Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Christianity is one of the three religions that are categorized under the term Abrahamic Religion, with Judaism and Islam being the other two. Christianity is the largest religion (ranked by adherents worldwide), Islam is the second largest, and Judaism is the twelfth largest. All three of these religions claim Abraham as a part of their sacred history. All three of these religions claim that their religious scriptures were “given to them by God.” All three of these religions, with a few exceptions, fall under religions that teach or practice Exclusivism (“Exclusive Principle”), i.e. that only their religion leads to “God and salvation.” With their common connection to Abraham, one might wonder why these Abrahamic Religions can’t get along with each other.
Christians themselves cannot agree on what Christianity is. Get three Christians from different denominations or sects together, ask them to define Christianity for you, and get ready to hear three definitions. Basically, the reasons most Christians (95-plus-percent of them) can’t agree on what Christianity is, is because they don’t know what their own Bible says and they don’t know the true history of Christianity. Christianity has been splitting off into separate branches and separate denominations since soon after Jesus had died, and there are approximately “39,000” denominations today, with a projection of “55,000” denominations by “2025” (GCTS).
I am often asked – “Do you believe in God?” My answer is usually – ‘God doesn’t require belief…one either KNOWS God or does not.’ That answer is usually followed by another question directed at me, usually something like this – “What do you mean by knowing God?” At this point, odds are that the questioner is a Christian (they ask lots of questions), and more questions will certainly follow…so, I respond with the following quote from the Mundaka Upanishad:
(That quote usually stops any further questions.)
“Like two golden birds perched on the selfsame tree,
intimate friends, the ego and the Self dwell in the same body.
The former eats the sweet and sour fruits of the tree of life,
while the latter looks on in detachment."
OK…this is going to be a long and continually updated post, so keep checking back in. I will provide history and info on the Jews, ancient Sumer and the Sumerian ‘gods’, the first followers of Jesus, Paul (“Saul of Tarsus”), Roman Emperor Constantine I, and much more.
Old Testament: ‘Foundation Block’ of Christianity
Without the Old Testament, Christianity would have no ‘Foundation Block’ on which to build or even to claim acceptance as a religion. Knowing God doesn’t require belief or faith, so I am not sure why humans decided to create religions, unless it first started by trying to understand their natural ‘Inner Spirituality’ feelings, and that lead to a means of controlling other humans…a means which is still being used today by many religions, especially Christianity and Islam.
The Old Testament is from some of the Hebrew/Jewish texts, and even though these texts are called “Old”, they are not as old as other religious texts, e.g. ancient Sumerian, Hindu, and Chinese texts. Hinduism is the “Oldest living religion”.
For dating the Hebrews and Judaism, I will use info from the JEWISH VIRTUAL LIBRARY:
The Dawn of “History” *(NOTE: That Asterisk symbol shows up often at the online Jewish Virtual Library.)
(ca. 3800-2001 B.C.E.)
Dates regarding biblical figures and events cannot be
The Birth and Evolution of Judaism:(I will show later, that Moses actually got the term “Yahweh” from a “Yahweh cult” that was in and around the area of Mount Sinai, a cult who had been worshiping “Yahweh” long before Moses and the Hebrews had. Also, that date of 1950-1300 BC is way off, which will be addressed later.)
The Pre-Mosaic Stage
Little or nothing can be known for certain about the nature of Hebrew worship before the migration from Egypt. In Hebrew history, Abraham is already worshipping a figure called "Elohim," which is the plural for "lord." This figure is also called "El Shaddai" ("God the Mountaineer (?)," translated as "God Almighty"), and a couple other variants. The name of God, Yahweh, isn't learned by the Hebrews until Moses hears the name spoken by God on Mount Sinai. This god requires animal sacrifices and regular expiation. He intrudes on human life with astonishing suddenness, and often demands absurd acts from humans.
Context of Ancient Israelite Religion *Another Asterisk symbol…the Torah shows up around 450 BC…the Greeks arrive on the scene and put their ‘Stamp’ on the Torah…some Jews don’t like the Greek influence on the Torah, i.e. the “Septuagint”, and break off into the Essenes who start the Qumran community. Note also, that the “Prophets” did not gain recognition until the “second division of Jewish Scriptures” in 201 BC. That covers the basic dates (plus or minus), though I might add that the earliest dates for any of the Jewish texts are no earlier than around 950 BC (a highly questionable ‘Guess’ at best), and probably closer to 538 BC, when Cyrus released the Jews, and “unexpectedly told the Jews that they could return to their homeland.”
(ca. 2000-539 B.C.E.)
Dates regarding biblical figures and events cannot be confirmed.
Judaism after the Babylonian Exile
(ca. 538 B.C.E.-70 CE)
538 B.C.E. Edict of Cyrus (first return from Exile).
450 B.C.E. Torah (Pentateuch = first division of Jewish Scriptures) begins to gain recognition as Scripture.
333-63 B.C.E. Hellenistic (Greek) period.
333/331 B.C.E. Alexander the Great conquers the Land of Israel.
320-168 B.C.E. Judaism under Greek Ptolemies & Seleucids.
250 B.C.E. "Septuagint" translation of Torah into Greek.
201 B.C.E. Prophets (second division of Jewish Scriptures) recognized by some as Scripture
200 B.C.E.-135 C.E. Jewish Qumran community.
As you can see, the Old Testament gets “younger” when one actually starts researching history, with the Torah only showing up around 450 BC, and the “Prophets” not gaining scriptural recognition until 201 BC. The Old Testament speaks as if the Hebrews and Judaism had been around for millennium/s, i.e. millennium/s before the Hebrews had even written one word about their history. Writing had been going on since ancient Sumer, ancient India, ancient China, and ancient Egypt with no mention of the Hebrews in any of those ancient texts.
Clearly the Hebrews had spent a lot of their history in slavery, so who were these Hebrews?
Who Were the Hebrews?
Even the online Jewish Virtual Library can’t get the Hebrew history straight, as I will show in the following sources and links. Christianity is based on the Hebrew history and scriptures, primarily the prophesy portions which didn’t even gain scriptural acceptance until 201 BC; however, Hebrew history comes with lots of ‘guessing’ and a large Asterisk in regards to both dates and events, e.g. * - “Dates regarding biblical figures and events cannot be confirmed.”
Who Were the Hebrews?(The “Yahweh” and “Hebrew” origins differ from the actual know history of Moses, i.e. this account of Abraham conflicts with the Moses’ account.)
According to biblical tradition, the Hebrews are peoples descended from Shem, one of Noah's sons, through Eber, the eponymous ancestor, and Abraham.
.. With Abraham the story of the Hebrews begins, and it is clearly stated that Hebrew origins lay outside Canaan. The summons to leave his ancestral home and journey to Canaan is accompanied by a promise that becomes a submotif in patriarchal accounts, re-appearing again and again, finally taking covenantal form. The promise has two parts: nationhood and divine blessing or protection. The precise location of the nation-to-be is not specified but was, of course, known to those hearing or reading the account. The promise of blessing signified the unique and particularistic bond between Yahweh and his followers, so that the enemies of Abraham or the nation were enemies of Yahweh, and those befriending Abraham and/or the nation would be blessed.
The descriptions of Abraham are not uniform: at times he appears as a lonely migrant, at others as a chieftain, head of a large family, or as a warrior. Factual details about the patriarch are difficult to establish…(Note: the use of “not uniform”, facts are “difficult to establish”, people and areas are “unidentified for certain”, possible “reliable historical data”, and that the story of “Sodom and Gomorrah” may have actually been an event where the “earth's crust” shifted, e.g. an earthquake. Christianity was built on ‘guesses’ and/or changing the facts like this.)
Gen. 14, in which Abraham is called a "Hebrew" for the first time, records a battle between the patriarch and kings of countries or areas as yet unidentified for certain and associates him with the Canaanite king of Jerusalem. It is possible that reliable historical data are preserved here. The account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah may also rest in some memory of a shift in the earth's crust that destroyed the cities of the plain.
PROBLEMS WITH DATES AND PLACES(Well, one thing is for sure, lots of “faith” is needed in order to believe anything in either the Hebrew or Christian bibles. The Abrahamic Religions claim that their scriptures were written by “inspired men of God”, and that they represent the “word of God”, but the historical facts simply do not support such claims.)
Efforts to date the patriarchal period have not been particularly rewarding, for biblical chronology is complex.
.. Whatever the correct date for Abraham may be, he represents the beginning of the nation to the Hebrews. Yahweh's promise to the patriarch and his successors is considered to be the guarantee of national existence.
Efforts to determine the date and route of the Exodus have been disappointing…
Attempts to chart the course followed by the fleeing Hebrews is equally frustrating…
Although, for the scholar, there are innumerable problems associated with the Exodus tradition, this memorable event became a central factor in the interpretation of the Hebrew faith.
Etymological analyses of the term "Hebrew" ( 'ibri) have given little help to the study of origins. The term has been related to a root, meaning "to go over" or "to go across"; hence, a "Hebrew" would be one who crossed over or one who went from place to place, a nomad, a wanderer, a designation that would fit some aspects of patriarchal behavior. A similar term, habiru, is found in cuneiform documents…At times the Habiru appear to be settled in specific locations; at times they serve in the army as mercenaries, or are bound to masters as servants… The suggestion that the terms 'apiru, habiru and "Hebrew" relate to those who have renounced a relationship to an existing society, who have by a deliberate action withdrawn from some organization or rejected some authority, and who have become through this action freebooters, slaves, employees or mercenaries presents real possibilities.OK. There’s the word “Habiru” that I was waiting on to show up. I will have a section on that, but first an account of Moses.
MosesAs you can see, I did not include much on Moses, but I have pointed out some interesting facts that will be needed as I continue the search on Moses and “Who Were the Hebrews?” Not much is ever mentioned about Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, a Midianite priest. Jethro had basically adopted Moses, let Moses marry into his family, gave Moses a good job, and they had spent forty years together in Midian. Clearly, Moses and Jethro knew each other quite well. If Jethro was a priest, then what religion was he a priest of? He is called “Shoaib” in the Qur'an, and is considered a prophet of Islam, who lived east of Mount Sinai.
Along with God, it is the figure of Moses who dominates the Torah. Acting at God's behest, it is he who leads the Jews out of slavery, unleashes the Ten Plagues against Egypt, guides the freed slaves for forty years in the wilderness, carries down the law from Mount Sinai, and prepares the Jews to enter the land of Canaan. Without Moses, there would be little apart from laws to write about in the last four books of the Torah.
..Moses marries Tzipporah, one of the Midianite priest's daughters, and becomes the shepherd for his father-in-law's flock.
Egypt and the Wanderings(If the Hebrews were in Egypt, then why are they not mentioned in all of the Egyptian writings and records? Well, there’s that word “guesses” again, in regards to dates and events, i.e. no real factual answers, just more "guesses". Also, note that the word “Habiru” has showed up again.)
..What happened in Egypt that didn't happen with other foreigners living there?
Well, we really can't answer that question, for we have almost no account whatsoever of the Hebrews in Egypt, even in Hebrew history. For all the momentousness of the events of the migration for the Hebrews and the dramatic nature of the rescue, including plagues and catastrophes raining down on Egypt, the Egyptians do not seem to have noticed the Hebrews or to even know that they were living in their country. While we have several Egyptian records of foreign groups during the New Kingdom, they are records of actively expelling groups they feel are threatening or overly powerful. The Hebrews never appear in these records, nor do any of the events recounted in the Hebrew history of the event.
We can make some guesses about the Hebrews in Egypt, though…When the Egyptians reasserted dominance over Egypt at the start of the New Kingdom, they actively expelled as many foreigners as they could. Life got fairly harsh for these foreigners, who were called "habiru," which was applied to landless aliens (taken from the word, "apiru," or foreigner). Is this where the Hebrews got their name?
Moses and the Yahweh CultNo wonder that the bible doesn’t have much to say about Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the Midianite Priest! Note also, that it is unknown if Moses was actually a person, i.e. – “whether as an individual or a group of individuals”!? I will have more on the origins of “Yahweh” later; however, at this point, it is becoming clear that at least the Midianites worshiped a God called “Yahweh” before the Hebrews did. The Jews and Christians also claim that the Hebrews were the first to worship ‘One-God’ (Monotheism), but that is simply not true. Remember now, that no Hebrew writings existed before 950 BC, and actually that is questionable since a more likely date is closer to 538 BC.
Nothing, however, should have prevented these oppressed and miserable foreigners from spilling into the anonymity of history — as so many had done before and since. One figure, however, changed the course of this history and united some of these foreigners into a distinct people; he also gave them a religion and a theology that would forever unite them in a singular purpose in history. That person was Moses. In spite of the masterful portrayal of him in Exodus , he is a difficult figure to pin down. Few people dispute that Moses was a reality in history, whether as an individual or a group of individuals, but there are several perplexing aspects of the man. First, he has an Egyptian name (as do many of his relatives). Second, he seems to spend a large amount of time among a non-Hebrew people, the Midianites, where he marries and seems to learn the Yahweh religion, and some of its cultic practices, from the Midianites.
Although the focus is on the Hebrews, Exodus claims that a "diverse group of peoples" left Egypt with Moses…
..The Hebrews did not worship "Yahweh" before the migration, but learned the cult, according to Exodus, from Moses during the migration.
This introduction to Yahweh and the Yahweh cult occurred in the southernmost region of the Arabian peninsula, in an area around Mount Sinai. This area had been occupied by a nomadic, tribal people called Midianites. They seem to have worshipped a kind of nature god which they believed lived on Mount Sinai. It is here, living with a priest of the Midianites, called Jethro, that Moses first encounters Yahweh (on Mount Sinai) and learns his name for the first time…Nevertheless, when Moses returns to Sinai with the people of Israel and stays in the area (this period is called the Sinai pericope), Jethro declares that he has always known Yahweh to be the most powerful of all gods (was the Midianite religion, then, a religion of Yahweh?).
Another biblical character that is associated with Moses, but gets little mentioning, was Moses’ “foster mother.” She is not named in the bible, and is only “described as the daughter of Pharaoh” in the biblical account on her. Another Jewish text, the Midrash, says that her name was "Bithiah".
The Midrash names her Bithiah, literally daughter of God, because of her compassion and pity in saving the baby Moses…
.. God says to her that because she took in a child not her own, and called him her son (Moses can mean "child" in Egyptian), God will take her in and call her God's daughter (which is what Bithiah means).
.. The Midrash portrays her as a pious and devoted woman, who would bathe in the Nile to cleanse herself of the impurity of idolatrous Egypt.
In Islamic tradition
In the Hadith, Bithiah is known as Asiyah, one of four of "the best of women".
OK…God calls Bithiah “God's daughter”…since she dislikes ‘Idolatry’, and since God came to her, she more than likely worshiped ‘One-God’. She was a daughter of Pharaoh, so monotheism was accepted in Egypt. Islam also recognizes her.
That covers Moses. History doesn’t mention him…the bible claims that he existed; however, Jewish historians cannot even prove whether he was an “individual” or a “group of individuals.” The biblical books that Moses is credited for writing were written after he was dead, i.e. their authorship is unknown. Basically, the biblical account of Moses doesn’t help to establish who the Hebrews were at all, and thus I shall move on with – “Who Were the Hebrews?”
Habiru(Perhaps this explains why the Egyptians don’t have any accounts of the “Hebrews” being slaves or even being in Egypt. Perhaps it also explains why there is not much of a “Hebrew” history in most historical texts, and that all dates regarding “Hebrew” history are questionable and not provable - as pointed out at the Jewish Virtual Library.
Habiru was the name given by various Sumerian, Egyptian, Akkadian, Hittite, Mitanni, and Ugaritic sources (dated, roughly, from before 2000 BC to around 1200 BC) to a group of people living as MAR TU or nomadic invaders in areas of the Fertile Crescent from Northeastern Mesopotamia and Iran to the borders of Egypt in Canaan. Depending on the source and epoch, these Habiru are variously described as nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers, etc.
Note also, that the Sumerian (Sumer) civilization is “the earliest known civilization of the ancient Near East”, dating to the 4th millennium BC, and that they have produced some of the earliest (if not the first) known writings…apparently even before Egypt. “Sumer, together with Ancient Egypt, and the Indus Valley Civilization, is considered among the first settled societies in the world to have manifested all the features needed to qualify fully as a civilization.”
Once again, remember that no Hebrew writings existed before 950 BC, and actually that is questionable since a more likely date is closer to 538 BC. Sumer and Egypt had writing. Sumerian and Egyptian records do not mention the “Hebrews” at all.
NOTE: Non-Biblical confirmation – “The nature and precise dates of events and the precision by which they may be stated are subject to continuing discussion and challenge. There are no biblical events whose precise year can be validated by external sources before the possible attack by Pharaoh Shoshenk I, identified with the Biblical Shishak in 925 BCE. This record, however, shows the Pharaoh's raid was directed more against Israel rather than Jerusalem, as the Bible suggests, and no rulers of the area are listed in Egyptian records.” Egyptian records indicate that there was no “Hebrews”, and probably not even a “Jerusalem” as late as 925 BC. Simply put, biblical dates and events are totally unreliable.)
..it became clear that the Habiru were found mentioned in contexts ranging from unemployed agricultural workers and vagrants to mounted mercenary bowmen. The context differed depending upon where the references were found.(Basically, the “Hebrews” and “Palestinians” are probably more related than they care to admit today…so to speak.)
Carol Redmount who wrote ‘Bitter Lives: Israel in and out of Egypt’ in The Oxford History of the Biblical World concluded that the term “Habiru” had no common ethnic affiliations, that they spoke no common language, and that they normally led a marginal and sometimes lawless existence on the fringes of settled society. She defines the various Apiru/Habiru as “a loosely defined, inferior social class composed of shifting and shifty population elements without secure ties to settled communities” who are referred to “as outlaws, mercenaries, and slaves” in ancient texts.
In that vein, some modern scholars consider the Habiru to be more of a social designation than an ethnic or a tribal one. That does not, however, exclude the possibility that the Biblical Hebrews were descended from one specific group of Habiru and that with them it eventually became an ethnic name; such shifts in the meaning of names and designations are well-known elsewhere.
Sumerian records(According to the bible, Abraham was from the city of Ur (“in Babylonia”), and was born there around 1800 BC. He was “raised as a city-dweller” but “adopted a nomadic lifestyle”. I suspect that he was never a “city-dweller”, and was one of the “unclothed people” mentioned in the Sumerian documents.)
Sumerian documents from the reign of Shulgi of Ur (around 2150 BC) describe a class of ”unclothed people, who travel in dead silence, who destroy everything, whose menfolk go where they will - they establish their tents and their camps - they spend their time in the countryside without observing the decrees of my king”.
Those people are designated by a two-character cuneiform logogram of unknown pronunciation, which is conventionally transcribed as SA.GAZ. Although the logogram occurs in Sumerian literature, the two symbols have no separate meaning in Sumerian. Some scholars have proposed that the logogram was pronounced GUB.IRU in Sumerian.
The SA.GAZ logogram in some ancient vocabulary lists is glossed as the Akkadian word habbatu which means a “brigand” or “highway robber”.
Egyptian sourcesWriting had been going on for a long time (millennium/s before Hebrew accounts), and yet no “Hebrew” combined writings showed up until around 450 B.C.E., in their “current form”. Clearly, the “Hebrews” originally came from the group known as the Habiru (Apiru, Apir, etc.).
Several Egyptian sources, both before and after the Amarna letters, mention a people called `PR.W in the consonant-only Egyptian script, where .W is the plural marker. The pronunciation of this word has been reconstructed as apiru. From similarity of context and description, it is believed that the Egyptian `PR.W are equivalent to the Akkadian Habiru/Hapiru.
In his account of the conquest of Joppa, General Toth of pharaoh Thutmose III of Egypt (around 1440 BC) asks at some point that his horses be taken inside the city, lest they be stolen by a passing Apir.
A stela from the reign of Seti I (around 1300 BC) tells that the pharaoh sent an expedition into Syria or Palestine, in response to an attack of “the apiru from Mount Yarmuta” upon a local town. An unspecified number of the apiru were captured and brought back to Egypt as slaves.
The laborers that Ramesses IV sent to the quarry of Wadi Hammamat in his third year included 5,000 soldiers, 2,000 men attached to the temples of Pharaoh as well as 800 Apiru. This is the last known reference to the Apiru in Egyptian documents.
So, “Who Were the Hebrews?” has been resolved. They had been a bunch of “nomadic or semi-nomadic, rebels, outlaws, raiders, mercenaries, and bowmen, servants, slaves, migrant laborers”, a group of “unclothed people” who had broken off from a main group known as the “Habiru”. The Egyptians had not heard of the term “Hebrew” as late as 925 BC, which pretty much eliminates King David and King Solomon. It’s not known if Moses was an “individual or a group of individuals”. The Old Testament books attributed to Moses were certainly not written until long after his death. The Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) wasn’t recognized as scripture until 450 BC. The biblical books in the Old Testament (part of the Hebrew Tanakh...Joshua, Judges, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habukkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) on and about the Prophets didn’t gain recognition as scripture until 201 BC, and again, authorship cannot be proven.
