From A Jewish Cult To Christianity

In the timeframe of the expanding Roman Empire the aristocrats and literati in Roman society became more and more uneasy at the intense antagonism that flared repeatedly in the region of Palestine.  The unease of these prominent Roman citizens was not simply political concern but, for several, it also involved relationships through marriage to important families in that region.  This interrelationship provided closer perception to underlying conditions there which simmered in that occupied territory, and it was thus known that there was an active but subdued movement in Jewish culture among the Nazarene which focused on a messiah-like being called Jesus, a name derived from the legendary Joshua (Jeschu).  As uprisings steadily increased throughout Palestine the Roman aristocrats and literati sought a means to counter the Jewish conviction that they alone possessed exclusive godly guidance which their priest-written scriptures avowed.  There were some in Rome’s upper echelon who began to ponder over the possibility that the Jesus cult which was already active in Palestine could in some way provide the wedge that might be used to modify the Jewish obstinacy and thus a more cooperative conduct would be established.

Among those few privileged class Roman citizens the idea of such a wedge led to research and their findings showed that a number of attributes credited to Joshua were also shared by Pagan solar gods such as Apollo, Helios and others.  Joshua was, after all, credited with halting the sun in its course.  That alleged feat was certainly at least equal to any miracle that had been ascribed to Pagan sun gods or to Moses.  Joshua was also revered among Jews as a deliverer, a messiah–albeit a violent, murderous one–whose holocaustal conquests were claimed to have been approved and brought about by their Lord.  What would happen, the privileged Romans wondered, if a new deliverer/messiah appeared, one through whom the Lord would offer a new covenant?

A ticklish proposal of drawing upon the underground Nazarene cult’s fascination with Jesus rested in the Roman authors attempting to provide Jesus with a biological lineage.  In hope of appealing to Jewish sensibilities the Roman authors sought to provide one genealogical version in Matthew 1:1-16, written c. 70-75 CE, which traced Jesus’ decent from Abraham. This genealogy seems intent upon showing that Jesus was of royal lineage–from Abraham to David–even going so far as to refer to Jesus as “son of David” throughout the book of Matthew.  This version of biological background includes four women–a curious accounting whey you consider that in the priest-composed Hebrew Scripture the listing of lineage was always traced back only through male forebears.  Even more curious is that in the later Luke version three of those four females happened to be non-Israelite women.  Was that provision possibly calculated to open the way for gentiles to also be accepted as among God’s alleged “chosen”?

The genealogy as offered in Luke 3:23-38, written c. 84-90 CE, made the attempt to trace Jesus’ biological background even further to Adam!  Luke’s genealogy introduced a different tack by using Jewish textual traditions such as incorporating numerological exercises to present the family tree of Jesus.  This led to various speculations over time.  According to some old Greek manuscripts there was thus declared to have been 11×7 generations from Adam to Abraham. Other Greek manuscripts, however, as well as the Catholic Vulgate and the Syrian Peshito, assert there were 76 generations between Adam to Abraham, while other Latin genealogies list on 72.  Regardless of the quibbling over how many generations between all the impossible-to-trace biblical characters, the purpose of the claims  was to show that Jesus was not only the fulfillment of the history of Israel but to illustrate that Jesus was also the savior of the (Roman) world.  The fly in the ointment, we might say, is that such genealogical lines are utterly pointless if Jesus was, as claimed, born of a Jewish virgin name Mary who was unsuspectingly impregnated by divine spirit.

But why assert a miraculous “virgin birth” claim at all?  Not so coincidentally many ancient Pagan cultures had myths of their major god impregnating a virgin who bore him a demigod son.  The Greek god Zeus and  Roman god Jupiter, among others, were said to have impregnated other women.  All such virgin birth myths had originated out of extremely ancient teachings regarding causation and creation–in lessons using stars of various constellations as illustrations.  Those lessons taught the scientific principle which is now known–that primal energies–virginal conditions–involve and evolve to manifest as matter.

The focus of the Roman authors of Gospel remained upon Jewish examples, partly because the very first Gospel book which had been written, Mark, c.50-55 CE, had referred to a “prophecy” from the Jew’s revered book of Isaiah.  The Roman author of Mark happened to slyly misquote Isaiah 7:14 as “Behold, the Virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel.”  Why did the Jewish prophet say Emmanuel if he meant Jesus? The name Jesus is derived from Joshua, and a prophet worth his salt would know that.  The actual priest-written book of Isaiah simply stated, “…a young woman with child…” and implying the event described was to occur in the timeframe of Isaiah.  So the text that Mark borrowed did not exactly verify that Isaiah prophesied a coming messiah named Jesus.

Thus around 70 CE the Roman author of the Gospel book of Matthew (now listed canonically as the first Gospel) labored very hard to update both the earlier book of Mark as well as his own first edition of Matthew.  And the author indulged himself as well in some holy slight of hand, and Lo! –today those blind with belief still believe that Jesus was the mortal son of god who was born to a virgin Jewish girl.

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