Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
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08-03-2013, 08:47 PM
Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
The question is simply "Why did the Roman Empire adopt Christianity?"

I'm not sure whether Christianity was already popular within the empire, so the leadership officially adopted it in order to remain in power/stay popular. While others say it only became popular because the Roman leadership enforced it.
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08-03-2013, 08:53 PM
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
Maybe they believed.
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08-03-2013, 08:56 PM (This post was last modified: 08-03-2013 09:05 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
I might as well post this again...

In 313 CE, the Emperor Constantine (reigned from 306–337 CE) reversed the government’s policy of hostility to Christianity in his Edict of Milan. This turned out to be a momentous occurrence in world
history. Constantine was a highly superstitious man and a Mithraic (in 304 CE Mithras had been declared Protector of the Roman Empire). He probably respected all religious cults, and interestingly, saw no contradiction in championing
both Mithraism and Christianity. He held the title “Pontifex Maximus,” high priest of the cult of the state, (http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a104.htm) for himself. This title was to be later taken by the Popery.


What made Constantine embrace Christianity? His mother was a Christian. The church was springing up strongly. It was wide reaching and well organized, as it had modeled its hierarchy on Roman (not Jewish!) principles. It had a clerical class, and a chain of command that was competent at controlling conflicts. The bishops had a level of legal autonomy allowing
them to interpret law. The Christians accepted people from all parts of the empire. Unlike many Jews, they respected Roman rule. All this was attractive to Constantine because he wanted stability. In the preceding decades civil wars and external enemies had challenged the Pax Romana. He was overseeing a massive, disparate empire, so the social cohesion made possible by a universal monotheism was appealing. He knew the people were easier to control if they all shared the same religion.


His government embraced Christians as allies. In 320 CE he declared himself a Christian and fashioned himself as a priest-king who was the thirteenth apostle of Jesus. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/arc/constant...ntine.html). Christianity was given a colossal leg up by becoming the official religion of the empire. The new faith went to bed with
the political masters of the Western world and the empire had a universal religion to unite most of its people. It was a marriage of convenience that suited both parties. It was due to this symbiotic connection that Christianity was
established and given the means to flourish.


Power was bestowed upon the Christian hierarchy and it received economic favors from the government. The money that had previously gone to pagan priests now went to Christian bishops. Later in the fourth century all other pagan cults were suppressed or destroyed, although many of their traditions were absorbed into Christianity. Those foolhardy enough to hold onto their old beliefs were persecuted.


Wealthy people commonly left one third of their property to the church and the Christian clergy were exempt from paying some taxes. To be a bishop became a ticket to affluence, and an appointment as such was highly sought after. Bribery and tax evasion was common. Inevitably, it was the rich and well connected who became bishops, and many were lured from the army or navy. The Catholic Church became very wealthy and powerful.


As a consequence of Paul’s amorphous Christ concept, there was much contention as to whether Christ was a God, a spirit, a mortal man, or all three. Arius, a presbyter from Libya, gained followers around the empire by insisting


“there was a time when the Son was not.” Others said the son was of the same substance as the Father. The argument spread, threatening to rip the church in two. Constantine disapproved of the conjecture and called the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE to rectify the rift. (http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...peror.html). This was the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, and Constantine commanded it, which confirms how close church and state had become. It resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine; that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit were all of the same substance, a belief that became known as the Nicene Creed. This was perhaps the only time in history a person (Jesus) was proclaimed a god by a vote. Those who voted against it were banished. The following website seems to capture the atmosphere at the council. (http://www.cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/readin.../11.html).


Prior to the Council of Nicaea, Jesus had most often been perceived as an intermediary between man and God; the council decided he actually was God. The core character of Christianity was created; Jesus the son of God. This Nicaean
formula clearly wasn’t founded on Yeshua. It was nothing more than a contortionist creation invented to unify some of the opinions about Jesus.


