How Christianity emerged

The unity described in the canonical book of Acts is largely a fiction. It conflicts on a number of points with the letters of Paul which show that Paul was struggling with other Christians for the dominance of his point of view. Jesus left no writings of his own. There were many conflicting views about who he was and what he stood for. There were many Christianities.

Many years passed before Christians agreed concerning which books should comprise their sacred scriptures. In the early centuries of the church, alternative forms of Christianity wrestled over doctrinal questions. Apart from the twenty books that were ultimately chosen there were many other books also written by Christians advocating points of view different than those later embodied in what became the canon.

The Christian faction that eventually became dominant suppressed and even sought to destroy evidence of the other Christian beliefs. The victors, they rewrote history.

Saul created Christianity, in antithesis to what this fictitious figure represented - a threat to Jewish dogma, by Hellenising Judaism, converting it form elitist to universal.

The Jews hate Jesus because he threatens their victim monopoly, and their victim status, as those ‘chosen by god’ to suffer on his behalf.
This is why Nietzsche admired Jesus…and why the Jews chose Barabas when given the option.
Christianity universalized victimhood, and salvation from this ‘fallen state’ of existence.
This is why Marxism is a secularization of Christianity, and Christianity, is Judaized Hellenism, or Platonism.
Hellenism itself is the exact antithesis of Judaism.

The Christ narrative is how Paul concealed and mystified these contradictions, so as make Judaism palatable to pagan Europeans.
Christ story is a narration form tangible to intangible being, from the natural to an imagined supernatural state.
Through Jesus the corporeal was sacrificed, and the abstract was born - pure ideal with no tangible referents.

So we were taught. It’s closer to the truth to say that Judaism is a Hellenistic revision of Yahwism which preceded it, the subject of another thread.

To hold dogmatically to Nietzsche’s view of Christian history is to ignore the historical research and archaeology since the 19th century.

The video is a Derrick Lambert production. I’ve watched a lot of his videos. This one is based on a book by Richard C. Miller which I haven’t read. But, Amazon has a short synopsis of it which reads:

“This book offers an original interpretation of the origin and early reception of the most fundamental claim of Christianity: Jesus’ resurrection. Richard Miller contends that the earliest Christians would not have considered the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ resurrection to be literal or historical, but instead would have recognized this narrative as an instance of the trope of divine translation, common within the Hellenistic and Roman mythic traditions. Given this framework, Miller argues, early Christians would have understood the resurrection story as fictitious rather than historical in nature. By drawing connections between the Gospels and ancient Greek and Roman literature, Miller makes the case that the narratives of the resurrection and ascension of Christ applied extensive and unmistakable structural and symbolic language common to Mediterranean “translation fables,” stock story patterns derived particularly from the archetypal myths of Heracles and Romulus. In the course of his argument, the author applies a critical lens to the referential and mimetic nature of the Gospel stories, and suggests that adapting the “translation fable” trope to accounts of Jesus’ resurrection functioned to exalt him to the level of the heroes, demigods, and emperors of the Hellenistic and Roman world. Miller’s contentions have significant implications for New Testament scholarship and will provoke discussion among scholars of early Christianity and Classical studies.”

All very interesting. Joseph Campbell in his book , ”Oriental Mythology: Masks of the Gods” says “ It is impossible to reconstruct the character, life and actual teaching of the man who became Buddha. He is supposed to have lived c. 563.-483 B.C. However, his earliest biography, that of the Pali Canon, was set down in writing only c. 80 BC in Ceylon, five centuries and fifteen hundred miles removed from the actual historic scene. And the life, by then, had become mythology—according to a pattern characteristic of World Saviors of the period from c. 550 BC to c. 500 AD, whether in India, as in the Jains, or in the Near East, as in the gospel view of Christ.”

Most historians think that the authentic writings of Paul and the canonical gospels were all written within 60 years of the death of Christ. The earliest accounts of Buddha were written 500 years after his death. Yet, we don’t see comparable controversy about the historicity of the Buddha. Why not?

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I think the difference is that the Buddha of legend is not considered historical among the same people who no longer consider the Gospels historical. Those who believe the legend of Buddha literally, would also believe the Jesus story literally.

The idea that people 2,000 years ago would have seen the Gospel narrative as an instance of the trope of divine translation, common within the Hellenistic and Roman mythic traditions, has occured to me as well, especially when you speak to elderly people about the story, who have no connection with fundamentalist teaching. It offends them if you start trying to disect the narratives, because they live and are valid as stories, as wholes that speak to them.

In a way it is like someone saying they want to disect the cat, because they want to know it better. It dies if you do and all the attributes it had are gone.

