Archive for rise of Christianity

Timely Appearance of Jesus

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Hebrew scripture, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , on November 24, 2011 by chouck017894

In the timeframe accepted for Jesus’ existence on Earth, there were two Jewish sects vying for dominance of the Jewish faithful, the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  Both divisions of Judaism held that there was only one way—their priest-invented way, of course—to acknowledge a higher source.  The rest of the citizens throughout the Roman Empire followed less judgmental spiritual practices.

Prior to the undocumented event of Jesus’ birth there was in Palestine, c. 112 BCE, a Jewish school, the Chasidim  (Hassidim), meaning “the holy ones,” which became active and known as the Pharisees.  Their chief predisposition was to resist all Greek or outside influences which a clique of scribes felt could undermine their sacred interpretation of how followers were to kowtow to that interpretation.  In short, the Pharisees were therefore most emphatic in regard to what was to be presented as “Divine Law.”  The championing of “Divine Law,” which was to be exercised in all public affairs, called for obedience without regard to priestly or aristocratic families—the Sadducees—or the old-line statesmen or the heroes who had brought the Assyrian wars to a successful conclusion.  It was the inflexible Pharisees, however, despite their ban on outside influence, who brought ideas of salvation and resurrection into Jewish thought.

The Sadducees (or Zadokites), on the other hand, were aristocratic (largely descended through the older priest class), and they held that the priest-written Torah was binding in all matters.  Thus the Sadducees rejected the version of the “Divine Law” as it was interpreted and championed by the Chasidim scribes, and demanded obedience to the older ancestral customs and legal standpoints.  Equally inflexible as the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, in angels, nor in any personal continuance after death, a doctrine that clung closely to the original Torah theology.

By c. 60 BCE—as planet Earth entered the Age of Pisces—the rabbinical hierarchical system as had been instituted in Jerusalem had existed for about three centuries.  The Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, however, paid no allegiance to any form of rabbinical institution which had been responsible for the Talmudic presentation.  It was in that older presentation that heavy attention was placed upon customs as they had evolved in Judea, and which would later be collected (c. 200 CE) into the Mishna, a collection of decisions that had been laid down by priests in Jerusalem and which were aimed largely at prohibiting the rearing of children in Greek lore.  The priests in Jerusalem had virtually jack-hammered their priestly decisions into “legal” status.

The capture of Jerusalem by the Roman general Pompey in 60 BCE had been deemed necessary due to the aggressive power struggle between two sons of King Aristobulus who had recently died.  Years later, however, in 47 BCE, the Rome-installed Herod was driven from Jerusalem by one of the former King Aristobulus’ sons, Antigonus, and he then ruled as the last Hasmonean priest-king until 37 BCE when his reign was ended by Marc Antony.  Jerusalem’s struggle to disassociate itself from Rome galvanized even more after Antigonus was scourged, then bound to a stake and beheaded.  Herod was then reinstated to rule, and he sought to consolidate his position with the Jews by wedding Mariamne, a princess of the Hasmonean line.  Herod later bequeathed portions of his kingdom between three sons, and the Roman Emperor Augustus confirmed the will.  The division of the kingdom was not appreciated among the Jews.

Into this long simmering brew there appeared the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher, Philo (c. 20 BCE – 50 CE), considered the greatest Jewish philosopher of this timeframe.  For orthodox Judaism, as represented by Palestinian Jews of the time, the study of languages, especially Greek, was regarded as profane and worthy only for slaves and infidels.  But Philo was born into a wealthy and aristocratic Jewish family in Greek-founded Alexandria, thus his education had included Greek literature and philosophy, especially that of Plato, Pythagoras and the Stoics.  Philo’s writings were to exert considerable influence upon both Jewish and Christian thought, and his writings heavily influenced the Alexandrian Christian theologians Clement (no genuine documentation of him has ever been produced) and Origen (185?-254? CE).  Philo’s philosophic endeavors brought a breath of fresh air into the congested cell of orthodox Jewish thought.  Philo maintained, as did many of his contemporaries, that the major part of the Pentateuch (first five books of scriptures), especially its “historical” and legal portions, should be explained allegorically, for it was only in this way that its truest and deepest meaning could be understood.  This wise advice has been steadfastly ignored by the three interrelated western organized faith systems as they evolved.

A Jewish rabbi and teacher named Hillel rose to prominence from 30 BCE to c. 09 CE.  He was the first Jewish scholar to systematize the interpretation and explanation of scriptural law.  Hillel had to contend with a rival named Shammai, an eminent doctor of the Jewish law at the time of Herod, and he stood rigidly insistent upon a merciless interpretation of priest-written scriptural law.  The conflict between the two schools of thought was to endure for nearly one hundred years after Hillel’s death.  A persistent allegation is that Hillel’s teachings influenced young Jesus, for many of the sayings attributed to Jesus are startlingly similar to those of Hillel.  The vague timeframe projected for Jesus’ childhood as presented in the New Testament can be seen to loosely correspond to this general timeframe.  However, any contemporary historian, writer or Roman aristocrat in charge of that region’s affairs would have been intimately familiar with such interpretations of scriptural laws: in fact some aristocrats married members of the Herodian family.

