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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Constantine: Christianity’s True Catalyst/Christ

The time is 283 CE and Roman Emperor Carus, having defeated the Germanic tribes in Gaul (France & Germany) and the Sarmatians (southern Russia & Ukraine) turns his legions eastward to meet the constant and growing threat of the Persian Empire.  Emperor Carus’ predecessors had seen Rome’s borders crumbling under constant invasion from barbarian forces, while Rome’s corrupt politicians ate away at the empire’s civil infrastructure.  Upon his departure Marcus Numerius Carus left his eldest son Carinus in Rome to manage the western part of the empire, while taking his next son Numerian with him to the east.  A few months later Emperor Carus dies, marking the end of a barely whole and united Rome for more than half a century.  From a social and political standpoint, Rome needed an enormous MIRACLE to have any hope of returning to her former power and glory.  Enter Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus.

Emperor Constantine I

Since 286 CE there were no less than nine power-hungry men vying for the Roman throne, including Constantine.  The empire was already split in half and always on the brink of further fragmentation.  Assassinations of emperor’s were practically a yearly event or threat.  In the West, Constantine commanded the largest Roman army successfully keeping the barbarian hordes in check.  His next adversary was his old nemesis in the eastern empire, Galerius.  The doubts and questions of Constantine’s noble legitimacy to rule haunted him all of his military-political career, fueled by Galerius and other ambitious royalty.  As a result, Constantine had to repeatedly ride the coat-tails of his father to secure his climb towards Caesar Augustus, the official title of Emperor.  Once his father was deceased, Constantine’s future was anything but certain…unless he captured the hearts of the masses.

Taking a brief step back in time to early 2nd century CE and the Roman province of Bithynia in modern-day Turkey, how did a small floundering Jewish reform movement turn into one of the world’s largest religions today?  The simple answer:  Four historical events and Constantine’s recognition of the greatest political opportunity.

The first event is Pliny the Younger being appointed new governor of Bithynia by Emperor Trajan.  While they are cleaning up the mismanagement of funds, Pliny is presented with a nagging yet intriguing civil problem.  His guards bring to him a ragged non-violent group of Jesus-followers who irritate their neighbors.  Their complaint to Pliny is that the Roman temples are empty because these Christians refuse to pay homage to the gods or to the emperor.  By law this belligerence makes it a criminal matter.  Pliny is in an unheard of quandary so he writes about it to Emperor Trajan in Rome.  In his letter he writes that after his interrogation, “I discovered nothing more than an innocuous superstition.  They take an oath, but not an oath to do anything bad, rather an oath only to be good. Not to defraud people. Not to do anything evil.”  For Pliny’s complete letter to Trajan about this matter, click here.

How Emperor Trajan and Pliny handle this civil problem is critical because it will set a precedent in the future for the rest of the empire.  Trajan recognizes this and so commands Pliny, “Sounds suitable to me, but don’t go out looking for these Christians, and if you get some anonymous charges against people don’t take that too seriously. We don’t want to set any bad precedents here.”  At this period in the Roman empire “Christian” problems are isolated and insignificant.  The provincial governors treat them as the typical squabbling among Jews about their one God; imperial law does not restrict or condemn the plethora of religions and their sub-sets within her vast borders.  However, for the sake of civil peace, governors must punish them as criminals, some to be executed as examples, when the belligerence reaches large numbers.  What is critical to recognize here is what Pliny stated indirectly to Trajan: these “Christians” serve a sort of social welfare system for their own that the Roman treasury and soldiers would otherwise have to resolve.

The second historical event is the increasing number of martyrs from the new reformed Jewish faith turned Greek by public orators such as Saul of Tarsus, aka the Apostle Paul, and their Gentile (i.e. non-Jewish) followers.  For centuries Judaism is itself a sectarian religion of many off-shoots.  Saul’s version follows this historical tradition.  Constantine, finding himself very much the new reformer, needs only to look back about 60 years to Emperor Decius’ failed solution and those emperors who followed him to realize that persecuting and making martyrs of  popular religious and civil groups backfires.  History has shown time and time again that when you have a crumbling and corrupt system of rule, those citizens without basic needs and rights WILL rise up and revolt against those rulers and aristocracy with power and wealth!  The Principate Era of the Roman Empire (44 BCE – 305 CE) was no different.

