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 IV

 

Continuing from Part III

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“Justice demands that that barbaric superstition should be opposed;
and it is to the interest of the state not to regard that Jewish mob
which at times breaks out in open riots… […]
At one time the Jewish people took up arms against the Romans;
but the gods showed how little they cared for this people,
suffering it to be conquered and made tributary.”
— Cicero, “Pro FlaccoCh. 28, 59 BCE

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The deep permeation of Greek culture into Judaism and the Near and Middle East during late Classical Antiquity cannot be overstated. It was profound. It made its way into early Christianity and into Saul’s Stoic-Gnostic theology. But lets backup a bit first.

The centuries following Alexander the Great’s epic conquests, expansion, and planting of Hellenistic culture throughout the Near East and across the Western hemisphere saw the remarkable flourishing of philosophy, science, art, and governing. It was during the Hellenistic period (323 – 31 BCE) that Archimedes of Syracuse wrote the Earth-changing treatise “On Floating Bodies,” known today in physics as the Archimedes’ Principle. Then Aristarchus formulated the first recorded heliocentric theory, which of course asserted that Earth revolved around the sun. During the Hellenist period, several art forms became less mythological and more realistic, more practical. The most important thing in life, said Epicurus, was the pursuit and attainment of the individual’s pleasure and happiness, known as hedonism, while Stoic philosophy became more mainstream and accessible, including to women, unheard of in many empires around the world then and now.

Hellenism carried over well into the European Middle Ages. Hellenic Jews welcomed Greek influences, represented primarily by the Temple Sadducees. However, traditional or conservative Jews represented by the sects of Pharisees and Essenes in synagogues around the empire, saw Hellenism’s infiltration in some respects as an abomination of God’s Law and Temple. A side-by-side comparison of the two juxtaposed cultures, Mosaic Judaism and Hellenism, points out four major differences:

Judaism v Hellenism

Alexander’s Hellenistic culture was very tolerant of native customs and beliefs. In fact, new Greco-Roman kingdoms often assimilated parts of the indigenous practices as it suited the empire’s needs. Hence, further examination of the Judaic and Hellenic cultures (distinguished above) shows when there is intolerance to flexibility, compromise, wisdom, or adaptability, one small ring or just one person flies off the handle in one or both cultures,  the constant tension becomes a ticking time-bomb. Click here for a revealing Jewish rendition of how an ancient Greek and Hebraic Jew might have discussed their religions in the 1st-century CE.

Let’s return to middle-Hellenism. Enter the false rumor in 168 BCE that Seleucid king Antiochus IV was killed in Egypt. Bitter, disgruntled, and deposed High Priest Jason/Jesus rounds up a Jewish army to attack ascending High Priest Menelaus in Jerusalem. Angry that the Jews started a civil war in his kingdom, Antiochus came down harshly on the Jews executing thousands and banning the practice of their religion forcing them to worship Zeus instead. His heavy bloody hand only infuriated more Jews and thus began the Maccabean Revolt.

During these cultural clashes and shifts, brief independence under the Hasmoneans, other military conquests, defeats, exiles, dispersions into slavery, intermarriages, and mixed offspring, Jews were increasingly mixed into Hellenistic ideals that also reached into their religion, particularly Greek Stoic philosophy. For Pharisaic and Essene Jews, including two centuries later Jewish-Essene Jesus (Part II), this became a sharp schism inside Judaism. But for Saul of Tarsus and Rome in the mid-1st century CE and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and last remnants of radical Jewish resistance by the Sicarii at Masada (73 – 74 CE), it was an opportunity for both Hellenism and Saul to rewrite history. The history, not Messianic Jewish history.

Herodian Saul and Hellenism Victorious

Explicit facts about Saul’s/Paul’s family, his Jewish [sic] heritage, and educational backgrounds [sic] (Part I) as well as his involvement in Jewish Merkavah and/or Heikhalat mysticism (Intro to Part II) are masked at best. Most of what is known comes strictly from his 7 – 12(?) canonical epistles and Acts. All of these biblical texts must be read under the overwhelming shadow of the Roman-Hellenist Patristic authorities, editors, and copyists. Why? Between 70 CE and 787 CE (over 700-years!) they had complete and total control of what would become “traditional Christianity.”

