How the imperial cult of Divus Julius mutated into the Christian church we know today
Sorry for the long read. I thought about breaking this in two but the topic seemed like it should be treated as a whole.
I read Caesars Messiah about 10 years ago. The intervening years have somewhat diminished the power of Atwills argumentation for me; however the insight of his premise has grown. That power - and particularly the powerful machinations of empire - always act so as to maintain their power should be self evident, but Atwill helped me to see that power/control is more effectively deployed against ones blind spots. Brute force works, but cognitive manipulation works better.
I appreciate the effort you put into your writing and the comment section seems to attract a generally thoughtful and inquiring crowd as well.
p.s - your nom de plume convinced me to stop avoiding the Barsoom books. Of their time no doubt but fun quick reads.
I'm really enjoying this explanation, far more than I thought I would.
Raynaldus on the Accusations against the Cathars:
"For the good Christ, as they said, never ate, nor drank, nor took upon him true flesh, nor ever was in this world, except spiritually in the body of Paul...."
This has been a fascinating journey. I keep wanting to jump naked into the comments section (especially some of the spicier exchanges), but I pass marshmallow tests with flying colors these days.
I'll 'say this much: I've been wondering about your motive since the first installment (which is not to say that anyone needs a particular motive to record the substance of their minds, even when it comes to topics of great importance).
In any caee, thank you for these entertaining and intriguing thoughts so far. I only hope I can be half as lucid with my reaction.
Up until my twenties I was devout, my father, grandfather and two uncles are ministers. In my teens I discovered Mists of Avalon (of all things) and was opened to the idea that christians could be the bad guys, the destroying of culture - could it ever be justified, did it make things better, did christians really have the answer. R-reading the old testament just seemed like a lesson in how to destroy cultures and take other peoples stuff with an esoteric justification. The doctrine of discovery, codified this. As a previous commenter mentions, Luther was not pleasant. The whole bible seemed obviously full of contradictions, a few other things contributed, but I could no longer believe, whether I wanted to or not.
But nor could I abandon the topic, I very much enjoyed your series, I had not heard of the theory before. I am sure I will be pondering it for some time.
Knight-Jadzyck's book "From Paul to Mark" is dense, but absolutely wonderful. It did nothing less for me than reconciling my love and respect for the Christian faith with the obvious fact that it is largely based on a fabricated story. Eye-opening.
I'd like to mention another (later) villain in this story that doesn't get nearly as much bashing as he deserves: Martin Luther. Along many, many other things, he completely screwed up Paul's theology and clouded Paul's deep and timeless message in nonsense that affects both Catholics and Protestants to this day.
The mother of Constantine the Great, Helen, collected relics – the three crosses used for the crucifixion in Jerusalem. In order to find out which one Jesus died on she had them put on a corpse one by one. The third cross revived the deceased person so this miracle proved its authenticity. Performing miracles was the essence of relics (and there were hundreds, maybe thousands) and these miracles – and the authenticity of the relic – needed to be verified by reliable witnesses or someone of high authority in the church.
I'd be curious to know how Jews and pagans arrived at this strange concept of relics. There's nothing like it in either groups' concept of the sacred. Paganism represented spiritual images as idealized humans with a canon of proportion relating every part of the human body to the whole. This was a manifestation of a divine being and example of ideal beauty.
Jews viewed God as an abstract but highly personal being, completely tribal.
It could be that the early pagan Christians’ attempt to conceptualize God in more Jewish terms created the concept of the relic as a more abstract representation of divine order. Parts of saints bodies, the cross, and even Christ’s tears were a reaction to the pagan emphasis on the whole body. Since Christians also believed that moral progress was not only possible in this world but also in the next, this would have further alienated them visually from the pagan representation of the soul.
Early Christians also believed that Christ would return from the dead and cast judgement on all human life. Neither Jew nor pagan imagined this.
Me, personally, I don't think a human could conceive of these revolutionary mysteries but I am certainly intrigued by your overarching theme. Thanks for a very interesting read.
Interesting write up. I'll have to read it again so I can respond to this in a sort of intelligent way. Hopefully you read comments that are several days or weeks old.
Fun fact: the Fortress of Solitude predates Action Comics 1. Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze, had his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic before Superman existed.
(The 1975 Doc Savage movie well worth watching. The choice of music alone makes it stand out.)
What about Apollonius of Tiana?
Fascinating. COVID, Climate Change wokism are working exactly like that. Of course common sense is the enemy of any dictators message.
Very interesting per usual. If I have the faith of Christ, does that make me a Christian? It seems like it might... Of course my priors are a little different, a priori truths and the implied principles that follow, but I leverage the technology just as much as any traditional Christian I've met. It seems like understanding this narrative has critical implications in counteracting the worship of teotl pulling us inexorably towards a hellscape where the elite bathe in the blood of the serfs in the technological singularity. Looking forward to what I am sure will be an immensely satisfying conclusion!
John, once again, a thought-provoking piece. You may be interested in another addition to the cottage industry of Flavian origins: Flavio Barbiero's The Secret Society of Moses. Barbiero claims Flavius Josephus founded the Catholic Church as a family business.
I recently read a book on the family tomb of Jesus son of Joseph, Mary, Miriamne, Mattias & Judah son of Jesus. I have since found 2 articles rebutting that it is the tomb of Jesus Christ. I'm working through evidence one piece at a time. My general conclusion is that they have failed to prove it isn't Jesus Christ, but that the proponents could have done further testing to support their conclusion. I'll be writing up a summary as soon as I get a round tuit. 🙂