Messiah-G-man becomes the antithesis of starboy Messiah-G-man, the one and only Son of God who, as Billy Graham alludes, that the Scriptures revealed 6-7 centuries before! What is going on? Why would the Hebrews suddenly become completely apathetic to their coveted Messiah? Or more concerning, why do the Gospel authors ignore this anomaly numerous decades after Jesus’ birth and four more decades after his death? To cloud the story more the authors then offer vague, abstract fog where Jesus might have been and more puzzling… what he wasn’t doing!

So Where Did He Really Go?

There are five or six interesting theories of where and why Messiah-G-man, Jesus, deviated from his universal, divine mission. The fact that there are any theories at all speaks to the necessity for a theological (not logical) explanation for God’s one and only (not so busy) Son. Consider these theories by historical and biblical scholars:

  • Jesus stayed in Nazareth. This is the most widely accepted explanation in Christendom. It is the least complicated scenario for God’s one-and-only missing years. He simply stayed in his hometown, probably working at his father Joseph’s trade of carpentry and studied Jewish scripture, then became the head of the household after Joseph’s death, as if nothing of divine import was happening or was needed. Ho-hum, oh well for 17-18 years.
  • Jesus traveled to Japan. This explanation is based more on legend than plausible evidence.
  • Jesus traveled to Britain. This explanation is also based more on legend than plausible evidence.
  • Jesus traveled to the Himalayas, and trained with mystics there. To date, this is another explanation that unravels with no plausible or reliable evidence to support it. The final two theories below, however, are more compelling.
  • Jesus went to Qumrān, and studied with the Essene sect. Some scholars have speculated that Jesus left home for Qumrān, on the edge of the Dead Sea, where he supposedly became a member of a monastic community along with his cousin John the Baptist. Modern interest in Qumrān surged after the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of ancient religious texts, in nearby caves. The theory makes the case that both Jesus and John the Baptist were Essenes, whose philosophy embraced a view of oneness of everything in the universe with God, and espoused non-violence. It is argued that Jesus either wrote or was influenced by an apocalyptic book called The Secrets of Enoch.
  • Jesus became a disciple of John the Baptist. In his book Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography, Bruce Chilton casts doubt on the notion of Jesus staying in his hometown, because the gospels don’t mention him trying to marry and start a family, which is what a village youth who simply stayed home would have done.” Instead, Chilton believes, Jesus didn’t return home at age 12 after visiting the Temple, but instead remained and eventually became a follower of John, who trained him in his philosophy. “Jesus had a rebellious, venturesome spirit, Chilton argues. He did not become a passionate religious genius by moldering in the conventional piety of a village that barely accepted him.

All of these theories have one thing in common:  conjecture. Yes, even the most popular explanation that Christian apologists offer — he stayed in Nazareth as a normal ho-hum boy doing carpentry — is ultimately creative imaginations with insufficient or the thinnest of any support. For the reasonable, logical Christian this mystery should give serious pause, to put it mildly.

Before one goes selling the farm, the kitchen sink, and all royalties for such a profound life-altering FAITH-future decision for Christ, let’s step-back, put on a neutral thinking-cap, look under the rugs and behind the curtains and consider everything. There are some major incongruencies, fallacious logic, Scriptural apathy, and distorted history with this monumental mind-numbing claim of incarnation. I want to cover it, or uncover it. It starts with a gross distortion of Hebraic history and principles within the pinnacle of the mighty Roman Empire.

Hellenist Anti-Semitism

Understanding earliest Judeo-Christianity, the movement named “The Way” by followers of Yeshua the Nasorean [sic] in the 2nd century CE, cannot be fully understood without first understanding the riff between Roman client-King Herod — with his and Rome’s harsh oppressive rule over unruly provinces and dissidents — and the obstinate Jewish sectarian people of Samaria, Perea, Galilee, Iturea, and Idumea. One could say these acute Roman policies created a powder keg atop matches and nitroglycerin. Let me set the scene.