Fortunately, for the modern neutral and astute reader of earliest Christianity the canonical NT (the mask) is by no means the only source to gain a more realistic, more accurate picture. It is not a fixed mask. In fact, extra, independent sources that are available (among others) come from a large corpus of Jewish scrolls written between the 4th-century BCE and 5th-century CE found just outside of Jerusalem! They are the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) from Qumran. They offer us an almost stunningly vivid background and context of Second Temple Judaism/Messianism and Sectarianism of late Classical Antiquity in the Levant and around Jerusalem. This 700-year era written about in the DSS from a non-Roman non-Patristic standpoint is an unprecedented broader look into the very soil, seeds, and roots from which earliest Jewish-Christianity sprang. The DSS are an untouched, pure Jewish-Messianic, independent lens on Hellenistic-Herodian Judaism, on Hellenistic Rome and her eventual, Imperial, Pauline Christ-cult.

Publication of Post-1957 Discovered Scrolls Withheld
The first scrolls were discovered in 1946 and ’47. More caves and scrolls were discovered in 1948 – ’49, then more still from 1950 – ’56 totaling over 980 texts from twelve (12) different caves. The first complete photographs (in infrared) of all the texts were made between 1952 – 1967 including the newly discovered scrolls and fragments post-1957. However, due to the political and religious implications of what these texts held, several of the scrolls and fragments were withheld from publication for 30-40 years by a small circle of “established scholars” or what several outsider-scholars have called “The DSS Academic Curia.” The Curia was led by French Dominican priest Roland de Vaux and consisted of just three Hebrew scholars, Józef MilikJohn M. Allegro, and John Strugnell.

By 1956 problems were broiling inside the Curia and outside by historical and biblical scholars wanting access to the DSS. Allegro put the ego-driven controversy quite succinctly in his letter to de Vaux:

It’s a pity that you and your friends cannot conceive of anything written about Christianity without trying to grind some ecclesiastical or non-ecclesiastical axe.

For an outdated, brief introduction about these controversies you can go to this 1993 New York Times article, The Dead Sea Scrolls: Fragile and Remarkable, specifically the 17th paragraph.

Was Saul A Herodian-Jew and Not A Pharisaic-Jew?
If the only testaments you read are the canonical Epistles of Saul/Paul and Acts of the Apostles, of course you’d simply conclude that Saul was “a Hebrew among Hebrews,” descended from the tribe of Benjamin, and educated by Gamaliel in the acclaimed Beit Hillel. But Josephus, the Pseudo-Clementines, and Epiphanius offer a compelling refraction of Saul’s Epistles and his related passages in Acts that with the three aforementioned sources tell a different background and family of Saul-Paul.

In many past blog-posts (e.g. The Incarnation of G-Man) I have made the distinction between Greco-Roman deification or Apotheosis, and Second Temple Jewish Messianism. The two adversaries can never be ignored. This clear distinction can also be appropriately applied geographically in the eastern portions of the Late-Republic to Imperial-Principate Roman Empire (c. 133 BCE – 284 CE).

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From the slides above we see a macrocosm of Hellenism’s expansion and permeation of the entire Mediterranean Basin begun by the Greek Empire and then by the end of the 1st-century BCE, Rome’s version and reinvention of its allure until the eventual decline throughout the 4th and 5th-centuries CE. If you’d like to see the slides independently and enlarged, click here. Rome and her Hellenistic culture gradually swallowed up almost all Sectarian, Torah-loving (Jewish-Essene Jesus) Judaism/Messianism. This extermination of revolutionary Palestinian Messianism was completed after the fall of Masada in 74 CE when the DSS were hidden in the 12 various caves around Qumran. For almost 1,900 years the only Judaism and Christianity the world would ever know was Messiah-killing Hellenistic Judaism or Hellenistic-Roman Christianity… until 1946.

Through the Herodian dynasty (37 BCE – 44 CE) to the complete control of Judea, Samaria, and Idumea by the Roman Empire (44 – 136 CE), most traditional Law-oriented Jews in the Levant had very little patience for Hellenistic Overseas Jews and their distorted ideas and teachers of either a corrupted Temple, Torah, and Messiah(s). They were often referred to as “The Enemy” by Palestinian Jews/Messianism. Saul was clearly an “Enemy” and he knew it. Compare:

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth? — Galatians 4:16

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the [Hellenic] world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the [Hellenic] world becomes an enemy of God. — James 4:4

It is widely accepted that Saul authored Galatians. The epistle of James has traditionally been attributed to James, the brother of Jesus, or at least pseudonymous to him. James’ audience was clearly the Palestinian Messianic followers or otherwise known as Judaeo-Christians. When comparing the two we can infer the stark differences between Overseas Judaism/Messianism and that of Palestinian Judaism/Messianism. And how badly Saul was treated in Syrian and Palestinian synagogues attests to this schism. There’s more.