Judaism was introduced to Rome through Saul…what sources you prefer to read, is your affair.
Your need to disconnect Judaism from Islam and Christianity is your blind spot.

When cultures come in contact, as did Hellenism with many cultures, there’s cross-cotnaminaiton.
In this case it doesn’t matter if Hellenism was Judaized or if Judaism was Hellenized…what remains is a corruption of Hellenism - or Indo-European spirituality (paganism as you will call it).
I’ve written elsewhere that Judaism was also affected… Marxism and Zionism are byproducts of this contact with Hellenism…as is Satanism.
The animosity between Christians and Jews is based on this selective adoption of pagan tropes - mostly Platonism…like idol worship.
The Bible narrative is about how Christianity, inspired by Hellenic cosmopolitanism and Platonic idealism, universalized Judaism…essentially destroying its elitism…its choseness mythos.
This is central to Judaism and so they will not accept it. Without this spiritual, moral, elitism, their superstitions dissolve.

The roots of Christianity, coming from Judaism, can be traced back to Zoroastrianism, ancient-Egyptian spirituality, Mesopotamia, and Gnosticism.
All these are appropriated and shaped to accommodate Judaism’s objectives… contradicting universal applications.
Seducing the world’s desperation, ignorance, and fears, became a tool for mass control.

This is why Christianity first took hold among Rome’s slaves and then spread upward, among the elites where human desperation was also to be found.
It is, like all three Abrahamic religions, spirituality for humanity’s needy…those seeking “salvation/freedom” from nature’s injustices.

The question is why the historical existence of Jesus is of such critical importance that it excites controversy even today, while the historical existence of Buddha, although not any better documented is relatively uncontroversial.

It’s because, Buddhism stresses Buddha’s teaching, whereas Christianity stresses not Jesus’ teaching but his death and resurrection. So, if the Buddhist’s teaching is right, they who practice it will awaken, whether Buddha existed or not. But, if Jesus didn’t really exist, Christians don’t believe they can be saved.

And we encounter so many people, who were indoctrinated to believe in Jesus as children who no longer believe. Many of the Youtube skeptics and historical scholars who lecture on Youtube, like Bart Ehrman, were once Christians. And many of the Christians who still profess the Faith have lost or never possessed spiritual reality.

Those who have the spiritual reality have no problem believing that Buddha awakened and is awake today. Those who have spiritual reality have no problem believing that although Jesus was crucified 2000 years ago, he is alive today. Further, they have no problem with the evolution of mythology, ritual, and the concept of God.

All these things point to the transcendent one who is beyond sense perception, beyond language, and beyond the human mind. The best that faith can do is assent to It—the reality at the core of every religion worthy of the name.

Judaism was introduced to Rome in 161 BCE, long before Paul who you call Saul was born. Here’s the account in the book of 1 Maccabees:

8 Now Judas heard of the fame of the Romans, that they were very strong and were well-disposed toward all who made an alliance with them, that they pledged friendship to those who came to them, 2 and that they were very strong. He had been told of their wars and of the brave deeds that they were doing among the Gauls, how they had defeated them and forced them to pay tribute, 3 and what they had done in the land of Spain to get control of the silver and gold mines there, 4 and how they had gained control of the whole region by their planning and patience, even though the place was far distant from them. They also subdued the kings who came against them from the ends of the earth, until they crushed them and inflicted great disaster on them; the survivors paid them tribute every year. 5 They had crushed in battle and conquered Philip, and King Perseus of the Macedonians,[a] and the others who rose up against them. 6 They also had defeated Antiochus the Great, king of Asia, who went to fight against them with one hundred twenty elephants and with cavalry and chariots and a very large army. He was crushed by them; 7 they took him alive and decreed that he and those who would reign after him should pay a heavy tribute and give hostages and surrender some of their best provinces: 8 the countries of India, Media, and Lydia. These they took from him and gave to King Eumenes. 9 The Greeks planned to come and destroy them, 10 but this became known to them, and they sent a general against the Greeks[b] and attacked them. Many of them were wounded and fell, and the Romans[c] took captive their wives and children; they plundered them, conquered the land, tore down their strongholds, and enslaved them to this day. 11 The remaining kingdoms and islands, as many as ever opposed them, they destroyed and enslaved, 12 but with their friends and those who rely on them they have kept friendship. They have subdued kings far and near, and as many as have heard of their fame have feared them. 13 Those whom they wish to help and to make kings, they make kings, and those whom they wish they depose, and they have been greatly exalted. 14 Yet for all this not one of them has put on a crown or worn purple as a mark of pride, 15 but they have built for themselves a senate chamber, and every day three hundred twenty senators constantly deliberate concerning the people, to govern them well. 16 They trust one man each year to rule over them and to control all their land; they all heed the one man, and there is no envy or jealousy among them.