Hebraic Principles Into Esoteric Obscurity
With Second Temple Judaism there existed unique principles and philosophies distinct from old Israelite Judaism (polytheism) and compared to other Near and Middle Eastern religions of the time. The Hebrew word Mâšîah or Messiah, could mean priest, prophet, or king. During the 6th-century BCE while exiled in Babylonia, the ancient Jews began hoping for, wanting, and anticipating a special Anointed One to restore them into Israel. Then in 539 BCE the Persian king Cyrus allowed them to return to Israel. In the early stages of the 1st-century BCE, Jews were once again conquered and suffered harsh repression at the hands of the Greco-Seleucid Empire. Bitterness, rebellion, and hope for that special Anointed One rose again desperate for an independent Jewish kingdom.

Next came the Roman Republic in 192 BCE pushing the Greco-Seleucids to the far-eastern reaches of Asia Minor. Jews were once again repressed, bitter, rebellious, and in desperate want of restoration to a sustained independent kingdom. During this period Jewish Messianism took on complex dual or triple meanings and interpretations because Israel (and their God?) was repeatedly defeated and kept falling under foreign rule. Some Jews believed the Anointed One would be a great military king. Others believed he would be a purifying priestly Son of Man to judge humanity, while still others believed he would have to be a prophet, teacher, and commander. Many Messianic forms developed during the four major Jewish exiles (i.e. a Personal Messiah), however, during these periods none of them are fully understood outside of Judaism. Jewish Messianism becomes increasingly esoteric and obscure to the rest of the world. Enter a progressively heavier Hellenistic rule and influence on Judaism. Meanwhile, Jews everywhere are now gasping and craving their Anointed One.

Rome’s Rise: Republic to Imperial Apex
From 3,900 sq. miles in 326 BCE as a small Republic to 2.5 million sq. miles in 117 CE, the splendor and spectacle that was the Imperial Roman Empire reached its majestic pinnacle during the Five Good Emperors. Scholars of early Antiquity maintain that Rome’s ascendency to a Republic and world power is attributed to three sociopolitical developments and organization of the 1) Citizen Assembly and Military Assembly, 2) the Senate consisting of Patricians and Plebeian Tribunes, and 3) the prestigious Consuls. Until 27 BCE this Greco-Roman form of representative government with efficient support of military legions, navies, and generals prepared the way for Rome’s rise and expansion across the entire Mediterranean.

For our purposes here what is important to understand is the Republic of Rome’s established 500-year foreign provincial policy. The vanquished people and province under the victors remained free socially, if they remained peaceful, and paid regular tributes to Rome. In return they’d receive protection and social-political order. Riot or incite civil discord and Roman retribution was swift and severe. What did the Jewish people generally experience under Rome’s heavy hand? More historical context first.

Fall of the Hasmonean Dynasty
The collapsing Seleucid Empire to the Roman Republic and Parthian Empire created a balancing of powers surrounding the Hasmonean Kingdom from c. 140 to c. 116 BCE until they enjoyed full autonomy in 110 BCE. At that time the Hasmoneans consolidated Samaria, Perea, Galilee, Iturea, and Idumea forming what some scholars call the Kingdom of Israel. For around 70-years the Hebrews and orthodox Judaism flourished along side influences of Hellenic Judaism from Alexandrian rule, then Roman conquest in 63 BCE. Due to these theocratic sociopolitical differences between Hyrcanus II, Salome Alexandra, and Aristobulus II, the Hasmonean Dynasty sank into civil war and disintegrated, but not before some Hebraic principles and Messianism became fixed.

Maccabean-Hasmonean Judaism believed in one single, indivisible, unsynthesized God. It explicitly rejected polytheism, dualism, and trinitarianism, which are incompatible with pure monotheism as Judaism teaches according to their Tanakh. Hellenic forms of Judaism, e.g. Philo of Alexandria, are more liberal with attributes of God sometimes referred to as Shituf. These beliefs greatly distinguished Judaism away from the other Near and Middle Eastern religions.