Some websites claim that there were not only Christian commanders at this council, but leaders from many other cults, sects and religions too, including those of Apollo, Demeter/Ceres, Dionysus, Janus, Jupiter, Zeus, Osiris and Isis. (http://www.northernway.org/pagandna.html, http://www.examiner.com/article/1st-coun...h-part-014). The council contrived to coalesce these competing cults under one “catholic” church to be controlled by the Constantine government. The gods of these other cults were subjugated under the name of the new god, Jesus Christ. If this is true “Jesus” blended the religious formulas of China, India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Palestine into a single sect suitable for all. Forget Christmas; the Council of Nicea was the event that marked the true birth of Jesus Christ.


Any texts that contradicted what the ecclesiastics had chosen as canonical were labeled as subversive. Old copies of
the gospels were recalled and scribes were co-opted to make new copies suitable for consumption throughout Christendom.


In 335 CE, a mere ten years later, all of a sudden Jesus wasn’t a god any more. A second Council, also convened by
Constantine, that of Tyre, reversed the conclusion of the first, and Arianism, the belief that Jesus was subordinate to the Father, became the brand new dogma. This decision lasted until Constantine's death in 337 CE, after which the empire was split into a Nicene West and an Arian East. There was no consensus about Jesus’ status for the next forty odd years.


In 381 CE, the emperor Theodosius convened an ecumenical council at Constantinople, resulting in the ratification of the
first Nicene formula. The Roman world was at last given a definitive triune god—a gobbledygook spiel about three characters in one that is still promoted by churches today.


The uneducated citizens of the Empire, impressed with the promise of a heavenly paradise, and intimidated with violence if they weren’t, were easy pickings for the Catholic Church, although some of the braver rural people hung on to many of their pagan traditions.


The vastness of the Roman Empire allowed Christianity to spread throughout much of Europe. An infrastructure under the
umbrella of one god and emperor was convenient. Before the Roman Empire declined in Europe, Christianity was firmly established in many of the key regions that would shape the history of the western world.


It’s obvious that the burgeoning power of Christianity had nothing to do with the inherent truth of the dogma and everything to do with politics and power.
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08-03-2013, 09:02 PM
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
Just to sum up Mark's great post.
It served a political purpose to unite the empire. Constantine was not even a real Christian. Historians know he continued to worship other gods, on the QT

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein Certified Ancient Astronaut Theorist and Levitating yogi, CAAT-LY.
Yeah, for verily I say unto thee, and this we know : Jebus no likey that which doth tickle thee unto thy nether regions.

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08-03-2013, 09:05 PM
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
The Protestant Reformation corrected many of those problems. Evangelical churches today are more like the original intent than the Catholic church ever was IMO.
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08-03-2013, 09:07 PM
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
(08-03-2013 09:02 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Just to sum up Mark's great post.
It served a political purpose to unite the empire. Constantine was not even a real Christian. Historians know he continued to worship other gods, on the QT
How would they know this?
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08-03-2013, 09:53 PM
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
(08-03-2013 09:07 PM)mrbuddy4413 Wrote:  
(08-03-2013 09:02 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  Just to sum up Mark's great post.
It served a political purpose to unite the empire. Constantine was not even a real Christian. Historians know he continued to worship other gods, on the QT
How would they know this?
Google it yourself and report back
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09-03-2013, 01:20 AM
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
(08-03-2013 08:53 PM)mrbuddy4413 Wrote:  Maybe they believed.
Yeah...you believe real quick with a dagger against your throat.
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09-03-2013, 08:43 AM
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
(08-03-2013 08:56 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I might as well post this again...

In 313 CE, the Emperor Constantine (reigned from 306–337 CE) reversed the government’s policy of hostility to Christianity in his Edict of Milan. This turned out to be a momentous occurrence in world
history. Constantine was a highly superstitious man and a Mithraic (in 304 CE Mithras had been declared Protector of the Roman Empire). He probably respected all religious cults, and interestingly, saw no contradiction in championing
both Mithraism and Christianity. He held the title “Pontifex Maximus,” high priest of the cult of the state, (http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a104.htm) for himself. This title was to be later taken by the Popery.