17 So Judas chose Eupolemus son of John son of Accos, and Jason son of Eleazar, and sent them to Rome to establish friendship and alliance 18 and to free themselves from the yoke, for they saw that the kingdom of the Greeks was enslaving Israel completely. 19 They went to Rome, a very long journey, and they entered the senate chamber and spoke as follows:20 “Judas, who is also called Maccabeus, and his brothers and the people of the Jews have sent us to you to establish alliance and peace with you, so that we may be enrolled as your allies and friends.” 21 The proposal pleased them, 22 and this is a copy of the letter that they wrote in reply, on bronze tablets, and sent to Jerusalem to remain with them there as a memorial of peace and alliance:

23 “May all go well with the Romans and with the nation of the Jews at sea and on land forever, and may sword and enemy be far from them. 24 If war comes first to Rome or to any of their allies in all their dominion, 25 the nation of the Jews shall act as their allies wholeheartedly, as the occasion may indicate to them. 26 To the enemy that makes war they shall not give or supply grain, arms, money, or ships, just as Rome has decided, and they shall keep their obligations without receiving any return. 27 In the same way, if war comes first to the nation of the Jews, the Romans shall willingly act as their allies, as the occasion may indicate to them. 28 And to their enemies there shall not be given grain, arms, money, or ships, just as Rome has decided, and they shall keep these obligations and do so without deceit. 29 Thus on these terms the Romans make a treaty with the Jewish people. 30 If after these terms are in effect both parties shall determine to add or delete anything, they shall do so at their discretion, and any addition or deletion that they may make shall be valid.

31 “Concerning the wrongs that King Demetrius is doing to them, we have written to him as follows, ‘Why have you made your yoke heavy on our friends and allies the Jews? 32 If now they appeal again for help against you, we will defend their rights and fight you on sea and on land.’ ”

Which also explains why Jesus’ teaching takes backseat in many Christian countries, and often an ideology of opposite nature is dominant. I often have the feeling that “Christianity” as it is called today has more to do with bourgeoisie rules of conduct, than with Jesus’ teaching, and that it has to do with appearances, rather than loving God by loving oneself and our neighbour.

Contact between the Jews and the Greeks had occurred before Saul introduced a Hellenised Judaism to the Romans, adapting it to a form the pagans could relate with.

Saul invented proto-Christianity. Over the centuries it evolved into what we know as Christianity.
Not Jesus…some say he was an amalgamation of people, and not a real person.

Jews did not invent the tropes they used to create Judaism. They appropriated ideas from all the host nations they were eventually expelled from, starting with the Egyptians.

Not only Nietzsche but multiple intellectuals see in Christianity a corruption of Hellenism and ancient Indo-Euroepan traditional values and morals and spiritual beliefs.

This war between Judaism and Hellenism is ancient.
Two opposing worldviews…one appealing to man’s insecurities the other to man’s vanities.
Judaism is a spirituality of slaves, attempting to build strength on human weaknesses and fears.
Christianity is exactly that, adapted for European psychologies.
As European influence spread, so did Christianity.

Can we say that the trend starts with Paul to whom are attributed thirteen books of the New Testament almost never quotes the teachings of Jesus as found in the four gospels? What’s up with that?

One can speculate. Did Paul not know what Jesus taught? He was not a disciple of Jesus after all. But, one would think that those teaching would have been passed on through the apostles. And perhaps they were. But, Paul’s way was to follow the Christ revealed to him as the indwelling Spirit not the Jesus that he heard about second hand from others.

Now unlike some of my ex-evangelical friends, I’m not a Paul basher. I think a strong case can be compatibility of Paul and Jesus while at the same time not neglecting their different approaches

I would compare the different of Jesus and Paul approaches to different yogas. Jesus’ approach in the the sermon on the mount is like karma yoga— a way of action. Paul’s approach is like bhakti yoga—a way of devotion. These are like different paths to the same mountain top.

Of course. Alexander gave the Judeans a crash course. The Maccabean revolt was a Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid empire and against Hellenistic influences on Jewish life. The main phase of the revolt lasted from 167 to 160 BCE. But as you indicated, there was a cross-cultural influence between Hellenism and Judaism. And, I do agree that what Paul preached was Hellenized Judaism. To call Paul a Christian would be an anachronism, a point that few Christians understand.

