Early Christian Text Modifications
Placing unquestioning faith in ancient texts written by crafty priest-authors is not exactly a characteristic of intellectual consistency. But the idea of downplaying intellectual activity as a way to honor a Creator-God seems to be encouraged in each of the three western world’s “holy books.” Even the revered “saint” Paul (traditionally dated 3-68 CE) made the young Jesus cult’s anti-intellectual message clear around 65 CE. At that time, allegedly under Paul’s guidance, the Jesus cult was being channeled in a new direction away from its earlier concentration of attempting to attract Jewish converts. Paul’s drive to redirect the earlier Mark/Matthew gospel accounts with the objective for broader appeal to non-Jews is evident in several of the later books also attributed to him. For example, in 2 Corinthians, written c. 100-105, but credited to Paul, it is averred that only Paul’s account of Jesus’ life is the true one: the apostles that are said to have actually associated with and interacted with Jesus–some of whom would still have been preaching during Paul’s lifetime–are called deceivers!
A curious aspect of this Christian star, Paul, is that no genuine Roman records have ever been presented that support the claim that this person was a true flesh and blood being. He and his followers are known only from Christian tradition, not from any verified history records. Remember, Paul is traditionally held to have been executed at the same time and place as Peter (in 68) by command of Nero, which makes it awkward to credit Paul with the composition of the numerous New Testament books attributed to him: among them Acts, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, etc. raise serious questions of legitimacy. We should note that the claim that both Peter and Paul were executed at the same time in Rome came only from Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (260?-340?)–or some two hundred years after the alleged event. And this noted church historian was not above occasionally embellishing upon church storylines.
“Saint” Paul is said to have died in 68 (according to Eusebius), but nonetheless Paul is credited with penning 1 Corinthians (15:12, written c. 94-100, which states, “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is not resurrection of the dead?” Scholars have noted that Paul’s writings can be sophisticated, and there is disagreement whether the thirteen letters to outlying churches which are attributed to Paul are genuine. Also there is the fact that Paul’s doctrine of resurrection was not accepted by the earlier Jesus cult representatives. In 1 Timothy(1:3), written later c. 103-105, Paul is portrayed as having struggled with the so-called heritics of his doctrine. Also in 1 Timothy (6:3) Paul’s revision of the earlier cult dogma is muscled into place with Paul saying that anyone who disagrees with him will go to hell! But the history-altering doctrine attributed to Paul would not be voted into official belief status until the scheming conglomerate of men recognized the lucrative business potential of a strictly controlled faith system at the Councils of Nice in 325 and in 382. It was then that an institutionalized corporate-style faith system, modeled upon Roman Empire politics, was declared by bishops to be supreme and Catholic (from the Greek katholikos, meaning “whole” or universal).
The texts allegedly written (after 68 CE) by Paul were composed to attract converts from the throngs of common people—more accurately, the lesser educated. If one doubts that the early Jesus cult sought to appeal to less educated people look more closely at the New Testament for any instruction on how to attain enlightenment. In the early books of Matthew (10:11), edited c. 55-60, the instruction directed to the faithful is to not study a problem but to pray and ask for divine guidance. On the surface this may sound spiritually inspirational. The verse reads in part: “…take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.” That methodology happened to be common mystery school instruction in that 55-60 timeframe. And in Matthew 10:16 wisdom is equated with evil! The implication in that assessment of seeking wisdom seems to be that God did not give man a brain to use with the intention that man might increase in wisdom and thus assume responsibility for himself and thereby improve life for everyone.
Thus in his faith system overhaul Paul preserved the early Jesus cult practice of encouraging minimum brain activity. Subsequently in 1 Corinthians 3:19 an attempt was made to make the earlier Matthew statement a bit more palatable by altering into “wisdom of this world is foolishness. In this revision of cult promotion the Roman mindset of the author Paul is imposed in 2 Corinthians 10:5 where it is stated “…bring into captivity every thought to obedience to Christ.” In other words, every thought and action one has must be a slave to the formulated Christian version of God. And because confession is said to be good for the soul, it is haphazardly confessed in 1 Corithians 1:18 and in 2:16 that Christianity is directed to the ignorant, not to the learned and wise.
It is alleged that Paul set out on his Christian mission around the year 45 (supposedly he would have been around 42). The message that he is said to have struggled to establish was not particularly dissimilar to the Pagan religions of that timeframe. For example, the well-known gods Tammuz (also know as Adonis), Mithras and others were celebrated in Rome and Antioch, and they were also resurrection gods, so the doctrines that Paul is credited with introducing did not depart radically from ancient Pagan presentations. In support of Paul’s doctrine, however, in the NT book of Galatains 2:9 (written later c. 94-100), it is claimed that Paul referred to James and Cephas (Cephas is better known as Simon/Peter) and John, as having been the three principle leaders of the original church in Jerusalem. (Curiously there was no such word as “church” in that timeframe; the closest to that meaning was ecclesia, meaning a place of assembly.) Of these three alleged principle apostles of Jesus, only Cephas (better known as Simon or Peter) and John were never given more than token acknowledgment by Paul. Tradition has it that Peter and John were arrested by Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, and according to Acts 4:32 (written c. 84-90) those who judged the two apostles “…saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated (illiterate), common men, (and) they (the judges) wondered; and they (the judges) recognized that they (the apostles) had been with Jesus.” And yet it is these “uneducated, common men” who have been traditionally glorified as the authors of early Jesus cult literature.
