Archive for “st” Paul

Birthplace and Delivery of Christianity

Posted in belief, Christianity, faith, religion with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2013 by chouck017894

The New Testament character of “saint” Paul occasionally dropped little bits of information that later generations would fail to notice, or perhaps they chose to ignore them.  A case in point is his offhand statement that Christianity had actually begun in the city of Antioch (Acts 11), which was then part of Syria, but is now known as Antakya in southern Turkey.  So what was this “saint” referring to?

Antioch was founded c. 300 BCE on the left bank of the Orontes River, and was named by Seduces (1) Nicator in honor of the founder’s father, King Antiochus III the Great.  The settlement and two other nearby colonies were populated largely by Macedonians.  The region was occupied by Pompey in 64 BCE, and Antioch rapidly developed into the largest and most important Roman city in the region, attaining its greatest glory under the Roman emperors.  In the first century CE Antioch was the third largest city of the Roman Empire, and served as the capital of the proconsul province of Syria.  The city would grow in Roman Empire times to become one of the most sumptuous cities in the world due to the fact that it lay on the intersection of trade routes from the Euphrates to the sea, from El Bika to Asia Minor.  It was, therefore, a melting pot of numerous religious cultures as well.  Antioch in the Roman Empire times could boast of a great library and a noted school of philosophy.  And there, too, was traditionally celebrated the yearly death and resurrection of the Babylonian harvest god Tammuz, also known by the Phenician word Adonis, which meant “Lord.”  This Pagan faith had considerable influence on Jewish thought–remember, Ezekiel is said to have roundly rebuked the women of Jerusalem outside the gate of his temple for weeping for the dead Tammuz (Jerome, Epistle 58, ad Paulinium).

There existed in Antioch as well a group of Greek Gnostics who recognized and honored the universal “Logos,” which they identified and revered as the Chrestos, the Life Principle (creative “word”).  From their Chrestos or Chrest this esoteric group referred to themselves as Chrestianoi.  It is from this Greek Gnostic sect’s identity that the authors of Acts introduced the term Chrest, which through the timeframe of Acts composition became written variously as Chrest, Chreist, or as Christ.  Indeed the manner of spelling the word actually identified a specific author through a code of numerical value of the letters!  True history shows that the reference of Jesus as Christ did not become standardized until around 300 CE.  So the Chrestianoi predated by about 300 years the Jesus cult movement, which 600 years later became standarized as Christian.  As Paul acknowledged, the true founding place of Christianity was actually Antioch, and not a region of Palestine nor the city of Rome.

In the timeframe when Paul allegedly visited Antioch on a mission among Antiochene Jews, a famine occurred in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30), and Paul and Barnabas are said to have been sent there with famine relief by the new Antiochene church.  How the new fledgling church could have afforded to do this goes unexplained.  But more pressing to Paul was his wish to discuss the issue concerning observance of the Mosaic Law by gentile converts (Acts 15) in regard to the question whether or not men’s genitals had to be circumsized.  To Roman and Pagan seekers the scarring of mens penises seemed a bizarre passport into God’s good graces.

This alleged discussion among the apostles and elders in Jerusalem is referred to as the Apostolic Council, and is said to have taken place in front of the assembled church of Jerusalem.  And here is was that Peter is alleged to have saved the day by purportedly referring to his own experiences with converted gentiles: he is said to have declared that the converts had already received the Holy Spirit apart from the Law.  Considering how strict Simon-Peter was characterized in regard to Judaic Law, this would have been a near-profane assertion from him.  But then the disciple James is claimed to have stepped forward with proof-texts “from the prophets” which he said did indirectly support Peter’s interpretation of the Holy Spirit’s allowance.  James then further  smoothed things over by suggesting a set of minimum obligations for gentiles to follow, and James’ proposal was adopted and became incorporated into what is referred to as the Apostolic Decree, which was then dispatched to the churches in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.  The obligations that were proposed strangely echoed verses 17-18 (chapter 10) from the priest written book of Leviticus which concerned certain demands directed to the aliens residing in Israel in that prehistory Leviticus timeframe. The adjusted requirements in the Apostolic Decree thus demanded abstinence from idolatry, blood, meat from animals that had been strangled, and sexual immorality.  All theses no-no requirements, however, managed to gradually get watered down into a minimal moral code referred to as the “golden rule.”  Oddly, in Galatians 2:11-14 the impression is given that the question of necessary obligations for converts had not really been been resolved between Paul and Peter.