Animosity, Death, and Herod’s Sons
On some small or great level most everyone is familiar with King Herod the Great. Whether one considered Herod I great or ruthless depends on the point-of-view. From a material and development standpoint, Herod accomplished many projects including his most magnificent, the port at Caesarea, considered an engineering marvel. From a social standpoint, he was held in bitter contempt by his subjects, especially by the orthodox Jews for his everything-Greek appetite and favoritism and worse, his several transgressions of Mosaic Law. Though King Herod considered himself Jewish by his father and by politically marrying Hasmonean princess Mariamne, the orthodox Sadducees and Pharisees considered it suspect at best. Herod had also dissolved and curtailed the Sadducees influence within the Sanhedrin and had placed an unusually high taxation rate on the people and often reverted to violence and mercenaries to maintain civil order and fueling a deeper animosity. By the time of Herod’s death in 4 BCE, civil peace was quite volatile and disobedience to Rome fever pitched.

Rome takes Jerusalem

Four Roman Legions took Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple — 70 CE

Herod’s three sons inherited a kingdom ready to boil over.

Rising Anti-Semitism: The Jewish-Roman Wars
Disdain toward conquered barbarian cultures was not unusual in Antiquity so labeling earliest Jewish conflicts should be considered part of a wider military and sociopolitical picture. But from the time Roman general Pompey intervened in the Jewish civil wars in 66 BCE, sectarian Judea and Israel were in escalating conflict amongst themselves and with the Romans. Frustrated Prefects and Procurators could not comprehend the strange Jewish customs. Civil flare-ups and strife, which the Romans regarded as petty, would cause an uproar among the Jews. When Pontius Pilate moved his two Auxiliary Cohort units from Caesarea to Jerusalem to enforce order, in protest to effigies of Emperor Augustus on Roman military standards, a large group of Jews walked 70-miles to Pilate’s house in Caesarea to encircle it by laying themselves on the ground for five days. Why? It violated Moses’/God’s Second Commandment. It can be argued convincingly that the Jews never truly appreciated, felt they were, or intended to be under Roman command or rule. Anti-Semitism rises even more.

Although Rome clearly had every military, economic, and political advantage in suppressing rebellions and levying heavy taxes, orthodox and zealot Jews still wanted to fight. Discord, resentment, and revolt continued to rise in Galilee, Samaria, and particularly in Judaea, and still the Jews sought to fight. Between 19 CE and 160 CE Philo of Alexandria, Josephus, Suetonis, and Cassius Dio all report increased intolerances, punishments, and expulsions toward the Jews. The hostilities eventually led to the sacking of Jerusalem and destruction of the Temple in 70 CE followed by crushing of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132-136 CE. The aftermath of these multiple Roman victories are what many scholars argue as the biggest historical, philosophical, and fragmentary swerve-threshold of all Judaism until the atrocities of 1933-45 Europe.

Meanwhile, Roman religions and cults had different interpretations of the divine.

Roman Apotheosis

If there is one concept that all ancient Mediterranean civilizations understood from the Bronze Age, through Prehistory, to early Post-classical history, it was apotheosis. Call him Heracles, Hercle, Hercules, or Caesar, the deification of great men was commonplace. The mixing and transformation of apotheosis over time and conquests were also commonly practiced. This was the case with the sheer size of the empire the Roman Legions were vowed to protect and defend against foreign enemies. One of the popular cults of the eastern legions in contact with the Persian culture was Mithra.

Roman Mithraism
Despite there being no direct evidence that 2nd and 3rd century CE Christianity and Mithraism were influenced by each other, there are remarkable similarities. For example, most historians and biblical scholars know and agree that Jesus was not born in winter in late December. Mithra was born of a virgin December 25th and visited by Magi. There are also similar themes in doctrine and practices such as salvation, the symbolism of water/baptism, and followers had a sign or mark symbolizing Mithra like Christians had the cross.

Roman apotheosis

The apotheosis of Homer

Other similarities between Mithraism and early Christians included pursuing abstinence, celibacy, and self-control to be among the highest virtues. Likewise, both had comparable beliefs about the world, eschatology, heaven and hell, and the immortality of the soul. Their ideas of battles between good and evil were similar (though Mithraism was more dualistic), included a great and final battle at the end of times, similar to Zoroastrianism and as will be explored next, similar to outlying Jewish sects (Qumrān) divergent from the Pharisees and Sadducees inside Jerusalem. Mithraism’s flood at the beginning of history was deemed necessary because, according to Mithraic eschatology, what began in water would end in fire. Both cults believed in divine revelation as key to their doctrine. Both awaited the last judgment and resurrection of the dead.

