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Old December 12th, 2012, 05:47 PM   #11

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[QUOTE=Theodoric;1285536]Personally, the way I see it is that there is the possibility that the biblical Jesus didn't actually ever exist. Many of the early forms of Christianity were highly metaphorical and philosophical in nature. There was a definite connection with the philosophies of Greece, just as there was with Judaism.
QUOTE]

Jesus did exist, but he may not have been what mainstream Christianity makes him out to be (see the Dead Sea Scrolls and Barbara Thiering's Jesus the man).
The "christianity" of the Gospels is quite different to the Epistles (dominated by St Paul who apears to have re-written the message) and different again from the Church Fathers who transformed the imminent second coming ethos to the partner of the ruling class. To find acceptance among the wider population hristianity had to be framed in the Graeco-Roman philosophy of the day.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 06:33 PM   #12
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I'll make some book recommendationsGood to here. I currrantly have a Giro Zen and a Xar which both have been great.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.Click the image to open in full size.
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Old December 12th, 2012, 06:34 PM   #13
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IMO the 2 big things that caused Christianity to take off in the Roman Empire was:

1. The new religion soon clothed itself in a theology derived from Neo-Platonism. Thus it was also a "philosophy for the Average Gaius" and not just an oriental mystery cult. The "ordinary person's philosophy" aspects shows itself clearly in the Eastern Empire in the time of Justinian, where it seemed like everyone and their dog was arguing about the theological fine points about the divine and human natures of Jesus.

2. The Crisis of the 3rd Century lead to people to take solace in new faiths because the old polytheistic beliefs had long become empty ritual, much akin to how in the West today most people are "nominally" Christian, but mostly they are just going through the motions because it is socially proper to do so (my nominally Lutheran mom is like that, she doesn't care that I'm an Atheist, but she still thinks I should go to church because it is the "proper" thing to do. ).

And so just like how people today find "spiritual sustenance" in Pentecostal mega-chuches, Wicca, or New Age goofiness, people then looked towards the various new "cults", including Christianity. Christianity's main advantage was that it was much less exclusive than the so-called "mystery cults", but yet at the same time it was more militant. The other cults had no issue with emperor-worship, but the Christians did, and were willing to die rather than worship the emperor. this set a powerful example to others.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 12:13 AM   #14

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So what you are saying is that the Christianity was the healing chrystals of the day and the "f*ck U, dad!" black metal musicans of olde would have burned the pagan temples not churches?

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I also see a lot of evidence, that despite some of the modern trends, that many early brands of Christianity were highly ethical in nature.

One almost certain attribute of Christianity was that the early Christians were extreme liberals - to use an anachronistic term. A bit weird to think of it that way when today the Conservative branches are much larger. In Canada, the largest liberal branch is the United Church of Canada, which has 3-5 million followers... Catholicism in Canada is about 12 million.
This is "sad and worrying", as that supposed liberalism of early Christians do have a diminishing effect on my extreme hatred of Christianity et al. If that extreme liberalism of early Christians is true, I would have gotten along much better with them than some of the pagans that had, in my very limited understanding, the "might is right" attitudes. But I do remember reading somewhere that even the early Christians (and Jews?) were very intolerant of pagan faiths. How does that sit with the ultra-liberalism?

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Thanks, that was interesting. 1387, never forget. What once was, is no more...

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Old December 13th, 2012, 01:21 AM   #15

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Firstly, christianity wasn't really a new religion - it started as one man's attempt (foretold in the scriptures) to reform Judaism (a new covenant). Mainstream Judaism rejected him and his followers just kept going on.
True, for long time Christianity was basically just Hebrew sect. Basically until Paul "Helenized" it if I can simplify.

Btw motorbike, is your avatar Janosik?
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Old December 13th, 2012, 01:40 AM   #16

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Jesus, a pretty rebellious and revolutionary person
Jesus was neither rebellious nor revolutionary. He told the Jews to pay their taxes and keep the Law of Moses. He made no attempt to liberate slaves, emancipate women, replace the Jewish leaders, or overthrow the Romans. These are not the hallmarks of a rebellious revolutionary.