What made Constantine embrace Christianity? His mother was a Christian. The church was springing up strongly. It was wide reaching and well organized, as it had modeled its hierarchy on Roman (not Jewish!) principles. It had a clerical class, and a chain of command that was competent at controlling conflicts. The bishops had a level of legal autonomy allowing
them to interpret law. The Christians accepted people from all parts of the empire. Unlike many Jews, they respected Roman rule. All this was attractive to Constantine because he wanted stability. In the preceding decades civil wars and external enemies had challenged the Pax Romana. He was overseeing a massive, disparate empire, so the social cohesion made possible by a universal monotheism was appealing. He knew the people were easier to control if they all shared the same religion.


His government embraced Christians as allies. In 320 CE he declared himself a Christian and fashioned himself as a priest-king who was the thirteenth apostle of Jesus. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/arc/constant...ntine.html). Christianity was given a colossal leg up by becoming the official religion of the empire. The new faith went to bed with
the political masters of the Western world and the empire had a universal religion to unite most of its people. It was a marriage of convenience that suited both parties. It was due to this symbiotic connection that Christianity was
established and given the means to flourish.


Power was bestowed upon the Christian hierarchy and it received economic favors from the government. The money that had previously gone to pagan priests now went to Christian bishops. Later in the fourth century all other pagan cults were suppressed or destroyed, although many of their traditions were absorbed into Christianity. Those foolhardy enough to hold onto their old beliefs were persecuted.


Wealthy people commonly left one third of their property to the church and the Christian clergy were exempt from paying some taxes. To be a bishop became a ticket to affluence, and an appointment as such was highly sought after. Bribery and tax evasion was common. Inevitably, it was the rich and well connected who became bishops, and many were lured from the army or navy. The Catholic Church became very wealthy and powerful.


As a consequence of Paul’s amorphous Christ concept, there was much contention as to whether Christ was a God, a spirit, a mortal man, or all three. Arius, a presbyter from Libya, gained followers around the empire by insisting


“there was a time when the Son was not.” Others said the son was of the same substance as the Father. The argument spread, threatening to rip the church in two. Constantine disapproved of the conjecture and called the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE to rectify the rift. (http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...peror.html). This was the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, and Constantine commanded it, which confirms how close church and state had become. It resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine; that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit were all of the same substance, a belief that became known as the Nicene Creed. This was perhaps the only time in history a person (Jesus) was proclaimed a god by a vote. Those who voted against it were banished. The following website seems to capture the atmosphere at the council. (http://www.cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/readin.../11.html).


Prior to the Council of Nicaea, Jesus had most often been perceived as an intermediary between man and God; the council decided he actually was God. The core character of Christianity was created; Jesus the son of God. This Nicaean
formula clearly wasn’t founded on Yeshua. It was nothing more than a contortionist creation invented to unify some of the opinions about Jesus.


Some websites claim that there were not only Christian commanders at this council, but leaders from many other cults, sects and religions too, including those of Apollo, Demeter/Ceres, Dionysus, Janus, Jupiter, Zeus, Osiris and Isis. (http://www.northernway.org/pagandna.html, http://www.examiner.com/article/1st-coun...h-part-014). The council contrived to coalesce these competing cults under one “catholic” church to be controlled by the Constantine government. The gods of these other cults were subjugated under the name of the new god, Jesus Christ. If this is true “Jesus” blended the religious formulas of China, India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Palestine into a single sect suitable for all. Forget Christmas; the Council of Nicea was the event that marked the true birth of Jesus Christ.


Any texts that contradicted what the ecclesiastics had chosen as canonical were labeled as subversive. Old copies of
the gospels were recalled and scribes were co-opted to make new copies suitable for consumption throughout Christendom.


In 335 CE, a mere ten years later, all of a sudden Jesus wasn’t a god any more. A second Council, also convened by
Constantine, that of Tyre, reversed the conclusion of the first, and Arianism, the belief that Jesus was subordinate to the Father, became the brand new dogma. This decision lasted until Constantine's death in 337 CE, after which the empire was split into a Nicene West and an Arian East. There was no consensus about Jesus’ status for the next forty odd years.


