A theory for the origin of Christianity
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14-06-2011, 12:19 PM
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
I never said the Roma empire was a bad thing, but the people it rolled over (with an awful lot of corpses on first encounter and lots of roads lined with crucified rebels to follow) did think so. I only meant that the Israelites were hardly unique, nor particularly worth extraordinary measures. The problems of governing a vast, heterogeneous territory ares not confined to the military - which they had pretty much covered, anyway, what with every general jonesing for a rebellion to quell, to make his mark.

I'm not in the least antagonistic! Quite the reverse, having little use for Christianity (even less for Paul, the mean little humourless misogynist!) and its political stranglehold over far too much of the world, i'm very much on your side. I just want you to make the most of this idea, get the best possible mileage out of it, not be caught in our current cultural overestimation of Israel's significance. Devil's advocate sort of thing, y'know? I'm done anyway. Cheers!

If you pray to anything, you're prey to anything.
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14-06-2011, 03:39 PM (This post was last modified: 14-06-2011 03:49 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
[quote='Peterkin' pid='34972' dateline='1308075598']
I never said the Roma empire was a bad thing, but the people it rolled over (with an awful lot of corpses on first encounter and lots of roads lined with crucified rebels to follow) did think so. I only meant that the Israelites were hardly unique, nor particularly worth extraordinary measures. The problems of governing a vast, heterogeneous territory ares not confined to the military - which they had pretty much covered, anyway, what with every general jonesing for a rebellion to quell, to make his mark.

I'm not in the least antagonistic! Quite the reverse, having little use for Christianity (even less for Paul, the mean little humourless misogynist!) and its political stranglehold over far too much of the world, i'm very much on your side. I just want you to make the most of this idea, get the best possible mileage out of it, not be caught in our current cultural overestimation of Israel's significance. Devil's advocate sort of thing, y'know? I'm done anyway. Cheers!

Ok, great! I totally agree with you about Paul and the stranglehold Christianity has had on the world. I'll try to be less sensitive. Cheers
[/quote]


[quote='Shannow' pid='34954' dateline='1308056888']
Hi Mark - I live in the UK...so timezones are playing thier part. So good to wake up to all of this interesting debate.

I completely agree with your point on using historical evidence to 'undermine the foundation of Christianity' as you put it....once you do the level of digging that you're doing, it soon becomes clear that the foundations of Christianity are built on politics, control and a human desire for power.

The scientists have done a wonderful job of giving us an arsenal of debating tools to challenge Christian beliefs of creationism and so forth, but there is significantly less content out there that takes a historical/socialogical approach to prove that the bible that is taken as the historical word of God is a man made fabribcation. Hopefully your book will help redress the balance a little for the historians Big Grin

It looks like the discussion has moved on a bit whilst I've been asleep, lot's of things clarified which is cool...

I love your idea of Paul being a 'failed experiment of the Roman government', and wish it was true, unfortunatly I can find nothing that validates it, great idea for a novel though! (I'm seeing a bearded Matt Damon running down Jerusalem streets with a copy of his letters, being chased by Romans...copyright it quick!) Your other point about Paul not establishing a church in Rome is correct, there is some secondary evidence that Paul visited Rome and Clement hints that he was killed there.

So we're moving down a new path now, the selection criteria used by Constantine and his cronies for the collection of letters called the New Testament.

Enter Marcion, who was either a literal or metaphorical 'defiler of virgins', is also called the 'son of Satan' as you and my favourite historian of the period, Polycarp point out. It's certainly a fact that Marcion was an outspoken advocate of using Pauls letters as the foundation of his doctrine. It's also a fact that Marcion was a big fan of writing things down and collecting the letters that Lillith mentioned in an earlier post.

It's hard to believe it, but for the first few hundred years of it's life, Christiantiy was abasically an oral tradition, the only written guidelines would have been the letters exchanged between churches as Lillith mentioned earlier. Marcion was trying to change all of that...but Marcions downfall lay in his brain...he thought too much to ever have made it as one of the Papal all-stars.

He believed that the vengeful, angry, jealous God of the Old Testament was at odds with the fluffy, cuddly and mostly nice Jesus of the New Testament. Not an unreasonable hypothosis. Unfortunately it was heresy so Marcion has the misfortune to be the first 'offical' heretic.

Definately an interesting character, historically valid and one who's definately part of the plot to build Christianity.

Keep up the good work...