Unfortunately, the authors of Acts in the earliest versions, in which the character of Paul alluded to the universal Logos (Chrest), did not appeal to the Jewish mentality which leaned through training toward narrow, literal and strict tenets.  This necessitated editing the earlier Pauline theology in which Antioch Gnosticism could be grafted upon Jewish roots.  And this is the whole basis of what became known as the Peter-Paul controversy.  In the earliest writings attributed to Paul there was no expression of a belief in a personal Christ: the tenor was always in regard to a principle, which the Gnostics spoke of as the Chrestos.  The indelible impact that the auxiliary apostle Paul afforded for the emerging church was the blending of the Jewish ideas of Law and submission with the Gnostic interpretations of life, death and resurrection which became the groundwork of Christian doctrine.

A curious fact lingers over the Pauline influence and the Antiochene flavoring that evolved as the Christian faith system, and that is the fact that the early apologist and prodigious writer for the Christian movement, “saint” Justin Martyr (c. 100-165), never mentioned Paul!  That is a most peculiar silence.  But then as late as 254 there were lingering debates over the authenticity of the epistles attributed to Paul.

Faith in Constant Revision

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, belief, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, history, politics, random, religion, Social, thoughts with tags , , , , , , , on May 22, 2011 by chouck017894

An old adage that is apparently taken to heart by the Mad Tea Party and Radical Religionists in the United States today is “ignorance is bliss.”  After all, the idea is openly alluded to in the New Testament.  No, no, this is not a silly attempt at history revision as so ardently indulged in by those aforementioned political/religious nutcases.

Dear old “saint” Paul made the young cult’s anti-intellectual message clear around 95 CE.  At that time he was attempting to channel the  young Christian cult in a new direction away from its earlier concentration on trying to attract Jewish converts.  Paul’s drive to alter the earlier “gospel” accounts with the idea for broader appeal is evident in several of the later books.  For example, in II Corinthians, written c. 100-105, 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 were allegedly still preaching—he called deceivers! 

Paul is credited with penning I Corinthians (15:12, on resurrection), written c. 94-100, but his doctrine of resurrection was not accepted by the early church.  In I Timothy (1:3), written later, c. 103-105, Paul is pictured as struggling with the so-called heretics of his doctrine.  Also in I Timothy (6:3), Paul’s revision of the earlier cult doctrine is muscled into place with Paul saying that anyone who disagrees with him will go to hell!  But his history altering doctrine was not voted into “official” status by the resulting corporate church (Catholic) until the Councils of Nice in 325 and 382.

The people that Paul’s message sought to reach and shape as adherents were the throngs of common people; more accurately the lesser educated.  If one doubts that his church sought to keep people in ignorance, look more closely at the New Testament for any instruction on how to attain enlightenment.  Indeed, even in pre-Pauline works such as Matthew 10:16—second revision c. 70-75—it openly equates wisdom with evil.  And in Matthew 10:19 and in Mark 13:11 (edited c. 55-60) the instruction is for people not to study a problem but to pray and ask for divine guidance.  On the surface that sounds good.  But the implication seems to be that God did not give man a brain to use so he might assume responsibility for himself. 

