Archive for Roman Empire

Choosing What to Believe

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, history, humanity, life, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on March 13, 2010 by chouck017894

Most of the writings that are known as the New Testament were established by canon around 200 CE.  In this process the “fathers” of Christianity were highly selective in the choices of their scriptural literature, often rejecting some parts within a literary work or even rejecting complete works of the same general tone.  This gathering took place to set up the politics to be structured into their faith system and it required careful pruning and rejection of many literary works that were in use by outlying Christian cults that were springing up throughout the Roman Empire.  The “fathers,” in their zeal to impose a management system upon as many seekers as possible, indulged themselves in a pick-and-choose orgy of various works that often proved to be too contradictory.

With politics of the struggling faith system always in the back of their minds the “fathers” therefore found the Gospel of John to be tolerable but cast aside similar works such as the Dialogue of Thomas.  The Gospel of John happened to be written in such a manner that it could be utilized (read altered) to promote certain policies that the “fathers” favored.  Gnostic-like works such as the Dialogue of Thomas and similar works encompassed a much broader and freer acceptance of religious practice than the power-seeking “fathers” liked.  The “fathers” wanted the people to become totally reliant upon the dictates of church representatives.  If seekers believed that one could approach the power that was personified as “God” only through his son-agent, and the church was the son’s representative, then the church had to be obeyed

Thus the Gospels that were not rejected survived simply because they served the political needs of the newly emerging authority-seeking priest class.  The shapers of the Christian cult in 200 CE followed the example of priest-authors devoted to Yahweh in the 7th century BCE in Jerusalem who understood that the basic institutional structure of their religion had to have the apparent support of “authorized” scriptures.

The political platform upon which episcopal authority (church government) campaigned and  overran the more natural and honest religions at that time was the insistence that each person had to have a means beyond their own personal power to approach the creative primacy that was/is personified as “God.”  In this way the concept of “salvation” became totally a churchly matter and no longer a personal affair between each person and the Creator.  This irrational intrusion of the church being thrust between a seeker and the Absolute had to carry the appearance of being divinely ordained if it was to become an influencing factor over the masses.  And this is what accounts for the selection of Gospels that have been held out for nearly 2000 years as God’s approved pathway to heaven.  It was simply coincidence that those painstakingly selected works allowed for the souls of seeker to be held hostage as a means of financial resources and political muscle for the church.

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God So Loved the World

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, faith, history, random, religion, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 12, 2010 by chouck017894

To the author of the book of John, written c. 105-106 CE, from which the title of this blog-post was borrowed, the “world” spoken of consisted of the Roman Empire.  There was limited awareness of Asiatic peoples, but no awareness whatsoever of other peoples on the other side of the planet.  This fact should be a pertinent point to consider when assessing any messages allegedly relayed to the world through Roman-citizen mediums of that era. 

Excuse this glare of logic cast upon the recesses of faith; it is mentioned here due to the fanaticism of a Baptist group in the state of Texas who “want to bring Christ’s message of hope into every home in Texas” i.e. proselytize.  And they want to do this good deed before Easter (April 4, 2010).  The name Easter, we should remember, is borrowed from a Pagan goddess that was honored each year at the time of the vernal equinox.  The do-gooders, in their commitment to seek believers, are striving to flood every household with CDs, in both English and Spanish, of how “God so loved the world” that he would sacrifice his “only begotten son” for one little material planet that he had created out of nothing.

To quote from Time Frames and Taboo Data, pages 196-197:  The book of “Saint” John, inserted between Luke and The Acts of the Apostles (both written c. 84-90 CE), was written considerably later than the two mentioned books—almost certainly it was composed c 105-106 CE.  This “fourth” gospel has been questioned on critical grounds, and an earlier date for authorship—85-90—is generally insisted upon to make it seem as contemporary to Luke and Acts.  The John book allegedly covers the last seven years of Jesus’ life, but there is a committed dogmatic feel to it that is more in keeping with the recently established church guidelines that came into being in the early 100s.  The Jesus movement had, by the early 100s, moved away completely in an attempt to convert Jews; thus in John the character of Jesus has developed into the ethereal “Christ.”  The author was obviously intent upon eliminating the irrelevant and ambiguous incidents given in earlier gospels to focus upon and emphasize the tenets of the newly established Christology.  It is as though the gospel of John had been fashioned in the hope that it might replace the “gospels” of Mark, Matthew and Luke.  That intent seems evident in the opening line of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word (implying Christ) was with God…”  By doing this the author virtually disqualifies the other gospels, which, as in Mark began with the baptism of Jesus and in Luke which began with the birth of John the Baptist, to set Jesus as Christ at the beginning of Creation.