My friend, I love this paragraph...
"The scientists have done a wonderful job of giving us an arsenal of debating tools to challenge Christian beliefs of creationism and so forth, but there is significantly less content out there that takes a historical/socialogical approach to prove that the bible that is taken as the historical word of God is a man made fabribcation. Hopefully your book will help redress the balance a little for the historians'"

You are a wordsmith! I may pinch it and use it if you don't mind? I will comment more on Marcion later today. Thanks for the encouragement
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14-06-2011, 05:07 PM
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
No probs mate...I spelt sociology wrong though! Some wordsmith...

I certainly think we can agree on Marcions influence...happy to move on if you want.

In the book, are you covering any of the post-Nicea unpleasentness such as the establishment of the pentarchy, the vairous schisms, persecuting the Gnostics and the Arians and pretty much anyone else who didn't agree with the Roman brand of Christianty?

That period from 325 to about 450 AD kind of sets the scene for the subsequent 1500 years of spreading Gods "love" to the pagans.....usually at swordpoint!
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14-06-2011, 05:33 PM (This post was last modified: 14-06-2011 07:05 PM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
(14-06-2011 05:07 PM)Shannow Wrote:  In the book, are you covering any of the post-Nicea unpleasentness such as the establishment of the pentarchy, the vairous schisms, persecuting the Gnostics and the Arians and pretty much anyone else who didn't agree with the Roman brand of Christianty?

I hope so, it establishes in full the current connection between christianity and Rome. For anyone who feels that things may have changed it's important to chronicle the timeline of Rome and christianity's intermarriages.

There is also a surprising amount of people who just have no idea what efforts were taken to build christianity to the point it is. Way too many people think that christians were just happy the whole way through being tamed by Jesus unlike the jews. Unfortunately most of them never listen but it's still important to have a good place for people to turn to. Your book sounds like it will be a good one to have in hand for an atheist who debates. Make sure that you speak with a lot of scholars and gain as many credentials as you can to back up your theory.

Also on the "TTA podcast 23: Whatever" the second caller by the name of Cliff, is a former preacher who studied Paul a lot interested in finding out whether he was a fake or not. You might want to see if you can track him down.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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14-06-2011, 06:35 PM
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
(14-06-2011 07:08 AM)Shannow Wrote:  Hi Mark - I live in the UK...so timezones are playing thier part. So good to wake up to all of this interesting debate.

I completely agree with your point on using historical evidence to 'undermine the foundation of Christianity' as you put it....once you do the level of digging that you're doing, it soon becomes clear that the foundations of Christianity are built on politics, control and a human desire for power.

The scientists have done a wonderful job of giving us an arsenal of debating tools to challenge Christian beliefs of creationism and so forth, but there is significantly less content out there that takes a historical/socialogical approach to prove that the bible that is taken as the historical word of God is a man made fabribcation. Hopefully your book will help redress the balance a little for the historians Big Grin

It looks like the discussion has moved on a bit whilst I've been asleep, lot's of things clarified which is cool...

I love your idea of Paul being a 'failed experiment of the Roman government', and wish it was true, unfortunatly I can find nothing that validates it, great idea for a novel though! (I'm seeing a bearded Matt Damon running down Jerusalem streets with a copy of his letters, being chased by Romans...copyright it quick!) Your other point about Paul not establishing a church in Rome is correct, there is some secondary evidence that Paul visited Rome and Clement hints that he was killed there.

So we're moving down a new path now, the selection criteria used by Constantine and his cronies for the collection of letters called the New Testament.

Enter Marcion, who was either a literal or metaphorical 'defiler of virgins', is also called the 'son of Satan' as you and my favourite historian of the period, Polycarp point out. It's certainly a fact that Marcion was an outspoken advocate of using Pauls letters as the foundation of his doctrine. It's also a fact that Marcion was a big fan of writing things down and collecting the letters that Lillith mentioned in an earlier post.

It's hard to believe it, but for the first few hundred years of it's life, Christiantiy was abasically an oral tradition, the only written guidelines would have been the letters exchanged between churches as Lillith mentioned earlier. Marcion was trying to change all of that...but Marcions downfall lay in his brain...he thought too much to ever have made it as one of the Papal all-stars.

He believed that the vengeful, angry, jealous God of the Old Testament was at odds with the fluffy, cuddly and mostly nice Jesus of the New Testament. Not an unreasonable hypothosis. Unfortunately it was heresy so Marcion has the misfortune to be the first 'offical' heretic.

Definately an interesting character, historically valid and one who's definately part of the plot to build Christianity.

Keep up the good work...