Terminology like the Enemy, the Liar or Spouter of Lies, Man of Lying, Comedian of Lying (i.e. epileptic?), and some others, was strongly applied to the adversary of “The Righteous Teacher” within the Palestinian Movement and the DSS at Qumran. Saul/Paul again shows familiarity with these terms. In fact, he references them repeatedly in Gal. 1:20, 2 Corinthians 11:31, and Romans 9:1 (to name just three) that he was not a Liar or he does not lie.” This explicitly implies that his groups/churches there have been told that Saul of Tarsus deceives and maligns.

The Enemy” terminology is also quite strong and prevalent in the Pseudo-Clementines. For example, in Homilies in the apparent Epistle of Peter to James the brother in Jerusalem:

For some from among the Gentiles have rejected my legal preaching, attaching themselves to certain lawless and trifling preaching of the man who is my enemy. […]

[The Gentile Enemies] transform my words by certain various interpretations, in order to the dissolution of the law. […]

…the law of God which was spoken by Moses, and was borne witness to by our Lord… for thus he spoke:  “The heavens and the earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.” (quoting Matt. 5:18) Homilies, Epistle of Peter to James, Ch. 2

Dr. Bart Ehrman describes the significance of this Epistle of Peter to James as a Palestinian counter-balance to the Hellenic canonical NT and Acts of the Apostles:

This book provides the counter-view to that found in the New Testament book of Acts, where Paul and Peter are thought to be completely on the same side and simpatico on every major issue. Not according to this short letter. Here Peter and James are the heroes of the faith, and Paul is the great enemy. 
Bart Ehrman Blog, “Another Forgery in the Name of Peter, April 2013, accessed Oct. 11, 2018

There have been several religious-historical scholars that theorize Simon Magus (of Acts 8) and Saul of Tarsus are one in the same. Accepting this theory is not unreasonable. Consider these side-by-side teachings reported by Irenaeus in his Against Heresies I.23.3 and Saul’s in Galatians:

Iranaeus v Saul

The two comparisons are practically identical. And thus in the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1 Ch. 70, Palestinian Judaism/Messianism did not hold Hellenic Saul/Paul in any high esteem due to what he incited earlier at the Temple against James the brother of Jesus regarding “sacrifices” and how Temple worship was conducted by Herodian Priesthood, the two biggest conflicts of the time between Overseas Hellenic Judaism and Palestinian Judaism/Messianism:

While he was thus speaking, and adding more to the same effect, and while James the bishop was refuting him, he began to excite the people and to raise a tumult, so that the people might not be able to hear what was said. Therefore he began to drive all into confusion with shouting, and to undo what had been arranged with much labour, and at the same time to reproach the priests, and to enrage them with revilings and abuse, and, like a madman… […]

Then others also, seeing him, were carried away with like readiness. Then ensued a tumult on either side, of the beating and the beaten. Much blood is shed; there is a confused flight, in the midst of which that enemy attacked James, and threw him headlong from the top of the steps; and supposing him to be dead, he cared not to inflict further violence upon him. Tumult Raised by Saul, Recognitions Book 1 Ch. 70

Saul is saved from this scene by a troop of Roman soldiers, oddly enough protection Jews rarely received unless of Roman aristocracy. Read what even Episcopalian/Catholic ordained Dr. Taylor R. Marshall points out about Saul-Paul of Tarsus here. It is a remarkable read! Furthermore, in the Epiphanius traditions, e.g. Anabathmoi Jacobou or “The Ascents of Jacob,” Saul has a large entourage of Greek-Romans and Roman troops with him during his trip through Caesarea (the seat of the Herodian family by then) then on to Jerusalem to test the recent ban against Herodians and foreigners inside the Temple Mount by, most assuredly, the “zealot” tradition-minded (Jamesian?) Priesthood. This is telling. A simple Hellenist-Jew was never accorded that level of Roman pomp or protection. I ask, is it really anymore compelling why Saul’s true background was so clouded, so overlooked centuries later?

Is there more to Saul’s repulsive reception by Palestinian Judaism/Messianism? Actually there is enough to at the very least question Saul’s true origins, if not rewrite them.