There are too many martyrs around the world in history to name them all.  Yet a perfect example of this is our own Martin Luther King, Jr., during our 1960’s civil-rights movement.  Ironically, what has now happened to the name and image of Reverend King since his death?  Martyrdom is one of the surest ways to inject anti-establishment courage into the masses.  The important point to remember here is that leading up to Constantine’s rise to power, there had been no sure method to lower the civil unrest, the constant battering on all frontiers by invading armies, spiraling inflation, and internal governmental instability from Rome down to all the distant provinces…except perhaps one.

The third event becomes Constantine’s imperial endorsement of the new faith as Rome’s official religion.  What the average proclaimed Christian today does not know about their own faith is the widely variant stories and teachings of their own martyr Jesus of Nazareth.  Surprisingly or not, during the lives of the first  twelve followers to the next generations, the meanings and purpose of Jesus’ teachings were hotly debated!  Twenty or thirty years after Paul’s death, pockets of early Christians — primarily throughout North Africa and southern Palestine — had a vastly different version of Jesus-reforms than what Christians to the north in modern-day Turkey taught about their Saviour’s message.  By the time Constantine is near a position to seize complete control of both the Western Empire and Eastern Empire, Christians are fighting other Christians over doctrine.  There existed no less than forty-five gospels of Jesus circulating throughout the empire.  Biblical historians categorize them as the Synoptic Gospels, the Apocryphal Gospels, the Non-canonical Gospels, the Jewish Gospels, and the Gnostic Gospels.

There is little difference in these heated debates in 3rd and 4th century Roman politics, than there are now in American social-political ideological debates.  It is important to note here that within the context of Rome’s 4th century rebirth hanging in the balance, Constantine has a vision but does not know how to interpret it.  He consults a nearby bishop who from his own subjective experience tells him that based on the testaments and interpretations of Jesus’ meaning and purpose he adheres, Constantine’s vision is “remarkably identical” to King David’s rise to power and rule of Israel.  This bishop convinces Constantine that he alone is like Christianity’s and Rome’s redemptive savior.  This persona fits very nicely into Rome’s long history of divine Emperors.  A new righteous Holy Roman Empire lies waiting to start and with imperial/federal funding, bishops also seize the opportunity to wipeout their own religious adversaries in the empire’s southern provinces, (modern-day Egypt, and Saudi Arabia) as well as those ‘ungodly followers‘ of Jesus’ blood-brother James in and around Jerusalem; i.e. Jewish Palestinian Christians.

Here begins the empire-wide Christianization, or more accurately Constanti-nization of Roman culture that eventually fathers if you will, the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church.  Prior to these uniquely connected events, what was once simply a small Jewish reform movement begun by a prolific teacher (e.g. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Buddha, Mohammed, et al) would have likely faded into obscurity.  But such was the power, wealth, symbol and influence of the Roman Empire likened to such empires as Alexander the Great or Genghis Khan.  The endorsement of such empires to a religious or social reform movement essentially guarantees its life forever…or until at least the next reform.  One lesson here remains true:  History (or perhaps truth?) is always written by the victors.

The fourth and last event that shot Christianity to a global religion was the wide appeal of a new socialism under centuries of Roman oppression.  As a strict hierarchical and patriarchal system with the emperor at the very top of the pyramid…for the impoverished, low-class citizens, blessings and the good-life never made it all the way down to them.  In these early Christian communities, we see a social class that invites you into equality.   We see the lowliest lifted to status and dignity, the hungry know where to be fed, the sick know where to have hands layed on them to be healed, and the widowed know where to go to be cared for without having to go into prostitution.  What has developed within the empire is a welfare institution on the local and providential levels.  It is impossible to attribute the success of Christianity solely to its spiritual message; it is undeniably a well-planned community welfare system.  In no other time in Rome’s long history has its common population been offered a profound sense of belonging.

With Constantine’s imperial backing of the new Greek-Jesus movement, with the extermination of the Roman Church’s biggest threats to solidarity (the Gnostic Christians), another ingredient put Christianity firmly on the road to total dominance.  Roman aristocracy was slowly disappearing and the social landscape among the major Roman cities saw massive influxes of immigrants.  On top of this, plagues and famine were rampant throughout 2nd and 3rd century Roman life.  Modern demographers report that if there is a survival rate of only one tenth among one segment of the population than another segment when a massive die off occurs, then in a very short time a group that was once a minority can ‘miraculously’ become the majority.  Here is a big part of what had happened with Christian Roman populations, particularly in the major cities.

