An acquaintance once seriously told me he had guessed the lottery numbers correctly three times in a row, a truly staggering feat and against all odds. However with a little questioning, he admitted that he had gained that insight after the numbers were released. With the benefit of hindsight it is quite easy to predict what has already occurred.

A critical factor that most uninformed readers of the events of both the Old and New Testaments overlook is that none of the final versions were written until well after the fact. So it is quite easy to declare the prophets as agents of God or put your spin on past events when you already know the outcome. Also most if not all was written by anonymous writers who used the names of Luke, etc. as more like titles or headings. This was a common practice of the time in order to give written documents more weight.

Folklore and stories became oral legends and legends became subjective ‘truths’, since those people had no way to distinguish objective truth from the mythologies that had been firmly implanted in their culture. The legends were embellished and multiple translations (intentionally and unintentionally) corrupted the original meaning.

Because the home base of the new Jesus movement was destroyed (James’ followers were mostly Jews living in Jerusalem) by the Romans, that left primarily Paul, a Roman citizen, to spread the message. He was already living in Rome more or less cast out of Jerusalem for his disagreements with James over the true nature of the Jesus Message. In around 50AD, the Roman emperor kicked the Jews out of Rome, leaving the followers of Paul (gentiles) to hear and interpret the Jesus Message.

When the New Testament was put together at the Council of Nicaea in its (mostly) final form and three hundred years after the fact, every participant with a say in the matter was a Roman citizen, it was presided over by Emperor Constantine also a Roman citizen, and controlled by Roman law and tradition, so any chance of an unbiased review of early Christian writings was impossible. Such a group of people today would be considered untrustworthy and biased and would fail at every level of jurisprudence. Women were omitted even though women had played an integral part during the first centuries of the Jesus movement. In the early days, there were no elaborate church buildings and followers met almost entirely in homes, shunning material distractions, gaudiness, and opulence as the antitheses of the Jesus message. It was a humble effort of mostly poor uneducated Jews and later gentiles. At the Council of Nicaea hundreds of early Christian documents, interpretations, and oral histories, all considered authentic by some followers, were discarded because they did not fit the narrative of what the leaders (the beginnings of the new Christian priesthood) had decided Christianity should be. Almost all of the early Christian writings and traditions became the victims of the biased views of a leadership comprised of men, for men, and for the political expediency of the time. The inspiration for the final version of the New Testament was not of the divine, but of and for men and for control of the masses.

What we know as Christianity today could more accurately be called Paul’s Interpretations of the Jesus Message, or some unknown author’s interpretation of Paul’s interpretation. There is no evidence Paul ever met Jesus and so what we read today are interpretations of interpretations of both the message and the language. Jesus was a Jew speaking to Jews about Jewish concerns, primarily the corruption of high-level Jewish priests and the wealthy class. Though Jewish, the well-to-do groups were handmaidens of Roman rule, and complicit in the exploitation of the poor (some things never change). Once Jesus’ ministry began he never left the borders of his country. He (along with others of like thinking) was spokesman and champion for the impoverished and exploited, for bringing to light the blatant and unapologetic abuses of his fellow Jews by the Jewish priesthood and the wealthy. He was a ‘whistle blower’ of his time, and just as today, whistleblowers are never welcomed by those who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

Given the differences in interpretations between James (brother of Jesus) and Paul of the Jesus Message, biblical scholars note that Paul  (or writers who took the liberty of speaking for Paul) tweaked it to make it more palatable to Romans and non-Jews. So we can see a transitional period in the first centuries AD where the culpability of the Romans in the tortuous death of Jesus and others of like thinking was shifted away from Rome and placed on the Jews.  Though unsupported by historical evidence, this diversionary tactic worked. With the Jews dispersed and without a central voice, the Roman modified version of the Jesus Message took hold and the prejudice against Jews (the killers of Jesus became the catch phrase) increased.  Jews became the target of prejudice wherever they settled. Hitler, who was raised and confirmed a Catholic but later mostly abandoned his upbringing, nonetheless held onto that animosity against Jews, which led directly to the Holocaust and the death of millions.

To be continued…

 

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