Aside from the angry mob who attacks Saul while trying to enter the Temple in Acts 21:27-29, how Saul acquired his “Roman citizenship” was a very peculiar, suspicious accession. None of the original “Apostles” were ever given Roman citizenship. None of the previously ruling Maccabees were ever awarded citizenship. However, Herodian Jews did indeed receive Roman citizenry. Ironically, Saul himself supports this method of Roman-Herodian citizenship:

Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Herodion, my kinsman. — Romans 16:10-11

Dr. Robert Eisenman of Cornell, New York, and Columbia Universities closely examines this possible/probable Saul bloodline saying:

Here, he refers to his “kinsman Herodion,” i.e., “The Littlest Herod” (obviously the son of the Roman Governor Felix mentioned above and the Herodian Princess Drusilla, killed in the eruption of Vesuvius at Pompeii) — whom he introduces with an allusion to another person with a name popular among Herodians, “Aristobulus,” i.e., “the Household of Aristobulus” in Romans 16:10. The “Aristobulus” referred to here may or may not be the “Aristobulus the son of Agrippa I’s brother Herod of Chalcis” mentioned above — the husband of that Salome who plays such a key role, according to Gospel portraiture, in the death of John the Baptist — both of whom advertise themselves on the reverse of their Lesser Armenian Kingdom coinage in “Asia” what “Great Lovers of Caesar” they were! That Paul has powerful relatives of this kind in Jerusalem with a direct entree to the Roman Governor and Soldiery is made crystal clear too by Acts 23:16 which refers — following his rescue by said Troops preceding this — to the role his “nephew” (“his sister’s son”) played in this affair while declining to specifically name him!
— Eisenman, Robert. Breaking the Dead Sea Scrolls Monopoly: A New Interpretation of the Messianic Movement in Palestine

This would explain neatly and nicely why Saul/Paul was so unwelcomed in Palestinian Judaism/Messianism (e.g. Antioch, Damascus) and in Jerusalem by the real students/disciples (pillars) of Jesus who actually knew, lived with, and traveled with him in person. But as my above maps illustrate, in the end for true historicity it did not matter that Palestinian Judaism-Messianism (Jesus’ reforms and teachings) would be lost under Rome’s power and glory. The expansive swallowing effect of Hellenism all throughout the Mediterranean Basin, then adopted by the Roman Empire, and in time absorbed the Overseas (Diaspora) Judaism, Palestinian Law-oriented Judaism/Messianism — the movement begun by Jewish-Essene Jesus that failed — was a doomed minority movement. Plain and simple, becoming an uncomfortable friend to Rome, i.e. Hellenic Apotheosis and Pauline-Christ, had a much better allure than being her nagging, failing enemy.

Accordingly Saul’s Christ-cult was Embraced By Hellenic Pagans/Gentiles
Well before Saul was born and came on the scene, for about two centuries Jewish Synagogues had opened up their worship and teaching to the Gentile/Pagan world with the incorporation of Hellenistic literature and philosophy. This is attested in the Gospels (Matt. 23:15). Uncircumcised, God-fearing Gentile-Jews were already part of many synagogues and communities. This is confirmed in the Talmud. What was typically the confusion about this controversial topic was the naïvety of protecting the Torah and its study, versus the study of the seven Noachian commandments available to all people. The very fact that Saul was unaware of these distinctions — especially claiming Benjamite-Hebrew heritage! — smacks of his highly suspect (fraudulent?) origins or at least implies he is a Herodian-Jew, an outsider, mentally lost and ignorant of these established Jewish practices!

Furthermore, what would the best alternative approach for the centuries-later Hellenic Patristic Fathers to a failed Messiah, who never returns, and the related Messianic prophecies also fail? Dr. James Tabor answers this superbly with his 1997 presentation to the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting here. This is another excellent read!

In a nutshell, Torah-loving, Law-abiding Jewish-Essene Jesus in Palestine was not teaching a diluted, distorted Judaism like was practiced by Hellenic, Herodian pseudo-Jews. When constantly rejected and persecuted by those Torah-abiding Jews in synagogues across the Empire, particularly Palestinian Messianic Jews in the Levant, Saul was forced to reinvent his TL-epileptic “divine revelations” into his own Roman-Christ, his own Roman-church, and his own Roman-Hellenic theology. With his background in mysticism and elements/themes of Gnostic Philo-philosophical strands, the Gentile-pagans (non-Jews) — who couldn’t understand the complicated, law-ridden Jewish practices and customs in the first place — were very open to his “new” religious cult. It appealed more to their Hellenic lifestyle and thinking: God’s blessings and salvation were available to everyone if the death of Christ was embraced, death to this world was embraced, and steadfast blind “faith” in these two precepts (since they were unsupportable anyway) granted one’s spiritual entrance into God’s Kingdom of Earth and Heaven.