BTW, the “Hebrew bible” is actually called the Tanakh by the Hebrews, and consists of the Torah, the Nevi'im (Prophets), and the Ketuvim (Writings – includes Psalms, Proverbs, Job, etc.). The Christian Old Testament basically picked what it wanted, and edited those, i.e. adding and subtracting, e.g. – 1) “It should be noted that the breaking of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles into two parts is strictly an artifact of the Christian printers who first issued the books.” 2) “The division of the Tanakh into chapters was also done by medieval Christians, and only later adopted by Jews.” 3) “Also, many Christian Bibles have expanded versions of several of these books (Ester, Ezra, Daniel, Jeremiah and Chronicles) including extra material that is not accepted as canonical in Judaism.” 4) “This extra material was part of the ancient Greek translation of the Tanakh, but was never a part of the official Hebrew Tanakh.” 5) “Jews regard the additional material as apocryphal. Among Christians, there is a difference of opinion. Catholics regard this material as canonical, while many Protestant sects regard this material as Apocrypha. What is and is not regarded as Apocrypha varies among the many Christian sects.”
Clearly, the Tanakh and/or the Christian Old Testament were not much of a ‘Foundation Block’ upon which to build Christianity. “Hebrews” were not known in recorded ancient history, and even modern Judaism cannot accurately date its history. Books in the Torah were probably not written until around 538 BC. There had been a people known as the Habiru, a mix of races/people, and during much of their recorded ancient history, the Habiru had spent time as slaves of much more powerful civilizations.
Origins of Judaism: Semitic Deities and Yahweh...
Mankind is still in the process of discovering and dating the history of humanity. Pieces of pottery have been discovered in China, which date back to the 19,000-16,500 BC. In India, “Eleven drilled molar crowns from nine adults” were discovered in 2006, which date to 7000-5500 BC, and the oldest dock in the world has been discovered there…dating to before 2400 BC. Jewish history can’t even prove that King Solomon ever lived and/or even prove that he ever built a Temple.
Ancient civilizations had formed first in areas conducive to farming, like the Fertile Crescent and Indus Valley areas, as humans moved from hunter-gathers to farmers. Rivers were key for this transformation. Which civilization was the first, i.e. the ‘Cradle of Civilization’…take your pick - There are five rivers that scholars cite as being possible locations for the 'Cradle of Civilization.' They are: the Tigris-Euphrates in modern day Iraq, the Nile in Africa, the Indus in South Asia, and the Huang-He-Yangtze in China. However, for the purpose of this post, I will mainly be focusing on the civilizations that sprung up in and around the Fertile Crescent area.
Fertile CrescentThe Persian Gulf region is one of the areas where it is theorized that the “Garden of Eden” may have been located, and may have also been the area of the “Flood” or Deluge. Satellite photos have revealed that two other rivers (now just dry riverbeds), besides the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, once flowed into the upper Persian Gulf region, and they may have been the other two rivers mention in the bibles account for the location of the “Garden of Eden.” At one time in history (roughly 30,000 BC), the Persian Gulf area was actually dry land, except for the rivers that flowed into the area, and on down into the Gulf of Oman (just south of the Strait of Hormuz). The rivers, as rivers often do, flooded the surrounding land areas in cycles. Ice Ages also contributed to the area being dry land, since the sea level drops during an Ice Age. (NOTE: I am no expert on the Ice Ages or on the terms used before and after an Ice Age, e.g. “Holocene glacial retreat” or “Flandrian Transgression” or “Last Glacial Maximum”, etc.) Gradually an Ice Age retreated, over time the sea levels rose, and by 6000 BC the Persian Gulf was about half the size that it is now. One theory places the “Garden of Eden”, on dry land naturally, at the northern edge of the Persian Gulf some 8000 years ago.
The Fertile Crescent is a historical crescent-shape region in the Middle East incorporating the Levant, Ancient Mesopotamia, and Ancient Egypt.
Watered by the Nile, Euphrates and Tigris rivers and covering some 400-500,000 square kilometers, the region extends from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea around the north of the Syrian Desert and through the Jazirah and Mesopotamia to the Persian Gulf. These areas correspond to the present-day Egypt, Israel, West Bank, Gaza strip, and Lebanon and parts of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, south-eastern Turkey and south-western Iran.
As crucial as rivers were to the rise of civilization in the Fertile Crescent, they were not the only factor in the area's precocity. Ecologically the area is important as the "bridge" between Africa and Eurasia. This "bridging role" has allowed the Fertile Crescent to retain a greater amount of biodiversity than either Europe or North Africa, where climate changes during the Ice Age led to repeated extinction events due to ecosystems becoming squeezed against the waters of the Mediterranean sea.
Long before biblical accounts of the “Garden of Eden” and the “Flood” showed up, the ancient Sumerians had already been writing similar stories.
Mesopotamia(Those ‘four riverine civilizations’ areas all had early connections with each other. As mentioned earlier, India had the earliest known docks (river/sea-port) in Lothal; there was certainly trading going on, and exchanging of ideals on religions and such, e.g. they all have similar “Creation” stories and “Flood” stories. They all ‘invented’ writings roughly about the same time, and that was millenniums before the “Hebrews” could even write. India is now known for having the 'Oldest Living Religion' (surviving religion), and was once renowned for the debates held there, and for their debating skills and knowledge on religion and philosophy.)
Mesopotamia was a cradle of civilization geographically located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq and western part of Iran. Sumer in southern Mesopotamia is commonly regarded as the world's earliest civilization. Cities in Mesopotamia later served as capitals of the Akkadian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Mitanni, Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, Parthian, Sassanid and Abbasid empires.
Mesopotamian history extends from the emergence of Urban societies in Southern Iraq in the 5th millennium BC to the arrival of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC.
.. The region was famous as one of the four riverine civilizations where writing was first invented, along with the Nile valley in Egypt, the Indus Valley in the Indian subcontinent and Yellow River valley in China.
The earliest language written in Mesopotamia was Sumerian, a complex language isolate. Scholars agree that other languages were also spoken in early Mesopotamia along with Sumerian. Later a Semitic language, Akkadian, came to be the dominant language, although Sumerian was retained for administration, religious, literary, and scientific purposes. Different varieties of Akkadian were used until the end of the Neo-Babylonian period. Then Aramaic, which had already become common in Mesopotamia, became the official provincial administration language of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Akkadian fell into disuse, but both it and Sumerian were still used in temples for some centuries.(Though the Sumerians were a non-Semitic people, their language and form of writing dominated the entire region of the Fertile Crescent for millenniums, i.e. various States or Nations would use it to communicate with each other. Note also, that it was used entirely for religious writings and teachings for millenniums. Before there was a Hebrew or Aramaic spoken and then written language, there was the Sumerian spoken and written language that dominated. I also suspect that it was difficult to find enough Sumerian scribes, and that the Sumerians would also look for ‘intelligence’ amongst their slaves, in order to train some of them as scribes. These ‘slave-scribes’ would then become very familiar with the Sumerian religion, their ‘gods’, and their stories.)
In Early Mesopotamia (around mid 4th millennium BC) cuneiform script was invented. Cuneiform literally means "wedge-shaped", due to the triangular tip of the stylus used for impressing signs on wet clay. The standardized form of each cuneiform sign appears to have been developed from pictograms…
..The system of cuneiform script was difficult to master. Thus only a limited number of individuals were hired as scribes to be trained in its reading and writing… Massive archives of texts were recovered from the archaeological contexts of Old Babylonian scribal schools, through which literacy was disseminated.
There were libraries in most towns and temples; an old Sumerian proverb averred that "he who would excel in the school of the scribes must rise with the dawn." Women as well as men learned to read and write, and in Semitic times, this involved knowledge of the extinct Sumerian language, and a complicated and extensive syllabary.(I will have more on Gilgamesh and the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh’ later; however, it is important to point out, that the Sumerians had a huge amount of written records, history, stories, religion, etc., and that most of the Semitic people had eventually copied them into their own languages, and made changes that suited them in many cases. The Sumerians were a powerful and dominant people, a great civilization, and on-lookers observed early on that religion played an important part in such success. Even though the ‘Epic of Gilgamesh' is only dated to around 2150-2000 BC, it was from a series of earlier written stories…most about Gilgamesh. The ‘Enûma Eliš’ (‘Enuma Elish’ – around 1950 BC) was probably from Sumerian stories, enhanced and credited to the early Babylonians as well as to the Assyrians. The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) was primarily based ‘Enuma Elish’.)
A considerable amount of Babylonian literature was translated from Sumerian originals, and the language of religion and law long continued to be the old agglutinative language of Sumer. Vocabularies, grammars, and interlinear translations were compiled for the use of students, as well as commentaries on the older texts and explanations of obscure words and phrases. The characters of the syllabary were all arranged and named, and elaborate lists of them were drawn up.
There are many Babylonian literary works whose titles have come down to us. One of the most famous of these was the Epic of Gilgamesh, in twelve books, translated from the original Sumerian by a certain Sin-liqi-unninni, and arranged upon an astronomical principle. Each division contains the story of a single adventure in the career of Gilgamesh. The whole story is a composite product, and it is probable that some of the stories are artificially attached to the central figure.
Primary gods and goddessesThat is a partial list. I’m not sure what the Babylonians and Assyrians part in all of this was, other than perhaps as ‘city-states’, but it was the Akkadians, under King Sargon, who conquered Sumer in 2334 BC. (NOTE: My focus is on religion/s, which is ‘mindboggling’ enough, so will not spend much time breaking down the entire history of Mesopotamia here.)
Anu was the Sumerian god of the sky. He was married to Ki, but in some other Mesopotamian religions he has a wife called Uraš. Though he was considered the most important god in the pantheon, he took a mostly passive role in epics, allowing Enlil to claim the position as most powerful god.
Enlil was initially the most powerful god in Mesopotamian religion. His wife was Ninlil, and his children were Iškur (sometimes), Nanna - Suen, Nergal, Nisaba, Namtar, Ninurta (sometimes), Pabilsag, Nushu, Enbilulu, Uraš Zababa and Ennugi. His position at the top of the pantheon was later usurped by Marduk and then by Ashur.
Enki (Ea) god of Eridu. He was the god of rain.
Marduk was the principal god of Babylon. When Babylon rose to power, the mythologies raised Marduk from his original position as an agricultural god to the principal god in the pantheon.
Ashur was god of the Assyrian empire and likewise when the Assyrians rose to power their myths raised Ashur to a position of importance.
As one can see, Sumer was the original civilization and dynasty in the area of the Fertile Crescent and Mesopotamia, followed by other powerful civilizations and dynasties, who emulated the Sumerians in many ways.
Religion played an important part in maintaining control over such power and Empires, and the entire history of Western Religions (and the Near and Middle Eastern) can be traced back to ancient Sumer and the Sumerians.
Sumer(OK. ‘City-States’ were an important part of Sumer, with each apparently having a “god or goddess” representing the city. The “Great Flood” gets mentioned. A brief rise again, but the Semitic influences had grown too strong to overthrow. The Sumerian language remained a strong influence, primarily because of its connection to religious thought and teachings, through writing, and well known by priests and/or the priesthood.)
Sumer was the earliest known civilization of the ancient Near East, located in lower Mesopotamia (modern Iraq), from the time of the earliest records in the mid 4th millennium BC until the rise of Babylonia in the late 3rd millennium BC. The term "Sumerian" applies to all speakers of the Sumerian language. Sumer, together with Ancient Egypt, and the Indus Valley Civilization, is considered among the first settled societies in the world to have manifested all the features needed to qualify fully as a civilization.
By the late 4th millennium BC, Sumer was divided into about a dozen independent city-states, whose limits were defined by canals and boundary stones. Each was centered on a temple dedicated to the particular patron god or goddess of the city and ruled over by a priest, king, or governor who was intimately tied to the city's religious rites.
The ancient Sumerian king list recounts the early dynasties of several prominent cities. The first set of names on the list is of kings said to have reigned before the Great flood.
Later, the 3rd dynasty of Ur under Ur-Nammu and Shulgi, whose power extended as far as northern Mesopotamia, was the last great "Sumerian renaissance", but already the region was becoming more Semitic than Sumerian, with the influx of waves of Martu (Amorites) who were later to found the Babylonian Empire. Sumerian, however, remained a sacerdotal language taught in schools, in the same way that Latin was used in the Medieval period, for as long as cuneiform was utilized.
Culture(Abraham was supposedly from Ur, and I will be getting to some of the ‘gods’ at a later point.)
Sumerian culture may be traced to two main centers, Eridu in the south and Nippur in the north. Eridu and Nippur may be regarded as contrasting poles of Sumerian religion.
The deity Enlil, around whose sanctuary Nippur had grown up, was considered lord of the ghost-land, and his gifts to mankind were said to be the spells and incantations that the spirits of good or evil were compelled to obey.
Eridu, on the other hand, was the home of the culture god Enki (absorbed into Babylonian mythology as the god Ea), the god of beneficence, ruler of the freshwater depths beneath the earth, a healer and friend to humanity who was thought to have given us the arts and sciences, the industries and manners of civilization; the first law-book was considered his creation. Eridu had once been a seaport, and it was doubtless its foreign trade and intercourse with other lands that influenced the development of its culture…
..While Babylon seems to have been a colony of Eridu, Eridu's immediate neighbor, Ur, may have been a colony of Nippur, since its moon god was said to be the son of Enlil of Nippur. However, in the admixture of the two cultures, the influence of Eridu was predominant.
There is much evidence that the Sumerians loved music. It seemed to be an important part of religious and civic life in Sumer.
MilitaryAt some point, between the Babylonian captivity and Cyrus the Great “Edict of Restoration” (try finding that somewhere besides the bible), the “Hebrew” people may have finally made it into recorded history, i.e. roughly 600-538 BC.
The almost constant wars among the Sumerian city-states for 2000 years helped to develop the military technology and techniques of Sumer to a high level.
The Sumerian military used carts harnessed to onagers. These early chariots functioned less effectively in combat than did later designs, and some have suggested that these chariots served primarily as transports, though the crew carried battle-axes and lances.
Sumerian cities were surrounded by defensive walls.
Examples of Sumerian technology include: the wheel, cuneiform, arithmetic and geometry, irrigation systems, Sumerian boats, lunisolar calendar, bronze, leather, saws, chisels, hammers, braces, bits, nails, pins, rings, hoes, axes, knives, lancepoints, arrowheads, swords, glue, daggers, waterskins, bags, harnesses, armor, quivers, war chariots, scabbards, boots, sandal (footwear) and harpoons.
Most authorities credit the Sumerians with the invention of the wheel, initially in the form of the potter's wheel. The new concept quickly led to wheeled vehicles and mill wheels. The Sumerians' cuneiform writing system is the oldest there is evidence of (with the exception of proto-writing such as the Vinča signs and the even older Jiahu signs), pre-dating Egyptian hieroglyphics by at least seventy-five years. The Sumerians were among the first astronomers, mapping the stars into sets of constellations, many of which constellations survived in the zodiac and in the constellations known to the ancient Greeks.
Finally, the Sumerians ushered in the age of intensive agriculture and irrigation…
Sumerian, Egyptian and Semitic Deities
With the rise of human civilizations, like those of the Sumerians and Egyptians, religions came about and rose equally in power. Governments and religions have been forming bonds with each other ever since. Well, perhaps those bonds became less frequent around the time that America’s Founding Father’s wrote the U.S. Constitution, and even less frequently after Communism showed up, as many religions slowly lost power unless fully supported by a Government. Still, early civilizations, and most early empires depended upon a bond between government and religion.
The Sumerians had many ‘gods’, many of those were later claimed or renamed by rising new powers who conquered Sumer, and who were then conquered by another new rising power. Early ‘City-States’ chose a ‘god’ to represent them, but the main ‘god’ of the Sumerians was “Anu”.
AnuThe concept of ‘god’ as a duality or trinity is heretical in Judaism, but not to the Sumerians or to many of those conquering powers who followed them, including the Romans who showed up millenniums later. I will have more on the Roman Empire’s influence on and over Christianity later in this post, but as you can see here, the concept of a “triad” or ‘Trinity’ started with the ancient Sumerians.
In Sumerian mythology and later for Assyrians and Babylonians, Anu (also An; (from Sumerian *An = sky, heaven)) was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as soldiers to destroy the wicked.
He had several consorts, the foremost being Ki (earth), Nammu, and Uras. By Ki he was the father of, among others, the Annuna gods. By Nammu he was the father of, among others, Enki and Ningikuga. By Uras he was the father of Nin'insinna. According to legends, heaven and earth were once inseparable until An and Ki bore Enlil, god of the air, who cleaved heaven and earth in two. An and Ki were, in some texts, identified as brother and sister being the children of Anshar and Kishar. Ki later developed into the Akkadian goddess Antu.
He was one of the oldest gods in the Sumerian pantheon, and part of a triad including Enlil, god of the sky and Enki, god of water. He was called Anu by the Akkadians, rulers of Mesopotamia after the conquest of Sumer in 2334 BCE by King Sargon of Akkad. By virtue of being the first figure in a triad consisting of Anu, Bel and Ea, Anu came to be regarded as the father and at first, king of the gods.
The doctrine once established remained an inherent part of the Babylonian-Assyrian religion and led to the more or less complete disassociation of the three gods constituting the triad from their original local limitations. An intermediate step between Anu viewed as the local deity of Uruk, Enlil as the god of Nippur, and Ea as the god of Eridu is represented by the prominence which each one of the centres associated with the three deities in question must have acquired, and which led to each one absorbing the qualities of other gods so as to give them a controlling position in an organized pantheon.
The summing-up of divine powers manifested in the universe in a threefold division represents an outcome of speculation in the schools attached to the temples of Babylonia, but the selection of Anu, Enlil (and later Marduk) and Ea for the three representatives of the three spheres recognized, is due to the importance which, for one reason or the other, the centres in which Anu, Enlil and Ea were worshipped had acquired in the popular mind.
Note also, the use of “lord of constellations” in describing Anu, as it seems to be the first use of “lord” in reference to a ‘god’. Most of the ‘gods’ that followed Anu were described as a ‘Lord’ (a term used extensively in the bible). I’m not going to address all of the listed ‘gods’ here, Ea (Enki) and Enlil will certainly be two, and perhaps a couple more. (Note: Enki is "the god of Eridu" ('city-state'); Enlil is "the god of Nippur" ('city-state')...Ur was a "colony of Nippur", and Abraham was from Ur.)
Anu is probably considered a "Third Generation" ‘god’, since his parents were Anshar and Kishar, whose parents were Lahmu (“sometimes depicted as a snake, and sometimes as a bearded man with a red sash and six curls on his head”) and Lahamu (“sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head”), and their parents were Tiamat and Apsu…all depending on what source the story is being told from (the Enuma Elish is usually one source). As I mentioned earlier, new powers showed up, they sometimes added to the story or changed the names or re-ranked the importance of the ‘gods’, and this was done all the way down to the Roman Empire. Note again, the use of "serpent" being used to describe Lahmu and Lahamu, a term that gets used early in the bible.
Enki and Enlil - Egyptian PrehistoryThis is the kind of information that Christianity has been destroying, ignoring, hiding and burying since Roman Emperor Constantine I gave Christianity a big ‘Boost’ some 1,670 years ago. With the advent of the Internet, such information is slowly reaching the public…finally! The information hasn’t been condensed enough yet, and is spread out over many various websites, but more and more info shows up every day. The above info comes from the Library of Halexandria website…interesting site, with a mix of facts, analysis, and humor. (Note: unlike Christianity, Judaism didn’t try to destroy or bury ancient or old texts; they just copied them, edited a lot out, changed characters’ names, and changed the stories to suit or favor them. Christianity’s OT is basically Jewish stories that were plagiarized from ancient Sumerian and Egyptian texts, but Christianity needed a base to start from…so to speak.)
Prior to the creation of dynasties in the prehistory of ancient Egypt, god-Kings reigned. (Or in some cases, just misted.) These beings were undoubtedly the same Anunnaki of the ancient Sumerian texts, but with different names. For example, Ptah of Egyptian fame is the Sumerian Enki, Isis the same as Inanna, and Ra, the same as Marduk.
But Egypt was distinct from Sumer - even if the players were essentially the same. In Egypt, Ptah/Enki held sway, while in Sumer, it was his half-brother Enlil. This is a major difference - and accounts for massive differences in their histories, cultures, and those traditions brought down to us today.
The Sumerian and Egyptian civilizations arose close to the same time, with Egypt gaining even more power when Sumer fell (as other Sumerian ‘City-States’ gained more power) around 2334 BC; however, the Sumer influence remained over Egypt and the entire Mesopotamian regions. Egypt favored Ptah/Enki and Sumer favored Enlil.
At some point, as Sumer struggled with other regional ‘City-States’, to remain a power, Abraham was born in the city of Ur. As noted above, Egypt had many of the same ‘gods’ as the Sumerians, but they had different names. Ur was a “colony of Nippur”, and Enlil was the main ‘god’ for the ‘City-State’ of Nippur, which more than likely means that Enlil was also the ‘god’ for Ur. It is at this point, that the connection between “Yahweh” and Enki start showing up.
“God” comes to Abraham, in Ur, and has him move to Canaan. Was this “God” Enki or Enlil? Since Enlil was probably the “God” of Ur, then more than likely it was Enki who told Abraham to leave.
Abraham faces famine in Canaan, and then moves to Egypt, where Ptah/Enki is the favored “God”. The least fertile area of the Fertile Crescent is between Egypt and Mesopotamia, where Canaan was, and southern Canaan (and also the areas south and east of Canaan) was heavily influenced by Egypt. Abraham went to Egypt (area that favored Enki) instead of back to the Mesopotamian regions (area that favored Enlil).