It would also be a mistake to suppose that in the first century there was one Judaism. There were multiple factions including the Sadducees, the Pharisees, the Essenes, the Samaritans and the Way which is what the earliest Jesus followers were called. The differences between these folks were, no doubt, an important factor in their downfall as a nation. The mythical unity of Israel is a major theme of the Hebrew Bible and one carried forward in Christian eschatology.

As a diaspora Jew, Paul has more in common with Philo of Alexandria, who interpreted the Hebrew scriptures in terms of middle Platonism, then he does with James the brother of Jesus who led the Jesus followers in Jerusalem following Jesus’ execution by the Romans. In “The Acts of the Apostles” the book in which the story of Paul’s name change is told, the author, apparently of the Pauline camp, minimizes the importance of James to the movement, as do the writers of the canonical gospels. But, even in Acts, James is acknowledged to be the leader to whom Paul and Peter, whom catholics consider the first pope, defer.

The Gospel of Thomas

The verses below are printed in the order discussed in the video plus my comments. (They skipped around. ) I used a different translation i.e. that of Marvin Meyer.

Prologue: “These are the hidden sayings that the living Jesus spoke and Judas Thomas the Twin recorded.”

Immediately the author tells us what this book is about—gnosis—hidden knowledge.

The name Thomas derives from the Aramaic word for twin. Thomas is Jesus’ twin. Symbolically Thomas as Jesus’ represents the human spirit which is identical to the spirit of Jesus.

3 (1) “Jesus said, “If your leaders say to you, ‘Look, the kingdom is in heaven,’ then the birds of heaven will precede you. (2) If they say to you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will precede you. (3) Rather, the kingdom is inside you and it is outside you. (4) “When you know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will understand that you are children of the living Father. (5) But if you do not know yourselves, then you dwell in poverty, and you are poverty.”

The kingdom of God is within you and you within in it as a present reality. It is your true self. Salvation comes from knowing who you really are. As children of God we share God’s divine nature. It is only our ignorance that makes us seem poor. The poor look for a future outward material kingdom.

51 (1)” His disciples said to him, “When will the rest for the dead take place, and when will the new world come?” (2) He said to them, “What you look for has come, but you do not know it.” “

Apocalypticism is repudiated. The kingdom of God is already here, as is seen by ones enlightened by gnosis.

56 (1) Jesus said, “Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, (2) and whoever has discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy.”

The world is death. The one who becomes aware of this is liberated from it.

29 (1) “Jesus said, “If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a marvel, (2) but if spirit came into being because of the body, it is a marvel of marvels. (3) Yet I marvel at how this great wealth has come to dwell in this poverty.”

The consciousness that you are is like a treasure in an earthen vessel. If you identify with the body you are impoverished. If you identify with consciousness you are rich.

50 (1) Jesus said, “If they say to you, ‘Where have you come from?’ say to them, ‘We have come from the light, from the place where the light came into being by itself, established [itself], and appeared in their image.’

The light is primordial consciousness. It is the self luminous substratum of all. That is what we are. Therefore, we are called children of light.

84 (1) Jesus said, “When you see your likeness, you are happy. (2) But when you see your images that came into being before you and that neither die nor become visible, how much you will bear!”

When you look in the mirror and are happy with what you see, this cannot compare to the true happiness of your invisible Self for whom there was no birth and there will be no death.

13 (1) Jesus said to his disciples, “Compare me to something and tell me what I am like.” (2) Simon Peter said to him, “You are like a just messenger.” (3) Matthew said to him, “You are like a wise philosopher.” (4) Thomas said to him, “Teacher, my mouth is utterly unable to say what you are like.” (5) Jesus said, “I am not your teacher. Because you have drunk, you have become intoxicated from the bubbling spring that I have tended.” (6) And he took him, and withdrew, and spoke three sayings to him. (7) When Thomas came back to his friends, they asked him, “What did Jesus say to you?” (8) Thomas said to them, “If I tell you one of the sayings he spoke to me, you will pick up rocks and stone me, and fire will come from the rocks and consume you.”

The three words are “I am you.” The disciples will stone Thomas for blasphemy if he utters them. In this Thomas stands for us all.

108 (1) Jesus said, “Whoever drinks from my mouth will become like me; (2) I myself shall become that person, (3) and the hidden things will be revealed to that person.”

Thomas is an exemplar that we can model and become a twin of Jesus himself.

52 (1) His disciples said to him, “Twenty-four prophets have spoken in Israel, and they all spoke of you.” (2) He said to them, “You have disregarded the living one who is in your presence and have spoken of the dead.”