Thereafter, pagan Pauline Christology was born and still exists today as a never-ending complexity of diverse, dis-unified theology and practices called Christianity.

∼ ∼ ∼ § ∼ ∼ ∼

Feel free to share your thoughts and/or questions below over this 5-part series. Kind thanks for your patience and time during this series and its demands to research, authoring, and publishing. It is appreciated.  🙂

Post script — For more details about how and why Christianity is comprehensively problematic, unravels, and collapses on numerous counts beyond its founder Saul of Tarsus, go to my page:  Why Christianity Will Always Fail.

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Saul the Apostate – Part II

Did Saul and Jesus teach two fundamentally different religions?
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This is the question I pose to anyone who professes belief in the Christian canonical New Testament. When one closely compares Saul’s epistles and “Christ” — six epistles which are probably not authored by Saul — with the Jewish-Jesus and the Gospel-Jesus, the differences will shock many Christians. If one made a list of everything Saul denotes Jesus did, stated, and experienced from birth to death, they would indeed be shocked by just how little Saul mentions; it’s near nothing. Yet, that isn’t really the controversy. The shock is about what Jewish-Jesus and Gospel-Jesus taught about his God and His coming kingdom and whether that aligned with what Saul taught about his God and His kingdom.

Saul’s “Christ” vs. the Jewish-Jesus

As I expounded in the previous post Saul the Apostate – Intro to Part II, a necessary segue into this post, we must read the Gospels with high-def glasses and critical caution. An astute reader of the New Testament will always be cognizant of the demonstrated problems and failures of the reliability in the canonical Hellenic Gospels. This doesn’t necessarily mean we cannot decipher who the Jewish-Jesus was, the quasi-Sectarian from Galilee, or what he was preaching. As Dr. Bart Ehrman describes in a number of his blog-posts, …there were lots and lots of sources [oral traditions], from the early days of the Christian movement, some of them coming straight out of Aramaic-speaking Palestine… of which many independent [oral traditions] saying similar things about the man Jesus made it into (albeit partially) later Jewish and Hellenic Christian writings. Hence, when one inclusively considers without nepotism all possible sources of a Jewish-Jesus, a general, historical caricature does emerge.

In his Sermon on the Mount (Beatitudes) and later speaking to his students/disciples, generally regarded by scholars as probable words from Jewish-Gospel Jesus, he was reportedly known to teach his followers that they must reach higher Halakha righteousness and purity, as well as greater mutual love for each other deeper than the Pharisees practiced (Matthew 5:20; 18:4-5). Jesus, being an exceptional follower of the Torah, the Mosaic Law, was pulling directly from his sectarian teachings in Deut. 6:4-6 and Lev. 19:18, key components of Essene practice. Another Essene practice followed and taught by Jesus was that of the core principle of non-resistance to evil which was found exemplary in his Synagogues and the Talmud Mishnah:

Those who are insulted but do not insult, hear themselves reviled without answering, act through love and rejoice in suffering, of them the Writ saith, But they who love Him are as the sun (Judges 5:31) when he goeth forth in his might. — Shabbat 88b

Those who practiced this two-fold Mosaic concept better than the Pharisees, Jesus taught, would be saved from judgment when evil (Rome) was overthrown and the Son of Man soon returned within one or two generations, tops. In other words, approximately in 80 CE to perhaps 140 CE. That was what Jesus promised (Matt. 18:11-12, 18:8-9; Luke 13:28-29, 14:15-24) followed by such ‘an abundance of over-sized grapes and fruits for the Essenic-Mosaic righteous worthy of the greatest banquet in Paradise’ (Papias, in Irenæus, “Against Heresies,” Book V. Ch. 3334). This was the Kingdom of God that Jewish-Gospel Jesus taught.

greatest essene commandment(s)

Was this what Saul of Tarsus preached? No.

