Faith, Lines Drawn in the Sand

Judaism was the seedbed of Christianity: that is a given.  Some of these posts have explored the radical drive of the Yahweh priests in c. 8th century BCE Jerusalem—a drive which was fundamentally more political than spiritual—and fanned by priests’ obsession to place themselves in position of authority over the masses.  Their cultlike demands for isolationism inspired the writing down of a “history” in which god allegedly instructed the priest authors to record the “laws” which his chosen people were to follow.  Saturated in the cultlike fanaticism, those men-composed books were then declared to be “holy,” and they literally drew lines in the sand over which the “chosen ones” would then conduct battle toward any culture or faith system unlike their own.  Among the widespread polytheistic faiths of other people, however, a sense of spiritual closeness was experienced within all conditions of life and did not necessitate the use of books or priestly theatrics for inspiration.

The priest written account which claimed that their followers were the chosen people out of all people on this little planet made the cult from which Judaism would develop an unusual and routinely disruptive faith system in the Roman Empire.  Like many of the spiritual quests throughout the Mediterranean region, the Yahweh cult acknowledged a divine deity, imagined a hierarchy of angels (similar to polytheists’ minor gods) as links to the supreme, and practiced bloody superstition in sacrificing animals and food products to god (but which really fed the priests).  But Judaism was unique in that the priest composed “history” placed emphasis upon an improvable claim of ancestral traditions.  Like the beliefs held by the bulk of polytheistic people, the Yahweh priests taught that there was only one god, but he (emphatically male) had accomplished Creation without any necessary partnering of opposites as had the lusty Pagan gods.  What’s more, their god had also personally directed their Israelite ancestors to the Promised Land.

The Septuagint (generally abbreviated LXX), a Greek translation of the priestly compositions made in the third century BCE, was the first translation of the Hebrew scriptures ever made, and the Jews feared that the accounts of crimes, backsliding and shameful conduct of their ancestors whom they honored would bring even more serious intolerance from the polytheistic citizens of the Roman world.  The alleged “laws” attributed to Moses were the first part of the Septuagint to be translated, and is the portion known to have actually been translated in the time of Ptolemy II of Egypt who ordered the translation.

Judaism was a faith system rigorously conducted “by the book,” and the aristocrats, statesmen and literati in Rome certainly noted the authoritative importance imposed upon the Jewish people by those priest written compositions.  To the Romans the rational means of opposition to that alleged holy status of god’s alleged communications was to meet fire with fire.  And lo! the first salvo against the bookish faith system of the Jews conveniently appeared in Rome c. 55 CE (the time of Nero, 37-68) with the book of Mark.  Curiously, there had been a text in circulation in Rome prior to that, from at least 34 CE, which was known as Ur Markus, and which dealt with occult cosmology.  There are uncanny similarities found in Mark and even in the later book of Luke that could pass as simplified themes from Ur Markus.  Whoever the men were who set out upon a literary counter movement to the Hebrew literary works, they also had to have the influence and financial means to have the works copied and distributed within Rome.  Bluntly, it was a political endeavor, not spiritual inspiration.

The earliest literary attempt to counter Jewish fanaticism cannot be said to have at first possessed a “redeemer.”  The initial offering (Mark) in the new counter movement drew upon Stoicism, Greek philosophy, Judaic customs and various Pagan elements to hopefully attract the Jewish mindset into a less hostile attitude toward other schools of spiritual thought.  But the tolerance that the character of Jesus was meant to exemplify could not break through Judaism’s dogged self-righteousness.  The fledgling Jesus cult would begin to expand only through the extensive adaptation that incorporated Greek thought which held the ability to see harmony and unity in apparent contradictions.  For example, the Greeks could spiritually bridge the gulf between gods and humankind in their concept of heroes.  The law-driven Jews, however, seemed incapable of such unifying mentality.  The Greeks looked upon Judaism’s’ insistence of an un-bridgeable gulf between man and god, between good and evil, or between life and death as being spiritually blind, and they reasoned it was that characteristic which accounted for their abrasive indulgence in separatism.

The Greek influence in early Gospel is clearly evident in the mythic style used to present the central figure of the Jesus cult, especially the absence of any details regarding the infancy and childhood of Jesus.  The ancient formula for presentation of myth invariably skipped over the infancy and formative years, the critical time of psychological development, apparently assuming that such things were irrelevant for an appearance of a god in mortal form.  The lack of such details would be attended to by later authors, but such works were never considered worthy for inclusion as canon.  The “redeemer” aspect crept into the Jesus movement influenced by Orphic ideas which offered the hope—not the promise—of an afterlife and possible salvation.  Most spiritual traditions presented in that time offered little hope of an afterlife except to royalty, aristocracy, heroes and, of course, the priesthood.  By such influence Jesus became the mortal Jewish Messiah, the “only begotten son,” and by this means the Jewish Jesus was Hellenized and transfigured into the redeemer for all who would accept the Gospels as holy truth.

2 Responses to “Faith, Lines Drawn in the Sand”

  1. How to take care of blind dog…

    […]Faith, Lines Drawn in the Sand « Time Frames and Taboo Data Blog[…]…

  2. Inspiring story there. What happened after? Good luck!

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