Roman Records and Qumrān Scrolls
Most modern historians, even non-Christian less-biased historians, agree that a great Jewish Rabbi/teacher and reformer named Yeshua, or Jesus, did exist. This is often referred to as the historical Jesus. However, where the historicity of Jesus is concerned — the consideration of non-Christian sources to construct who this controversial person was and authenticate what his intent and reforms consisted of — there is no one single unanimous picture, and contextually not even from the Gospels. Personally, I do not give as much credibility to Roman-Jewish (Hellenic) sources such as Flavius Josephus or Saul of Tarsus, another Roman-Hellenic Jew. To align with the Historical Method, Jewish or Christian sources must be taken with a fair amount of caution. Therefore, what are we left with when Christian, Judeo-Christian, and Roman-Jewish-Hellenic sources are removed as biased or partially biased? Answer:  purely Roman or non-Jewish, non-Christian sources.

1st century Qumran

Qumran reconstruction

Under these guidelines there exists only one purely Roman, valid, neutral source about a man named Jesus. It is by the Roman historian and senator Tacitus in his final work, Annals, completed c. 116 CE. It is essentially a short fact-sheet only, mentioning a wise Jewish king that was crucified by Pontius Pilate, and there were a small band of Hellenic-Christians living in Rome. However, as mentioned before this only validates a historical Jesus, but not the historicity or nature of Jesus. There are a handful of very minor references, but all of them concern Christians in general, or one dissident in Rome named Chrestus, and not the enigma, Rabbi/Reformer or failed Messiah named Jesus. For some relevant historicity about the man Jesus/Yeshua and his anti-Temple sectarian ties, we can however, utilize the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The historical background of the Qumrān Scrolls give us an unprecedented context into Jesus’ critical last years in Judea and Jerusalem and a backdrop litmus-test to the canonical New Testament, namely the Gospels and Apostle Paul, and to all Jewish and Christian sources regarding Jesus.

[The Dead Sea Scrolls] further our knowledge of ancient biblical interpretation and the effect of historical events on religious life and ideas. The texts shed light on philosophical disputes about issues such as the Temple and priesthood, the religious calendar and the afterlife. More practical disputes were focused on everyday law and observance. The Leon Levy Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Library

Of particular interest is Robert Eisenman’s theories drawn from the Qumrān Scrolls where he names James, the brother of Jesus, as the Teacher of Righteousness (from the Damascus Document), the Wicked Priest (from the Habakkuk Commentary) as High Priest Ananus ben Ananus, executioner of James, and Paul/Saul as the Man of Lying, or the one teaching false doctrines and misleading theology about a kingdom built with blood. Eisenman also labels Paul/Saul as Herodian, an influence that easily renders his Christology favorable to Hellenistic Rome instead of James the brother’s Torah-based Messianic version, and evidenced by tensions with the Pillars of the Jerusalem Council.

When external independent (non-Christian) sources are included in the overall picture of Judea, Rome’s impact and influence, along with the Dead Sea Scrolls, it becomes obvious why the Jewish-Roman War was building to a climax. This was Jesus’ world.

IGNITION! Jewish Messianism Out, Hellenic Apotheosis/Christology In
As alluded to above, Roman anti-Semitism was ever-present across the empire and its volatility was increasingly recorded in Roman literature as early as the 1st-century BCE. Politician and lawyer Marcus Tullius Cicero in his Pro Flacco writes derogatory remarks of Jews as “barbara superstitio” which translates, Jews were unpatriotic, sacrilegious, backward, and alien. Tacitus also writes his anti-Jewish sentiments during the Jewish Revolt of 70 CE saying they are perverse, corrupting, too wealthy, cliquish, and out-breeding true Romans!