Jesus is the living transmitter of divine gnosis.

14 (1) Jesus said to them, “If you fast, you will bring sin upon yourselves, (2) and if you pray, you will be condemned, (3) and if you give to charity, you will harm your spirits. (4) “When you go into any region and walk through the countryside, when people receive you, eat what they serve you and heal the sick among them. (5) For what goes into your mouth will not defile you; rather, it is what comes out of your mouth that will defile you.”

Salvation is by gnosis not by good works or asceticism.

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These texts claim to be Jesus’ secret teachings referred to in the Gospel of Mark.

Pagels has her own favorites among the so-called gnostic gospels. Cognitive freedom overtakes ecclesiastical authority as first principle among the gnostics. We all come from the light.

So in early Christianity what later became labeled and condemned as gnosticism was normal. Most secular scholars don’t think it goes back to Jesus himself. Rather, he was an apocalyptic prophet. But, if they are honest they must admit that they don’t know. The Christian mystic knows those scholars are wrong because they dwell in his self-luminous presence.

What disturbed me about the conversation with Elaine Pagels is that when criticism of the Hebrew god is mentioned, they don’t see it as a criticism of the depiction of the Hebrew god but as “another” inferior god. It sounded to me as though the phantasmagorical stories of gods are how Greek authors may be used to portraying the sacred or the divine. There seems to be a lot of confusion between Jewish monotheism and the Greek pantheon going on.

Pagels differentiates the demiurge from the Gospel of Thomas, saying that isn’t what is going on there and stresses the mystical tradition, which has continued in various forms until modern times. Since I moved away from the “orthodoxy” of the catholic and protestant churches towards mysticism, and since then, as you know, discovered non-duality and Advaita Vedanta, I have a strong feeling that this is where it is going.

As Pagels says, “… they also encourage you to look at secret teaching and visionary teaching and teaching that is symbolic in which the meaning is not always on the surface. That’s what esoteric teaching is about. You know every tradition, whether it’s Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or what else, they all have a secret teaching, esoteric teaching, mystical teaching and public teaching.” The church empowered by the emperor required it to have authority, and so all ideas of every Tom, Dick or Harry being empowered to become visionary were eradicated because it was, and is, subversive.

If you will, the Children of the Light are the followers of the Way, who is Jesus.

Please say more about what disturbed you. I’m not sure I understand what you meant.

This video is about Jesus’ first followers according to Q —the hypothetical sayings gospel that appears in the gospels of Matthew and Luke.

As a source for both Matthew and Luke,Q would have to be circulating before either wrote, making it like Mark one of the earliest written gospels. It may have been written in the 50s or 60s AD.

Q is anonymous. As an earlier source than Luke or Matthew, Q gets us closer in time to the historical Jesus. Moreover, the Q sayings are recorded in Greek not in Aramaic the language that Jesus spoke in.

While Q is primarily a collection of sayings there are some stories, such as Jesus’ temptation in the desert, the centurion’ faith in Jesus’ word and probably a story of Jesus’ baptism. Q has no stories about Jesus’ death or resurrection.

Q includes an apocalyptic sayings, including the idea that the dead are rising and that this is a sign. Resurrection also appears in Q when Jesus counters those who are seeking a sign. Although this places the Q community within the apocalyptic worldview, believing in resurrection, it does not talk about Jesus’ resurrection in particular.

Although not a story of Jesus’ death one saying in Q seems to show awareness of his crucifixion “Jesus said “…the one who does not take one’s cross and follow after me cannot be my disciple. “ The lack of any teachings about Jesus’ resurrection makes Q unlikely to have been produced by an eatly Chritian community planted by Paul.

Instead ,Q’s take on Jesus’ execution may be that of a prophet whose testimony was sealed with the blood of martyrdom much like John the Baptist, also a prophet in Q. Having called Jesus greater than Solomon, Q also links John and Jesus as sons of Wisdom. Wisdom is is a divine personification in the Hebrew Wisdom tradition.

Lacking any mention of Jesus’ resurrection and focusing on his teachings, the community that produced Q may have seen him more in terms of a martyred prophet. John the Baptist, Jesus and later his brother James the Just, were all historical figures and leaders in the early Jesus movement who were executed by political and/or religious authorities. The Q community may have understood these deaths within the framework of the martyrdom of prophets.

In addition to referencing Jerusalem, some of the sayings in Q reference lands of the Gentiles both distant (Nineveh) and closer at hand (Tyre and Sidon) along with the mythical city of Sodom from Genesis. But, other references are close at hand to Galilee: Capernaum, Nazareth, etc.