Abraham leaves Egypt, and returns to a town named “Ai” or maybe “Et-Tell”, apparently near a town named “Bethel” (“Beth El or Beth-El, meaning "House of God" (in general), or "House of (the specific god named) El"”). OK, here’s another ‘god’, a.k.a. (sometimes) the “Canaanite God”. This is what I meant earlier, about all of this information needing to be condensed.
El (god)Follow those links, and the other links provided in them. “Yahweh” leads directly back to – Ptah/Enki.
In the Levant as a whole, El or Il was the supreme god, the father of humankind and all creatures and the husband of the Goddess Asherah as attested in the tablets of Ugarit.
The word El was found at the top of a list of gods as the Ancient of Gods or the Father of all Gods, in the ruins of the Royal Library of the Ebla civilization, in the archaeological site of Tell Mardikh in Syria dated to 2300 BC.
El had fathered many gods, but most important were Hadad, Yam and Mot…
The Egyptian god Ptah is given the title dū gitti 'Lord of Gath' in a prism from Lachish which has on its opposite face the name of Amenhotep II (c. 1435–1420 BCE) The title dū gitti is also found in Serābitṭ text 353. Cross (1973, p. 19) points out that Ptah is often called the lord (or one) of eternity and thinks it may be this identification of Ēl with Ptah that lead to the epithet ’olam 'eternal' being applied to Ēl so early and so consistently.
Ēl in the Tanakh
The theological position of the Tanakh is that the names Ēl, ’Ĕlōhîm when used in the singular to mean the supreme and active 'God' refers to the same being as does Yahweh.
In the P strand Yahweh claims in Exodus 6.2–3:
"I revealed myself to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as Ēl Shaddāi, but was not known to them by my name Yahweh."
Abraham was influenced by both Egypt and Sumer (Mesopotamia), who had ‘gods’ and a written history involving them. He was illiterate, and a nomad. He moved to areas that had strong connections to Ptah/Enki. After Abraham’s wife died, Sarah, he took another wife, a concubine named Keturah. One of their son’s was named Midian, a “land was named after Midian”, i.e. Midian is known as the “father of the Midianites.” Later, Moses fled from Egypt to the land of Midian, met Jethro, “the priest of Midian” there, worked 40-years for Jethro, and married one of his daughters. BTW, Moses had never heard of “Yahweh” before meeting Jethro, and Jethro was apparently the Priest of a religion now known as the “Yahweh Cult”.
Simply put – “Connect the Dots.”
Enki(Note: Enki has just changed one spoken language into many different languages, i.e. the "Tower of Babel" story. The "Adam and Eve" creation story. The bible is filled with such plagiarized stories from ancient Sumerian texts.)
Enki was a deity in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Babylonian mythology, originally chief god of the city of Eridu.
The exact meaning of his name is uncertain: the common translation is "Lord of the Earth": the Sumerian en is translated as a title equivalent to "lord"…
He was the keeper of the holy powers called Me, the gifts of civilized living.
Enki is also the master shaper of the world, god of wisdom and of all magic. He is the lord of the Apsu (Akkadian, Abzu in Sumerian, hence perhaps the Greek and English word "abyss"), the freshwater ocean of groundwater under the earth.
Early royal inscriptions from the third millennium speak of "the reeds of Enki". Reeds were an important local building material, used for baskets and containers, and collected outside the city walls, where the dead or sick were often carried. This links Enki to the kur or underworld of Sumerian mythology. In another even older tradition Nammu the goddess of the primeval creative matter and the mother-goddess who was said to have "given birth to the great gods", was the mother of Enki, and as the watery creative force, was said to pre-date Ea-Enki.
Ninti, is given the title of the mother of all living, and was a title given to the later Hurrian goddess Kheba. This is also the title given to Eve (= Hebrew Chavvah), the Aramaic Hawwah, who was supposedly made from the Rib of Adam, in a strange reflection of the Sumerian myth.
Confuser of languages
In the Sumerian epic entitled Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta, in a speech of Enmerkar, an incantation is pronounced that has a mythical introduction. Kramer's translation is as follows:
…“Harmony-tongued Sumer, the great land of the decrees of princeship..
.. The whole universe, the people in unison To Enlil in one tongue [spoke].
(Then) Enki, the lord of abundance (whose) commands are trustworthy…
.. Endowed with wisdom, the lord of Eridu
Changed the speech in their mouths, [brought] contention into it,
Into the speech of man that (until then) had been one.”
According to Sumerian mythology, Enki also assisted humanity to survive the Deluge designed to kill them. In the Legend of Atrahasis, Enlil, the jealous king of the gods, sets out to eliminate humanity, whose noise of them mating is offensive to his ears. He successively sends drought, famine and plague to eliminate humanity, but Enki thwarts his half-brother's plans by teaching Atrahasis irrigation, granaries and medicine. Humans again proliferate a fourth time. Enraged Enlil, convenes a Council of Deities and gets them to promise not to tell humankind that he plans their total annihilation. Enki, does not tell Atrahasis, but tells of Enlil's plan to the walls of Atrahasis' reed hut, thus covertly rescuing the man Atrahasis, or Ziusudra by either instructing him to build some kind of a boat for his family, or by bringing him into the heavens in a magic boat. After the seven day Deluge, the flood hero, Utnapishtim, Atrahasis or Ziusudra frees a swallow, a raven and a dove in an effort to find if the flood waters have receded. On the boat landing, a sacrifice is organized to the gods. Enlil is angry his will has been thwarted yet again, and Enki is named as the culprit. As the god of what we would call ecology, Enki explains that Enlil is unfair to punish the guiltless Atrahasis for the sins of his fellows, and secures a promise that the gods will not eliminate humankind if they practice birth control and live within the means of the natural world. The threat is made, however, that if humans do not honor their side of the covenant the gods will be free to wreak havoc once again. This is apparently the oldest surviving source of the Noah's Ark biblical tale and other parallel Middle Eastern Deluge myths.(Note: Once again, the bible has plagiarized another story from ancient Sumerian texts, i.e. this time about the “Flood” and the “Ark”.)
Enki was considered a god of life and replenishment, and was often depicted with two streams of water emanating from his shoulders, one the Tigris, the other the Euphrates. Alongside him were trees symbolizing the male and female aspects of nature, each holding the male and female aspects of the 'Life Essence', which he, as apparent alchemist of the gods, would masterfully mix to create several beings that would live upon the face of the earth.The Hebrew Tanakh and the Christian Bible were supposedly written by “inspired men of God”, and that the books are the “word of God”. The Torah wasn’t finished before 450 BC and the Tanakh wasn’t finished before 201 BC, and the oldest of Hebrew writings date closely to 600 BC. The stories in the Tanakh follow closely the ancient stories and texts if the Sumerians and Egyptians…written at least a millennium before any Hebrew writings showed up. Written history doesn’t even mention the Hebrew race or people, until the Hebrews finally start writing their own history. The Christian Bible wasn’t put together until around 350 AD, when Roman Emperor Constantine I had it written the way that he wanted it (more on this later).
The pool of the Abzu at the front of his temple, was adopted also at the temple to Nanna (Akkadian Sin) the Moon, at Ur, and spread throughout the Middle East. It remains, as the sacred pool at Mosques, and as the Baptismal font in Christian Churches.
As Ea, Enki had a wide influence outside of Sumeria, being equated with El (at Ugarit) and possibly Yah (at Ebla) in the Canaanite 'ilhm pantheon, he is also found in Hurrian and Hittite mythology, as a god of contracts, and is particularly favourable to humankind.
In 1964, a team of Italian archaeologists under the direction of Paolo Matthiae of the University of Rome La Sapienza performed a series of excavations of material from the third-millennium BCE city of Ebla. Much of the written material found in these digs was later translated by Dr. Giovanni Pettinato. Among other conclusions, he found a tendency among the inhabitants of Ebla to replace the name of El, king of the gods of the Canaanite Pantheon (found in names such as Mikael), with Ia (two syllables as in Mikiah).
Jean Bottero and many others have suggested that Ia in this case is a West Semitic (Canaanite) way of saying Ea, Enki's Akkadian name. Ia (two syllables) is declined with the Semitic ending as Iahu and may have developed into the later form of Yahweh. Ia has also been confused with the Ugaritic Yammu, whose earlier name in at least one ancient source was Yaw. Although both Father Ia and Yammu were water gods and are sometimes called "storm" gods, Ia was the creator and representative of the sweet beneficent waters from above and below the earth, and as "Enki" was Lord and creator of the earth itself.
Point is, since it is clear that the Torah and the Tanakh consist of numerous plagiarized stories from ancient Sumerian and Egyptian writings, then are we to assume that ‘god’ had also “inspired” the Sumerians and Egyptians earlier, and that their religious texts are also the “word of God”?!? Currently, the Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have three different religious scriptures (Tanakh, New Testament (Christian Bible), and the Qur'an), and all three are claimed to be the “word of God”. BTW, all three of these religions’ ‘gods’ can be traced back to Ēl (a common link), and then to Enki, as shown earlier in this post.
Yahweh(Note the date, “13th century BC", i.e. there is no recorded history of the Hebrews at that time, only an illiterate group or class of people known as the “Habiru”. However, the “Tetragrammaton” (YHWH) shows up in “Egyptian records”.)
During the Babylonian captivity, the Hebrew language spoken by the Jews was replaced by the Aramaic language of their Babylonian captors, which was closely related to Hebrew and, while sharing many vocabulary words in common, contained some words that sounded the same or similar but had other meanings. In Aramaic, the Hebrew word for “blaspheme” used in Leviticus 24:16, “Anyone who blasphemes the name of YHWH must be put to death” carried the meaning of “pronounce” rather than “blaspheme”. When the Jews began speaking Aramaic, this verse was understood to mean, “Anyone who pronounces the name of YHWH must be put to death.”
In Biblical Hebrew, most vowels are not written and the rest are written only ambiguously, as the vowel letters double as consonants (similar to the Latin use of V to indicate both U and V). For similar reasons, an appearance of the Tetragrammaton in ancient Egyptian records of the 13th century BC sheds no light on the original pronunciation.
Cultus(The religion of “Yahweh” also existed in Egypt, Sinai, Arabia, etc. long before the Jews ever became the ‘Hebrew-Israelites-Jews’…long before they could even read and write…and, long before they ever heard the word “Yahweh”.)
A more fundamental question is whether the name Yahweh originated among the Israelites or was adopted by them from some other people and speech.
The biblical author of the history of the sacred institutions (P) expressly declares that the name Yahweh was unknown to the patriarchs (Exod. vi. 3), and the much older Israelite historian (E) records the first revelation of the name to Moses (Exod. iii. 13-15), apparently following a tradition according to which the Israelites had not been worshippers of Yahweh before the time of Moses, or, as he conceived it, had not worshipped the god of their fathers under that name.
The revelation of the name to Moses was made at a mountain sacred to Yahweh, (the mountain of God) far to the south of Canaan, in a region where the forefathers of the Israelites had never roamed, and in the territory of other tribes.
Moses is closely connected with the tribes in the vicinity of the holy mountain. According to one account, he married a daughter of the priest of Midian.
It appears, therefore, that in the tradition followed by the Israelite historians, the tribes within whose pasture lands the mountain of God stood were worshipers of Yahweh before the time of Moses. The surmise that the name Yahweh belongs to their speech, rather than to that of Israel, is a significant possibility.
One of these tribes was Midian, in whose land the mountain of God lay. The Kenites also, with whom another tradition connects Moses, seem to have been worshipers of Yahweh.
It is probable that Yahweh was at one time worshiped by various tribes south of Palestine.....
Mesopotamian influence“Yahweh” was a ‘god’ that the Jews, Christians, and Muslims ‘stole’ from ancient Sumer and Egypt. The “Religion of Yahweh” existed long before the Jews entered the historical records.
Friedrich Delitzsch brought into notice three tablets, of the age of the first dynasty of Babylon, in which he read the names of Ya- a'-ve-ilu, Ya-ve-ilu, and Ya-u-um-ilu ("Yahweh is God"), and which he regarded as conclusive proof that Yahweh was known in Babylonia before 2000 B.C.
In a tablet attributed to the 14th century B.C. which Sellin found in the course of his excavations at Tell Ta'annuk (the city Taanach of the O.T.) a name occurs which may be read Ahi-Yawi (equivalent to Hebrew Ahijah); if the reading be correct, this would show that Yahweh was worshipped in Central Palestine before the Israelite conquest.
Many attempts have been made to trace the West Semitic Yahu back to Babylonia. Thus Delitzsch formerly derived the name from an Akkadian god, I or Ia; or from the Semitic nominative ending, Yau; but this deity has since disappeared from the pantheon of Assyriologists. Bottero speculates that the West Semitic Yah/Ia, in fact is a version of the Babylonian God Ea (Enki), a view given support by the earliest finding of this name at Ebla during the reign of Ebrum, at which time the city was under Mesopotamian hegemony of Sargon of Akkad.
Earlier, I had pointed out some of the similarities between the stories in the Hebrew Tanakh to written stories from ancient Sumerian and Egyptian texts, and here are a few more:
Comparative Religions(Note: side-by-side comparisons won’t fit in this format, so I will list them with Enuma Elish on top and Genesis on the bottom.)
Ancient Sumerian texts, for example, describe in great detail the events leading up to the Flood and Deluge of Biblical renown, and the histories of mankind down through the age of Abraham and his grandchild, Jacob. The Sumerian version has been found to corroborate the Book of Genesis at every turn, and in fact has provided a more detailed description of the biblical events. In many respects, the book of Genesis is an executive summary of the far more ancient Sumerian texts. Meanwhile, the Sumerian Enuma Elish describes the creation of our solar system in a scientifically consistent manner. And just as the Bible is referenced in various ways by numerous religions in their rituals, the same is true of the Sumerian Enuma Elish, which was recited verbatim on appropriate holy days.
Another example of the dual histories - and whatever authority and/or credibility they lend to the religion - is a comparison between the Sumerian Epic of Creation and that portion of Genesis which tells of the same events. For example, Laurence Gardner has noted the common elements between the Enuma Elish and Genesis:
Enuma Elish - Divine spirit is coexistent and coeternal with cosmic matter.(This plagiarizing, by the Hebrews, of ancient texts and stories continues throughout the Hebrew’s Tanakh. The following is a comparison of the Egyptian’s Wisdom of Amenemopet with that of the Book of Proverbs.)
Genesis - Divine spirit creates cosmic matter and exists independently of it.
Enuma Elish - Primeval chaos, with darkness enveloping the salt waters.
Genesis - A desolate waste, with darkness covering the deep.
Enuma Elish - Light emanates from the gods and the firmament is created above the Earth.
Genesis - Light is created by God and the firmament is created above the Earth.
Enuma Elish - Dry land is created on Earth. The luminaries (sun, moon and stars) are created.
Genesis - Dry land is created on Earth. The luminaries (sun, moon and stars) are created.
Enuma Elish - Man is created. The gods celebrate.
Genesis - Man is created. God rests.
It is worth mentioning that Genesis was written circa 600 B.C.E., and in a Babylonian location (while the Hebrews were in captivity). On the one hand, the writers had easy access to the libraries from which the Sumerian histories had briefly returned to life in those ancient times. On the other hand, there is the motivation on the part of the writers to somehow explain how the “chosen people” were being held in captivity far from home.
The comparative brevity of Genesis with respect to the Enuma Elish is probably indicative that it is far easier to edit out sections than creatively add new ones especially when there is a strong resistance to originality in writing the holy - texts of a religion.
Wisdom of Amenemope - Incline thine ears to hear my sayings, and apply thine heart to their comprehension, for it is a profitable thing to put them in thy heart. - Amenemope 1:6(Remember, these comparisons are just from one site…there are numerous other comparisons, from other sites that I don’t have the time to list them all. One more example from this site…another Egyptian text on papyrus, which is called the Ipuwer Papyrus. This is a long one, a comparison to the book of Exodus, so I will just use a few of the comparisons.)
Proverbs of Solomon - Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge, for it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee. Proverbs 22:17-18
Wisdom of Amenemope - Remove not the landmark on the boundary of the fields... and trespass not on the boundary of the widow. 7:12-15
Proverbs of Solomon - Remove not the old landmark, and enter not into the fields of the fatherless. 23:10
Wisdom of Amenemope - They have made themselves wings like geese, and they have flown to heaven. Amenemope 10:5
Proverbs of Solomon - Riches certainly make themselves wings, they fly away as an eagle toward heaven. Proverbs 23:4-5
Wisdom of Amenemope - Better is poverty in the hand of God, than the riches in the storehouse. Better are loaves when the heart is joyous. Amenemope 9:5-8
Proverbs of Solomon - Better is little with fear of the Lord, than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is. Proverbs 15:16-17
Wisdom of Amenemope - Fraternize not with the hot-tempered man. And press not on him for conversation. Amenemope 11:13-14
Proverbs of Solomon - Make no friendship with an angry man. And with a furious man thou shalt not go. Proverbs 22:24
Papyrus 2:5-6: Plague is throughout the land. Blood is everywhere.As Mark Twain has observed: “The ancients have stolen all our really good, new ideas.”
Exodus 7:21: ...there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt.
Papyrus 2:10: The river is blood.
Exodus 7:20: ...all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood.
Papyrus 9:11: The land is not light...
Exodus 10:22: ...and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt.
Papyrus 2:13: He who places his brother in the ground is everywhere.
Exodus 12:30: ...there was not a house where there was not one dead.
A second reason for the commonality of religions is that the ancients did a lot of copying of others works. Bernstein, for example has written: “When Moses led the Israelites out of the land of bondage, he carried with him the mysteries of Egyptian knowledge acquired by Moses himself at the court of the Pharaoh.” The Hebrews also took much of the knowledge of creation from the Babylonians, who had in turn learned their lessons from the Sumerians. The Jewish Kaballah (aka Ha Qabala) is replicated in large part by the Christian Caballah, and the ecumenical Qaballah, and all may very well have originated from the Sumerians’ “Table of Destiny”.
As Mark Twain has observed: “The ancients have stolen all our really good, new ideas.”
Got to love the Mark Twain quote!
The above Sumerian and Egyptian stories and texts are in some cases millenniums older, others from five-hundred years to a millennium older than any Hebrew texts. All are older than the Hebrew race or people.
Remember also, that the Jews are not even sure if Moses was an “individual” or a “group of individuals”. Written history names the ancient races or people, e.g. Sumerians, Egyptians, Akkadians, Assyrians, and Babylonians, but not one word about the Hebrews. Solomon and/or King David are never mentioned in history, so the Hebrews may not have even been a race until around 931-874 BC.
OK. Getting closer to starting the sections on Christianity, but a little more on the Hebrew history 450–1 BC, covering the Torah and Tanakh finally showing up, the Greek influence on them, and the Essenes (they may take some time to cover). I posted the following info at the beginning of this post, but will bring it up again now, for a reference point:
Judaism after the Babylonian Exile
538 B.C.E. Edict of Cyrus (first return from Exile).
450 B.C.E. Torah (Pentateuch = first division of Jewish Scriptures) begins to gain recognition as Scripture.
333-63 B.C.E. Hellenistic (Greek) period.
333/331 B.C.E. Alexander the Great conquers the Land of Israel.
320-168 B.C.E. Judaism under Greek Ptolemies & Seleucids.
250 B.C.E. "Septuagint" translation of Torah into Greek.
201 B.C.E. Prophets (second division of Jewish Scriptures) recognized by some as Scripture
200 B.C.E.-135 C.E. Jewish Qumran community.
Non-Biblical confirmation of Hebrew History
Recorded history, i.e. written records of the ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, Akkadians, and Hittites mentions a group of people, known as the Habiru, who existed from around 2000 BC to 1200 BC, but still no mention of the Hebrews during that span of time. The Habiru were basically considered a ‘pain-in-the-neck’ by the more powerful civilizations, i.e. the Habiru were an illiterate bunch of wandering nomads, prone to thievery and raiding, and were good for not more than use as slaves, servants, and laborers. As the Habiru population grew in size, the amount of infighting amongst themselves rose, and certain groups of them would break-off. The Canaanites may have been one of the first or earliest groups to break-off.
The Egyptians and various offshoots of the early Sumerians (e.g. the Akkadians and Hittites) were often at war with each other, primarily over the lands between Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the Habiru would choose sides, for the ‘right price’. Ancient Egyptian texts use the term Canaan to refer to an Egyptian province. In 925 BC, records show that Pharaoh Shoshenk I attacked the area of Canaan, to quell the infighting and uprisings there, and still no mention of the Hebrews.
History of ancient Israel and JudahThe land of Canaan was in a struggle for control, involving Canaanites, Habiru, various other tribes, and various kings throughout the region. At least one or two of these groups were beginning to split-off into a group that will be known as the “Hebrews” and/or “Israelites”. Jerusalem was about to stop being a “Canaanite City”, and about to become known as the “Israelite Capital.” However, in 925 BC, Jerusalem was still just another “Canaanite City” in an area that Egypt was about to lose or give-up control over. The various fighting factions were all asking Egypt to help them, but the Egyptians had probably grown weary of the Habiru by this time, and wanted to be rid of them, i.e. keep them out of Egypt, and just let them kill each other. This also explains why there is no recorded non-biblical history of there ever being a David or a Solomon. No recorded non-biblical history of any “Hebrew” or “Israelite” king or ruler until roughly 885 BC, when Omri shows up, and becomes the first recorded “King of Israel”.