I will talk around the issues a little more...
re "I love your idea of Paul being a 'failed experiment of the Roman government', and wish it was true, unfortunatly I can find nothing that validates it, great idea for a novel though! " I think there a re good reasons to have an educated guess Paul was trying to undermine traditional Judaism
-he was A Roman citizen who had grown up in a very gentile environment
-what he taught was blasphemy to any true jew ie God had a son, the Jewish Law was no longer relevant
-he was in opposition to and fought with the original disciples of jesus, and his family. These people were Nazarenes, a subsect of the Essenes. They were true blue nationalistic Jews, fundamentally opposed to Rome. John the Baptist was their leader, then Jesus, then James, the brother of Jesus. He ruled for 30 odd years in Jerusalem. Forget the mythical story in Acts of a cordial relationship between Paul and these people...that is a myth.

Paul totally downplayed the idea of a political messiah of Israel to create his own messiah....a spititual saviour of mankind. This really pissed off James and the others!

Permit me to cut and paste....this is really interesting....

"Paul the Salesman
Paul was a salesman with an ambitious agenda. He had a vision to expand his particular interpretation of Judaism into the gentile world, and he was convinced he knew how to do it. He needed to undermine traditional Judaic ideas that he regarded as competition.
Paul wrote to various groups scattered throughout the Roman Empire and he desperately wanted them all to believe his theology. In Romans 15:16 he wrote that he thought of gentiles as an offering he will bring to God. He was obsessed with doing this to the point that little else in his life mattered. He was very annoyed that he found himself competing with the Jewish followers of Jesus for the Galatian’s allegiance. Most of the people he wrote to were gentiles (pagans) who were associated with Jewish synagogues (although some of the Galatians were Jewish). They were attracted by the social values of Judaism and, from Paul’s perspective, were in need of direction and an authoritative, charismatic leader to look up to. He considered himself just the man. He knew how to win the hearts, minds and souls of pagans because he thought he was one of the few Jews who understood gentile cultures.
A good salesman knows whom he is selling to. Paul knew his market was mainly, but not exclusively, gentile. A good salesman also knows he needs a good product. Paul knew that traditional Judaism, the product the “pillars” were selling, wasn’t attractive for a gentile market. To get into heaven, one had to be circumcised, a painful and embarrassing procedure. One was required to believe in a xenophobic Yahweh, a rather thunderous and often violent pro Jewish anti-gentile God. One was only allowed to eat kosher food and to marry Jews. One had to stop work on the Sabbath. One was expected to regard Jewish heritage and history as superior to all others, to take part in the fasts and feasts celebrating the ancient epic of Israel and to obey all the commandments of the Torah (the “Law”). Paul knew that gentiles found these regulations inconvenient, irksome and tedious, so he claimed they were a type of slavery. He knew he had to jettison them. So he did. He simply reinvented most of the rules and beliefs of Judaism. All of a sudden there was no need for circumcision and no need to stop work on the Sabbath. The dietary kosher rules were no longer necessary. He downplayed the importance of the Jewish Temple. He ignored the idea that Jesus could be the political messiah of Israel and claimed Jesus was, in fact, the saviour of all mankind who had risen from the dead. He claimed Jesus was the Son of God, which meant the rather distant Yahweh had come to earth, so was someone people could have an emotional connection with. He said gentiles should consider themselves descendants of Abraham too, and he called the Jewish Law a “curse”. He said all that was now required to win salvation was faith in his story about Jesus. Voila! The Christ myth was born and so was Christian theology. Paul was one of history’s first examples of a typical power hungry cult leader who, when the rules of the established religion were no longer convenient, simply invented new ones to suit himself. The central tenets of Christianity were invented for the sole reason that it was convenient to do so.
To help achieve this metamorphosis of belief, he engineered the character assassination of the family and disciples of Jesus behind their backs. What a nuisance that they preached old-fashioned Jewish theology and disrupted his mission to convert gentiles! It was just not right to have patriotic messiah stories that only incited violence and cumbersome irksome laws. Those annoying Jews may have known Jesus while he was alive, but the real Christ, the up to date modern Christ, had been revealed only to him through revelations from God! He knew what the more flexible, more expansionist, less violent, less Judaic God really wanted in these modern times. He alone was the bearer of good news. He considered himself an educated, savvy Greek-speaking sophisticate who knew a lot more about selling religion than the anti-Roman, narrow minded hicks from somewhere out the back of Galilee! "
I am interested in anyone's comments about this. Regards, mark
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14-06-2011, 07:33 PM (This post was last modified: 15-06-2011 07:30 AM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
I think it looks good, unfortunately your only current credits towards it are the childhood of Paul and the bible itself which proves that Paul met (or did not meet) a completely different man, not to mention the fact that it's provable Paul lived after Jesus. It would be nice if there was a little more meat to back it up. It is easily shown that Christianity is a much better religion for Rome as it contains the same hierarchical structure (built to copy the Romans like the US =p). So it is very easy to see that he was more a gentile than a jew even during the times he preached. If only there were more writings speaking out against Paul, but Rome removed all of that to propagate his version. I've not looked into the life of Paul much myself so there is not that much that I can add.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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14-06-2011, 08:23 PM
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
Hey, that should be a really interesting thing to read. I might have missed this but, are you gonna sell it over Amazon? would like to get a copy over here and living in south america guarantees that there won't be an easy way to get the book Undecided