Philo of Alexandria recorded that one of Tiberius’ lieutenants, Sejanus, was likely an instigator of anti-Semitism with many Roman soldiers. What is abundantly clear throughout the Roman and non-Roman records is that until the 3rd and 4th-century CE Rome did not tolerate any level of rebellion or dissidence among her conquered foreigners. Consequently, with the incessant Jewish sectarian zealous elements in Syria-Palaestina and around Jerusalem (as the Jerusalem Talmud records), Roman legions destroyed the bulk of sectarian Judaism by 136 CE, including those opposed to the Temple Priesthood in Jerusalem, e.g. Qumrān and Masada. This little-known historical context is important to note because the outlying Jewish sects — indirectly mentioned in John 8:37-39; 44-47 and Acts 7:51-53 also alluded to in the Qumrān Scrolls — are the ones that offer modern historical and biblical scholars a required contrast to Hellenist-Herodian Judaism, which composes most of today’s Christian (anti-semitic?) canonical New Testament.

“The original apostles and followers of Jesus, led by James and assisted by Peter and John, continued to live as Jews, observing the Torah and worshipping in the Temple at Jerusalem, or in their local synagogues, while remembering and honoring Jesus as their martyred Teacher and Messiah. They neither worshipped nor divinized Jesus as the Son of God, or as a Dying-and-Rising Savior, who died for the sins of humankind. They practiced no ritual of baptism into Christ, nor did they celebrate a sacred meal equated with ‘eating the body and drinking the blood’ of Christ as a guarantee of eternal life.

Their message was wholly focused around their expectations that the kingdom of God had drawn near, as proclaimed by John the Baptizer and Jesus, and that very soon God would intervene in human history to bring about his righteous rule of peace and justice among all nations. In the meantime both Jews and non-Jews were urged to repent of their sins, turn to God, and live righteously before him in expectation of his kingdom.”James Tabor, Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity, pp. 24-25

Enter the Hellenist Saul of Tarsus. As everyone knows, Saul/Paul never met Jesus face-to-face or followed him during his ministry in Syria-Palaestina. Everyone also knows that when he arrived in 1st-century Judea and Syria he was there to persecute earliest Jesus-followers. Paul’s initial version of Judaism was from the Hillel school and it taught a Hellenistic balance between classical literature of the Stoics, philosophy, and ethics. This would have been frowned upon (loathed?) by the outlying Jewish sects such as the Essenes, Ebionites, and that preached by John the Baptist. For Saul/Paul that drastically changed while on the road to Damascus and his 3-years spent in Arabia. This is an odd mention; peculiar. Three years spent in Provincia Arabia during the reign of Tiberius (14-37 CE), a wealthy Nabataean client-kingdom for Rome with trade routes through Persia to India and China and obviously, according to Galatians 1:16-17, had some type of pivotal importance to Paul before beginning his own mission of Christology. To even be mentioned, it suggests it led to Paul’s overhaul of the failed Earthly Jewish Messianic kingdom (Jesus’ execution) into an other-worldly kingdom. And all of the disciples/Apostles, including pseudo-Apostle Paul, expected this other-kingdom to happen in their lifetimes.

Paul and Barnabas in Antioch Acts 15:2

Paul & Peter dispute in Antioch

Was Arabia where the true pure kingdom of God and the nature of Jesus found? Personally, I think it requires consideration. In fact, the full spectrum of Roman, Jewish sectarian, Judeo-Christian, Hellenist Christian, and secular historical and archaeological sources (i.e. Independent sources) currently do NOT support it for lack of sufficient evidence. Although with Rome eliminating most outlying Jewish sectarians and annexing the Nabataean Kingdom in Arabia, Rome favoring Herodian-Hellenistic Judaism, and increased intolerance of earliest “the Way” Judeo-Christians, Pauline Christology was nicely poised to fill the voids for social peace. And along with the struggling hopes amongst despairing, over-taxed mainline Jews and their Diaspora brethren in the wake of brutal Roman legions, as well as lowly widowed or enslaved Gentiles (who never grasped Judean Messianic doctrines in the first place), an open, inclusive Pauline Christology more easily supersedes Jesus’ failed kingdom of God!

Let’s revisit Rome.