The nature and precise dates of events and the precision by which they may be stated are subject to continuing discussion and challenge. There are no biblical events whose precise year can be validated by external sources before the possible attack by Pharaoh Shoshenk I, identified with the Biblical Shishak (=striker) in 925 BCE. This record, however, shows the Pharaoh's raid was directed more against Israel rather than Jerusalem, as the Bible suggests, and no rulers of the area are listed in Egyptian records. The first independent confirmation of the Biblical record is the early 9th century BCE with the rise of Omri, King of Israel. Therefore all earlier dates are extrapolations and conjecture.
Omri(Note: the Books of Kings were not written until around 561-538 BC, roughly 300 years after the death of Omri. If many of the Jews disliked Omri, then most of them (even to this day) hated Ahab with a passion. Note also his building accomplishments.)
Omri was king of Israel and father of Ahab.
Because Omri was not a devout follower of God, the writer of the Book of Kings minimized his accomplishments. While the writer acknowledges Omri built his new capital Samaria on a hill he bought from Shemer (16:24), he omits any mention of the widespread public construction both Omri and his son Ahab commissioned during their reigns. Israel Finkelstein and his student Norma Franklin have identified monumental construction at Samaria, Jezreel, Megiddo and Hazor similar in design and build, including twelve sets of mason marks shared between the archaeological sites.
OK…history has looked kindly at Omri…well, not biblical history. “Omri is the founder of the Israelite Kingdom”, i.e. in both non-biblical recorded history and archaeologically. Most biblical history was written well after the facts, even the biblical history of Omri, and is not only a plagiarized source in many cases, but also a totally unreliable source. Heck, in modern Israel, the Jews even name their children after Omri. The same can’t be said for the names of “Ahab” or “Jezebel”, not even here in America.
Omri's rule over Israel was secure enough that he could bequeath his kingdom to Ahab, thus beginning a new dynasty (sometimes called the Omrides), and his descendants not only ruled over the kingdom of Israel for the next forty years, but also briefly over Judah. He was significant enough that his name is mentioned on a stele erected by Mesha, king of Moab, who records his victory over a son of Omri - but omits the son's name. Thomas L. Thompson (The Bible in History), however, interprets the Mesha stele as suggesting that Omri is an eponym, or legendary founder of the kingdom rather than an historical person. Most archaeologists reject this interpretation, seeing Omri as historical.
The short-lived dynasty founded by Omri constitutes a new chapter in the history of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. It ended almost fifty years of constant civil war over the throne. There was peace with the Kingdom of Judah to the south, and even cooperation between the two rival states, while relations with neighboring Sidon to the north were bolstered by marriages negotiated between the two royal courts. This state of peace with two powerful neighbors enabled the Kingdom of Israel to expand its influence and even political control in Transjordan, and these factors combined brought economic prosperity to the kingdom.
On the other hand, peace with Sidon also resulted in the penetration of Phoenician religious ideas into the kingdom and led to a kulturkampf between traditionalists (as personified by the prophet Elijah and his followers) and the aristocracy (as personified by Omri's son and heir Ahab and his consort Jezebel). In foreign affairs, this period paralleled the rise of the Kingdom of Aram based in Damascus, and Israel soon found itself at war in the northeast. Most threatening, however, was the ascendancy of Assyria, which was beginning to expand westward from Mesopotamia: the Battle of Qarqar (853 BC), which pitted Shalmaneser III of Assyria against a coalition of local kings, including Ahab, was the first clash between Assyria and Israel. It was the first in a series of wars that would eventually lead to the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC and the reduction of the Kingdom of Judah to an Assyrian tributary state.
(Note: Infighting continues throughout the ‘soon-to-be-former’ region of Canaan, and since Egypt had basically given the area away, the Assyrians of the Mesopotamian region have their eyes on it. Jezebel now shows up, and the Jews may hate her even more than her husband Ahab (if that is possible). Still, Omri has increased learning, building, and economic prosperity, as the Hebrews now move from having been nothing more than an illiterate group of troublesome nomads, to becoming rather civilized.)
In archaeology, Omri appears several times over the next century or so, beginning with the Mesha stele, which recounts one of his acts as king: the annexation of Moab. Later, Israel would become identified in sources as the "House of Omri" (Bit-Humria), with the term "Israel" being used less and less as history progressed (the other defining term for "Israel" is "Samaria", beginning in the reign of Joash). Archaeologically speaking, it would appear that Omri is the founder of the Israelite Kingdom, but problems persist since he is not the first king of Israel to appear in sources; Ahab is. However, dating complications (arising from the fact that if he followed Ahab he would be given less than three years to rule, far too short for a king that was as powerful and influential as Omri) make it easier to put Omri first in Israel's line of kings, although this by no means firmly establishes that he was the first king of Israel according to these sources.
Attitude in contemporary Israel
The Bible displays a negative attitude to King Omri, and it has been followed by later rabbinical tradition. However, Zionism was created mainly by non-religious (sometimes anti-religious) people who re-evaluated many Biblical characters (as well as characters from later Jewish history) according to the criteria of a secular national movement in need of National Heroes. As with many European national movements which served as an example to the founders of Zionism, ancient Jewish warriors in general and warrior kings in particular were often regarded positively. Omri, a successful warrior king and the founder of a strong dynasty, is a conspicuous example.
In the present-day Israeli society, "Omri" is quite a common male name, which would have been unthinkable in a traditional Jewish milieu. (The same is true for the name "Nimrod", another Biblical character negatively regarded by pre-Zionist Jewish tradition.) Omri Sharon, the elder son (and close political associate) of former PM Ariel Sharon seems the most well-known among present bearers of the name. Omri Katz is an Israeli-American actor, born in Los Angeles to Israeli parents.
Ahab(Note: I have seen and read sources that say Ahab was actually the first to build the infamous “Temple in Jerusalem”, i.e. the first “Temple”. Since recorded history doesn’t even mention a “King Solomon”, these sources were probably correct about Ahab being the builder of the first “Temple”.)
He married Jezebel, the daughter of King Ithobaal I of Tyre, and the alliance was doubtless the means of procuring him great riches, which brought pomp and luxury in their train. We read of his building an ivory palace (1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15), and founding new cities, the effect perhaps of a share in the flourishing commerce of Phoenicia, which supplied the ivory for his palace.
The material prosperity of his reign, which is comparable with that of Solomon a century before, was overshadowed by the religious changes which his interreligious marriage introduced.
During Ahab's reign, Moab, which had been conquered by his father, remained tributary; Judah, with whose king, Jehoshaphat, he was allied by marriage, was probably his vassal; only with Aram Damascus is he said to have had strained relations.
Whilst the above passages from 1 Kings view Ahab not unfavourably, there are others which are less friendly.
JezebelOK…the Hebrews finally have an actual beginning to their history that can be confirmed by something besides their biblical myths. Infighting continues, Assyrians attack them…by 721 BC the Northern Kingdom (Israel) is destroyed followed by exile and enslavement…by 612 BC, the Babylonians arrive, defeat both the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom (Judah), and then exile and enslave more Hebrews…by 586 BC the “Temple” is destroyed followed by more exile and enslavement…and, by 539 BC the Persian ruler Cyrus the Great conquers Babylonian Empire.
Jezebel (..traditionally interpreted as,"not exalted") is the name of two women in the Bible.
.. Jezebel is a queen of ancient Israel, whose story is told in I and II Kings. She is introduced by the author as a Phoenician princess, the daughter of King Ithobaal I of Tyre, who marries King Ahab. She turns Ahab away from the God of the Israelites and of the Jews (being the inhabitants of Judah in this context) and towards the worship of her god, Baal. The two then allow temples of Baal to open in Israel. Jezebel uses her control over Ahab to subject Israel to tyranny. After she slaughters the prophets of the Lord, the prophet Elijah confronts her to charge her with abominations. She responds by threatening to kill him as well. After Ahab's death, Jezebel continues to rule through her son Ahaziah. When Ahaziah is killed in battle, she exercises control through her other son, Jehoram. Jehoram is killed by Jehu, who confronts Jezebel in Jezreel and urges her servants to kill her by throwing her out a window (defenestration). They comply, tossing her out the window and leaving her corpse in the street to be eaten by dogs; only her skull, feet, and hands remained, in fulfillment of Elijah's prophecy. Her daughter, Athaliah, is wed to King of Judah, Jehoram, similarly corrupting Judah.
Using the vowels traditionally used for this name by Hebrew readers, the Hebrew form of this name means "not exalted". But it is highly unlikely her parents would have given her such a name. Read with different vowels it can be understood as meaning "Where is the Prince?" ('ay zebul in Hebrew). In fact, early Syrian inscriptions from Ugarit demonstrate that "the Prince" (equivalent of Hebrew "Zebul") was a popular title for the storm god of the Phoenicians. The sentence "Where is the Prince?" is even found in Ugaritic literature. It is a form of invocation, calling on the god named to appear and act. In other words, this Tyrian princess was given a name in praise of the chief god of her people (whom the Hebrew Bible refers to mainly by the title "Baal", meaning "lord, master"). "Jezebel" is, then, a reinterpretation, intended to mock this Queen and her god, whom she encouraged Israel to worship.
Jezebel as a hussy
The name Jezebel has come down through the centuries to be used as a general name for all wicked women.
In modern usage the name of Jezebel is used to as a synonym for a hussy or controlling whore…
The Hebrews are now well established in non-biblical history.
Cyrus the Great allows the Hebrews to return from their exile and enslavement, maintains some control over them (i.e. no ruler or king of their choice), but does allow them to practice their religion, and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.
Becoming a race with an actual recorded history wasn’t easy for the Hebrews, since it still lead to enslavement, and even though Cyrus the Great was a kind ruler who offered plenty of freedoms, the Hebrews were still under the control of another foreign ‘Master’. They yearned for more freedom, and a leader of their own choice. Thus, “The notion of a Messiah, a political/military-religious/moral leader, develops” around 500 BC.
The MessiahChristianity depends heavily on the book of Isaiah…which requires a belief in prophesies and Supernaturalism (belief in miracles, spells, curses, divination, fortune telling, palm readings, etc. “Supernatural themes are often associated with magical and occult ideas.”). The Jews have gone through so much misery, e.g. being conquered, exiled, made slaves, through Christian Inquisitions, through being forced to accept Christianity, and through the Holocaust. The prophesized Messiah never showed up through all that misery. Some Jews now even make jokes about the prophesy of a Messiah, as seen in the above quote.
Many Jews have long been skeptical of predictions announcing the imminent arrival of the Messiah (Mashiakh). The first century sage Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai once said: "If you should happen to be holding a sapling in your hand when they tell you that the Messiah has arrived, first plant the sapling and then go out and greet the Messiah." An old Jewish story tells of a Russian Jew who was paid a ruble a month by the community council to stand at the outskirts of town so that he could be the first person to greet the Messiah upon his arrival. When a friend said to him, "But the pay is so low," the man replied: "True, but the job is permanent."
Most significantly, Jewish tradition affirms at least five things about the Messiah. He will: be a descendant of King David, gain sovereignty over the land of Israel, gather the Jews there from the four corners of the earth, restore them to full observance of Torah law, and, as a grand finale, bring peace to the whole world. Concerning the more difficult tasks some prophets assign him, such as Isaiah's vision of a messianic age in which the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the calf with the young lion (Isaiah 11:6), Maimonides believes that Isaiah's language is metaphorical (for example, only that enemies of the Jews, likened to the wolf, will no longer oppress them). A century later, Nachmanides rejected Maimonides's rationalism and asserted that Isaiah meant precisely what he said: that in the messianic age even wild animals will become domesticated and sweettempered. A more recent Jewish "commentator," Woody Allen, has cautioned: "And the lamb and the wolf shall lie down together, but the lamb won't get any sleep."
The Jewish belief that the Messiah's reign lies in the future has long distinguished Jews from their Christian neighbors who believe, of course, that the Messiah came two thousand years ago in the person of Jesus. The most basic reason for the Jewish denial of the messianic claims made on Jesus' behalf is that he did not usher in world peace, as Isaiah had prophesied: "And nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4). In addition, Jesus did not help bring about Jewish political sovereignty for the Jews or protection from their enemies.
Try finding a date for when the book of Isaiah was written. Isaiah lived roughly between 740-681 BC, but there is no date for when the book of Isaiah was written. The book has anonymities (e.g. the name Isaiah suddenly stops being used in it), and style changes in it, which suggests that the book of Isaiah was written by more than one author, and over a long period of time.
The Tanakh includes the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. The Torah doesn’t “gain recognition as Scripture” until 450 BC. The Prophets doesn’t gain any recognized as “Scripture” until 201 BC, and only recognition “by some”.
Isaiah died around 681 BC, reportedly after being “sawn in half with a wooden saw”.
Greeks and Jews200 years under Persian rule, still no Messiah, and then the Greeks become the new rulers, for the next 270 years.
333-63 B.C.E. Hellenistic (Greek) period.
In the Table of Nations in Genesis 10.1-32, which lists the descendants of Noah and the nations they founded, the Greeks appear under the name "Yavan," who is a son of Yaphet.
They came unexpectedly. After two centuries of serving as a vassal state to Persia, Judah suddenly found itself the vassal state of Macedonia, a Greek state. Alexander the Great had conquered Persia and had, in doing so, conquered most of the world. For most of the world belonged to Persia; in a blink of an eye, it now fell to the Greeks.
This great Greek empire would last no longer than Alexander's brief life; after his death, altercations between his generals led to the division of his empire among three generals. One general, Antigonus and then later Ptolemy, inherited Egypt; another, Seleucus, inherited the Middle East and Mesopotamia. After two centuries of peace under the Persians, the Hebrew state found itself once more caught in the middle of power struggles between two great empires: the Seleucid state with its capital in Syria to the north and the Ptolemaic state, with its capital in Egypt to the south. Once more, Judah would be conquered first by one, and then by the other, as it shifted from being a Seleucid vassal state to a Ptolemaic vassal state. Between 319 and 302 BCE, Jerusalem changed hands seven times.
Like all others in the region, the Jews bitterly resented the Greeks. They were more foreign than any group they had ever seen. In a state founded on maintaining the purity of the Hebrew religion, the gods of the Greeks seemed wildly offensive. In a society rigidly opposed to the exposure of the body, the Greek practice of wrestling in the nude and deliberately dressing light must have been appalling!
In general, though, the Greeks left the Jews alone; adopting Cyrus's policy, they allowed the Jews to run their own country, declared that the law of Judah was the Torah, and attempted to preserve Jewish religion.
During this period, Jewish history takes place in several areas: in Judah, in Mesopotamia and other parts of the Middle East, and Egypt. For the dispersion of the Jews had begun during the Exile, and large, powerful groups of Jews lived all throughout the Persian empire and later the Hellenistic kingdoms ("Hellenistic"="Greek").
The most important event of the Hellenistic period, though, is the translation of the Torah into Greek in Ptolemaic Egypt. The Greeks, in fact, were somewhat interested (not much) in the Jewish religion, but it seems that they wanted a copy of the Jewish scriptures for the library at Alexandria.
So the Greeks wanted a copy and set about translating it. Called the Septuagint after the number of translators it required ("septuaginta" is Greek for "seventy"), the text is far from perfect. The Hebrew Torah had not settled down into a definitive version, and a number of mistranslations creep in for reasons ranging from political expediency to confusion. For instance, the Hebrew Torah is ruthlessly anti-Egyptian; after all, the founding event of the Hebrew people was the oppression of the Hebrews by the Egyptians and the delivery from Egypt. The Septuagint translators—who are, after all, working for the Greek rulers of Egypt—go about effacing much of the anti-Egyptian aspects. On the other hand, there are words they can't translate into Greek, such as "berit," which they translate "diatheke," or "promise" (in Latin and English, the word is incorrectly translated "covenant").
Despite these imperfections, the Septuagint is a watershed in Jewish history. More than any other event in Jewish history, this translation would make the Hebrew religion into a world religion. It would otherwise have faded from memory like the infinity of Semitic religions that have been lost to us.
If finding themselves suddenly under a new ‘Master’ wasn’t bad enough, the Greeks, after doing some studying of the Jewish religion, then tell the Hebrews that they are related to each other.
The Greeks didn’t even look like them (the Hebrews). The Greeks wrestled in the nude. The Greeks barely wore clothes, even when they were not nude, and they loved having sex with young boys.
Just when the Hebrews thought it could get no worse (e.g. having a new ‘Master’ telling them they are kin, and/or then having to hide their young boys instead of their young girls from these new ‘Masters’), the Greeks then tell the Hebrews that they want Greek copies of the Hebrews’ ‘Holy Scriptures’!!!
Heck, the Hebrew Torah had not even “settled down into a definitive version" yet (a “number of mistranslations” already existed), and here comes the Greeks wanting to put their ‘Stamp’ on it, i.e. adding Greek political influence and confusion to the already problematic Hebrew versions.
Were the “seventy” translators (from the Hebrew into the Greek) for the Septuagint also “inspired by God”? Stated in the above quote, the Septuagint has “imperfections” as did the Hebrew versions, i.e. “imperfections” being added in with other existing “imperfections”.
The Essenes Part 1The Jews had been working on the creation of a Jewish religion since around the time that Cyrus the Great had freed them from the Babylonians, in 538 BC, and allowed them to return to the lands. (Note: not all had returned, choosing instead to remain where they were.) By 450 BC, the various sects of Jews had agreed on the basic content of the Torah. Still, when the Greeks took over around 333 BC, the Jews were still debating the scriptures, and there were apparently several versions of the Torah around.
200 B.C.E.-135 C.E. Jewish Qumran community.
The Qumran sect's origins are postulated by some scholars to be in the communities of the Hasidim, the pious anti-Hellenistic circles formed in the early days of the Maccabees. The Hasidim may have been the precursors of the Essenes, who were concerned about growing Hellenization and strove to abide by the Torah.
Archeological and historical evidence indicates that Qumran was founded in the second half of the second century B.C.E., during the time of the Maccabean dynasty. Qumran was abandoned about the time of the Roman incursion of 68 C.E., two years before the collapse of Jewish self-government in Judea and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
The chief sources of information for the history of this fateful time span are the Qumran scrolls and the excavations, but earlier information on the Essenes was provided by their contemporaries: Josephus Flavius, Philo of Alexandria, and Pliny the Elder. Their accounts are continuously being borne out by the site excavations and study of the writings.
The historian Josephus relates the division of the Jews of the Second Temple period into three orders: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and the Essenes. The Sadducees included mainly the priestly and aristocratic families; the Pharisees constituted the Jay circles; and the Essenes were a separatist group, part of which formed an ascetic monastic community that retreated to the wilderness.
The persecution of the Essenes and their leader, the teacher of righteousness probably elicited the sect's apocalyptic visions.
The word Essene is never distinctly mentioned in the scrolls. How then can we attribute either the writings or the sites of the Judean Desert to the Essenes?
The argument in favor of this ascription is supported by the tripartite division of Judaism referred to in Qumran writings (for example, in the Nahum Commentary) into Ephraim, Menasseh, and Judah, corresponding to the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. As the Essenes refer to themselves in the scrolls as Judah, it is quite clear whom they regarded themselves to be. Moreover, their religious concepts and beliefs as attested in the scrolls conform to those recorded by contemporary writers and stand in sharp contrast to those of the other known Jewish groups.
Other scholars view the texts as the writings of forerunners or even followers of Jesus - Jewish Christians - who still observed Jewish law.
This division between the Jews led to three main Jewish sects, with the Essenes being one of the three, and probably the least influential of the three. Remember also, that Moses was introduced to the “Yahweh Cult” by his father-in-law who was a priest of Midian. At that time, “Yahweh” was considered to be a “kind of nature god” living on and around Mount Sinai. The Midianites lived in tents, and primarily made their living by tending their ‘flocks’ in the land of Midian, i.e. they were a simple living people, but unlike the Habiru, they did not wander from land to land.
The Jews had spent several centuries as slaves, in the cities of the Assyrians and Babylonians, so many of them had grown used to living in cities. Then the Persians take over, allowed them to return to their lands, and encouraged them to rebuild Jerusalem, and the lands of Israel and Judah. The Sadducees and Pharisees had definitely become ‘city-dwellers’, but the Essenes could live simple lives in the city or out in “nature”. However, the Essenes were less prone to cooperate with foreign ‘Masters’, and in many cases would move out of a city in order to get away from foreign influence. In the case of the Greeks, the Essenes became extremely anti-Hellenistic, and resented the Sadducees and Pharisees for their cooperation with the Greeks.
The exact origins of the Essenes are not known, but they probably began as a separatist group, seeking to break from the mainstream Judaism, because they saw it becoming corrupted by the Greeks. They certainly did not want their version of the Torah and other texts getting into the hands of the Greeks, and apparently would go off “into the wilderness” in order to maintain control over their scriptures…the Qumran-Essene community would grow over time, lending to a feeling of freedom and security.
