The Pokey Finger of God

meditations on religion and culture

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Second and Third Derivations

July 31st, 2008 · No Comments · christianity, history

Since discovery of PRF Brown’s site[1], I have burned a good many hours both reading and thinking. It’s clear that the “Eusebian Fiction Postulate[2] has forced me to re-examine what I thought I understood about history. I have been relatively pleased, so far, to find that it seems to make more sense, given the facts as we have them, than any other theory.

Most of the “Introductory Articles” posted on the site are recommended reading. The first few do a remarkable job of demonstrating the impossibility of an historical Jesus. Some discussions about the and specifically about is followed by some rather pointed information about . And then the historical documents follow for quite some time. I’m looking forward to working my way through his archive.

This chronology built a depot in my head and sent fully loaded trains of thought out on on the hour. Brown helpfully created this chart which summarizes only the destruction of literature indicated in the chronology. I was first struck at the horrific destruction of culture over two centuries of documented, state-funded terrorism against Hellenic culture. I remembered my recent studies of Christian in the first two centuries, when I discovered that almost every reference was either vaguely referenced or had been proven to be late interpolations of earlier material. There is, on the other hand, a confident quantity of proof that there had once been Hellenic temple cultures and schools of philosophy from before 300 BCE, and that these were all no more by 500CE.

Another train of thought considered how much of the time before 325 is hidden from view because of Constantine’s flames and Eusebius’ pens. Polluting the pool of historical documents with propaganda and lies is bad enough, but incinerating all incriminating documentation puts a fine point on us not bing able to ever uncover the whole truth. There is a very significant shadow that Christianity throws onto the historical record that clearly begins with Constantine, and doesn’t seem to have a single reliable reference beforehand. Unfortunately, due to the efficiency of the Roman Empire, we have only shadows.

One thing that I’m not entirely clear on, and perhaps he isn’t either, but it seems that Brown places fully into the lap of Eusebius the authorship of the Gospels, Acts, many letters, and most of Origen’s New Testament commentary. Possibly, I’ve misread his material and he may attribute more or less to Eusebius, but you get a clear sense of scale nonetheless. I still hold to the theory of an historic continuity of a Nazarite tradition from the 1st Temple period through to the Roman occupation and expect that some of their materials made it into Eusebius’ works.

The notion that Paul/Saul emerged as antagonistic, and then latter supportive, of a community set in this tradition had been my source understanding for his epistles. Now that I have to ask whether it was Eusebius, instead, I find less reason to hold up Paul’s letters as ‘real’ — but I still anticipate that a Nazarite community did exist, largely from Torah references. The question of whether Paul/Saul was even real should be addressed. His names are clearly abbreviations of two popular names: Apollonius and Solomon. As in, he was like Solomon when he was persecuting the “early Church”, but then he was like Apollonius once accepting them. This seems really contrived, but this measure alone is hardly convincing.

New train, now departing: the deep and rich irony of using ‘synchretism’ to explain the traditional understanding of the development of Christianity is shockingly clear to me now. “Synchretism”, as a force that traditionally impels minority religions to accept political authority from majority faiths, was the modus operandi for the Roman Empire whenever they allowed Eastern cults to operate within its borders. That is, if a new could demonstrate how it was essentially like, and would accept direction from, an already accepted faith, it would be allowed in as a subset of the previous faith. I’m beginning to suspect that the notion that the did all of it derives from the flaming anti-hellenic crusades of the early Church.

Here is another thing I saw only dimly before very recently: the primary actions of the Roman Empire to dominate the religious world, after the adoption of Christianity, were focused on decimating Hellenic culture. The other culture I’ve been studying recently that had a strong conflict over varying degrees of Hellenism was, of course, . I understand now how easy it would have been to take a few legends here, a few traditions there, and co-opt a (or create a new) rebellion tradition to define a New Truth for the whole Empire in which Hellenism is the Great Evil. I’m sure, now, that the selection of Byzantium as the new capitol was chosen in order to be close enough to squash all things Greek, while monopolizing trade from a unassailable fortress.

Arianism now takes on a whole new light, if one must discard Eusebius as a source, what more can be said about them? We know that the cult was mostly spread in the Western Empire, based in Rome. Some biographies of Constantine that I have read stated that Constantine began as an Arian and eventually moved to his position at Nicea. If, as proposed by Brown, Constantine released ‘version 1’ of Christianity to Rome and the Western Empire first, before bringing it to the East, it is possible that Arius was an intiate of that early version of Christianity.

Knowing Constantine’s hatred for those who might upstage him, and his invective against Arius, I would expect that Arius may well have became personally popular and was receiving the adulation the Emperor wanted for himself. This in itself may have sparked the need to refit the entire enterprise with written texts and a strict hierarchy, thus the “New Testament” and the re-release of the faith in the East: to ensure that the Emperor, not the priesthood, received all the glory.

The very delicious and cruel comedy of the entirety of the New Testament can be fully appreciated now. The Romans had destroyed the Judaean state, and now made that destruction the central memory of the new State Faith. The stories are told with a straight face, yet when one is ‘in’ on the joke, it becomes plain how the Jews are being shown as fools, thieves, brigands, and charletans. Suddenly, the rush to live ascetic lives in distant hovels as far from civilization as possible, even migration to Persia, makes a lot of sense. Who wouldn’t want to get as far away from the madness of the Roman Empire as possible?

Now I’ve got a whole new list of figures to (re-)investigate:

  • Apollonius of Tynea — referenced as having begun the Essene movement
  • Origen — to see the difference between Old and New Testament commentary
  • Mani — the Prophet of Manicheism
  • Arius — just what was it he was preaching, anyway?
  • and that list of destroyed temples — just who were those people and what were they up to?
  1. see Resources
  2. That Eusebius authored or edited together all of the canonical New Testament material, manufactured historical documentation, and insinuated false information into known works, at Constantine’s behest, roughly between 310-320CE.

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