In 381 CE, the emperor Theodosius convened an ecumenical council at Constantinople, resulting in the ratification of the
first Nicene formula. The Roman world was at last given a definitive triune god—a gobbledygook spiel about three characters in one that is still promoted by churches today.


The uneducated citizens of the Empire, impressed with the promise of a heavenly paradise, and intimidated with violence if they weren’t, were easy pickings for the Catholic Church, although some of the braver rural people hung on to many of their pagan traditions.


The vastness of the Roman Empire allowed Christianity to spread throughout much of Europe. An infrastructure under the
umbrella of one god and emperor was convenient. Before the Roman Empire declined in Europe, Christianity was firmly established in many of the key regions that would shape the history of the western world.


It’s obvious that the burgeoning power of Christianity had nothing to do with the inherent truth of the dogma and everything to do with politics and power.
This is a very nice summary; has much in it from Ehrmann's books, some of "Constantine and the Sword"; "A.D. 381" and "The Closing of the Western Mind" (Freeman).
You didn't mention the immediate "difference of opinion" between Paul (you can be a christian without becoming a Jew first) and Peter/James (you must become a Jew first, then a christian); the difficulty in "proving" to the pagan that christianity was actually "old" (if one was a new religion, one got no respect!) through the use of texts (recalling that the apostles were all illiterate - could neither read nor write) and so the textual "backing" for the new religion began hundreds of years after the "main event".
And that the main event (crucifixion and then resurrection) has no records of having every happened (the Romans were good record keepers especially for state ordered executions).
Damn good history tho!
I'm particularly interested in the period from 0 CE. to 312 CE. That's were it all began....at least for christians.

"People don't go to heaven when they die; they're taken to a special room and burned!" Evil_monster
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10-03-2013, 07:59 PM (This post was last modified: 10-03-2013 09:49 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Roman Empire adopted New Judaism/Christianity because it was already popular?
(09-03-2013 08:43 AM)RaisdCath Wrote:  
(08-03-2013 08:56 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I might as well post this again...

In 313 CE, the Emperor Constantine (reigned from 306–337 CE) reversed the government’s policy of hostility to Christianity in his Edict of Milan. This turned out to be a momentous occurrence in world
history. Constantine was a highly superstitious man and a Mithraic (in 304 CE Mithras had been declared Protector of the Roman Empire). He probably respected all religious cults, and interestingly, saw no contradiction in championing
both Mithraism and Christianity. He held the title “Pontifex Maximus,” high priest of the cult of the state, (http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/a104.htm) for himself. This title was to be later taken by the Popery.


What made Constantine embrace Christianity? His mother was a Christian. The church was springing up strongly. It was wide reaching and well organized, as it had modeled its hierarchy on Roman (not Jewish!) principles. It had a clerical class, and a chain of command that was competent at controlling conflicts. The bishops had a level of legal autonomy allowing
them to interpret law. The Christians accepted people from all parts of the empire. Unlike many Jews, they respected Roman rule. All this was attractive to Constantine because he wanted stability. In the preceding decades civil wars and external enemies had challenged the Pax Romana. He was overseeing a massive, disparate empire, so the social cohesion made possible by a universal monotheism was appealing. He knew the people were easier to control if they all shared the same religion.


His government embraced Christians as allies. In 320 CE he declared himself a Christian and fashioned himself as a priest-king who was the thirteenth apostle of Jesus. (http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/arc/constant...ntine.html). Christianity was given a colossal leg up by becoming the official religion of the empire. The new faith went to bed with
the political masters of the Western world and the empire had a universal religion to unite most of its people. It was a marriage of convenience that suited both parties. It was due to this symbiotic connection that Christianity was
established and given the means to flourish.