According to John, Jesus called his disciples in a town called Bethany; a town that John says was along the Jordan River.  Mark and Matthew, however, say that Jesus chose fishermen from the lakeshore town of Capernaum where Jesus found them fishing.  John also relates that John the Baptist told two of his followers to follow Jesus because Jesus was the Messiah.  These two were Andrew and Simon, and for some unexplained reason Jesus is made to rename Simon Kephas, which is said to be from Greek and translate as “Peter.”  There is something contrived here: something that is meant to juggle into place a claim that Simon, alias Peter, ventured to Rome to establish his church there.  Another curiosity is that a disciple that is never mentioned in Mark, Matthew or Luke is said to have joined, along with Philip, those who were with Jesus, and this newly introduced disciple is given the name Nathanael.  There are numerous other points in John’s account that are contrary to those found in the other three “gospels,” but the point here is that the author then expended some effort to harmonize events leading up to Jesus’ last conflicts.  For example, to get Jesus into position to enter Jerusalem where he is to stir up the hostility of Jewish priests, John asserts that Jesus spent the night in an unnamed town on the Mount of Olives.  The next day in the temple, Jesus more-or-less absolves a woman caught in adultery, and later immodestly speaks of himself as “the Light of the World” that had come down to Earth to save humankind.  The Jews were then depicted as descendents of Satan (even though Jesus was himself a Jew) who wanted to stone Jesus.  There are considerably more variants from the three synoptic writings, but these brief examples are more consistent with the later date of authorship and the intent for it to supplant the first three gospels. 

It was also noted on page 198 of TFTD that the message of salvation and transfiguration did not fully solidify as Christianity’s offer until c. 105-106 with all the refinements being incorporated in to gospel of Saint John.

So the fervor of the Texas proselytizers seems to have no concern about all the inconsistencies and contradictions in the convictions that they advocate.  A message of hope gets a little fuzzy when accompanied with so much ambiguity.  For those of us who dig for answers, it will take a little more than just rephrasing it all in English and Spanish.

Institutional Faith

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, history, religion with tags , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by chouck017894

In the timeframe in which Jesus is accounted for in the New Testament there was no word for an institutional-type place of worship. The closest approximation to that idea was the Greek word ekklesie, Latinized as ecclesia, meaning assembly or gathering–from which we give respect to the word ecclesiastical, now used to pertain to church or clerical things. From ekklesie there also evolved the Ecclesiastiucus, a book of the Apocrypha that is also known as “Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach.” And we should not forget the word ecclesiology was coined to mean the study of the Christian Church as an institution. Nor can we ignore the word eccelesiolatry which is a reference to worship of the church, especially extreme devotion to its principles or traditions.

The point of this is that nothing was ever suggested in NT presentation (or OT) that instructed the establishment of an institutional complex where faith could be utilized as a business venture to be presided over by a dogma-mesmerized and material-minded hierarchy. The Christian “fathers,” based in Rome and inspired by the Roman Empire manner of governing, contrived to choose church personnel in a manner that paralleled the “chosen people” of the Old Testament.