Splitting Crumbling Empire vs. Authority

The pinnacle of the Roman Empire is considered to be 117 CE when it reached its largest in size and most prosperous economically. After the Five Good Emperors (96 – 180 CE), as it is known by scholars, the Empire began its slow and steady decline. From the Severen Dynasty, to the Imperial Crisis of the Third Century where over 20 emperors came and went in less than 50 years (235-284 CE), until Aurelian and Diocletian temporarily reunited the Empire until 285 CE when Diocletian split it in half — it was still too vast to efficiently administrate. Following the retirement and death of Diocletian in 311 CE, he had decreed two successors:  Maxentius and Constantine. Both generals plunged the empire into chaos and civil war again. As most of us know, Constantine defeated Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 CE. He became sole emperor of both the Western and Eastern Empires until 337 CE.

During the 3-plus centuries between Emperor Tiberius (14 CE) and Constantine (337 CE), the small floundering Jewish reform movement transformed by Paul was growing within the empire and with four contributing events became Rome’s official religion by Constantine’s Imperial endorsement.

Emperor Constantine I
Asserting that Christ was responsible for his victory at the Milvian Bridge, Emperor Licinius and Constantine began a series of laws (e.g. Edict of Milan) giving legal tolerance for all religions and favorably to Christianity. As many Roman emperors had done in the past, claiming deification to supplement their status and authority, Constantine chose the Hellenistic Christ in which the Apostle Paul promoted to Gentiles. At the First Council of Nicaea (325 CE), he officiated over the theological codifying and standardizing of Christianity with assistance from Church Fathers, and distinguished important issues of Jesus’ divinity, nature, and which testaments were more aligned with the God-Son.

Constantine was a cunning general and by reforming the military, revaluing the currency, enacting social-welfare and political reforms, building projects as well as renaming Byzantium to New Rome (modern-day Istanbul) which soon became Constantinople, he stabilized the Empire. Soon after his death, however, the Roman Empire sank into civil war and decline yet again.

Emperor Theodosius I

Theodosius-I

Theodosius the Intolerant

Three emperors later Theodosius (379 – 395 CE) reinstated Constantine’s and Jovian’s reforms and took them much further. He outlawed pagan worship throughout the empire, closed all schools and universities, and converted pagan temples into Christian churches. Theodocius’ religious reinstatements and reforms were controversial and unpopular among Rome’s aristocracy and middle-class who still held traditions in paganism. They saw the emperor’s edicts institutionalizing Christianity and removing the gods from the Earth and society and replacing all of it with one God ruling from heaven. While attending the Nicaean Council bitter debates ensued between Theodosius and disciples of the Nicene Creed (Christ is the same as God the Father), against other Arian groups in the empire. Highly motivated to promote orthodox Christianity, Theodosius surpassed the ecclesiastical authorities and stamped the binding Imperial creed of the consubstantiality of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Trinitarianism). Henceforth those followers were to be considered Catholic Christians. It is safe to say, Theodosius began the principle of religious intolerance at the second ecumenical council in 381 CE, or  Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

But the fight between Arianism vs. Trinitarianism was not over. The official canon of the Christian Bible was only finalized over three more progressions:  382 in Rome, 391 the Vulgate, and 397 CE in Carthage. The confusions and debates about Christ’s nature, particularly his Incarnation (Monophysitism vs. Dyophysitism), took another 34-years to legalize at the Council of Ephesus in 431 CE! And guess what? The fight did not end. By 451 CE the Hellenistic Christian Church split. In the Eastern portion of the remaining empire formed the Oriental Orthodox Churches and in the doomed Western portion of the crumbling empire formed the Roman Catholic Church.

A Quick Summary

  • Due to the four exiles, Jews are gasping and craving their Anointed Messiah to arrive, restore, and lead.
  • Late-Ecclesiastical distortion and misunderstanding of Jewish Messianism — of which they hijack its prophecies for THEIR Hellenist-Christ and distance and distinguish themselves above and away from Judaism, anti-Semitism is born.
  • Rome rises in size, authority, and influence all over the known world while Judaism barely survives under harsh oppression and religious constraints, corrupting many of ancient Jewish orthodox principles of life and worship.
  • When the Apostle Paul arrives on the scene after 3-years in Arabia, suddenly the Greco-Roman Gentiles throughout the unstable empire seek refuge and belonging in Paul’s Christology and social-welfare. It is not exactly the same as Jesus’ kingdom of God and reforms for Judaism.
  • What does this do 300+ years later to Jesus’ retro-actively imposed Incarnation?
Incarnate G-man — Conclusion