Amongst some of the documents that have been discovered in the caves at Qumran, was the ‘Damascus Document’, which contains a cryptic reference to a ‘Teacher of Righteousness’. It was cryptic enough that it does not reveal who he was, leaving many to wonder if the Essenes was speaking of someone from the past, or someone in the present, or even a prophesy of someone coming in the future. Perhaps he was even the ‘Messiah’ that had finally arrived, arriving to save them from the Greeks…point is, the Essenes were wanting to save Judaism from the corruption of the Greeks, and also from their Greek allies, i.e. the cooperating and corrupt Sadducees and Pharisees.
The above link also mentions that these documents may be “the writings of forerunners or even followers of Jesus - Jewish Christians - who still observed Jewish law.” John the Baptist may even have been an Essene. Of course John the Baptist wasn’t born until the era of Roman rule, so the Essenes had clearly been thinking about the ‘Messiah’ for a couple of centuries.
Meanwhile, after the death of Alexander the Great, infighting amongst the Greeks for control over the Empire began, followed by dividing the Empire, and the Romans were on the horizon…watching and waiting.
The Romans made one of their first moves in 192 BC, when they attacked and then defeated Antiochus III at Thermopylae in 191 BC. Continued defeating the Greeks elsewhere, until the Romans (as the Romans usually did, before striking the ‘Final Blow’) decided to make “Peace” with the Greeks, but with the Romans retaining the dominant position in this “Peace”.
Roman RuleEnslaved and exiled once again. This time under the Romans, who may have been the worse ‘Master’ of them all. The mention of the fortress Masada, where some “960 Jews” fled to after the ‘Great Revolt’ ended in defeat. Those and other Jews had split from the other Jewish sects, and formed a new movement or sect known as “Zealotry”, which has been called the ‘Fourth Jewish Sect’. Comprised mainly of Essenes, with a mix of Sadducees, Pharisees, and even some “Jewish Christians” tossed in. After the Romans had taken over, many Jews had grown tired of waiting for the ‘Messiah’ to arrive, and started to take matters into their own hands.
(63 BCE-313 CE)
When the Romans replaced the Seleucids as the great power in the region, they granted the Hasmonean king, Hyrcanus II, limited authority under the Roman governor of Damascus. The Jews were hostile to the new regime, and the following years witnessed frequent insurrections. A last attempt to restore the former glory of the Hasmonean dynasty was made by Mattathias Antigonus, whose defeat and death brought Hasmonean rule to an end (40 BCE), and the Land became a province of the Roman Empire.
In 37 BCE, Herod, a son-in-law of Hyrcanus II, was appointed King of Judea by the Romans. Granted almost unlimited autonomy in the country's internal affairs, he became one of the most powerful monarchs in the eastern part of the Roman Empire. A great admirer of Greco-Roman culture, Herod launched a massive construction program, which included the cities of Caesarea and Sebaste and the fortresses at Herodium and Masada. He also remodeled the Temple into one of the most magnificent buildings of its time. But despite his many achievements, Herod failed to win the trust and support of his Jewish subjects.
Ten years after Herod's death (4 BCE), Judea came under direct Roman administration. Growing anger against increased Roman suppression of Jewish life resulted in sporadic violence which esclated into a full-scale revolt in 66 CE. Superior Roman forces led by Titus were finally victorious, razing Jerusalem to the ground (70 CE) and defeating the last Jewish outpost at Masada (73 CE).
The total destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was catastrophic for the Jewish people. According to the contemporary historian Josephus Flavius, hundreds of thousands of Jews perished in the siege of Jerusalem and elsewhere in the country, and many thousands more were sold into slavery.
These Zealots had decided that violence should be used against the Romans, and especially against the Jews who were cooperating with the Romans. The more violent of these Zealots were called the Sicarii ("daggermen"). The Sicarii would hide their daggers underneath their clothing, and look for Romans and/or Roman supporters to kill. They were especially feared by the Jews who supported or ignored the Roman rule. Some now call the Sicarii, the “earliest forerunners of modern terrorism.”
The Essenes Part 2Where to start…?! So much info on the Essenes, but then again, so little.
The Essenes were a Judaic religious group that flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD. Many scholars of separate, but related groups, that had in common mystic, eschatological, messianic, and ascetic beliefs that were referred to as the "Essenes".
The main source of information about the life and belief of Essenes is the detailed account contained in a work of the 1st century Jewish historiographer Flavius Josephus entitled The Jewish War written about 73-75 AD and his shorter description in his Antiquities of the Jews finished some 20 years later. Claiming firsthand knowledge, he refers to them by the name Essenoi and lists them as the followers of one of the three sects in "Jewish Philosophy'" alongside the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
Josephus uses the name Essenes in his two main accounts as well as in some other contexts ("an account of the Essenes"; "the gate of the Essenes"; "Judas of the Essene race", but some manuscripts read here Essaion…). In several places, however, Josephus has Essaios, which is usually assumed to mean Essene ("Judas of the Essaios race"; "Simon of the Essaios race"; "John the Essaios"; "those who are called by us Essaioi"…). Philo's usage is Essaioi, although he admits this Greek form of the original name that according to his etymology signifies "holiness" to be inexact. Pliny's Latin text has Esseni. Josephus identified the Essenes as one of the three major Jewish sects of that period.
According to a controversial view put forward by Dead Sea Scrolls Scholar Géza Vermes, both Josephus and Philo pronounced the Essenes' name as "Esaoin", which means in Arabic followers of "Esa", which Vermes says is the name of Jesus according to the most ancient mosaic portrait found in Turkey dated 70 AD which says underneath "Esa our Lord".
Rules, customs, theology and beliefs
Following the qualification above that it is correct to identify the community at Qumran with the Essenes (and that the community at Qumran are the authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls), then according to the Dead Sea Scrolls the Essenes' community school was called "Yahad" (meaning "oneness of God") in order to differentiate themselves from the rest of the Jews who are repeatedly labeled "The Breakers of the Covenant", especially in their prophetic book-scroll entitled "Milhama" (meaning " The War") in which the master of the Essenes (referred to as "The Teacher of Righteousness") prophesised that the so-called "Breakers of the Covenant" Jews will be on the side of the Antichrist. The accounts by Josephus and Philo show that the Essenes (Philo: Essaioi) led a strictly celibate but communal life - often compared by scholars to later Christian monastic living - although Josephus speaks also of another "rank of Essenes" that did get married.
After a total of three years probation, newly joining members would take an oath that included the commitment to practice piety towards Yahweh and righteousness towards humanity, to maintain a pure life-style, to abstain from criminal and immoral activities, to transmit their rules uncorrupted and to preserve the books of the Essenes and the names of the Angels…
The Church Father Epiphanius (writing in the fourth century AD) seems to make a distinction between two main groups within the Essenes…Epiphanius describes each group as following:
1) The Nazarean - they were Jews by nationality ... They acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received laws - not this law, however, but some other. And so, they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, but they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat.
2) After this [Nazarean] sect in turn comes another closely connected with them, called the Ossaeanes. These are Jews like the former ... Though it is different from the other six of these seven sects, it causes schism only by forbidding the books of Moses like the Nazarean.
Many scholars believe that the community at Qumran that allegedly produced the Dead Sea Scrolls was an offshoot of the Essenes; however, this theory has been disputed by Norman Golb and other scholars.
Since the 19th century attempts have been made to connect early Christianity and Pythagoreanism with the Essenes: It was suggested that Jesus of Nazareth was an Essene, and that Christianity evolved from this sect of Judaism, with which it shared many ideas and symbols. According to Martin A. Larson, the now misunderstood Essenes were Jewish Pythagoreans who lived as monks.
…John the Baptist is widely regarded to be a prime example of an Essene who had left the communal life, and it is thought they aspired to emulate their own founding Teacher of Righteousness who was crucified…
..Authors such as Robert Eisenman present differing views that support the Essene/Early Christian connection.
Let me back up a little here. The Jews were finally able to establish themselves into recorded history, around 885 BC, under the reign of King Omri. Then the Assyrians conquered them in 721 BC…then the Babylonians defeat the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom (Judah) around 612 BC, taking over, and then exiling and enslaving even more Jews. Persia then defeats the Babylonians around 539 BC, and allows the Jews to return to Israel and Judah (many Jews remained in the lands of these foreign empires).
The Jews spend the next 88-years creating Judaism, and the Torah gains recognition as scripture in 450 BC. Meanwhile, the Persians and Greeks had spent roughly 170-years fighting each other, before Alexander the Great showed up and defeated the Persians in 333 BC, and then the Greeks controlled the Jews.
One of the first sects that showed in Judaism, were the Pharisees around 536 BC, a couple of years after Cyrus the Great had freed the Jews, in 538 BC. The Sadducees and Essenes both show up around 200 BC, probably from offshoots of other sects and/or sects combining. Clearly, by the time that the Greeks had showed up (333 BC), the Jews had spend almost 200 years trying to agree on their scriptures, and to find agreement on what Judaism was. Also, remember that the Jews were now spread out, i.e. that many of them lived in foreign lands, so there was travel back and forth, between at least relatives, and probably others at times. Exchanges of thought and ideals were going on, and being shared. Trading between other countries, and certainly the Jews had crossed paths with the Greeks before 333 BC. The Jews had settled on the idea of “One God”, Yahweh (an ancient “God” dating back to Ptah/Enki), and the ancient Middle Eastern “Yahweh Religion”, but were apparently opened to other interpretations and ideals.
Two points, mentioned in the above quote, were – 1) The Essenes were a mix of “scholars of separate, but related groups”…2) “Pythagoreanism”. I found the points interesting, since the term ‘scholars’ can cover a vast area of various thought and ideals beyond just religion.
Pythagoreanism - is a term used for the esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras (580-490 BC) and his followers, the Pythagoreans, who were much influenced by mathematics and probably a main inspirational source for Plato and Platonism … but most scholars believe that the Pythagorean idea of the transmigration of the soul is too central to have been added by a later follower of Pythagoras.
Pythagoras (“first man to call himself a philosopher, or lover of wisdom”) was really the one who got ‘thinking’ rolling in Greece, and not Socrates (470-399 BC) or Plato (428-347 BC).
It appears that the Greeks had more interest and commonality in this new Jewish religion than just being ‘kin to the Jews’, and probably were also interested in Judaism’s ideals on the “transmigration of the soul”, since it was a “central” theme of Pythagoras teachings. (Of course, the Hindus had covered this millennium/s before, improving upon it over many centuries. The Buddhists had also been looking into it, at about the same time that Pythagoras and the Greeks were. I’m trying to keep Eastern thought and/or religion out of this post, but it is apparent that the West and East had more connections between each other, than just the trading of goods.)
The Jewish sects had been splitting and reforming for about 338-years before the Essenes showed up around 200 BC, with apparently only the Pharisees remaining intact. The Essenes also developed at least two branches, the Nazarenes and the Ossaeanes, and perhaps a split-off group that became the Zealots. By the time that the Romans had totally taken over, around 63 BC, it appears that at least some of the Essenes may have reached a point of even being willing to create their own ‘Messiah’. Even though the ‘Teacher of Righteousness’ had been considered by some to have been the ‘Messiah’, he had clearly not done what was prophesied in the Tanakh. The ‘Teacher of Righteousness’ was a cryptic character, so cryptic in fact, that we don’t even know who he was or even when he lived. One rumor, in the above quote, claims that he “was crucified”.
Turmoil and desperation were rampant amongst the Jews, especially so with the Essenes, by the time that John the Baptist and Jesus show up. Desperation usually leads to desperate thoughts, and to desperate actions. Centuries spent in exile and enslavement or under the rule of a new ‘Master’ in their own lands. Had the Essenes (or one of their branches) ‘trained’ Jesus and/or John the Baptist to be the prophesied ‘Messiah’? Knowing that without a ‘Messiah’ that the entire Jewish population would not unite together, i.e. that it would require the uniting of all the Jews, before the Romans could be defeated. ‘Trained Messiahs’ or not, Jesus and John the Baptist had both come and gone, and neither had fulfilled the prophesies.
OK…that about covers Pre-Christianity. The Romans now rule the lands of Israel and Judah, along with all the surrounding lands, and more. Judaism is divided and in disarray, and still no ‘Messiah’. The Romans have turned Jewish sect against Jewish sect.
Priests brawl at Bethlehem birthplace of Jesus
Dec 27 08:34 AM US/Eastern
Seven people were injured on Thursday when Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests came to blows in a dispute over how to clean the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.How many branches of Christianity are there? Here’s a few:
Following the Christmas celebrations, Greek Orthodox priests set up ladders to clean the walls and ceilings of their part of the church, which is built over the site where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born.
But the ladders encroached on space controlled by Armenian priests, according to photographers who said angry words ensued and blows quickly followed.
For a quarter of an hour bearded and robed priests laid into each other with fists, brooms and iron rods while the photographers who had come to take pictures of the annual cleaning ceremony recorded the whole event.
A dozen unarmed Palestinian policemen were sent to try to separate the priests, but two of them were also injured in the unholy melee.
"As usual the cleaning of the church after Christmas is a cause of problems," Bethlehem Mayor Victor Batarseh told AFP, adding that he has offered to help ease tensions.
The Church of the Nativity, like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City, is shared by various branches of Christianity, each of which controls and jealously guards a part of the holy site.
That’s some of them, though that chart doesn’t list the early splits or branches of Early Christianity. Has anyone ever come up with an accurate count on how many branches, sects, and denominations of Christianity there are?
List of Christian denominationsAn accurate count of dominations is impossible, and apparently it is difficult to even come up with an accurate count of the branches of Christianity. OK…I will use the ‘approximate’ numbers (though I suspect that the denominational count is way…way low) of “300” branches and “38,000” denominations.
List of Christian denominations (or Denominations self-identified as Christian) ordered by historical and doctrinal relationships.
Some groups are large (e.g. Catholics, Lutherans, Anglicans or Baptists), while others are just a few small churches, and in most cases the relative size is not evident in this list. Also, modern movements such as Fundamentalist Christianity, Pietism, Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism and the Holiness movement sometimes cross denominational lines, or in some cases create new denominations out of two or more continuing groups (as is the case for many United and uniting churches, for example). Such subtleties and complexities are not clearly depicted here.
This is not a complete list, but aims to provide a comprehensible overview of the diversity that exists among denominations of Christianity. Some links may point to non-existent articles. There are approximately 300 branches listed here. According to one source, there are, in all, approximately 38,000 Christian denominations.
Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Christians will tell you that one of their ‘missions’, as a Christian, is to spread the message of Jesus. Problem is, Christians disagree on what that message is. Get ten Christians together, then ask them what Christianity is, and you’ll get ten different answers.
Each branch and each denomination claims that their version of Christianity is the right one, and that the bible backs up their version, i.e. their interpretation of the bible is the correct interpretation. Now we have Christians not agreeing on what the message of Jesus was, and not even being able to agree on what the bible says. The results of such disagreement are reflected by the number of branches and denominations of Christianity, and in the above Bethlehem story, about the “Priests brawl”.
How can the bible be the “word of God”, when Christians can’t even agree on what the bible says?!?
Constantine I and the Bible
Christians Pact with the DevilThat was a pact made between the Pauline Christians (more on them later) and the Roman Government. The Roman Empire had an extensive Intelligence Agency, and they relied heavily upon it in order to maintain control over their vast empire. With it, the Romans knew most everything going on within their empire, i.e. from authorized local governments all the way back to Rome itself. They used it to pit local populations against each other, would then choose which group to support, and offer them wealth and power.
"The Romans reigned over them. The Christians used to complain to the Romans about the Judaeans, showed them their own weakness and appealed to their pity. And the Romans did pity them. This used to happen frequently. And the Romans said to the Christians: "Between us and the Judaeans there is a pact which obliges us not to change their religious laws. But if you would abandon their laws and separate yourselves from them, praying as we do while facing the East, eating the things we eat, and regarding as permissible that which we consider as such, we should help you and make you powerful, and the Judaeans would find no way to harm you, On the contrary, you would be more powerful than they. The Christians answered: "We will do this.""
Vast empires are difficult to manage, and during the times of Constantine I (272-337 AD), the Roman Empire had grown weaker, with lots of infighting going on for control of the empire. The Roman Empire had become divided into the Western and the Eastern empires…under a system known as the “Tetrarchy” ("leadership of four people"), i.e. a really ‘divided-mess’…as in titles of Emperor, Augustus, Augusti, and Caesar were involved. Constantine I wanted to get involved in this struggle for power and control. Constantine I saw the Christians as being useful in his attempt, and soon gained their support.
After much fighting and killing, by 313 AD Constantine I had won the West, and Licinius had won the East.
My Enemy's Enemy is My FriendBy 313 AD, Constantine I and Licinius shared the Roman Empire; it was time to make peace with each other, and time for Constantine to repay the Christians for their support (whilst also secretly seeking more support from them). Licinius marries Constantine’s half-sister, which secured the gains that Constantine and Licinius had won. At the same time, Constantine and Licinius jointly-issued the "Edict of Milan" (which “restored confiscated properties to Christian congregations and allowed Christianity to be professed in the empire”, with Constantine I secretly getting most of the credit from his ‘fifth column’ of Christians in Licinius’ Eastern Empire).
In Constantine's day, the eastern provinces were by far the richest and most populous of the Roman world.
Through its numerous cities passed Roman gold going east in exchange for imports from Persia, India and Arabia. Flowing west with those exotic imports came exotic 'mystery religions' to titillate and enthrall Roman appetites.
In contrast, the western provinces now ruled by Constantine were more recently colonized and less developed. Its cities were small 'new towns', its hinterland still barbarian. During the crisis decades of the 3rd century many provincial Romans in the west had been carried off into slavery by Germanic raiders and their cities burned.
Constantine had no power-base in the east from which to mount a bid for the throne – but he had been at Nicomedia in 303 when Diocletian had decided to purge the Roman state of the disloyal Christian element.
The ambitious and ruthless prince, from his base in Trier, immediately proclaimed himself 'protector of the Christians.' But it was not the handful of Jesus worshippers in the west that Constantine had in mind – there had not, after all, been any persecution in the west – but the far more numerous congregation in the east. They constituted a tiny minority within the total population but the eastern Christians were an organised force of fanatics, in many cities holding important positions in state administration. Some held posts even within the imperial entourage.
By championing the cause of the Christians Constantine put himself at the head of a 'fifth column' in the east, of a state within a state.
With the Eastern Christians now firmly on his side, Constantine I started a civil-war with Licinius in 314 AD, and it lasted until 316 AD at which point they once again made ‘peace’ with other. War broke out again in 323 AD; again, Licinius lost…again, but still clung to power. In 324 AD, Constantine defeated Licinius for the last time, ending the Tetrarchic system, reuniting the two halves of the Roman Empire, and declaring himself sole Augustus.
With Constantine I and Christianity now ‘married’ to each other, Christianity lists Constantine I and his mother Helena as ‘Saints’, adding ‘The Great’ to his growing list of titles. Such ‘marriages’ are made in hell, and certainly not in heaven. We’re talking the ‘marriage’ of a powerful Empire’s Government to a religion…a religion that then ‘hopped-into-bed’ with Empire after Empire...Government after Government over the next 1,462 years, until America’s Founding Fathers put a stop to it, i.e. ‘Separation of Church and State’.
First Council of NicaeaConstantine I called this meeting, but only “250-318” out of “1800” bishops dared to attend. The lack of attendance was due to Constantine notifying all bishops that he wanted his version of Christianity agreed upon, and that anyone not agreeing would be excommunicated and then exiled. Constantine also added that those who did not agree would have their writings and teachings destroyed.
The First Council of Nicaea, held in Nicaea in Bithynia, convoked by the Roman Emperor Constantine I in 325, was the first Ecumenical council of the early Christian Church, and most significantly resulted in the first uniform Christian doctrine, called the Nicene Creed.
The purpose of the council was to resolve disagreements in the Church of Alexandria over the nature of Jesus in relationship to the Father; in particular, whether Jesus was of the same substance as God the Father or merely of similar substance. St. Alexander of Alexandria and Athanasius took the first position; the popular presbyter Arius, from whom the term Arian controversy comes, took the second. The council decided against the Arians overwhelmingly (of the estimated 250-318 attendees, all but 2 voted against Arius).
Further, "Constantine in convoking and presiding over the council signaled a measure of imperial control over the church."
Approximately 300 bishops attended, from every region of the Empire except Britain. This was the first general council in the history of the Church since the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, which had established the conditions upon which Gentiles could join the Church.
Constantine had invited all 1800 bishops of the Christian church (about 1000 in the east and 800 in the west), but only 250 to 320 bishops actually participated.
The long-term effects of the Council of Nicaea were significant. For the first time, representatives of many of the bishops of the Church convened to agree on a doctrinal statement. Also for the first time, the Emperor played a role, by calling together the bishops under his authority, and using the power of the state to give the Council's orders effect.
The Romans were used to having many ‘gods’, so he was pushing the “Trinity” (i.e. three ‘gods’ in one) version, mainly to appease his Roman citizens. Almost all of the “250-318” bishops in attendance supported the Pauline Doctrine of requiring no circumcision. Basically, Roman Emperor Constantine I didn’t care what Jesus taught (e.g. Jesus never said he was God…Jesus also said that the “Law” was to be followed, and the “Law” required circumcision), because he would create Christianity the way he wanted it.