Finally, without the growing translations of the Jewish Bible into the Greek language, without the Jewish Diaspora synagogues sprinkled all over the Mediterranean coastline, Christianity would NOT have spread so vastly.  Christianity and the idea of Jewish Israel is inseparable.  It is by the lifelines of these Diaspora synagogues that Christianity flourishes.  Most of Christianity’s concepts of one God as Creator, the Kingdom of God, righteousness and blessings from God are given through Israel and her social system, all come from a long-established Judaic Diaspora all over the Roman world.  Socially and theologically Christianity does not distinguish itself from Judaism.  In fact, it never can because it must lay claim to Judaism’s even longer established Messianic traditions and Jesus’ legitimacy to the House of King David — exactly like Roman emperors have always had to do.  These events are not ‘miraculous‘, they are not a one-in-a-million chance, they are simply historical sociopolitical traditions of Rome and Judaism later hyper-illustrated by opportunistic leaders manipulating stories and systems to sustain their own social status and lifestyle in the face of civil and imperial collapse.  This is not an imaginative attack.  It is simply well-documented academic Roman and Judaic history.

The Original Jesus Message and Purpose Lost?

The might and extent of Roman social and political influence on western civilization cannot be over emphasized.  When that influence is accurately understood, then it is not much of a stretch to conclude that the centuries of Rome’s ruling philosophy shaped Christianity’s last religious doctrines and more importantly, its theology.

Today, two forms of Roman imperial governing are commonly unknown by conservative Christian fundamentalist; this certainly includes Tea Party members and advocates.  They are this:  1) Homeland municipal and provincial governing methods and principles — i.e. the Italian peninsula and bordering provinces, and 2) Foreign municipal and provincial government methods and principles.  To assume that these two different Roman civil policies were identical or similar, is a practice in ignorance.  To assume those Roman policies did not play a significant role in 325 CE at the Council of Nicaea and formulation of a unified single-minded Christian Church headquartered in Rome, is a practice in denial.  One need only ask, where is one of the world’s largest Christian denominations located, and how did it reach so vast a population?  The answer is NOT a purely “divine” one in today’s definition.  The answer is found in the context of 4th century Roman civil policy and reform by Constantine and his Holy Roman court of bishops.

Roman homeland civil policy essentially is intolerable of foreign social policies.  It segregated, centralized, and excluded contrary to the original rising Jesus-reform movement.  If those foreign policies do indeed have elements beneficial to the Empire and its interests, then they were modified and incorporated, BUT with traditional Greco-Roman flavors; more to the point, inserting the typical traditional man-to-god mythology.  This Roman hijacking resembles foundationally little of the original Jewish Messianic traditions of which Jesus of Nazareth is inexplicably teaching from, and gives his life to reform!  However, to Constantine and his holy bishops, this removal and transformation of Jewish Messianic tradition has no relevance to their Greco-Roman agenda.  They must save the crumbling empire!

This Greco-Roman agenda I feel needs more explanation, however, due to the length of this post I may write another separate post covering the Roman hijacking of a Jewish-reform movement.

[Posted May 11, 2011:  The Suffering Messiah That Wasn’t Jesus…is further elaboration on Jesus’ lost Jewish Messianic roots]

One cannot help but seriously wonder, that if the prolific reformer Jesus of Nazareth returned to this earth to check his movement’s accomplishments, his first shocking question would be “What has happened to the Jewish welfare and social reforms I taught and died for?”  One honest answer would be that it got lost, transformed, modified into a Greek-Roman facsimile, that followed a long-established civil and imperial method of Roman centralized control and management necessary to protect and sustain the Empire’s interests.  Today, all Christian denominations and off-shoots were fathered by the Vatican…and in turn fathered by Constantine.  The whereabouts of the original martyr Jesus of Nazareth and his true message got buried under the Roman machine not only in 66-70 and again in 132-135 CE, but almost forever at the Council of Nicaea….ALMOST.

If you would like to read further on this period of early Christianity and Rome’s major influence to its success, I recommend this website with its acclaimed scholars and supporting bibliographies:

From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians by PBS television’s Frontline

For an excellent additional expansion on the post-325 CE Christian church (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church) and how institutionalized religion becomes fear-based totalitarianism, I highly recommend Carol Leigh Rice’s article Origins of Totalitarianism – The Cathars and the Catholic Church.  Her article modernizes what Constantine began.

Addendum March 3, 2015 — Unfortunately Carol Leigh Rice’s superb article is temporarily down as she is moving to a new host-domain. She promises me that when it is all back up, I’ll be one of the first to know and of course I’ll pass it on here. Apologies.

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