The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Ruminations 2015

December 26th, 2015 · No Comments · Uncategorized

This is my first, and likely last, post for 2015. It was a good year for life and home, and I mostly relaxed and did things other than writing or thinking about Christianity. Although, the topic never seems far away. The Atwill book caused a major rethink on my part: it made sense, and it addresses many of the outstanding questions I had in my own theories. At the same time, it opened up a variety of other avenues of research, and presents some of its own questions.

Authorship of the New Testament hasn’t been something I’ve wanted to really dig too deeply into, but it’s a key part of the whole story. Atwill’s book game me something to pin the Gospels to, and I had a good candidate for someone who had the will and means to create the Epistles from repurposed pagan evangelicals. Now, I assume that Josephus wrote (or directed to have written) the four Gospels and Acts, and that Eusebius of Caesarea created the Epistles a few centuries later. I’ve seen enough arguments about the timing and placement of the final book — Revelations — that I don’t know if it was part of Eusebius’ efforts or something appended later. My current best guess is that it was appended about a century later as part of the heresy wars.

I’ve seen a few recent connections worth noting. Part of my understanding of Constantine the Great was that he was a keen student of history. When he became Emperor, he took the name “Flavius”, perhaps to indicate his intention to rule as did the Flavians. This could imply that his adaptation of Christianity was a part of this adoption of a Flavian lineage. If so, his father took the name “Flavius” as well. Had Constantius been the one to revive the old Flavian cult?

Another connection is from the study of imperial cults. The highest honor an imperial cult would give is something called a “Triumph”. It’s basically a parade to honor the Emperor’s victory in war. The period leading up to a “Triumph” is a period of time called “Advent”. In the modern Christian calendar there is a period called “Advent” that occurs prior to the Christmas season. Is there a connection between these two “Advents”?