Arius was one of the two attendees who did not sign…here’s what Constantine wrote:
Part of an edict against Arius and his followersWell, Arius had been warned, along with all “1800” bishops, that Roman Emperor Constantine I wouldn’t accept anything less than what he wanted Christianity to be. True to his word, Arius was excommunicated and sent into exile, and for anyone found hiding any of Arius’ writings, that person’s punishment – “shall be death.” Roughly three-hundred-twenty-five years after the death of Jesus, Christianity is in the hands of a Roman Emperor. Many Christians ignore this obvious fact…Christianity, in general, has tried to hide such facts from everyone.
The great and victorious Constantine Augustus to the bishops and laity:
Since Arius is an imitator of the wicked and the ungodly, it is only right that he should suffer the same dishonor as they. Porphyry, who was hostile to anyone who feared God, composed a book which transgressed against our religion, and has found a suitable reward: namely that he has been disgraced from that time onward, his reputation is completely terrible, and his ungodly writings have been destroyed. In the same way it seems appropriate that Arius and those of like mind with Arius should from now on be called Porphyrians, so that their name is taken from those whose ways they have imitated. In addition, if any writing composed by Arius should be found, it should be handed over to the flames, so that not only will the wickedness of his teaching be obliterated, but nothing will be left even to remind anyone of him. And I hereby make a public order, that if someone should be discovered to have hidden a writing composed by Arius, and not to have immediately brought it forward and destroyed it by fire, his penalty shall be death. As soon as he is discovered in this offense, he shall be submitted for capital punishment.
And in another hand:
God will watch over you, beloved brothers.
Of the “1800” Christian bishops, “Approximately 300 bishops attended” the First Council of Nicaea, and all but two of those few attendees signed on. Here are some excerpts, from a letter, written by Constantine’s Christian ‘puppets’ to the Egyptian Church, praising Constantine, and condemning Arius:
Letter of the Council of Nicaea to the Egyptian ChurchRemember now, that Jesus *NEVER* said that he was God…*NEVER*!!! The “Trinity” version was what Constantine wanted, and the few bishops who dared to attend the First Council of Nicaea, agreed (i.e. “all but two”) with the Roman Emperor.
(2.) Since, by the grace of God, a great and holy council has been convened at Nicaea, after our most pious sovereign Constantine summoned us out of various cities and provinces for that purpose, we at the sacred council thought it most necessary write you a letter, in order that you may know what subjects were considered and examined, and what was eventually decided on and decreed. In the first place, the impiety and guilt of Arius and his adherents was examined in the presence of our most pious emperor Constantine.
(5.) Yet his deadly error has proved so contagious that it has dragged Theonas of Marmarica, and Secundus of Ptolemaïs, into destruction; for they have suffered the same condemnation as Arius.
Here’s Constantine, some excerpts from his letter, speaking for ‘God’, after the First Council of Nicaea’s decision:
Emperor Constantine to the church of AlexandriaRoman Emperor Constantine I claims ‘victory’, with the vote in from “More than three hundred bishops” out of “1800” Christian bishops, and then says that this vote is the “doctrine of God”!? 1,500 Christian bishops didn’t have the nerve to show up, after Constantine’s threats, and now Constantine ‘Owns’ Christianity.
Constantine Augustus, to the catholic church of the Alexandrians.
(5.) More than three hundred bishops, remarkable for their moderation and intellectual keenness, were unanimous in their confirmation of one and the same faith, a faith which has arisen in agreement with the truths of the Law of God. Arius alone had been misled by the devil, and was found to be the only one set on promoting this unholy mischief, first among you, and afterwards among others as well.
(8.) This ruling, made by the collective judgment of three hundred bishops, cannot be other than the doctrine of God, especially where the Holy Spirit has illuminated the divine will by placing it upon the minds of so many dignified persons.
BTW, Constantine, if you are reading this post…here’s some modern math – 6 X 300 = 1800.
Roman Emperor Constantine I wasn’t done with Arius just yet, after all, Arius had *DARED* to stand up to the power of a Roman Emperor, and so he writes a letter to Arius:
Emperor Constantine to AriusThis is why Christians need “faith and belief”, since the ‘god’ that they worship, is a Roman ‘Three-Headed-god’ given to them by Roman Emperor Constantine I. They have chosen to ignore their own God given natural Spiritual instincts, and are left with a mere manmade religion.
Constantine the Great Augustus, to Arius.
It was made known to you in your stubbornness some time ago, that you might want to come to our headquarters, so that perhaps you could enjoy the privilege of seeing us. We are quite amazed that you did not do so immediately. Therefore, now board a public (official) vehicle, and hasten to come to our court. This way, once you have been in our company and obtained favor from us, you may be able to return to your own country. May God protect you, beloved.
Dated the twenty-seventh of November.
AriusDoesn’t sound like any kind of “natural death”, e.g. intestines and bowels “protruded”, and chunks of “spleen and liver” in with the “effusion of blood”?! The writer also noted that it was from - “remorse of conscience”, and some suggested that it was a miracle, i.e. he was punished by ‘god’.
Arius (AD ca. 250 or 256 - 336) was a Christian priest in Alexandria, Egypt in the early fourth century.
Constantine summoned the Council of Nicaea in 325. The Council condemned Arius’s teaching, exiling him. Arius was recalled within a few years, and seems to have spent the rest of his life trying to be readmitted to communion in Alexandria; Athanasius seems to have frustrated his efforts. Just as Arius was to be readmitted to communion in Constantinople in 336, he is said to have died suddenly. Several scholarly studies suggest that Arius was poisoned by his opponents.
Reconstructing the life and teachings of Arius is problematic. Few of Arius' writings are extant. Constantine ordered their burning while Arius was still living, and any that survived that purge were later destroyed by his opponents. Those works which have survived are found in the works of churchmen who wrote after he had died and denounced him as a heretic, leading some but not all scholars to question their reliability.
.. Under the influence of Emperor Constantine, the assembled bishops agreed upon a creed. This creed, which is known as the Nicene creed specifically included the word homoousios - “consubstantial,” or “one in being,” - which was incompatible with the beliefs of Arius.
Socrates Scholasticus, a detractor, describes Arius' death as follows (I will use excerpts):
“…As he approached the place called Constantine's Forum, where the column of porphyry is erected, a terror arising from the remorse of conscience seized Arius, and with the terror a violent relaxation of the bowels: …Soon after a faintness came over him, and together with the evacuations his bowels protruded, followed by a copious hemorrhage, and the descent of the smaller intestines: moreover portions of his spleen and liver were brought off in the effusion of blood, so that he almost immediately died…”
Many Nicene Christians asserted Arius' death was miraculous - a consequence of his heretical views. Several scholarly studies suggest that Arius was poisoned by his opponents.
Constantine I was now clearly in charge of Christianity. He then orders that an official bible be written for Christianity:
Development of the New Testament canonThe modern New Testament began with Constantine’s first canonized versions…17 books, if I recall correctly. This information is difficult to come by, thanks to modern Christianity.
In 331, Constantine I commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles for the Church of Constantinople. Athanasius (Apol. Const. 4) recorded Alexandrian scribes around 340 preparing Bibles for Constans. Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Alexandrinus are examples of these Bibles.
Constans was one of Constantine’s sons, and he added 4 more books – “21 canon”.
Remember now, Christian’s claim that the bible was written by “inspired men of God”, and that makes the bible the “word of God”. Well, here we have two Roman Emperors, Constantine and Constans, deciding on what books could go into the bible. Were they also “inspired by God” to correctly choose which books belonged in the bible?!
Were Constantine and Constans also having the books (that they chose to be included) edited? Yes. Editing was nothing new to Christianity, and had been going on since soon after the death of Jesus, i.e. editing the works of others was a common practice. In fact, the Book of Revelation was the last (or one of the last) to be accepted into the New Testament, because everyone feared editing it. John knew such editing was going on, that it was a common practice, and that is why he warned…at the end of Revelations:
Revelation 22Revelations may be the only book in the NT that was never tampered with, since it was ‘scary’, no one could fully understand it, and there was one heck of a warning against tampering at the end of it.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
I’ve already shown where Constantine would have writings destroyed if he didn’t agree with them, and even have people put to death if they were found hiding such books. Constantine had the bible written the way that he wanted it to be, i.e. adding and editing and creating, so he could use it to help control his empire.
Thomas Paine and the Bible
Thomas believed in a God, though not in the ‘gods’ of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. He touted Deism over all three of those religions, did not like churches or religions, and believed that his “church” was in his “own mind.”
Early Americans, and most of America’s Founding Fathers, were either trying to get-away-from or trying not-to-allow the European type of State sponsored religions, i.e. “national institutions of churches” to control what religions or beliefs mankind was allowed. Christianity had a history, dating back to the Roman Empire, of getting-into-bed with States or Governments, then forcing Christianity upon mankind, and that was not what the Founding Fathers wanted America to become.
Thomas Paine knew the Christian bible from memory, and had written most of The Age of Reason using that memory, whilst in a French prison facing a death sentence! He was writing against the Christian bible, i.e. showing that it was filled with errors and contradictions, and therefore could not have been written by “inspired men of God” or written by men under the “guidance of God” or the “word of God.”
Thomas Paine, from memory, uses the Christian bible’s own words against it, proving that it cannot possibly be the “word of God”, and then challenges anyone to refute his work. He wrote The Age of Reason in the eighteenth-century, and to this date no one has been able to refute his facts. In fact, few have even tried, and they failed miserably.
I will not list all of his points here, but in the following, I will list some of his various points and analysis’s:
The Age Of Reason - Part IThomas Paine uses the words – “believes” or "belief" or “believe” in God. Perhaps I am being ‘picky’ here, or my command of the English language lacks the knowledge of proper usage, but belief or “believe” seems to suggest the possibility of doubt, e.g. ‘I can’t see electricity, but I believe it is real.’ vs. ‘I can’t see electricity, but I know it is real.’ As I have mentioned before, one either knows God or refuses to know God or ignores one’s own natural Spiritual instincts of God. Thomas Paine does such a great job in connecting the Universe, universal language, the Creation, our entire surroundings of nature here on planet Earth, etc. to the true “WORD OF GOD”, and to God, that I found the use of “believe” to be a bit of a ‘letdown’. Then again, like electricity, it sometimes requires being touched by it, before one will actually know that it is real…so to speak.
CHAPTER I - THE AUTHOR'S PROFESSION OF FAITH.
All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian, or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.
I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe.
It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.
CHAPTER II - OF MISSIONS AND REVELATIONS.
EVERY national church or religion has established itself by pretending some special mission from God, communicated to certain individuals. The Jews have their Moses; the Christians their Jesus Christ, their apostles and saints; and the Turks their Mahomet; as if the way to God was not open to every man alike.
Each of those churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the Word of God. The Jews say that their Word of God was given by God to Moses face to face; the Christians say, that their Word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say, that their Word of God (the Koran) was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of those churches accuses the other of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all.
It is curious to observe how the theory of what is called the Christian Church, sprung out of the tail of the heathen mythology. A direct incorporation took place in the first instance, by making the reputed founder to be celestially begotten. The trinity of gods that then followed was no other than a reduction of the former plurality, which was about twenty or thirty thousand. The statue of Mary succeeded the statue of Diana of Ephesus. The deification of heroes changed into the canonization of saints. The Mythologists had gods for everything; the Christian Mythologists had saints for everything. The church became as crowded with the one, as the pantheon had been with the other; and Rome was the place of both. The Christian theory is little else than the idolatry of the ancient mythologists, accommodated to the purposes of power and revenue; and it yet remains to reason and philosophy to abolish the amphibious fraud.
CHAPTER III - CONCERNING THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST, AND HIS HISTORY.
Jesus Christ wrote no account of himself, of his birth, parentage, or anything else. Not a line of what is called the New Testament is of his writing. The history of him is altogether the work of other people; and as to the account given of his resurrection and ascension, it was the necessary counterpart to the story of his birth. His historians, having brought him into the world in a supernatural manner, were obliged to take him out again in the same manner, or the first part of the story must have fallen to the ground.
The story, so far as relates to the supernatural part, has every mark of fraud and imposition stamped upon the face of it. Who were the authors of it is as impossible for us now to know, as it is for us to be assured that the books in which the account is related were written by the persons whose names they bear. The best surviving evidence we now have. respecting this affair is the Jews. They are regularly descended from the people who lived in the time this resurrection and ascension is said to have happened, and they say 'it is not true.' It has long appeared to me a strange inconsistency to cite the Jews as a proof of the truth of the story. It is just the same as if a man were to say, I will prove the truth of what I have told you, by producing the people who say it is false.
CHAPTER VII - EXAMINATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
When the church mythologists established their system, they collected all the writings they could find, and managed them as they pleased. It is a matter altogether of uncertainty to us whether such of the writings as now appear under the name of the Old and the New Testament, are in the same state in which those collectors say they found them; or whether they added, altered, abridged, or dressed them up.
Be this as it may, they decided by vote which of the books out of the collection they had made, should be the WORD OF GOD, and which should not. They rejected several; they voted others to be doubtful, such as the books called the Apocrypha; and those books which had a majority of votes, were voted to be the word of God. Had they voted otherwise, all the people since calling themselves Christians had believed otherwise; for the belief of the one comes from the vote of the other. Who the people were that did all this, we know nothing of. They call themselves by the general name of the Church; and this is all we know of the matter.
As we have no other external evidence or authority for believing these books to be the word of God, than what I have mentioned, which is no evidence or authority at all, I come, in the next place, to examine the internal evidence contained in the books themselves.
Revelation is a communication of something, which the person, to whom that thing is revealed, did not know before. For if I have done a thing, or seen it done, it needs no revelation to tell me I have done it, or seen it, nor to enable me to tell it, or to write it.
Revelation, therefore, cannot be applied to anything done upon earth of which man is himself the actor or the witness; and consequently all the historical and anecdotal part of the Bible, which is almost the whole of it, is not within the meaning and compass of the word revelation, and, therefore, is not the word of God.
Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible (NOTE: It must be borne in mind that by the "Bible" Paine always means the Old Testament alone. - Editor.) is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon, than the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.
If we permit ourselves to conceive right ideas of things, we must necessarily affix the idea, not only of unchangeableness, but of the utter impossibility of any change taking place, by any means or accident whatever, in that which we would honour with the name of the Word of God; and therefore the Word of God cannot exist in any written or human language.
The continually progressive change to which the meaning of words is subject, the want of an universal language which renders translation necessary, the errors to which translations are again subject, the mistakes of copyists and printers, together with the possibility of wilful alteration, are of themselves evidences that human language, whether in speech or in print, cannot be the vehicle of the Word of God. -- The Word of God exists in something else.
Did the book called the Bible excel in purity of ideas and expression all the books now extant in the world, I would not take it for my rule of faith, as being the Word of God; because the possibility would nevertheless exist of my being imposed upon. But when I see throughout the greatest part of this book scarcely anything but a history of the grossest vices, and a collection of the most paltry and contemptible tales, I cannot dishonour my Creator by calling it by his name.
CHAPTER VIII - OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.
THUS much for the Bible; I now go on to the book called the New Testament. The new Testament! that is, the 'new' Will, as if there could be two wills of the Creator.
Had it been the object or the intention of Jesus Christ to establish a new religion, he would undoubtedly have written the system himself, or procured it to be written in his life time. But there is no publication extant authenticated with his name. All the books called the New Testament were written after his death. He was a Jew by birth and by profession; and he was the son of God in like manner that every other person is; for the Creator is the Father of All.
It is somewhat curious that the three persons whose names are the most universally recorded were of very obscure parentage. Moses was a foundling; Jesus Christ was born in a stable; and Mahomet was a mule driver. The first and the last of these men were founders of different systems of religion; but Jesus Christ founded no new system. He called men to the practice of moral virtues, and the belief of one God. The great trait in his character is philanthropy.
How much, or what parts of the books called the New Testament, were written by the persons whose names they bear, is what we can know nothing of, neither are we certain in what language they were originally written. The matters they now contain may be classed under two heads: anecdote, and epistolary correspondence.
The four books already mentioned, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are altogether anecdotal. They relate events after they had taken place. They tell what Jesus Christ did and said, and what others did and said to him; and in several instances they relate the same event differently.
All the other parts of the New Testament, except the book of enigmas, called the Revelations, are a collection of letters under the name of epistles; and the forgery of letters has been such a common practice in the world, that the probability is at least equal, whether they are genuine or forged. One thing, however, is much less equivocal, which is, that out of the matters contained in those books, together with the assistance of some old stories, the church has set up a system of religion very contradictory to the character of the person whose name it bears. It has set up a religion of pomp and of revenue in pretended imitation of a person whose life was humility and poverty.
CHAPTER IX - IN WHAT THE TRUE REVELATION CONSISTS.
BUT some perhaps will say -- Are we to have no word of God -- no revelation? I answer yes. There is a Word of God; there is a revelation.
THE WORD OF GOD IS THE CREATION WE BEHOLD: And it is in this word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man.
Human language is local and changeable, and is therefore incapable of being used as the means of unchangeable and universal information.
It is only in the CREATION that all our ideas and conceptions of a word of God can unite. The Creation speaketh an universal language, independently of human speech or human language, multiplied and various as they be. It is an ever existing original, which every man can read. It cannot be forged; it cannot be counterfeited; it cannot be lost; it cannot be altered; it cannot be suppressed. It does not depend upon the will of man whether it shall be published or not; it publishes itself from one end of the earth to the other. It preaches to all nations and to all worlds; and this word of God reveals to man all that is necessary for man to know of God.
CHAPTER XI - OF THE THEOLOGY OF THE CHRISTIANS; AND THE TRUE THEOLOGY.
As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of atheism; a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up chiefly of man-ism with but little deism, and is as near to atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious or an irreligious eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.
CHAPTER XVII - OF THE MEANS EMPLOYED IN ALL TIME, AND ALMOST UNIVERSALLY, TO DECEIVE THE PEOPLES.
HAVING thus shown the irreconcileable inconsistencies between the real word of God existing in the universe, and that which is called the word of God, as shown to us in a printed book that any man might make, I proceed to speak of the three principal means that have been employed in all ages, and perhaps in all countries, to impose upon mankind.
Those three means are Mystery, Miracle, and Prophecy, The first two are incompatible with true religion, and the third ought always to be suspected.
Upon the whole, Mystery, Miracle, and Prophecy, are appendages that belong to fabulous and not to true religion. They are the means by which so many Lo heres! and Lo theres! have been spread about the world, and religion been made into a trade. The success of one impostor gave encouragement to another, and the quieting salvo of doing some good by keeping up a pious fraud protected them from remorse.
HAVING now extended the subject to a greater length than I first intended, I shall bring it to a close by abstracting a summvy from the whole.
First, That the idea or belief of a word of God existing in print, or in writing, or in speech, is inconsistent in itself for the reasons already assigned. These reasons, among many others, are the want of an universal language; the mutability of language; the errors to which translations are subject, the possibility of totally suppressing such a word; the probability of altering it, or of fabricating the whole, and imposing it upon the world.
Secondly, That the Creation we behold is the real and ever existing word of God, in which we cannot be deceived. It proclaimeth his power, it demonstrates his wisdom, it manifests his goodness and beneficenec.
Thirdly, That the moral duty of man consists in imitating the moral goodness and beneficence of God manifested in the creation towards all his creatures. That seeing as we daily do the goodness of God to all men, it is an example calling upon all men to practise the same towards each other; and, consequently, that every thing of persecution and revenge between man and man, and every thing of cruelty to animals, is a violation of moral duty.
Thomas Paine points out that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all claim that their books were given to them by “God”, and each of them accuse the others of being non-believers…as if, one of them actually ‘OWNS’ “God”. Christianity and Islam have both been especially forceful in shoving their beliefs upon others, and apparently they need to be ‘touched’ by electricity and by God before they know that both are real.
Jesus never said or taught many of the claims that Christianity has attributed to him. The Christians have based their religion on the prophesies of Judaism, and point to the Jews as being proof of Jesus’ ‘birth, resurrection and ascension’; however, the Jews say that it is not true, and that Jesus was not the “Messiah”.
Thomas Paine points out the “obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness” (more on those later) in the OT, which are attributed to “God”, but Thomas suggests that such should be attributed to a “demon” instead. Many Deists and Unitarians (a Christian denomination not accepted by most Christians) say that such texts and teachings are an insult, in their opinion, to God. That is, why would God require a certain kind of worship or choose one race or group over another? Why would God send a recently dead newborn to hell for not believing in Jesus? Etcetera Eccetera…
Jesus never said that he was starting a new religion…never wrote one word in the NT…never taught against Judaism…never said his was God, but a new religion ended up being created. Of the few teachings, of Jesus that made it into the NT, many of them end up being ignored or corrupted by Christianity. The authors of the Gospels cannot be proven. The Gospels, “in several instances” (more on those later), have conflicting versions of the “same event”.
Thomas Paine was just warming up in Part I…here’s Part II:
The Age Of Reason - Part II(The OT is filled with horror stories that are attributed to “God”, horror stories which would lead to the arrest of any earthly human father for Child Abuse, at the very least. Imagine what would happen to any human father who would tie up his child, and then sacrifice that child as if it were nothing more than a goat or calf meant to be slaughtered. Cutting that child’s throat, and then burning its carcass!?
CHAPTER I - THE OLD TESTAMENT
It has been the practice of all Christian commentators on the Bible, and of all Christian priests and preachers, to impose the Bible on the world as a mass of truth, and as the word of God; they have disputed and wrangled, and have anathematized each other about the supposeable meaning of particular parts and passages therein; one has said and insisted that such a passage meant such a thing, another that it meant directly the contrary, and a third, that it meant neither one nor the other, but something different from both; and this they have called understanding the Bible.