Power was bestowed upon the Christian hierarchy and it received economic favors from the government. The money that had previously gone to pagan priests now went to Christian bishops. Later in the fourth century all other pagan cults were suppressed or destroyed, although many of their traditions were absorbed into Christianity. Those foolhardy enough to hold onto their old beliefs were persecuted.


Wealthy people commonly left one third of their property to the church and the Christian clergy were exempt from paying some taxes. To be a bishop became a ticket to affluence, and an appointment as such was highly sought after. Bribery and tax evasion was common. Inevitably, it was the rich and well connected who became bishops, and many were lured from the army or navy. The Catholic Church became very wealthy and powerful.


As a consequence of Paul’s amorphous Christ concept, there was much contention as to whether Christ was a God, a spirit, a mortal man, or all three. Arius, a presbyter from Libya, gained followers around the empire by insisting


“there was a time when the Son was not.” Others said the son was of the same substance as the Father. The argument spread, threatening to rip the church in two. Constantine disapproved of the conjecture and called the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE to rectify the rift. (http://thehistoryofrome.typepad.com/the_...peror.html). This was the first ecumenical council of the Christian church, and Constantine commanded it, which confirms how close church and state had become. It resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine; that Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit were all of the same substance, a belief that became known as the Nicene Creed. This was perhaps the only time in history a person (Jesus) was proclaimed a god by a vote. Those who voted against it were banished. The following website seems to capture the atmosphere at the council. (http://www.cristoraul.com/ENGLISH/readin.../11.html).


Prior to the Council of Nicaea, Jesus had most often been perceived as an intermediary between man and God; the council decided he actually was God. The core character of Christianity was created; Jesus the son of God. This Nicaean
formula clearly wasn’t founded on Yeshua. It was nothing more than a contortionist creation invented to unify some of the opinions about Jesus.


Some websites claim that there were not only Christian commanders at this council, but leaders from many other cults, sects and religions too, including those of Apollo, Demeter/Ceres, Dionysus, Janus, Jupiter, Zeus, Osiris and Isis. (http://www.northernway.org/pagandna.html, http://www.examiner.com/article/1st-coun...h-part-014). The council contrived to coalesce these competing cults under one “catholic” church to be controlled by the Constantine government. The gods of these other cults were subjugated under the name of the new god, Jesus Christ. If this is true “Jesus” blended the religious formulas of China, India, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Palestine into a single sect suitable for all. Forget Christmas; the Council of Nicea was the event that marked the true birth of Jesus Christ.


Any texts that contradicted what the ecclesiastics had chosen as canonical were labeled as subversive. Old copies of
the gospels were recalled and scribes were co-opted to make new copies suitable for consumption throughout Christendom.


In 335 CE, a mere ten years later, all of a sudden Jesus wasn’t a god any more. A second Council, also convened by
Constantine, that of Tyre, reversed the conclusion of the first, and Arianism, the belief that Jesus was subordinate to the Father, became the brand new dogma. This decision lasted until Constantine's death in 337 CE, after which the empire was split into a Nicene West and an Arian East. There was no consensus about Jesus’ status for the next forty odd years.


In 381 CE, the emperor Theodosius convened an ecumenical council at Constantinople, resulting in the ratification of the
first Nicene formula. The Roman world was at last given a definitive triune god—a gobbledygook spiel about three characters in one that is still promoted by churches today.


The uneducated citizens of the Empire, impressed with the promise of a heavenly paradise, and intimidated with violence if they weren’t, were easy pickings for the Catholic Church, although some of the braver rural people hung on to many of their pagan traditions.


The vastness of the Roman Empire allowed Christianity to spread throughout much of Europe. An infrastructure under the
umbrella of one god and emperor was convenient. Before the Roman Empire declined in Europe, Christianity was firmly established in many of the key regions that would shape the history of the western world.