The core, the marrow of Saul’s teachings in public and his epistles to his various 1st-century new Gentile-Jewish churches and Jewish synagogues was encapsulated in many of his passages, but very concisely in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5:

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Saul’s followers must believe through faith in “Christ’s” death for sins and his resurrection to be saved from impending judgment. Keeping the Jewish law (Halakha), he taught, would not make believers right with God. Only those who believe in “Christ’s” death and resurrection, then baptized, will join God in Paradise (1 Thess. 4; Romans 8). Here was Saul’s four essential elements of salvation:  faith, Christ’s death, his resurrection, and baptism. However, because it was heavy on mystical “faith” galvanized by his TL-epilepsy visions-revelations, as discussed in the previous posts, unsurprisingly and from a neurological-psychiatric standpoint Saul’s Christ was at the expense of common sense and rational reasoning. Dr. Bart Ehrman says regarding this fundamental difference of true readiness for God’s soon to come kingdom…

Should a person follow the Jewish Law or not? Jesus thought the answer was yes — this was the core of his teaching. Paul thought the answer was no — doing so would not allow one to be saved. So that’s a stark difference, right? Quite possibly. But on the other hand, Jesus did not think that the scrupulous following of the law (as preached by the Pharisees) was what God desired; and Paul certainly did not think that people should go about breaking the law (committing adultery, or murder, or false witness, etc). So are they fundamentally different or not?

One way to answer the question: what did a person need to do to be saved? For Jesus, it was repenting and keeping the law as God instructed (with the love commandments). But Paul does not say much about repentance and thought that keeping the law would decidedly not bring salvation. What mattered was [Christ’s] death and resurrection, something that the historical Jesus almost certainly did not talk about. The Bart Ehrman Blog, March 2016, “Do Paul and Jesus Represent Fundamentally Different Religions,” accessed September 16, 2018 

silhouette of essene

Son of Man

Another stark difference between the two men’s teachings was who was the Son of Man, who was the Messiah—that is the Messiah of Second Temple Judaism/Sectarianism. The Jewish-Gospel Jesus was either cryptic about who it was — due to Rome’s well-known policies against rebel kings — or denied it and spoke as if it was not himself. Saul, on the other hand, unequivocally teaches Christ was the Son of Man and Messiah. For me, in light of my two previous posts and these further comparisons, the two men are clearly in fundamental opposition. Saul’s Christ was not what Jesus the Galilean taught.

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 function within Judaism in general, and 2) antinomianism which further fueled Jewish hate, and by default undermined Jesus’ principle of mutual love. The details and support for these two combined Saul attacks will come in Part III of Saul the Apostate.

From a few different passages in Saul’s epistles we are able to find an intrinsic animosity toward the Torah and mainstream Judaism of which Jesus was not advocating. These I will address in the next post. But the one specific passage that drives the wedge deep between the two opposed religions was found here with my inserts [ ] and emphasis to help clarify:

If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to [Torah] decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use) — in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, [to be without any doubt!] the appearance of wisdom in a self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. — Colossians 2:20-23

This is further evidence of a different Kingdom of God than what Jewish-Gospel Jesus was teaching. Jewish-Jesus would not have preached this and Saul’s animosity for fellow Jews does not align with Jesus’ great commandment of two Golden Rules: the unbounded love for God and each other. ‘The Law [the Torah] and the Prophets’ Jesus taught ‘hinge on these two principles.‘ No wonder the Jewish-Jesus disciples/apostles had serious belligerent problems with Saul (e.g. Acts 15:39a and Galatians 2:11-21). The conflict and confusion between the two fundamentally different Kingdoms of God and their principal doctrines of impending judgment-readiness, exacerbated by the failure or mis-identification of Jewish-Jesus as the Messiah was the dual spark to a 400-year and counting, unstoppable schism. What? Yes.

After Saul’s death and all of the disciples’/apostles’ deaths, and more so the deaths of the first generation “Patristic Fathers,” or earliest Church Fathers such as Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Marcion of Sinope, what Jewish-Jesus promised had not happened. What followed was the 3rd and 4th generation Hellenist Roman Fathers retro-fitted, revamped, rewritten, and reinterpreted Jewish-Gospel Jesus’ failed kingdom into Saul’s anti-Semitic Christ-kingdom, a spiritual awakening or rebirth not of this Earth, but of TL-epileptic mysticism and visions.

In the next post I will examine four particular passages in Saul’s epistles that were tampered with or reframed by the later Church Fathers to spiritualize Jesus’ death and Saul’s Christ. Also how Saul enamored the Hellenist Gentiles to his new-fangled “die in order to live” spiritualized mysticism perceived during his epileptic seizures.

Until Part III, please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, or questions below.

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