It has happened, that all the answers that I have seen to the former part of 'The Age of Reason' have been written by priests: and these pious men, like their predecessors, contend and wrangle, and understand the Bible; each understands it differently, but each understands it best; and they have agreed in nothing but in telling their readers that Thomas Paine understands it not.
There are matters in that book, said to be done by the express command of God, that are as shocking to humanity, and to every idea we have of moral justice, as any thing done by Robespierre, by Carrier, by Joseph le Bon, in France, by the English government in the East Indies, or by any other assassin in modern times. When we read in the books ascribed to Moses, Joshua, etc., that they (the Israelites) came by stealth upon whole nations of people, who, as the history itself shews, had given them no offence; that they put all those nations to the sword; that they spared neither age nor infancy; that they utterly destroyed men, women and children; that they left not a soul to breathe; expressions that are repeated over and over again in those books, and that too with exulting ferocity; are we sure these things are facts?
To charger the commission of things upon the Almighty, which in their own nature, and by every rule of moral justice, are crimes, as all assassination is, and more especially the assassination of infants, is matter of serious concern. The Bible tells us, that those assassinations were done by the express command of God. To believe therefore the Bible to be true, we must unbelieve all our belief in the moral justice of God; for wherein could crying or smiling infants offend? And to read the Bible without horror, we must undo every thing that is tender, sympathising, and benevolent in the heart of man. Speaking for myself, if I had no other evidence that the Bible is fabulous, than the sacrifice I must make to believe it to be true, that alone would be sufficient to determine my choice.
But in addition to all the moral evidence against the Bible, I will, in the progress of this work, produce such other evidence as even a priest cannot deny; and show, from that evidence, that the Bible is not entitled to credit, as being the word of God.
Having premised these things, I proceed to examine the authenticity of the Bible; and I begin with what are called the five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. My intention is to shew that those books are spurious, and that Moses is not the author of them; and still further, that they were not written in the time of Moses nor till several hundred years afterwards; that they are no other than an attempted history of the life of Moses, and of the times in which he is said to have lived, and also of the times prior thereto, written by some very ignorant and stupid pretenders to authorship, several hundred years after the death of Moses; as men now write histories of things that happened, or are supposed to have happened, several hundred or several thousand years ago.
The evidence that I shall produce in this case is from the books themselves; and I will confine myself to this evidence only. Were I to refer for proofs to any of the ancient authors, whom the advocates of the Bible call prophane authors, they would controvert that authority, as I controvert theirs: I will therefore meet them on their own ground, and oppose them with their own weapon, the Bible.
As for Moses, I have already pointed out that it is not even known if he was an “individual” or just a “group of individuals”. There is no recorded evidence (other than biblical) that a “Moses” ever lived, and even if he did live during the time that the Torah/Bible claims he did, the authorship of the books attributed to him cannot be proven, and they were written centuries after he was dead.)
In the first place, there is no affirmative evidence that Moses is the author of those books; and that he is the author, is altogether an unfounded opinion, got abroad nobody knows how. The style and manner in which those books are written give no room to believe, or even to suppose, they were written by Moses; for it is altogether the style and manner of another person speaking of Moses. In Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, (for every thing in Genesis is prior to the times of Moses and not the least allusion is made to him therein,) the whole, I say, of these books is in the third person; it is always, the Lord said unto Moses, or Moses said unto the Lord; or Moses said unto the people, or the people said unto Moses; and this is the style and manner that historians use in speaking of the person whose lives and actions they are writing.(Writing styles can be like ‘fingerprints’, as the case here. These books attributed to Moses, were started on one-lie, then more-lies are needed to explain that first-lie, and more-lies are then needed to explain each added new-lie, i.e. the results are a ‘Mountain-of-Lies’.)
But granting the grammatical right, that Moses might speak of himself in the third person, because any man might speak of himself in that manner, it cannot be admitted as a fact in those books, that it is Moses who speaks, without rendering Moses truly ridiculous and absurd: -- for example, Numbers xii. 3: "Now the man Moses was very MEEK, above all the men which were on the face of the earth." If Moses said this of himself, instead of being the meekest of men, he was one of the most vain and arrogant coxcombs; and the advocates for those books may now take which side they please, for both sides are against them: if Moses was not the author, the books are without authority; and if he was the author, the author is without credit, because to boast of meekness is the reverse of meekness, and is a lie in sentiment.
In Deuteronomy, the style and manner of writing marks more evidently than in the former books that Moses is not the writer. The manner here used is dramatical; the writer opens the subject by a short introductory discourse, and then introduces Moses as in the act of speaking, and when he has made Moses finish his harrangue, he (the writer) resumes his own part, and speaks till he brings Moses forward again, and at last closes the scene with an account of the death, funeral, and character of Moses.(There is no way of telling, as to how many writers were involved in producing the books that are attributed to Moses, but one thing is for sure, i.e. Moses did not write any of them.)
This interchange of speakers occurs four times in this book: from the first verse of the first chapter, to the end of the fifth verse, it is the writer who speaks; he then introduces Moses as in the act of making his harrangue, and this continues to the end of the 40th verse of the fourth chapter; here the writer drops Moses, and speaks historically of what was done in consequence of what Moses, when living, is supposed to have said, and which the writer has dramatically rehearsed.
The writer opens the subject again in the first verse of the fifth chapter… to the end of the 26th chapter… same thing at the beginning of the 27th chapter… to the end of the 28th chapter. At the 29th chapter the writer speaks again… to the end of the 33d chapter.
Having thus shewn, as far as grammatical evidence implics, that Moses was not the writer of those books, I will, after making a few observations on the inconsistencies of the writer of the book of Deuteronomy, proceed to shew, from the historical and chronological evidence contained in those books, that Moses was not, because he could not be, the writer of them; and consequently, that there is no authority for believing that the inhuman and horrid butcheries of men, women, and children, told of in those books, were done, as those books say they were, at the command of God. It is a duty incumbent on every true deist, that he vindicates the moral justice of God against the calumnies of the Bible.
I come now to speak of the historical and chronological evidence. The chronology that I shall use is the Bible chronology; for I mean not to go out of the Bible for evidence of any thing, but to make the Bible itself prove historically and chronologically that Moses is not the author of the books ascribed to him. It is therefore proper that I inform the readers (such an one at least as may not have the opportunity of knowing it) that in the larger Bibles, and also in some smaller ones, there is a series of chronology printed in the margin of every page for the purpose of shawing how long the historical matters stated in each page happened, or are supposed to have happened, before Christ, and consequently the distance of time between one historical circumstance and another.(I’m not going to list all of the points addressed by Thomas Paine here, because the list of points is enormous. Discrepancies are everywhere, so I will waste no more time on them at this point. Apparently, Jews and Christians choose to just ignore them, and to claim that Thomas Paine “doesn’t know what he is talking about.” However, that stance doesn’t fly, since Thomas Paine is using the bible’s own words to dispute its authenticity, i.e. the opponents are ignoring the real message, and are attacking Thomas instead, since they are unable to dispute the facts.
… I come now to state another point of historical and chronological evidence, and to show therefrom, as in the preceding case, that Moses is not the author of the book of Genesis.
In Genesis xxxvi. there is given a genealogy of the sons and descendants of Esau, who are called Edomites, and also a list by name of the kings of Edom; in enumerating of which, it is said, verse 31, "And these are the kings that reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel."
… The passage, therefore, that I have quoted -- that "these are the kings that reigned in Edom, before there reigned any king over the children of Israel," could only have been written after the first king began to reign over them; and consequently that the book of Genesis, so far from having been written by Moses, could not have been written till the time of Saul at least.
Some excerpts follow, that Thomas Paine finds very important in regards to the inhumane horrors attributed to “God”, by both the Christians and Jews.)
Besides, the character of Moses, as stated in the Bible, is the most horrid that can be imagined. If those accounts be true, he was the wretch that first began and carried on wars on the score or on the pretence of religion; and under that mask, or that infatuation, committed the most unexampled atrocities that are to be found in the history of any nation. Of which I will state only one instance:One needs to read the entire chapter 31 of Numbers, i.e. Numbers 31:1-54, in order to fully grasp what Thomas Paine is pointing out here. It is a horror story beyond belief, and even Thomas Paine misses one of the main points:
When the Jewish army returned from one of their plundering and murdering excursions, the account goes on as follows (Numbers xxxi. 13): "And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation, went forth to meet them without the camp; and Moses was wroth with the officers of the host, with the captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, which came from the battle; and Moses said unto them, "Have ye saved all the women alive?" behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the Lord. Now therefore, "kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known a man by lying with him; but all the women-children that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for Yourselves."
Among the detestable villains that in any period of the world have disgraced the name of man, it is impossible to find a greater than Moses, if this account be true. Here is an order to butcher the boys, to massacre the mothers, and debauch the daughters.
Let any mother put herself in the situation of those mothers, one child murdered, another destined to violation, and herself in the hands of an executioner: let any daughter put herself in the situation of those daughters, destined as a prey to the murderers of a mother and a brother, and what will be their feelings? It is in vain that we attempt to impose upon nature, for nature will have her course, and the religion that tortures all her social ties is a false religion.
After this detestable order, follows an account of the plunder taken, and the manner of dividing it; and here it is that the profanenegs of priestly hypocrisy increases the catalogue of crimes. Verse 37, "And the Lord's tribute of the sheep was six hundred and threescore and fifteen; and the beeves were thirty and six thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was threescore and twelve; and the asses were thirty thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was threescore and one; and the persons were sixteen thousand, of which the Lord's tribute was thirty and two." In short, the matters contained in this chapter, as well as in many other parts of the Bible, are too horrid for humanity to read, or for decency to hear; for it appears, from the 35th verse of this chapter, that the number of women-children consigned to debauchery by the order of Moses was thirty-two thousand.
People in general know not what wickedness there is in this pretended word of God. Brought up in habits of superstition, they take it for granted that the Bible is true, and that it is good; they permit themselves not to doubt of it, and they carry the ideas they form of the benevolence of the Almighty to the book which they have been taught to believe was written by his authority. Good heavens! it is quite another thing, it is a book of lies, wickedness, and blasphemy; for what can be greater blasphemy, than to ascribe the wickedness of man to the orders of the Almighty!
Numbers 31:1-3Remember who Moses’ father-in-law was? Jethro, the Midianite priest, i.e. a priest of El Shaddai (El Shaddai – “one of the Judaic names of God. See El (god) and Names of God in Judaism.”), is the person who introduced Moses to the “Religion of Yahweh”!!! He took Moses in, gave him one of his daughters, gave him a good home and a great job, and they were friends for 40-years! Now, the book of Numbers has Moses being told by ‘god’, to go out and slaughter the Midianites…the same group of people who had introduced Moses to their religion, and to Yahweh/El Shaddai?!
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Avenge the children of Israel of the Midianites: afterward shalt thou be gathered unto thy people.
3 And Moses spake unto the people, saying, Arm some of yourselves unto the war, and let them go against the Midianites, and avenge the LORD of Midian.
That connection, and point, was about all that Thomas Paine missed in Numbers chapter 31. He points out that Moses was “wroth” (extremely angry) with his returning troops, because they hadn’t killed the male children and the women who had “known a man by lying with him”, i.e non-virgins:
Numbers 31:17-19Moses sends his troops back to their captives, with orders to kill them all, except for the “women-children”, i.e. virgins. A baby male-child and his mother would be killed…all the male-children and all mothers would be killed. The women-children could be and would be raped. All of this killing and raping was to be done “without the camp” (outside the Israelite camp), and then the troops needed to “purify” themselves and their now-former-virgin female children before returning to camp. This was all done because ‘god’ had ordered it to be done.
17 Now therefore kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him.
18 But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves.
19 And do ye abide without the camp seven days: whosoever hath killed any person, and whosoever hath touched any slain, purify both yourselves and your captives on the third day, and on the seventh day.
Thomas Paine continues to use the OT’s words against itself, many more ridiculous examples and discrepancies from the OT, and clearly proves that it is not the “word of God”, but a false book with a false ‘god’.
The New Testament is up next, and Thomas Paine points out unbelievable discrepancies in it:
CHAPTER II - THE NEW TESTAMENT(Thomas Paine inserted the two genealogical lists from Matthew and Luke. Matthew lists – 28 in the genealogy of Jesus. Luke lists – 43 in the genealogy of Jesus. The lists even have different people listed, i.e. one list had ‘X’ listed, and the other list says it was ‘Z’ in that spot. Only David and Joseph show up on the lists in the same place, i.e. at the beginning and end. The other names are a mess, more names in one list, and no other names are the same. That’s two Gospels, that can’t even agree on the genealogy of Jesus. In Luke’s list, the average age would be “twenty-six” years old, and in Matthew’s list, the average age would be “forty” years old. Christians just ignore such discrepancies, because they have been ‘brain-washed’ to “believe” rather than to KNOW!)
THE New Testament, they tell us, is founded upon the prophecies of the Old; if so, it must follow the fate of its foundation.
As it is nothing extraordinary that a woman should be with child before she was married, and that the son she might bring forth should be executed, even unjustly, I see no reason for not believing that such a woman as Mary, and such a man as Joseph, and Jesus, existed; their mere existence is a matter of indifference, about which there is no ground either to believe or to disbelieve, and which comes under the common head of, It may be so, and what then? The probability however is that there were such persons, or at least such as resembled them in part of the circumstances, because almost all romantic stories have been suggested by some actual circumstance; as the adventures of Robinson Crusoe, not a word of which is true, were suggested by the case of Alexander Selkirk.
It is not then the existence or the non-existence, of the persons that I trouble myself about; it is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene. It gives an account of a young woman engaged to be married, and while under this engagement, she is, to speak plain language, debauched by a ghost, under the impious pretence, (Luke i. 35,) that "the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." Notwithstanding which, Joseph afterwards marries her, cohabits with her as his wife, and in his turn rivals the ghost. This is putting the story into intelligible language, and when told in this manner, there is not a priest but must be ashamed to own it.
As the historical parts of the New Testament, so far as concerns Jesus Christ, are confined to a very short space of time, less than two years, and all within the same country, and nearly to the same spot, the discordance of time, place, and circumstance, which detects the fallacy of the books of the Old Testament, and proves them to be impositions, cannot be expected to be found here in the same abundance. The New Testament compared with the Old, is like a farce of one act, in which there is not room for very numerous violations of the unities. There are, however, some glaring contradictions, which, exclusive of the fallacy of the pretended prophecies, are sufficient to show the story of Jesus Christ to be false.
I lay it down as a position which cannot be controverted, first, that the agreement of all the parts of a story does not prove that story to be true, because the parts may agree, and the whole may be false; secondly, that the disagreement of the parts of a story proves the whole cannot be true. The agreement does not prove truth, but the disagreement proves falsehood positively.
The history of Jesus Christ is contained in the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. -- The first chapter of Matthew begins with giving a genealogy of Jesus Christ; and in the third chapter of Luke there is also given a genealogy of Jesus Christ. Did these two agree, it would not prove the genealogy to be true, because it might nevertheless be a fabrication; but as they contradict each other in every particular, it proves falsehood absolutely. If Matthew speaks truth, Luke speaks falsehood; and if Luke speaks truth, Matthew speaks falsehood: and as there is no authority for believing one more than the other, there is no authority for believing either…Either then the men called apostles were imposters, or the books ascribed to them have been written by other persons, and fathered upon them, as is the case in the Old Testament.
The book of Matthew gives (i. 6), a genealogy by name from David, up, through Joseph, the husband of Mary, to Christ; and makes there to be twent eight generations. The book of Luke gives also a genealogy by name from Christ, through Joseph the husband of Mary, down to David, and makes there to be forty-three generations; besides which, there is only the two names of David and Joseph that are alike in the two lists.
…Now, if these men, Matthew and Luke, set out with a falsehood between them (as these two accounts show they do) in the very commencement of their history of Jesus Christ, and of who, and of what he was, what authority (as I have before asked) is there left for believing the strange things they tell us afterwards? If they cannot be believed in their account of his natural genealogy, how are we to believe them when they tell us he was the son of God, begotten by a ghost; and that an angel announced this in secret to his mother? If they lied in one genealogy, why are we to believe them in the other? If his natural genealogy be manufactured, which it certainly is, why are we not to suppose that his celestial genealogy is manufactured also, and that the whole is fabulous? Can any man of serious reflection hazard his future happiness upon the belief of a story naturally impossible, repugnant to every idea of decency, and related by persons already detected of falsehood?
But, exclusive of this, the presumption is that the books called the Evangelists, and ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were not written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; and that they are impositions. The disordered state of the history in these four books, the silence of one book upon matters related in the other, and the disagreement that is to be found among them, implies that they are the productions of some unconnected individuals, many years after the things they pretend to relate, each of whom made his own legend; and not the writings of men living intimately together, as the men called apostles are supposed to have done: in fine, that they have been manufactured, as the books of the Old Testament have been, by other persons than those whose names they bear.(The Four Gospels should have some order to them, since after the OT, they are the ‘building-blocks’ of Christianity. However, with such discrepancies and disagreement found throughout them, one is left with the obvious fact that the authors either did not know each other or barely knew each other, as Thomas Paine points out here.
The story of the angel announcing what the church calls the immaculate conception, is not so much as mentioned in the books ascribed to Mark, and John; and is differently related in Matthew and Luke. The former says the angel, appeared to Joseph; the latter says, it was to Mary; but either Joseph or Mary was the worst evidence that could have been thought of; for it was others that should have testified for them, and not they for themselves. Were any girl that is now with child to say, and even to swear it, that she was gotten with child by a ghost, and that an angel told her so, would she be believed? Certainly she would not.
Again, Matthew and Luke do not agree, and this time it involves the “immaculate conception”. Mark and John don’t even mention it. Matthew says an angel “appeared to Joseph”…in Luke, the angel appears “to Mary”.)
The story of Herod destroying all the children under two years old, belongs altogether to the book of Matthew; not one of the rest mentions anything about it. Had such a circumstance been true, the universality of it must have made it known to all the writers, and the thing would have been too striking to have been omitted by any. This writer tell us, that Jesus escaped this slaughter, because Joseph and Mary were warned by an angel to flee with him into Egypt; but he forgot to make provision for John [the Baptist], who was then under two years of age. John, however, who staid behind, fared as well as Jesus, who fled; and therefore the story circumstantially belies itself.(The parents of Jesus are warned, by an angel, of Herod’s plot to kill all “children under two years old”, and they flee to escape the slaughter. The parents of John the Baptist are not warned, and he lived, i.e. he was not slaughtered, even though he was “under two years old”. In fact, only Matthew mentions this story, a story that one would expect to be in all four of the Gospels, if the story were true.)
Not any two of these writers agree in reciting, exactly in the same words, the written inscription, short as it is, which they tell us was put over Christ when he was crucified; and besides this, Mark says, He was crucified at the third hour, (nine in the morning;) and John says it was the sixth hour, (twelve at noon.) [According to John, (xix. 14) the sentence was not passed till about the sixth hour (noon,) and consequently the execution could not be till the afternoon; but Mark (xv. 25) Says expressly that he was crucified at the third hour, (nine in the moming,) -- Author.](The ‘Mountain-of-Lies’ continues to grow. Here we find that the Gospels can’t even agree on what was written on the “inscription” that was placed above Jesus on the cross. Mark and John don’t agree on the time of Jesus’ crucifixion. Perhaps Peter was there, but Peter admits to being a liar, so his input can’t be trusted either.)
The inscription is thus stated in those books:
Matthew -- This is Jesus the king of the Jews.
Mark -- The king of the Jews.
Luke -- This is the king of the Jews.
John -- Jesus of Nazareth the king of the Jews.
We may infer from these circumstances, trivial as they are, that those writers, whoever they were, and in whatever time they lived, were not present at the scene. The only one of the men called apostles who appears to have been near to the spot was Peter, and when he was accused of being one of Jesus's followers, it is said, (Matthew xxvi. 74,) "Then Peter began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man:" yet we are now called to believe the same Peter, convicted, by their own account, of perjury. For what reason, or on what authority, should we do this?
The accounts that are given of the circumstances, that they tell us attended the crucifixion, are differently related in those four books.(It is no small wonder, as to why Christians ignore the facts that Thomas Paine points out, i.e. these facts are written in the Christian bible, and they simply choose to ignore those facts…blaming Thomas Paine instead.)
The book ascribed to Matthew says 'there was darkness over all the land from the sixth hour unto the ninth hour -- that the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom -- that there was an earthquake -- that the rocks rent -- that the graves opened, that the bodies of many of the saints that slept arose and came out of their graves after the resurrection, and went into the holy city and appeared unto many.' Such is the account which this dashing writer of the book of Matthew gives, but in which he is not supported by the writers of the other books.
The writer of the book ascribed to Mark, in detailing the circumstances of the crucifixion, makes no mention of any earthquake, nor of the rocks rending, nor of the graves opening, nor of the dead men walking out. The writer of the book of Luke is silent also upon the same points. And as to the writer of the book of John, though he details all the circumstances of the crucifixion down to the burial of Christ, he says nothing about either the darkness -- the veil of the temple -- the earthquake -- the rocks -- the graves -- nor the dead men.