By the end of the 5th-century CE in Western-Eastern Mediterranean history Jesus’ original Jewish Messianic reforms were so lost and convoluted by wars, Pauline Christology, sectarian genocide, and centuries of sociopolitical upheaval throughout the vast Roman Empire. In all directions from 2nd to 5th-century CE Jerusalem, the true nature and revelations of outlying Jewish sects opposed to the Second Temple Priests, such as the Essenes, Ebionites, Mandaeans/Nasoreans, and Samaritans (of which Jesus favored; Luke 10:33; 17:16; John 4:39), could not be glimpsed or gleaned until the 20th-century CE with discoveries such as Nag Hammadi, Qumrān, and more.

jewish-ossuary-with-human-bones

1st century Jewish Ossuary

By the end of the 5th-century CE almost all of the ecclesiastical authorities in Christendom had forgotten, overlooked, or ignored the fact that this all-powerful, all-knowing God who wanted to reconcile and restore (Messianic undertones) all of humanity, not just the Jews, and came in the flesh in a human body under a phenomenal celestial Star seen for at least 500-miles in every direction, according to His perfect plan! But for only 12-years; as an impressive teaser, if you will.

This same God in the flesh then decides that 17-18 years of supposedly ho-hum nothingness, doing preparatory work of “carpentry(?)” in a tiny insignificant town, was more important than restoring and saving humanity. A change of divine plans? Why? You are the living God in the flesh with all the power in the known universe! Or was it Jewish bar Mitzvah traditions for a boy into a man? But that would be quite human, quite Jewish, and quite petty when considering the salvation of all humanity.

This begs the question or questions… was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua — who John the Baptist, James his brother, and Simon/Peter knew well — not who he became to Saul/Paul in a blinding light on the Damascus Road and in Arabia? Was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua not who he became after the deadly Jewish-Roman Revolts? Was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua not who he became during the internal conflict, corruption and decline of the Roman Empire up to Constantine? And was 1st-century Jesus/Yeshua not who he had become to Theodosius and the many ecclesiastical Councils up to 451 CE? Given these widespread rampant controversies and confusion, wouldn’t a full 32-34 years of life for Jesus/Yeshua to clarify exactly his nature and what solution was needed to restore one’s self and all of humanity to God’s “loving kingdom” been a better approach? Why even waste 17-years? Or was there something about Jesus that required hiding?

Because the concept of Incarnation is a retro-active scriptural and ecclesiastical reacting to evolving conundrums. Jesus was not God Incarnate and not His one-and-only Son. The true verifiable, extant history of Jesus the man and Paul’s Christology (both explicit and implicit), contrasted with the torturous labyrinth of Hellenistic apotheosis theology, as I’ve hopefully shown here, has in the end shown itself to be quite outdated and bogus non-sense.

If there is no divine, miraculous God-man called Jesus Christ, then what is Christianity?

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Further informationDr. Richard Carrier is a renown historian, philosopher, and author specializing in contemporary philosophy of naturalism and secular humanism, as well as in Greco-Roman philosophy, science, and religion, particularly on the origins of Christianity. He attained a Master’s and Ph.D. in Ancient History from Columbia University and Bachelor’s from the University of California, Berkeley. He is also a prominent defender and advocate for American Free-thought and Intellectualism. What I like most about Dr. Carrier’s approach to Christian Fundamentalism and the origins of Christianity — e.g. his book “On the Historicity of Jesus” — is his meticulous use of historical methodologies and mathematical probabilities with incorporations of Agnotology, another discipline I am very fond about.

I thought his YouTube presentation here at the Center for Inquiry Canada in Toronto, CA about “Why the Gospels are Myth” would be a good final close. It is a 1-hour 28-min presentation and examination, but well worth it in my opinion because as I mentioned before he incorporates several various disciplines and sources.

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