Sunday, February 20, 2005

Where Did The New Testament Come From?

Joel Bainerman on the origins of Christianity and the New Testament:

If Roman slaves had begun to see the attractiveness of Judaism as a religion (who wouldn't if you were a slave and Judaism was against slavery and Rome was for it) the Romans had to offer a replacement that fulfilled the same function, i.e., giving the slaves a miniscule amount of human dignity. As they were slaves, it wouldn't take much for them to rise up a notch on the spiritual ladder of first century living but still be beholden to serving the needs of Rome. As slaves they only knew misery and despair. Believing in "salvation through Christ" was a step up and better than continue to be a slave with no end purpose to your life.


Blogger The Doctor said...

This article was written to help Jews understand the origins of "Christian anti-Semitism". It is also targeted at any Jew who believes that "Jesus Chris is the Son of God" and represents the "fulfillment of the biblical prophesies pertaining to the eventual arrival of the Jewish Messiah." If you are a Jew who believes that "Christ is the Jewish Messiah", and that is not the case, there is no reason for you to leave your faith and convert to Christianity.

When it comes to the origins of the New Testament and the relationship between early Christianity and Judaism we Jews are out to lunch. We don't even want to know. Our history books give us no credible information to determine what that relationship was and who else was in the picture at the time. We were given a "Josephus" and told that even though he defected to the Romans, the traditional enemy of the Jews in that time period, yet his version of events are to be considered accurate, objective, and credible.

We are told via the New Testament that Pharisees and Sadducees were both intent on "ruling over the Jewish masses" with the Pharisees being slightly better than the downright awful Sadducees. It was never pointed out in the history books we read that the Sadducees were in bed with the Romans (i.e., traitors) while being technically consider one of the "leaders" of the Jews along with the Pharisees. Sadducees had been the front men for the Roman appointed ruler Herod . The entire story was not given to us in Hebrew school and university Jewish studies courses.

What is not written by Josephus is that the Pharisees had political and financial support from the Maccabean royal house in their opposition to the Herodians. It is the Pharisees version of Judaism that became "Rabbinical/Normative Judaism" in Jewish history- not the Sadducees. The Sadducees were busy plotting with the Romans and making deals behind the backs of their fellow Jews. They were the "rich, power Jews" of their day that hobnobbed with the non-Jewish foreign rulers. From where they came from (they just suddenly appear in Jewish history) was never told to us by our Jewish history professors nor what they were all about.

Thus when the picture becomes clearer, it is the Pharisees who the Romans had to worry about as the Sadducees were already in their pocket. The Pharisees represented a huge threat to the Romans- both because of their steadfast refusal to submit to Roman domination- and the attractiveness of their religion to the surrounding slave population (and the rest of the poor masses) of the Roman Empire.

If Roman slaves had begun to see the attractiveness of Judaism as a religion (who wouldn't if you were a slave and Judaism was against slavery and Rome was for it) the Romans had to offer a replacement that fulfilled the same function, i.e., giving the slaves a miniscule amount of human dignity. As they were slaves, it wouldn't take much for them to rise up a notch on the spiritual ladder of first century living but still be beholden to serving the needs of Rome. As slaves they only knew misery and despair. Believing in "salvation through Christ" was a step up and better than continue to be a slave with no end purpose to your life.

Slaves must have looked at the Jews with their much more sophisticated and highly educated society and great success. When the Dispersion took place the Jews were welcomed with open arms everywhere. The gentile slaves looked up to the Jews because it was known that the Jews (with the Pharisees leading the way) were fighting for the right of all the slaves in the Roman empire to be free men. What a battle the Jews were leading against such a powerful enemy!

Being a much more complicated deal Judaism required Torah study and observance of concepts to "sanctify life and G-d's name" which might have been a too intellectually challenging for the slaves to being able to embrace. On the other hand, the New Testament and Christianity was handed to them as sort of a "mini-Judaism" which only required them to accept a small number of commitments to heart- such as "accepting Jesus as the Messiah" and thus confirming an afterlife. Judaism required much more than a few simple declarations of the belief in "Jesus as the Son of God and your personal redeemer" . The Romans needed to create a simplified version of a religion that had "Jewish clouds" hovering above it but that wasn't Judaism.

This new religion could have overtones of Roman and Greek religion in it, that was okay as those concepts, the slaves were familiar with and had no problem identifying with. Thus someone who was half-man, half god was similar to the legends of Hercules, which they felt comfortable with. In fact, nothing in the theology of Christianity is unique as nearly all of its concepts and beliefs are found in Paganism. In the first Century world of the Roman Empire concepts such as Gods who are born of mortals, ascend and descend from their home in heaven to earth, control the universe, and who were concerned with people's lives; the soul being everlasting, were not strange.