Now if it had been true that these things had happened, and if the writers of these books had lived at the time they did happen, and had been the persons they are said to be -- namely, the four men called apostles, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, -- it was not possible for them, as true historians, even without the aid of inspiration, not to have recorded them. The things, supposing them to have been facts, were of too much notoriety not to have been known, and of too much importance not to have been told. All these supposed apostles must have been witnesses of the earthquake, if there had been any, for it was not possible for them to have been absent from it: the opening of the graves and resurrection of the dead men, and their walking about the city, is of still greater importance than the earthquake. An earthquake is always possible, and natural, and proves nothing; but this opening of the graves is supernatural, and directly in point to their doctrine, their cause, and their apostleship. Had it been true, it would have filled up whole chapters of those books, and been the chosen theme and general chorus of all the writers; but instead of this, little and trivial things, and mere prattling conversation of 'he said this and she said that' are often tediously detailed, while this most important of all, had it been true, is passed off in a slovenly manner by a single dash of the pen, and that by one writer only, and not so much as hinted at by the rest.
It is an easy thing to tell a lie, but it is difficult to support the lie after it is told…
.. Strange indeed, that an army of saints should retum to life, and nobody know who they were, nor who it was that saw them, and that not a word more should be said upon the subject, nor these saints have any thing to tell us!
The tale of the resurrection follows that of the crucifixion; and in this as well as in that, the writers, whoever they were, disagree so much as to make it evident that none of them were there.(So far, the Gospels can’t agree on much – 1) Genealogy of Jesus. 2) Immaculate Conception. 3) Story of Herod. 4) Inscription on the cross. 5) Time of crucifixion. 6) Crucifixion. 7) The Resurrection.)
The book of Matthew states, that when Christ was put in the sepulchre the Jews applied to Pilate for a watch or a guard to be placed over the septilchre, to prevent the body being stolen by the disciples; and that in consequence of this request the sepulchre was made sure, sealing the stone that covered the mouth, and setting a watch. But the other books say nothing about this application, nor about the sealing, nor the guard, nor the watch; and according to their accounts, there were none. Matthew, however, follows up this part of the story of the guard or the watch with a second part, that I shall notice in the conclusion, as it serves to detect the fallacy of those books.
The book of Matthew continues its account, and says, (xxviii. 1,) that at the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn, towards the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, to see the sepulchre. Mark says it was sun-rising, and John says it was dark. Luke says it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women, that came to the sepulchre; and John states that Mary Magdalene came alone.
The book of Matthew goes on to say (ver. 2): "And behold there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it" But the other books say nothing about any earthquake, nor about the angel rolling back the stone, and sitting upon it and, according to their account, there was no angel sitting there. Mark says the angel [Mark says "a young man," and Luke "two men." -- Editor.] was within the sepulchre, sitting on the right side. Luke says there were two, and they were both standing up; and John says they were both sitting down, one at the head and the other at the feet.
Matthew says, that the angel that was sitting upon the stone on the outside of the sepulchre told the two Marys that Christ was risen, and that the women went away quickly. Mark says, that the women, upon seeing the stone rolled away, and wondering at it, went into the sepulchre, and that it was the angel that was sitting within on the right side, that told them so. Luke says, it was the two angels that were Standing up; and John says, it was Jesus Christ himself that told it to Mary Magdalene; and that she did not go into the sepulchre, but only stooped down and looked in.
Now, if the writers of these four books had gone into a court of justice to prove an alibi, (for it is of the nature of an alibi that is here attempted to be proved, namely, the absence of a dead body by supernatural means,) and had they given their evidence in the same contradictory manner as it is here given, they would have been in danger of having their ears cropt for perjury, and would have justly deserved it. Yet this is the evidence, and these are the books, that have been imposed upon the world as being given by divine inspiration, and as the unchangeable word of God.
Too much to cover. However, I have provided the link, and Thomas Paine has proven the bible to be no more than poorly written book at best. There’s more, but I have read and covered enough. When the Gospels agree on very little, from the birth to the ascension of Jesus, it makes one wonder why Christianity is the largest religion.
I come now to that part of the evidence in those books, that respects the pretended appearance of Christ after this pretended resurrection.
The writer of the book of Matthew relates, that the angel that was sitting on the stone at the mouth of the sepulchre, said to the two Marys (xxviii. 7), "Behold Christ is gone before you into Galilee, there ye shall see him; lo, I have told you." And the same writer at the next two verses (8, 9,) makes Christ himself to speak to the same purpose to these women immediately after the angel had told it to them, and that they ran quickly to tell it to the disciples; and it is said (ver. 16), "Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them; and, when they saw him, they worshipped him."
But the writer of the book of John tells us a story very different to this; for he says (xx. 19) "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, [that is, the same day that Christ is said to have risen,] when the doors were shut, where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst of them."
According to Matthew the eleven were marching to Galilee, to meet Jesus in a mountain, by his own appointment, at the very time when, according to John, they were assembled in another place, and that not by appointment, but in secret, for fear of the Jews.
The writer of the book of Luke xxiv. 13, 33-36, contradicts that of Matthew more pointedly than John does; for he says expressly, that the meeting was in Jerusalem the evening of the same day that he (Christ) rose, and that the eleven were there.
Now, it is not possible, unless we admit these supposed disciples the right of wilful lying, that the writers of these books could be any of the eleven persons called disciples; for if, according to Matthew, the eleven went into Galilee to meet Jesus in a mountain by his own appointment, on the same day that he is said to have risen, Luke and John must have been two of that eleven; yet the writer of Luke says expressly, and John implies as much, that the meeting was that same day, in a house in Jerusalem; and, on the other hand, if, according to Luke and John, the eleven were assembled in a house in Jerusalem, Matthew must have been one of that eleven; yet Matthew says the meeting was in a mountain in Galilee, and consequently the evidence given in those books destroy each other.
The writer of the book of Mark says nothing about any meeting in Galilee; but he says (xvi. 12) that Christ, after his resurrection, appeared in another form to two of them, as they walked into the country, and that these two told it to the residue, who would not believe them… Luke also tells a story, in which he keeps Christ employed the whole of the day of this pretended resurrection, until the evening, and which totally invalidates the account of going to the mountain in Galilee.
This is the contradictory manner in which the evidence of this pretended reappearance of Christ is stated: the only point in which the writers agree, is the skulking privacy of that reappearance; for whether it was in the recess of a mountain in Galilee, or in a shut-up house in Jerusalem, it was still skulking. To what cause then are we to assign this skulking? On the one hand, it is directly repugnant to the supposed or pretended end, that of convincing the world that Christ was risen; and, on the other hand, to have asserted the publicity of it would have exposed the writers of those books to public detection; and, therefore, they have been under the necessity of making it a private affair.
.. I now come to the last scene, that of the ascension into heaven…
I have now gone through the examination of the four books ascribed to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; and when it is considered that the whole space of time, from the crucifixion to what is called the ascension, is but a few days, apparently not more than three or four, and that all the circumstances are reported to have happened nearly about the same spot, Jerusalem, it is, I believe, impossible to find in any story upon record so many and such glaring absurdities, contradictions, and falsehoods, as are in those books.
With the facts staring them in the face, looking at the bible’s own words, either Christians ignore them or are unable to understand the obvious, i.e. that the bible is not the “word of God”.
The next section will be devoted to the ‘High Jacking’, by Paul and the Romans, of Jesus’ original message. A ‘High Jacking’ that began roughly six-years after the death of Jesus, and continued until Roman Emperor Constantine I established Christianity as a forceful religion.
Most Christians don’t realize that they are in fact “Pauline” Christians. Saul, better known as Paul of Tarsus, was a zealous persecutor of Jesus’ original chosen Apostles, and of the early followers of Jesus of Nazareth. These early followers of Jesus were not called “Christians”, they were known as Nazarenes or Nazoraeans or Nazarean Essenes or Ebionites, and they were Jews. Saul (aka Paul) was a Roman Citizen, hired by the Jewish high priests to arrest the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, and to bring them in for questioning and possible execution. These high priests were Pharisees or Sadducees (usually Pharisees) trying to maintain control over Judaism, trying to put a stop to any Jews becoming followers of Jesus, and these high priests worked with the Romans in order to maintain their power and influence. The Romans didn’t want any revolts or rebellions, and used the high priests to gain information on any ‘rebels’. Saul was right in the ‘mix’ between the Romans and the high priests, and probably had his ‘Bread Buttered’ on both sides, i.e. by both the Romans and high priests (remember that Saul was actually a Roman Citizen).
One day (roughly 3-6 years after the death of Jesus), according to Saul’s account, he was on his way to Damascus, on another mission to arrest some more of Jesus’ followers, when he suddenly has a ‘Vision’. Saul claims that it was Jesus in this so-called ‘Vision’, that he (Saul) was blinded by it, and that Jesus told him to continue on to Damascus where he would be told what to do next. Someone named Ananias meets Saul in Damascus, heals his blindness, and then Saul becomes a follower of Jesus. Saul changes his name to Paul, and Pauline Christianity begins soon afterwards.
Pauline ChristianityHow can a Roman Citizen, who persecuted the followers of Jesus, get away with claiming a ‘Vision’ that gives him the authority to teach against the teachings of Jesus?!? ANSWER: The power of the Roman Empire.
Pauline Christianity is a term used to refer a branch of Early Christianity associated with the beliefs and doctrines espoused by Paul the Apostle through his writings. Most of mainstream Christianity relies heavily on these teachings and considers them to be amplifications and explanations of the teachings of Jesus. Others perceive in Paul's writings teachings that are radically different from the original teachings of Jesus documented in the canonical gospels, early Acts and the rest of the New Testament, such as the Epistle of James.
Proponents of the perceived Pauline distinctive include Marcion of Sinope, the 2nd century theologian who asserted that Paul was the only apostle who had rightly understood the new message of salvation as delivered by Christ. Opponents of the same era include the Ebionites and Nazarenes, who rejected Paul for straying from "normative" Judaism.
From a political perspective, Robert Eisenman sees Pauline Christianity as a method of taming a dangerous sect among radical Jews and making it palatable to Roman authorities. Pauline Christianity was essentially based on Rome and made use of the administrative skills which Rome had honed. Its system of organization with a single bishop for each town was, on this view, the means by which it obtained its hegemony.
The theological aspect is the claim that Paul transmuted Jesus the Jewish Messiah into the universal (cf. "catholic") Saviour.
Not much is known about Paul, other than from his own letters and the Acts of the Apostles, and there are many differences between those accounts. There are also some non-biblical sources that cast the biblical accounts into doubt, and bring up other questions as to who and what Paul really was. The Nazarenes and/or Ebionites say that Paul was not even a Jew, but in fact he was a Roman “pagan”, and that he had tried to marry a high priest’s daughter, even having himself circumcised in order to marry her. Paul’s links to the Roman Empire are indisputable, and only through that connection could he have managed to get so close to the ‘High Priests’, i.e. to work for them, to even think that he could have married one of their daughters, and to come up with a story of some ‘Vision’ that authorized him to teach against the teachings of Jesus.
Paul proclaims himself the ‘Thirteenth’ Apostle (even though he had never met Jesus), and latter he is declared a Saint:
Paul the Apostle
St. Paul the Apostle ("Saul of Tarsus"), the "Apostle to the Gentiles"…Unlike the Twelve Apostles, there is no indication that Paul ever met Jesus (prior to Jesus' crucifixion)…Paul asserts that he received the Gospel not from man, but by "the revelation of Jesus Christ".
Fourteen epistles in the New Testament are traditionally attributed to Paul, though in some cases the authorship is disputed. Paul had often employed an amanuensis, only occasionally writing himself…These epistles were circulated within the Christian community. They were prominent in the first New Testament canon ever proposed, and they were eventually included in the orthodox Christian canon. They are believed to be the earliest-written books of the New Testament.
Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author…
According to Acts, Paul was born in Tarsus, Cilicia in Asia Minor, or modern-day Turkey, under the name Saul, "an Israelite of the tribe of Benjamin, circumcised on the eighth day". However, Paul's own letters never mention this as his birthplace, nor is the name "Saul" alluded to. Acts records that Paul was a Roman citizen…According to Acts; he studied in Jerusalem under the Rabbi Gamaliel, well known in Paul's time. There is at least some doubt about this, as Paul writes that he was unknown by face to those in Jerusalem before visiting there as an adult and he seems only able to quote the Jewish scriptures in the Greek Septuagint translation and not in the Hebrew originals…He supported himself during his travels and while preaching — a fact he alludes to a number of times. According to Acts he worked as a tentmaker.
…Paul recounts how he later publicly confronted Peter (accusing him of Judaizing), also called the "Incident at Antioch" over his reluctance to share a meal with Gentile Christians in Antioch. Paul later wrote: "I opposed Peter to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong" and said to the apostle: "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" Paul also mentioned that even Barnabas sided with Peter…L. Michael White's From Jesus to Christianity states: "The blowup with Peter was a total failure of political bravado, and Paul soon left Antioch as persona non grata, never again to return."
Paul is the second most prolific contributor to the New Testament (after Luke, whose two books amount to nearly a third of the New Testament)… His letters are largely written to churches which he had founded or visited…His letters are full of expositions of what Christians should believe and how they should live. What he does not tell his correspondents (or the modern reader) is much about the life and teachings of Jesus…His specific references to Jesus' teaching are likewise sparse, raising the question, still disputed, as to how consistent his account of the faith is with that of the four canonical Gospels, Acts, and the Epistle of James.
(NOTE: Amanuensis - Latin word adopted in various languages, including English, for certain persons performing a function by hand, either writing down the words of another or performing manual labour. The term is derived from a Latin expression which may be literally translated as "manual labourer".)
Here are some highlights from the above quote:
1) Jesus chose Twelve Apostles…Paul comes along and declares himself the ‘Thirteenth’.
2) Paul employed at least one amanuensis to do his writing for him.
3) Paul’s writings are “believed to be the earliest-written books of the New Testament.”
4) The New Testament has 27 books in it (depending on what bible), and 13-14 of them are attributed to Paul.
5) “Paul's influence on Christian thinking arguably has been more significant than any other New Testament author…”
6) Differing accounts, about Paul, between Acts and Paul’s writings.
7) It is highly doubtful that Paul ever studied under Rabbi Gamaliel.
8) “He supported himself during his travels and while preaching…”
9) Unlike what Christians claim, Paul did not get along with Jesus’ chosen Apostles, and after the "Incident at Antioch" Paul totally split from them.
10) Even though Paul is a “prolific contributor to the New Testament”, and he does not know much about the teachings and life of Jesus.
Christianity is supposedly about Jesus, but the NT is filled with the writing of Paul, about Paul, Paul’s teachings, etc. He has enough money to hire help (perhaps a personal secretary, writer/s, advisor/s, etc.). His writings are the earliest accepted books in the NT, and most of those have dates of 50-60 AD, i.e. decades after the death of Jesus and decades before the other books, which makes one wonder where are the writings with dates between 30-50 AD. He seems to be a ‘Mystery Man’, having conflicting accounts about him, and even though his teachings are not along the lines of the teachings of Jesus, his books seem to get preferential treatment.
Look at the Dates here:
50-60 1 ThessaloniansThat link lists many other early “Christian” writings that didn’t make it into the NT.
50-60 1 Corinthians
50-60 2 Corinthians
80-100 Gospel of Matthew
65-80 Gospel of Mark
80-130 Gospel of Luke
90-120 Gospel of John
80-130 Acts of the Apostles
70-100 Epistle of James
70-160 Gospel of Peter
80-110 1 Peter
100-160 2 Peter
90-120 1 John
90-120 2 John
90-120 3 John
90-120 Epistle of Jude
Who gave Christianity its name, i.e. when were the Christians first called “Christians”?
Acts 11:26Hard to say what actually happened at the Antioch church (supposedly founded by both Peter and Paul), but apparently Paul had been making “political” moves there, in order to gain more support for his teachings (primarily concerning circumcision and the gentiles), and he ended up losing. It was probably this split at Antioch that eventually lead to the use of “Jewish Christian” as a term to describe the Jewish followers of Jesus, and Jesus’ chosen Apostles. Paul was certainly trying to force his way in and upon the Jewish followers, and pushed it too far, i.e. he was trying to ignore the teachings of Jesus and have his own teaching ‘installed’.
26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Contradictions Between Paul's and Jesus' TeachingsThus the term, Pauline Christianity, i.e. when it doesn’t translate to fit Paul’s teachings, then ‘twist’ the teachings of Jesus “out of all context”, and make it fit.
That the central theme of Pauline theology is not to be found in the authentic teachings of Jesus is not the only disturbing thing about it. We find that in some cases Paul's teachings were actually diametrically opposite to Jesus':
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear...So do not worry, saying 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?'. For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself."
Whatever we may feel about the merits of such teachings, its message is obvious: Jesus is telling his followers to eschew the normal everyday life of working for a living and to live the absolute ethic straight away while looking for the kingdom of God. But Pauline theology opposes this and calls for believers to work for a living:
II Thessalonians 3:6, 10
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us...For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."
The most significant difference in the teachings of these two men, however, lies in their attitude towards the Law of Moses. In fact one of the fundamental tenets of Pauline theology is that Jesus' death actually abrogated the law. This is expounded clearly in the passage from one of his epistles:
We who are Jews by birth and not "Gentile sinners" know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one is justified.
This teaching of Paul's is, of course, familiar to Christians today. Yet tradition preserved a saying of Jesus which stated the complete opposite of what Paul taught above. Jesus:
"Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish the law but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses those of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven."
Note the complete contradiction in the two passages above. The bolded sentence showed the contradiction even more clearly: Paul is saying "we are not justified by observing the law" and Jesus is saying, in contrast, that "whoever practices the law will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."
It is worth mentioning that the tradition Matthew was drawing from is probably authentic as there is an analogous passage in Luke, the gospel imbued most with Pauline theology:
"It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the law."
As Christianity ultimately accepted the Pauline view with regards to the law, there had been numerous attempts by later Christian theologians to reconcile the passage in Matthew with their dogma, Jesus statement that he has come to fulfil the law is translated (read: twisted out of all context) as: "I have come to exceed the law, to go beyond it to make it superfluous." Using this interpretation, the passage in Matthew can be made to fit, albeit rather uneasily, into Pauline theology.
The conclusion we can draw here is simple: Paul taught doctrines that were never expounded by the earthly Jesus and doctrines which were in complete contradiction with what Jesus actually taught.
Opposition and Opponents to Paul:
Opposition to Paul from the Jerusalem Church
After the incident at Antioch, the historical evidence shows that the Jerusalem Church, headed by the pillars (James, Peter and John) sent out missionaries of their own to combat the teachings of Paul. Thus the people who were most familiar with the teachings of the earthly Jesus-his brother (James) and the apostles (e.g. Peter and John)- openly opposed Paul's mission and his version of the gospel.
Opposition to Paul in Galatia
The Galatian letter, composed by Paul most probably around 53 or 54 CE, was a defense of the churches he founded there. Paul was facing some opposition to this gospel there; another group of missionaries had encroached on his "turf".
Opposition to Paul in Corinth: I Corinthians
First Corinthians was probably written around 55 CE. It was written mainly to deal with some practical problems that were besetting the Christian community in Corinth… Yet even here Paul was also facing problems with his mission.
Opposition to Paul in Corinth: II Corinthians
.. II Corinthians is certainly more polemical than I Corinthians. Paul openly acknowledged that someone has been preaching "another Jesus" and a "different gospel"…
The Opponents in I & II Corinthians
We know that the opponents in II Corinthians were Jewish Christians from Jerusalem. We have also seen that the opponents in I Corinthians were those identified with the Cephas Party. Were these two groups identical or were they two distinct groups? We find many similarities between the opponents in the two epistles:
* Both groups challenged Paul's apostleship.
* Both groups criticized Paul for not accepting any support from the Corinthian congregation.
* Both groups exercised the right of support from the congregation.
* Both groups called themselves "apostles".
These similarities show that it is very likely that the opponents of Paul in I & II Corinthians are one and the same. They are Jewish Christians from Jerusalem sent under the authority of Peter.
Opposition to Paul in Philippi
Note that Paul called his opponents dogs, a general Jewish term of abuse. Paul's play with words is lost in the English translation but the katatome-peritome comparison is clear. Those who "mutilate the flesh" were circumcised Jews.
Conclusion on The Opponents of Paul
The above considerations show that the evidence that Paul's opponents in Galatia, Corinth and Philippi were apostles sent by the Jerusalem Church is extremely strong. There are a couple more details that help clinch the case.
It is consistent with what we know happened at Antioch and later in Jerusalem. We saw that Paul had a falling out with the apostles from Jerusalem after Antioch and was never reconciled with them during his final visit to Jerusalem… Finding that the Jerusalem church hounded his mission is consistent with these two facts that we have established.
Paul's was concerned that his collection may be rejected by the "saints in Jerusalem" (Romans 15:31). If one accepts Acts' picture of the cordial relationship between Paul and the Jerusalem church, this apprehension simply does not make sense. It makes perfect sense given what we have found above. If James, Peter and John had sent out emissaries to combat Paul, he would obviously be worried about how they would accept him in Jerusalem. The collection was his "peace offering", his last attempt to reconcile himself with the Jerusalem Church.
We can safely conclude that the evidence is compelling that the opponents Paul faced in Galatia, Corinth and Philippi were Jewish Christian emissaries sent by the Jerusalem Church headed by James, Peter and John.