Christianity was then presented and marketed by the “founding fathers” as a new revelation of truth, and those men in supposed attendance of Jesus have been characterized as enlightened men and saints by generations of faithful. That the average Christian does not pay any attention to their claimed “holy word” is disclosed by passages in the NT that spoke of the disciples as “unlearned and ignorant men.” The faithful also refuse to note that the disciples brought before Jewish judges were judged to be idioti–idiots. And various cultures within the Roman Empire spoke of the early Christian movement as a “vulgar faith.” Celsus, the second century Platonic philosopher, spoke of the Christians as, “The rude and menial masses, who had hitherto been almost beneath the notice of Greek and Roman culture…”

Many, many men who influenced the early church did not have any particular respect for those whom they attracted. Jerome, for example, called a “saint,” spoke of the fierceness of the followers’ ardor which so frightened those who came to join that they fled in fear saying “…it is better to live among wild beasts than with such Christians.” And Julian (331-363), the Roman Emperor, renounced Christianity comparing them with “…the deadliest wild beasts (that) are hardly so savage against human beings as most Christians are against each other.” Julian also noted, “There is no wild beast like an angry theologian.”

The fanatical Christians, believing in literal mythology, went on to smother rationality, and Europe was plunged into centuries of darkness as the church institution, never dreamed of by Jesus, reigned supreme. Is it any wonder that Jesus chose not to return?

Born Again Secrets

Posted in Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, history, random, religion with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2009 by chouck017894

In Christian gospel there appears in one book, and one book only, a two-word phrase found nowhere else in biblical lore: born again. As is the habit of those who confuse their ego with divine worthiness, they have lifted the phrase out of context to use as a title of their self-proclaimed worthiness of heaven’s favoritism.

It is curcial, however, to understand when, where, and to whom Jesus supposedly said the phrase “born again.” The words are found in a brief scene in “St John’s” rendition of the Jesus story, and the words are said to a bit-player named Nicodemus, identified as “a ruler of the Jews,” who appears only twice in John’s storyline. It should be noted that the book of St John was written c.105-106 CE, when resistance to Roman rule was so sharp that the Pharisees actively discouraged Jews from travel in Italy and other parts of the Roman Empire declaring them to be “unclean.” But the John book was inserted later between Luke and Acts– both written c.84-90–to give the appearanace of event-continuity in Jewish resistance to the new cult movement.

The name given for the “ruler of the Jews” is a shrewd clue that passes along covert meaning only to those who were privileged to secret ancient teachings. The name is manufactured on neco-demon, loosely translated as “matter as devil.” This is Gnostic material, which the church fathers held to be heretical, but here it is so well reworked that it has become deeply rooted in some Christian sects, and the castoff line to a bit-player is taken as Jesus’ prime message to the world. But since the writer of the tale made a point in verse one of chapter three that Nicodemus was “a ruler of the Jews,” it is to the Jews that Jesus says, “You people must be born again.” (In many reworkings of this verse the word “people” has been edited out.) Then later, verse 10, Jesus asks, “…Art thou a master of Israel and knowest not these things?” The implication is that the Jews, whose alleged “ruler” was Nicodemus, epitomized matter as of the devil.

The single meeting of Jesus with the bit-player Nicodemus gives additional clue to the secret meaning in the name, for Nicodemus is portrayed as coming to Jesus “in the night” and just before Passover. With this single line there is cunningly welded together four approaches to “faith”: Jewish, Gnostic, the struggling Christian hybrid, and the suppressed ancient teachings that predated even the Egyptian and Sumerian civilizations.

Artfully admitted in St John 3:5-7, in the comment attributed to Jesus, is that ancient secret teachings are being referred to: “Most truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born from water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. What has been born from the flesh is flesh, and what has been born from the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel because I told you, You [people] must be born again.” Thus ancient teachings on man’s energy composition, then known only to select persons, was reduced to political maneuvering. (See The Celestial Scriptures: Keys to the Suppressed Wisdom of the Ancients for original teachings on energy as matter, and what water, spirit, night, and pass-over meant.)

The second and last strange appearance of Nicodemus in 19:39 casts him as providing the material for the entombmentof Jesus’ mortal remains.

It should be noted that St John summed up his account of Jesus’ life in a statement that is illogical in regards to a mortal man–even a god-sired man. “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.”

This superfluous tidbit between narrator and audience was typical of all Pagan passion plays and was often employed in Roman presentation. (It is noted in Time Frames and Taboo Data that no one has ever provided authentication of John.)