In the timeframe of Nero (37-68 CE) and the marriage to his pro-Jewish second wife Poppaea Sabina, various Roman aristocrats, statesmen and authors were becoming alarmed over the Empire’s stability due to the constant uprisings instigated by Jewish agitators.  It was into this political unease during Nero’s reign that the first books known as Mark and Matthew suddenly appeared, which introduced into the Roman Empire culture the teachings that were attributed to a benevolent and tolerant Jewish man named Jesus.

Commercializing Spirit

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, religion, thoughts with tags , , , on July 19, 2010 by chouck017894

Religious invention, like any marketable product, needs a variety of representations and catch phrases to keep sales appealing and active.  In western religious practice one of those tools, especially as taken over in Christian practice, is the use of the word “saint.”  That word is commonly traced back as translating some derivative of the Hebrew qados and/or the Greek hagios.  In both cases these words were applied primarily to the gods that inspired awe and therefore warranted adoration.  Those in the business of selling belief  found it profitable to extend the meaning to include those persons or things that allegedly held a unique relationship to the gods.  The devised ploy was that a special relationship of certain persons had been divinely set apart from the corrupt world and made sufficiently clean—that is, rendered “holy” by man-concocted magic rites so that legendary persons or objects could be used for sacred theatrics.

The political minded priests of Yahweh at work in Jerusalem in the 7th century BCE declared that anyone devoted to their god constituted the “holy people” of Israel.  This necessitated that the priests indulge themselves in a bit of flim-flam, for “holy” in this use did not imply any moral sense: it was simply the priestly claims of having been especially selected as God’s people.  Behind this priestly indulgence in sales technique, the true purpose had nothing to do with the people’s personal spiritual advancement; it was totally focused on attaining and maintaining material/political advantages for their belief project.  Thus the followers of the Yahweh priests were declared to be “holy people”—in their meaning a nation set apart (self-segregated) for worship or service to God under priestly administration.

This false sense of spiritual entitlement that was introduced into the “faith” that was being manufactured in Jerusalem cultivated characteristics that guaranteed that the faith could never reflect the diverse and all-embracing power that they claimed to serve.  Creation, as priests of Yahweh presented it, is said to be managed through a system of favoritism and discrimination.

The rise of a counter doctrine was inevitable, especially since the devotees to the politics of spirit fostered in Jerusalem had made for unending skirmishes throughout the young musclebound Roman Empire.  The initiation of the cult that was to become Christianity happened to feature a man cast as a Jewish rebel whose name happened to be derived from the Torah’s militaristic and brutal messiah named Joshua.  Thus in the anthology that would evolve as the New Testament there is found a heavy draw upon all things Jewish. 

The new faith movement was conceived and fleshed out primarily in Rome, not in Jerusalem, but the early authors did have a certain amount of personal familiarity with the governing families in Jerusalem.  As the Christian counter-movement evolved, it also borrowed strong attributes from other religious cults of the time–Mithraism, Orphism, Gnosticism, even Stoicism, etc.  Also, various authors brought different colorings to the new cult, among which was the absorption of the Jewish notion of a special category of  persons who pleased heaven and which also appealed to the egos of attracted converts.  Thus, since the people of Judaism had been presented as “holy ones,” there had to be allowance made which placed the young competing “faith” movement on a competitive base with the unruly Jews.  Consequently, God suddenly found himself possessed with a whole new variety of “favorites.”

The political minded authors of the new Christian cult therefore cleverly incorporated into the new holy works the idea that those who comprised the new church were “holy” and called them “saints” because they were allegedly set apart for God (not by God), and the church itself was the alleged New Israel. So we now read in Romans 1:7 (written c. 100 CE when the authors were restructuring the earlier Christian strategies), that Christians are artfully referred to as God’s own people.  This theme is also implied in 1:1 of Philippians, undoubtedly written much later than the 64 date that is commonly insisted upon.  At the time when Philippians was penned, Roman annoyance at the Jews spiritual conceit and arrogance was being channeled into a strategy of spiritual intimidation; this intent would reach it orgiastic conclusion in the book of Revelation (written c. 135 CE) where a new Jerusalem is allegedly to be lowered to Earth after Christ’s aggressive judgment is passed.  The rest of the Roman world was apparently meant to continue.

As the Christian movement grew over the centuries and its influence spread from Rome across Europe, the religious movement became something of a replacement for the collapsed Roman Empire.  It cannot be said to have been exactly a godly blessing for the world.  The first recognized “saints,” of  course, were the disciples given in the cult account.  From that starting point every figure ever presented as a “saint” throughout Christian history has in some manner advanced the corporate church itself—and not one of those “saints” can be said to have advanced mankind’s understanding that the universe responds directly to each person if each person learns to approach it in sincere reverence.

Today, locked in its time warp, the Roman Catholic Church is still indulging in the old self-promotion tactics, and plans are in place to elevate the late Pope John Paul to “saint” status.  All that is needed for this celebrated recognition is a miracle that can be credited to him.  As the old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention.