Dr. Wallace F. Dean, author of "The Mania of Religion", states: "the virgin mother story was easily acceptable to the Roman people, because they were already psychologically conditioned to the same establishment myth of the vestal virgin Rhea Silva and her godly son Romulus." Dr. Dean claims Mathew and Luke used a pagan Egyptian myth and molded it into a messiah for the Christians to easily identify with and accept.

In order not to have any messy evidence laying around for future generations to discover these links, between the 2nd and 4th centuries, The Roman Catholic Church burned most of the Gnostic and Pagan literature which would have shown Christianity to be the pirated religion that it was.

Why The Romans Created Christianity And The New Testament

Why did the Romans need something new to keep the salves enslaved?

Because the Pharisees urged and end to slavery, democratic forms of government, and doing away with the oligarchy. Since Rome had no interest in stopping slavery, it installed its puppet, Herod, and made him appear Jewish so that the Jews would give up and side with the Romans. It never worked. The Romans were in danger of losing its Imperial government to a "local government of the people" thus they needed to create a replacement ideology for the slaves to what the Pharisees were proposing.

In order to promote slavery and create a religion that would be considered attractive to the slaves, the Romans gave the slaves a custom-made religion (set of concepts and beliefs) which had simple, common traits: humility, meek shall inherit, a promise of afterlife of bliss in heaven after years of suffering on earth, good overruns evil in the end, etc. As the Romans were a sophisticated bunch they knew what the problem was and how to solve it: a new religion that all the Gentiles/slaves can be "attached to" so that they think they are free. With their people at the top they pulled the strings either way. The Romans were neither stupid nor gamblers.

A new religion was needed for the slaves so they will think they are more free and better off and of under more of their own free will- but it will be an illusion- never mind- but mission accomplished on behalf of the Romans. Christianity made the slaves even better patriots and to "render unto Caesar". It supported nationalism, loyalty, patriotism and commitment to serve Rome. The new religion was also useful to the Romans because it gave the members of the empire a common enemy in the Jews. A double whammy end result for Rome.

The new religion was a concoction of the best components taken from earlier and pre-existing religions and belief systems, along with some new concepts that would be "unique to Christians" to give these poor, destitute slaves some reason to smile when they get up in the morning. That is what the Romans gave them: a drug called Christianity, which enabled the slaves to better accept their lot in life.

The Roman leadership must have known that the idea of having the slaves worship "Roman Gods" would get harder and harder as their lives weren't changing for the better- they were still slaves. Thus it only had to be slightly better than their existing condition to appear attractive. It had to be a religion that had appeal to the slaves and all the other poor people in the empire (the majority of the population).

For Rome the whole game was about preserving their privileged status in the world and surviving with something. So what if nobody worshiped Roman gods anymore. That was a small price to pay to keep the slave working for the empire by having them think they were better off that they were when they were slaves. Put yourselves in the Romans' shoes. It isn't like you have much choice in the matter as obviously you are going to lose control over your slaves- eventually. Better the slaves believe in a new religion you own and control than someone else's.

Christianity Made Life As A Roman Slave Slightly Better

Christianity allowed the slaves some self-respect. It gave them hope, hardened their resolve to endure terrible conditions or punishment, consoled them, sedated them, comforted them, and let them "feel moral and good" That is why Jesus was presented in this way. It was meant to rise up the slaves from being believers in Roman gods to the concept that "self of the person counts not just the needs of the Master" so that they will feel free but will remain subjugated as they were before.

While the slaves felt his "reward in heaven" was what that really mattered. To him, this was an improvement in life over worshiping the Roman gods. The simplicity of Christian beliefs and concepts fit the needs of the slaves like a glove and provided real competition to Judaism which was too complicated for the slaves to follow. For them, Christianity was a lot easier to adopt and absorb than "strict Torah laws". Thus it makes sense now, when viewed that way, how the "spirit" and the "law" split between Christianity (the spirit) and Judaism "the rigid law" got defined in that way in future generations of Christian thinking. Anti-Semitism was put into the New Testament for a reason. Jews were made to look bad on purpose. It is truly the origins of anti-Semitism as before that, anti-Jewish sentiments were ethnic- not racial. Now it was "theological" as well.

We have to figure that the Romans must have been experts on "manipulating the mindset". They realized that needed a new religion that would respect "the willingness to die to save the nation state" which is where all the "knights and chivalry" legends of "Christian warriors" have their roots. The belief in an eventual reward in "the world to come" also served as a useful distraction to the grinding pain of war. When you believe that: "when Jesus is allowed into my heart my soul will live forever in heaven" the reward is sitting there in heaven next to Jesus and to God. What a vision for a slave to embrace. For a human being that knows only the horrors of being a slave accepting "simplistic Christian notions of goodness or being honest" was a huge step up from worshipping Roman gods and still living a slaves' life.