By the time you stop ready this, you'll realze what a waste of time it has been Big Grin
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15-06-2011, 01:38 AM (This post was last modified: 15-06-2011 02:34 AM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
(14-06-2011 08:11 AM)TAJD Wrote:  There were revolts happening all the time in the roman empire, only after a hundred years or so after the initial conquest did people settle down.

Paul the Roman agent is an interesting idea, but if the Romans were trying to establish their hold on the region, why are they trying to change one monotheistic religion full of zealots, into another monotheistic religion full of zealots?

Also, Jesus was undeniably killed by the Romans, admittedly on behalf of the Jews, but the Romans still killed him. I don't see Rome encouraging a religion which worships someone that it killed that soon after his death.

If Rome didn't like Jews, why didn't it just decide to ban Judaism?

My view is, is that Constantine saw that the way Roman emperors claim to godliness wasn't working, so he decided to switch to Christianity instead as he saw that it was already so popular. Christianity has survived because it is the religion that a ruler would want his people to adopt. It's promises of an afterlife so long as your good now is something that Constantine would have loved as if the Roman Empire adopted it properly, there would be no internal fighting, and he would have a good tax flow.

There is also the possibility that Constantine was actually a Christian.

There we go, I might have missed something so please correct me.


Hi Tajd, you have asked a few questions I will do my best to answer. Apologies if I am repeating myself
"Paul the Roman agent is an interesting idea, but if the Romans were trying to establish their hold on the region, why are they trying to change one monotheistic religion full of zealots, into another monotheistic religion full of zealots?"

I think we need to consider the philosophy of the 2 religions. The hoped for Jewish messiah was going to be a very human king of the Jews, a character who lead them against all oppressors into glorious victory. The "kingdom of God" would then be established on earth, with the Jews in charge of the world. The pagan world would then realise the true power and majesty of the one and only god, Yahweh. There would be an end to all oppression, disease , famines and war in this idyllic kingdom. The average Jew, who was poor and oppressed, dreamt about the messiah and the kingdom of God. He was read scripture which told him this would happen. Scores of them over the decades thought they were this messiah. Jesus was just another one. These wannabe messiahs lead revolts against Rome.

Christianity, on the other hand, said the messiah had already been and gone, and used Jesus the zealot, who had lived and died a few decades earlier, as the character. They created stories about him that seriously misrepresented the real man. They said this Jesus was a god/man, and was not a political messiah of Israel but a spiritual messiah for the whole world. They put words in his mouth like "love one another","turn the other cheek", "love your enemies". They watered down his Jewish nationalistic ambitions. The "kingdom of God" became something in heaven, in the afterlife, not one on earth. They tried to convince Jews that their messsiah had already been and gone, so there was no point anyone else imagining they were the messiah. So there was no point causing trouble. To be a righteous person you needed to get on with the Roman government. Paul implored the Jews in Rome to not cause trouble with the civil authorities because they had been appointed by God.

Hence in many ways the 2 religions were fundamentally in opposition to each other.

I hope this helps. It really is hair raising stuff. Cheers, Mark
"If Rome didn't like Jews, why didn't it just decide to ban Judaism? "

Well...they couldn't. Judaism was firmly entrenched in the Jewish psyche. The Greeks had tried to do this 2 centuries earlier and were spectacularly unsuccessful. Judaism was an entire way of living and thinking. To ban it would be like the USA going into Iraq and trying to make Islam illegal.
"There is also the possibility that Constantine was actually a Christian."

Yes...he declared himself a Christian, I think in 320, although he never got baptised until on his deathbed
(14-06-2011 08:23 PM)Maumin Wrote:  Hey, that should be a really interesting thing to read. I might have missed this but, are you gonna sell it over Amazon? would like to get a copy over here and living in south america guarantees that there won't be an easy way to get the book Undecided

Thankyou heaps! Yes, it will be on Amazon. Book will be called "Get Over Christianity by Understanding It" Cheers, Mark
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15-06-2011, 07:21 AM
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
Okay – I think we’re getting to the meat and potatoes.