It’s obvious that the burgeoning power of Christianity had nothing to do with the inherent truth of the dogma and everything to do with politics and power.
This is a very nice summary; has much in it from Ehrmann's books, some of "Constantine and the Sword"; "A.D. 381" and "The Closing of the Western Mind" (Freeman).
You didn't mention the immediate "difference of opinion" between Paul (you can be a christian without becoming a Jew first) and Peter/James (you must become a Jew first, then a christian); the difficulty in "proving" to the pagan that christianity was actually "old" (if one was a new religion, one got no respect!) through the use of texts (recalling that the apostles were all illiterate - could neither read nor write) and so the textual "backing" for the new religion began hundreds of years after the "main event".
And that the main event (crucifixion and then resurrection) has no records of having every happened (the Romans were good record keepers especially for state ordered executions).
Damn good history tho!
I'm particularly interested in the period from 0 CE. to 312 CE. That's were it all began....at least for christians.





Hi RC, thanks for your nice comments.

I'm really interested in early Christianity too.

Re Paul and the genuine "Jesus crowd"....this should wet your whistle...


Paul and Judaism

Devout Jews despised Paul and rejected his ramblings. The idea that their mysterious, perfect, one and only God could be incarnated in a Christ was foreign to them. They refused to believe that their God could die, or that a Christ’s death somehow addressed a primordial, sinful nature of humankind. The kingdom of God promised in scripture wasn’t in heaven, but on earth. Their messiah wasn’t to be sold as a soul’s savior, but was to be a flesh and blood leader of a people (the Jews). The messiah was to herald in a glorious age in which Israel ruled and brought pagans under the glory of their god, Yahweh. The messiah was to build the Third Temple (Ezek. 37:26–28), gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isa. 43:5–6), and bring an end to Roman rule. He was supposed to stop all exploitation, corruption, famine, disease, and war. Paul’s fictional Christ had done none of this!

Paul claimed:“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Gal. 2;16, KJV), and“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law” (Gal. 3:13, KJV), and “Before faith came, we were allowed no freedom by the Law; we were being looked after till faith was revealed. The law was to be our guardian until the Christ came and we could be justified by faith. Now that that time has come we are no longer under that guardian, and you are, all of you, sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. All baptized in Christ, you have all clothed yourself in Christ, and there are no more distinctions between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, but all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:23–28, NJB). Traditional Jews would have none of this. They wouldn’t be Jewish if they did. They believed - and still do - that the way to find favor with God was to obey “the Law”—that is, the Torah, as allegedly taught by Moses. There’s no mention in their scriptures of an end to the covenant God made with their ancestors on Mount Sinai. Jews regarded the Law as a gift from their God, not a curse, or an imposition on freedom. Why would they give up centuries of tradition to believe Paul? They knew there was no such thing as a “new covenant,” other than in Paul’s overly active imagination.

Imagine a scientologist grabbing a microphone during mass at the Vatican and proclaiming that Ron Hubbard was more important than Jesus. Paul was a first century scientologist.

Paul had an ambivalent attitude to Jewish scripture. His attitude varied with the audience he was writing to. At times he interpreted it to justify his own ideas, when writing to Jews, yet he also claimed parts of it were redundant, when writing to gentiles, as in the above quotes from Galatians.There were some “Hellenized” Jews in the diaspora who Paul was trying to appeal to, and he had some success with them. That didn’t include the Nazarenes. Yeshua was a Jew who had died over a decade before Paul appeared on the scene, and I think would’ve been offended by the idea that his death could somehow give Gentiles a ticket to heaven. He would’ve cursed Romans (who did, after all, nail him to a cross) with his dying breath, not imagine that his God—whom he would never have thought of as his temporal sire—would grant them a place in heaven! Jesus said, “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish them but complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved” (Matt. 5:17–18 JB). Paul and Jesus contradicted each other! So much for Biblical infallibility!