Nero became Emperor in 54. According to Christian lore, around the year 55 Paul was already responsible for a mass burning of books, which HE had judged to speak of “strange things.” In other words, the earliest texts of the “gospels” were already being revised, and the older Jesus cult literature available to the public, which had earlier incorporated more direct appeal to Jewish seekers, were being collected and destroyed. That would have required some economic and political influence in order to implement such a wide-range undertaking, but there were aristocratic families (such as the Piso clan) and their literati friends who happened to have a vested interest in government policies: they also had the financial means to employ copyists and pursue the replacement of Jesus cult literature.
Christian tradition (which has no Roman documentation for support) has it that Paul was arrested in 58 In that timeframe the cult still was not yet known as Christians; the little sect referred to themselves simply as the brethren. The first written gospel book, Mark, had then been revised and destroyed. The timing of Paul’s alleged arrest does happen to coincide with the noticeable shift that occurred in Nero’s demeanor in this same timeframe. Nero was, in this period, enamored with his mistress Poppaea Sabina, a Jew, and he then divorced and had his wife Octavia murdered, and then had his mother, Agrippa, murdered also. Six years later, in 64, much of Rome went down in flames, and in 65 many distinguished persons organized against Nero, which is known as the Pisonian Conspiracy, so-named after the principal leader, the aristocrat Gaius Calpurnius Piso. The plot was uncovered by Nero and among the prominent Romans other that Gaius Piso who died as a result were the famed statesman, dramatist and former tutor of Nero named Seneca, as well as Seneca’s nephew Lucan, the popular epic poet, among several other notables.
A note of interest: Some twenty years later, in 84, Pliny the Younger (62-113), noted for his epistle-style writing, became a member of the Piso family by marriage to Gaius Calpurnius Piso’s great-granddaughter, known as Calpurnia. And it was after this same general 84 timeframe that Acts of the Apostles, 1 Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians were penned. Strangely, a considerable amount of these happen to be in the epistle style.
In the year 98, Marcus Ulpius Trajanus, more commonly known as Trajan, became sole ruler of the Roman Empire upon the death of Nerva. Trajan (d.117) happened to be married to Claudia Phoebe Pomeia Plotina Piso of the aristocratic Calpurnius Piso clan, whose family members had long-held considerable interest in the Jesus cult movement. And it was in this era (up to c. 140 CE) that so many of the New Testament books freely poured out upon the Roman world. Among them: 1 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Book of Romans, 2 Corinthians, 1 Timothy, Titus, Book of John, Colossians, 2 Timothy, Philemon, 1 and 2 Peter, 1,2 and 3 John, Jude, Revelation, and Hebrews.
By 115 CE, during the reign of Trajan, the Christian movement was exerting a magnetic effect throughout the Roman Empire, especially upon the lower classes, slaves, military and criminals. And in this timeframe literary friends of the true authors of those additional NT texts began to insert what they considered at the time to be only harmless little references into their writing which skillfully implied a genuine historic background for the Jesus cult. So even in that early timeframe true history was being overhauled slightly for cult benefit (a tactic which is dutifully practiced to this day in the United States by political minded religionists). Among those willing to aid and abet such historical manipulation in that early cult timeframe was the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus–a pseudonym for Cornelius Palma, a friend of Pliny the Younger and a friend of the Pisos. There was also Gaius Suetonius Tranqullius, a Roman biographer and historian who inserted into his accounts a brief reference to the Jesus cult: Tranqullius also happened to be a close friend of Pliny the Younger.
With a background of faith system overhaul such as this, there is a long-established precedence for indulging in advantageous faith system revision–which the revisionists, both religious and political in the US today attempt to emulate. This was precisely the tyrannical danger that the Fathers of democracy sought to avoid in the First Amendment to the US Constitution which declared that church and state must remain separate. And the scheming political drive of the religious extremists today bring with them a depressing awareness of the fact that the symbol of their fanaticism happens to have once been a Roman implement of sadistic torture. That in itself is tragic, for throughout pre-history times the cross symbol had alway served seekers of true spiritual wisdom as the representation of consciousness (self-awareness) which becomes self-motivated in temporary matter; hence it was originally regarded as symbolizing the “tree of life.”