Let’s try and narrow the scope a bit first.

Your book appears to assert that Paul was manipulated by the Roman government? I’d like to call this Fultons Paul Puppet Theory (FPPT).

OR

Is the assertion of the book that Paul was ‘one of history’s first examples of a typical power hungry cult leader’, we’ll call this the cultist theory.

Or is it both? A cult leader being manipulated by the Romans to undermine the Jews/Christians?

The most recent bit you’ve shared will make theist academics very happy because it isn’t sourced (arguably it can’t be). So you’re asserting something that they can (and will) easily dismiss.

I’ll tackle FPPT first.

Firstly a point of order, you’ve previously stated that Paul was used by the Roman government to “undermine the foundations of Christianity”, most recently you said that Paul was “Trying to undermine the foundation of Judaism.” Are you suggesting both?

As I’ve already said, there is no evidence to suggest that Nero even knew who Paul was! There is no evidence that he was discussed in the senate and no evidence that he colluded with Romans in any way. If you’ve got source material to support FPPT, then you’ve struck gold. If you haven’t then I’d be a little nervous about the reaction you’ll cause. Tacitus, who was active just a few decades after Paul, doesn’t even mention him. Neither does Pliny the Elder who was likely in Rome when Paul visited and was possibly killed (although Pliny was not close to Nero). Pliny the Younger doesn’t mention Paul either. I can’t find any evidence to support his.

So I don’t think collusion with the Romans won’t get a lot of traction with historians. What about trying to “undermine traditional Judaism?”

Hmm…

Weighty writers (Including FL Cross who edited the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2005) have asserted the exact opposite, that Paul did not want separation with the Jews. A quick check on Wikipedia also supports a prevailing view that E.P Sanders, James Dunn and N.T Wright all assert that Paul thought there were two ways to get into heaven – by being Jewish or by being a gentile following Jesus. You’re going up against some heavyweights there mate.

I vaguely remember reading something by EP Sanders at uni…it was dull, but well sourced and is worth a look if you have a local library. Getting your paws on the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church is an absolute must if you haven’t already. It costs something stupid like $150US so best to access from a library…use their weapons against them Wink

All the other snippets from your book that you’ve shared have been largely underpinned by viable source material. The challenge with FPPT is that I’m unclear as to how you prove it. If you can, then great, please share your sources.

What you’ve shared below is well written, thought provoking and interesting, but very easily dismissed by academics due to this lack of source work. I guess it depends on what the purpose of the book is. If it’s to challenge the established view of history, then I don’t think that this passage succeeds, if it’s to challenge theists, make them think and encourage them to look with fresh eyes on a text they’ve taken for granted for far too long then from I’ve read you’re going in the right direction.

Anyway, onto the ‘cultist theory’ – this is far more credible. If I had to choose between FPPT and this, I’d sign up to this.

Catholicism arguably still is a cult…with the Pope figure at the top as the “Divinely Appointed One”, dispensing infallible wisdom to those of us not blessed with his humility or magic hat or whatever. And in early Christianity, it was far more obvious.

As you’ve already said, the Christians were anti-establishment, gentiles gate-crashing the Jewish party, they had no doctrine, no dogma, they were politically subversive, didn’t acknowledge the divinity of Caesar and most importantly, they were spreading like wildfire.

We’ll never know exactly how high Pauls position was in the early church because his stature has been so bloated by Marcion as we’ve already discussed, and subsequently the ‘organised’ church, but the construct is very persuasive to me as an atheist and as someone who’s studied the period a little. Theists would be foolish to argue these points because the Nicean council is so well sourced and it’s obvious that they adopted Pauls teaching above all others when building the New Testament.

Personally, and I must stress it’s a personal view. I would drop FPPT and focus purely on the cult angle. It’s easier to build a compelling argument around Paul as a cult leader, pulling strings and ultimately influencing the future of Christianity. Look forward to talking further.
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15-06-2011, 07:35 AM
RE: A theory for the origin of Christianity
I'll stress again in case you missed this part of a previous post from me. One of TTA's facebook friends called in on podcast 23:"whatever" about his personal loss and the fact that he lost faith due to researching Paul. His name given on the podcast was Cliff, if you are not him definitely try to get in contact with him as he should have a lot of information gathered that is centered around Paul's life. And, being a former preacher, he has a certain credibility to him for the christians.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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