Paul retained that early church idea of encouraging minimum brain activity in his housecleaning enthusiasm.  So in I Corinthians 3:15 it is declared that wisdom is foolishness!  And the author’s Roman mindset is exposed in II Corinthians 10:5 where it is stated that every thought must be a slave to god.  And because confession is said to be good for the soul, the author openly admitted in I Corinthians 1:18 and again in 2:16 that Christianity is directed to the ignorant, not to the learned and wise.

Paul allegedly set out on his Christian mission around the year 45.  The message that he is said to have sought to establish was not particularly dissimilar to other Pagan religions of the timeframe.  For example, well-known gods such as Tammuz, Mithras and others were also resurrection savior-gods, so the doctrines he is credited with did not depart radically from the ancient Pagan presentation.  In support of Paul’s doctrine, however, the NT book of Galatians 2:9, written later c. 94-100, Paul is said to mention James and Cephas (the latter better known as Simon/Peter) and John, as having been the three principal leaders of the original church in Jerusalem.  Of these three, only Cephas (Peter) and John were part of the claimed twelve apostles.  Tradition has it that Peter and John were arrested by Jewish leaders in Jerusalem, and according to Acts of the Apostles, written c. 84-90, the judges of the apostles “…saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, 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 are credited with establishing god’s preferred faith system.

Nero became Emperor in 54.  According to Christian lore, around the year 55, by present means of recording time, Paul was responsible for mass burnings of books which he had judged to speak of “strange things.”  In other words, the early authors of the “gospels” were already attempting disposal of older literature available to the public which had to do with other religious/spiritual concepts.  That move required some economic and political clout to implement such an undertaking, and the aristocratic Piso family and some of their literati friends happened to have such influence. 

Christian tradition (no historical support) has it that Paul was arrested in 58.  In that timeframe the cult was not known as Christians; the little sect referred to themselves simply as the brethren.  The first book, Mark, was only then beginning to be widely distributed in 58—which also required economic support for copiers and distribution.  The story timing of Paul’s alleged arrest thus just happens to coincide with the noticeable shift in Nero’s character in this same timeframe.  Six years later, in 64, much of Rome went down in flames, and in 65 many aristocrats and distinguished persons organized against Nero, which is known as the Pisonian Conspiracy, named after the principal leader Gaius Calpurnius Piso.  The plot was uncovered by Nero, and among the prominent Romans other than Piso who died as a result were the famed statesman, dramatist and former tutor of Nero named Seneca, and Seneca’s nephew Lucan, who was a popular epic poet.

A note of interest:  Somewhat later in the year 84, Pliny the Younger, noted for his epistle-style writing skills, became a member of the Piso family by marriage to Gauis Calpurnius Piso’s great-granddaughter, known as Calpurnia.  And it was through the following timeframe that Acts of the Apostles, I Corinthians, Galatians, and Ephesians were penned.

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 Pompeia Plotina Piso of the aristocratic Calpurnius Piso clan, which had long held considerable interest in the Christian movement.  And it was in this era (up to 140) that so many of the New Testament books freely poured out upon the Roman world.  Among them: I Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Book of  Romans; II Corinthians; I Timothy; Titus; Book of John; Colossians; II Timothy; Philemon; I and II Peter; I, II, II John; Jude: Revelations; and Hebrews.

By 115 the Christian movement was exerting a magnetic effect upon the targeted lower classes, slaves and criminals.  And in this timeframe literary friends began to insert little innocent references into their writings which implied a righteous historic background for the cult.  So even then history was being revised slightly for effect—a tactic dutifully practiced to this day by the political minded religionists in the United States.  Among those willing to aid and abet such spiritual inspiration was the Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus—a pseudonym for Cornelius Palma, a friend of Pliny the Younger and the Pisos.  There was also Suetonius Tranquillus, Roman  biographer and historian who also happened to be a close friend of Pliny the younger.

With a background such as this, there is a long-established precedence which the revisionists dutifully emulate in the US today.  And the religious extremists’ scheming political drive brings with it a depressing awareness to the fact that the symbol of their fanaticism happens to have once been a Roman implement of torture.