When a slave becomes a Christian he feels better of himself and his self-esteem. On a higher moral status than when he was a slave. This is logical. That is why Christianity caught on so fast. If the Roman Empire had really viewed the rise of Christianity as a threat to their ability to domain over others they would have put it out of business when it first started up and it never would have spread. It spread so fast precisely because that is what the Romans intended it to do.

What Does All This Mean For Us Jews?

This essay was written for Jews to read, first, and everyone else after.

For a Jew, this interpretation of the origins of the New Testament and the Christian religion based on the New Testament explains the anti-Semitism in the New Testament, explains the anti-Semitism in the Roman Catholic Church, and how the idea emerged that equated the Jews with the Devil. The Jews are presented in the New Testament as hostile and in a very negative light. That wasn't the whole story. The whole myth that was built up around "Jesus" and the "Gospels" was done with a huge dose of anti Jewish, anti-Semitic, anti-Israelite sentiment behind it. For this reason all Jews need to know what really happened back then.

The Jews were "bedeviled" in the New Testament by the authors so that a negative impression would be formed by the slaves of the Jews and their faith. This is the origins of anti-Semitism and it is in the New Testament by design. That is why it is the Jews who are blamed as being responsible for Jesus's death despite the Jews at that time having no right to declare a death penalty on anyone. Also, crucifixion was a typical of a Roman execution- not a Jewish one (which was stoning to death). The writers of the New Testament made the Romans completely innocent of Jesus's death and made the Jews solely responsible for it. It was important for the writers of the New Testament to have the Gentiles (slaves) look negatively upon Jews, and by definition, positively on this new religion they were being exposed to.

So for any Jew who has already or is contemplating converting to Christianity, consider this: if Christianity's basic concept that "Jesus is the Jewish Messiah and the Son Of God who died for your and my sins and that G-d has sent the signs but the Jews have not acted on them" is in fact, false, (which is most certainly is and can be proven to be) you will be following a religion that has come to false conclusions about the essence of life and the belief in G-d.

If Christianity was created by the Romans and Jesus is (or wasn't ever even if Jesus really was an historical figure which he probably wasn't) then by converting to Christianity you are adopting a religious system which is not what you thought it was. Doesn't that mean anything to you? Have you ever thought about whether the "theological basis of Christianity" which you have been told as being the truth- is not the truth? And Jesus what if Jesus was not the "Jewish messiah"? What then? What if you have been hoodwinked all this time into thinking that by converting to Christianity you are "fulfilling your Jewish destiny as Jesus is (was) the Jewish messiah? Your perceptions are being taken to the cleaners on this one. Wake up and read the map correctly.

For the rest of the Jews, the advice is to take a closer look at the so-called "history books" of your people- particularly those that describe the events of the first century of the common era. History is written by the victors and that is whom Josephus was working for. So why should Josephus command such credibility to his "intent and character" when he was a turncoat and went over to the Roman side? Most of the historical record that we have of the New Testament is his writings. Other than a few references to "Christianity" in the Talmud, nowhere is there an actual historical record of either Jesus, or the other Gospels. Shouldn't Josephus's credibility and ability to be objective be put into question? He, Herod, and the Sadducees were all traitors to their own people yet they are given enormous respectability by "mainstream Jewish historians."

While it is accurately recorded in Jewish history books that the Romans were bitter enemies of the Jews in the first century, and twice led battles against them to strip them of their sovereignty and nationhood, the story seems to stop dead after 132. No more is said in the history books of the Jews and the Romans. The next enemy the Jews come across in history is known other than the "Roman Catholic Church" which is in fact the continuation of the people who ran the Roman Empire.

The Roman Empire didn't crumble- it just transformed itself into the Catholic Church once Christianity was wide enough spread amongst the masses. As the poor and "ex-slaves" were still totally dominated by the Catholic Church (old Roman rulers in disguise with little hats on their heads).

For the next 20 centuries or so the anti-Semitism that emanated from the Catholic Church is the same anti-Semitism that was practiced by the Romans in the first century of the Common Era. As the Romans constructed and designed Christianity, and then rolled it into their new Roman empire, The Roman Catholic Church"(it isn't called "Roman" Catholic Church for nothing) it is perfectly logical to assume that the anti-Semitism that was built into stories and parables of The New Testament. It would be these same people who would accuse Jews of "poisoning the wells" of Christian Europe in the middle ages.

Christian anti-Semitism of the Middle Ages and Roman anti-Semitism is part and parcel of the same entity. The mixture of the two created the horrors of the Second World War.

3:55 AM  

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