Saints and Religious Propaganda

Posted in agnoticism, Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, history, politics, prehistory, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2010 by chouck017894

Religious adherence, like any marketable product, needs a variety of representations and catch phrases to keep sales active and appealing.  In western religious practice one of those tools, especially as taken over in Christian practice, is the use of the word “saint.”  That word is commonly traced back as translating some derivative of the Hebrew qados and/or the Greek hagios.   In both cases these words were applied primarily to the gods that inspired awe and therefore rightly warranted adoration.  Of course those in the business of selling belief found it profitable to extend the meaning to include those persons or things that allegedly had a unique relationship to the gods.  The advertising ploy was that this special relationship of certain persons or things had been set apart from the unhallowed world and made sufficiently clean (rendered holy”) by man-concocted rites so that they could be used for sacred theatrics. 

Thus in religious phraseology the political minded priests of Yahweh at work in Jerusalem c. 850 BCE (their works would not be codified until the early 5th century BCE) declared anyone devoted to their god made up the “holy people” of Israel.  This necessitated that the priests indulge themselves in a bit of flim-flam, for “holy” in this use did not imply any moral sense: it was simply the priestly claims of being specially selected as God’s people.  Behind this priestly indulgence of smoke and mirrors, the true purpose had nothing to do with people’s personal spiritual advancement; it was totally focused on attaining and maintaining material advantages for their “faith” project.  Thus the followers of the Yahweh priests were declared “holy people”—or what we are taught to think of as “saints”—in their  meaning a nation set apart (self-segregated) for worship or service to God under priestly administration.

This false sense of spiritual entitlement that was introduced in the “faith” that was being manufactured in Jerusalem cultivated characteristics that guaranteed the faith could never reflect the all-embracing, liberal power that they claimed to serve.  By their self-serving interpretation of material  existence the incalculable diversity displayed throughout Creation is said to be manage through a system of favoritism and discrimination.

The rise of a counter doctrine was inevitable, especially since the  devotees to the priestly politics of spirit in Jerusalem had made for unending skirmishes through the young muscle-bound Roman Empire.  The invention of Christianity occurring in this timeframe was primarily a political undertaking, not some miraculous intervention of heaven to “save” the (Roman) world.  It is for this reason that the starring character in the new movement was cast as a Jewish rebel, whose name was derived from the Torah‘s brutal messiah named Joshua.  Thus in the anthology that became the New Testament there is found a heavy draw upon things Jewish in hope of clearing away at least some of that gang mentality that was the core of Judaism. 

The new faith movement was conceived and fleshed out primarily in Rome, not Jerusalem, but the authors had a certain amount of familiarity with the governing families in Jerusalem.  As the Christian counter movement evolved, borrowing strong attributes from other religious cults active in Rome at that time, the emphasis remained on a more moderated and less special interest understanding of things that function  beyond human comprehension.  But various authors brought different colorings to the new cult, among which was  the absorption of the notion of special category of persons that supposedly pleased heaven and which also appealed to the egos of converts.  Thus, as the people of Israel had been presented as “holy ones” or “saints,” there had to be allowance made that placed the competing “faith” movement in Rome on an equality basis with the unruly Jews.  Consequently God suddenly found himself possessed with a whole new variety of “favorites.”

The political minded authors of the Christian cult therefore cleverly incorporated into the new holy works the idea that those who comprised the church were “holy” and “saints” because they were set apart for God (not by God), and the church itself was the alleged new Israel.  So we now read in Romans 1:7, written 100 CE when the authors were restructuring the  earlier Christian strategies, that Christians are referred  to as God’s own people.  This theme is also implied in 1:1 Philippians undoubtedly written much later that the 64 date commonly insisted upon.  By this time Roman annoyance at the Jews spiritual arrogance was being channeled toward a practice of spiritual intimidation—which reached its orgiastic conclusion in Revelation (written c. 135 CE) where a new Jerusalem is lowered to Earth.

As the Christian movement grew and its tentacles spread from Rome across Europe, the movement became the replacement  for the collapsed Roman Empire.  It cannot be said to have been a true blessing for the world.  But its “saints” had amazing self-breeding capability.  The first “saints,” of course, were the supposed disciples;  the church could not have been built if they had not been systematically put in place.  In this is found the clue for church respect for all those it has promoted as “saints.”  From that starting point every figure ever presented as a “saint” throughout Christian history has been so honored because that “saint” in some manner advanced the corporate church itself.  In no way did any of those church approved “saints” ever advance man’s understanding that the universe responds directly to each person if each person learns to approach it in true humbleness.

So how have religion’s “saints” advanced the spiritual potential of mankind?  A look at the many schisms in every organized religion suggests that the evil so railed against by all of them is actually nurtured primarily within those practices of imagined superiority.  But the magic acts are still being indulged in even as we pass through the front hall of the 21st century—a calendar dating system, incidentally, based on a “holy” character whose existence has never been proven.  Amazingly, the Roman Catholic Church is still indulging in the old self-promotion scams, and plans are in place to elevate the late Pope John Paul to “saint” status.  All that is needed is a miracle that can be credited to him.  As the old adage goes, necessity is the mother of invention.