Many people insist that Jesus came to do away with the Jewish Law. They’re not considering Jesus’ words, but Paul’s (or Paul’s proponents like Luther or Calvin.)All traditional Jews believed God dwelt in the temple. Paul made a cavalier dismissal of the Jewish land (Israel) by suggesting that the Temple wasn’t the only place god resided. He said all believers become a temple for God: “And that is what we are—the temple of the living God" (2 Cor. 6:15, NJB) and “Didn’t you realize that you were God’s Temple” (1 Cor. 3:16 JB). He was trying to expand God’s influence into the whole world. Yet for most first century Jews this denied the geographical pivot of Judaism.Jews thought they were Abraham’s descendants and, therefore, a nation of God’s special people. Yet Paul claimed: "Those therefore who rely on faith receive the same blessing as Abraham, the man of faith." (Gal. 3:9, NJB), and “Merely by belonging to Christ you are the posterity of Abraham, the heirs he was promised” (Gal. 3:29, NJB). He was asserting that believing gentiles should consider themselves God’s chosen. I think he was trying to make gentiles feel that they too were special, and at the same time weaken the patriotic fervor of Jews by downplaying their exclusivity.

Throughout Paul’s travels, he was initially welcome in the synagogues because he masqueraded as a traditional Jew, but after Jews heard what he had to say, he was rejected, sometimes even beaten and pelted with rocks; a repetitive pattern portrayed in Acts. As Paul was probably a Jew, his fellow Jews must have imagined he was upsetting their God, and the whole Jewish community would suffer as a consequence. Is it any wonder they physically attacked him?

In the decades Paul was preaching, the Nazarenes were expanding into a significant force under the leadership of James in Jerusalem. They also enjoyed a significant membership among Jews throughout the empire. They definitely didn’t preach the divinity of Christ, nor intend to start a new religion. Paul, when he wasn’t pretending to be one of them, considered them competitors. He got very upset when he encountered rival missionaries, who were probably Nazarene, and complained bitterly about them hijacking “his” converts. He cursed them, using the undeniable truth of his own gospel as justification: “I am astonished at the promptness with which you have turned away from the one who called you and have decided to follow a different version of the Good News. Not that there can be more than one Good News; it is merely that some trouble makers among you want to change the Good News of Christ; and let me warn you that if anyone preaches a version of the Good News different from the one that we have already preached to you, whether it be ourselves or an angel from heaven, he is condemned” (Gal. 1:6–9, NJB). He sounds like an upset child whose best friend has gone off to play with someone else. It’s ironic that Paul was accusing his adversaries of the very thing he was guilty of—preaching a fabrication!

The two faced Paul probably tried to ingratiate himself with the Nazarenes when in their company, but they became implacably opposed to him, as verified by the verbal confrontation described in Galatians chapter two, and the adamantly anti-Pauline assertions in James’ letter.

Paul knew he wasn’t a popular figure amongst traditional Jews. In his letter to the Romans he expressed his nervousness that the Nazarenes in Jerusalem might reject him, which, if the story in Acts is true, they did. James summoned Paul to Jerusalem when it became apparent Paul was preaching against the Torah, and sent him to the temple to purify himself and prove he was still a true Jew (see Acts 21), which led to Paul’s so called arrest and eventual transportation to Rome. James, Yeshua’s brother, effectively terminated Paul’s missionary career! When Paul was forced to reveal that he was a Roman citizen, his cover was well and truly blown. A Roman citizen couldn’t be a Nazarene. According to Acts, the Romans had to dedicate considerable resources (500 soldiers) to protect him from angry Jews. They would have only done that when looking after one of their own. Paul wasn’t deterred by this interruption. He kept writing letters from Rome, and to the best of our knowledge, never gave up.

Paul’s modern-day reputation as a teacher of truth, along with the implication he taught Yeshua’s message, has no foundation, yet it’s become part of Christian tradition, largely because of what the author(s) of Acts wrote. By then, I think sometime around the middle to late second century, Paul’s reputation needed more credibility, so the author had Jesus’ ghost appear to Paul on the road to Damascus, which was pure fiction. I think the story of Paul becoming good friends with Yeshua’s disciples was also a fiction. The author of Acts even tried to shore up Paul’s credibility by having him perform a number of miracles. Yet Paul failed to mention them, an impossible omission if they were factual. Paul revealed many personality traits in his letters, but genuine modesty definitely wasn’t one of them.
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