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was born in Judea in around year 0
No. A more accurate date is 4 BC.

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Then comes Constantine the Great and makes the already widespread Christianity a official(?) state religion of the Roman Empire because of realpolitiks or whatevers.
As Arras has pointed out, Constantine did not make Christianity the official state religion of the Roman Empire. This occurred under Theodosius I in the late 4th Century.

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I'd like to know what people that are interested and knowledgeable on this subject have to say about this battle between Christian god and pagan gods. Book recommendations are also more than welcome. Thanks for reading.
Paganism was abandoned because people increasingly saw it as useless, outdated, and irrelevant to their lives.

With the conversion of Constantine, Christianity became acceptable to members of the aristocracy, and thus formally became the religion of the educated classes. Many notable Christians of previous centuries had been pagan philosophers with classical educations, which facilitated the later transition.

Christianity offered superior socio-economic outcomes, including greater longevity and a system of charity that was vastly preferable to pagan philanthropy.

Christianity was better organised and required a higher standard of moral consistency among the upper echelons of its clergy.

All of these factors contributed to the triumph of Christianity over paganism.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 02:14 AM   #17

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Hopefully this is a right subforum for this topic but I'd like to know why I am not worshipping Odin, Zeus or any other pagan god.

Here is what I have gathered so far: Jesus, a pretty rebellious and revolutionary person was born in Judea in around year 0 or at least a cult of that named person / god /whatever have been spreading since then. Apparently this new religion was very appealing to disenfranchised segments of population. Then comes Constantine the Great and makes the already widespread Christianity a official(?) state religion of the Roman Empire because of realpolitiks or whatevers. The actions of Julian the Apostate were just a futile and hopeless last dying breath of Paganism. Lot of the other rulers after Constantine also started to use Christianity as rallying cry or amalgam to rule their nice little empires, kingdoms and villages. And rest is history.
Christianity has always had a more worldly side to it that it prefers to keep under wraps. When the various sects realised they had a chance for political clout (used by Constantine as a means to unify his empire) "the roads were filled with galloping bishops" as MArcellinus tells us. They couldn't wait to get their hands on influence and land (they were already raking in the cash as any good Roman entrepeneurian movement would)

Here's an important issue. Inevitably when we discuss christianity in the ancient world there's a tendency to discuss it in modern context. It transpires, so I recently discovered, that our conception of Jesus is incorrect - the bearded guy we normally see on film and tv is a medieval invention designed to make Jesus seem more regal - the original depictions of Jesus in Roman art are completely different, a cherub like youth (with no beard at all) that also represents a characterisation of Jesus in the expectations of the culture that depicted him. In other words, Jesus has become what we want him to be, for our motivations, not his.

The basic problem with pagan religion is that followers ask, beg, or sacrifice so that their desires are granted by the gods (which is why Roman worship was a very personal affair). Chances are the worshipper was disappointed by the vagaries of the gods will.

Christianity however was also a social movement in that congregations worshipped together. It was also more authoritarian, it had the signal advantage of having 'leaders' among the grass roots (however much they may have meant to profit rather than 'save'), and presented a cosmic view that allowed some hope in the face of death, for Romans led short lives on average and often risky ones. Clearly Constantine recognised these advantages, although he was not baptised until his deathbed thus not oficially a christian although some sources like to say that he was.

We also need to realise that initially at least the complex ritual and mythos of modern christianity was unknown to the Romans. Arguments arose between christian and mithraic followers regarding whose ideas were whose - both copied from the other.

Some people suggest that the later conflicts between christian and pagan crowds were nothing like as far reaching as suggested. I don't know about that, although I do know there were specific occaisions when it all got a bit violent.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 03:29 AM   #18
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Thanks, that was interesting. 1387, never forget. What once was, is no more...
You are welcome. Considering you are pretty close to the Baltic Lands right now I am surprised that you were not aware about this interesting bit of History.

You never step into the same river twice, remember
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Old December 13th, 2012, 05:03 AM   #19

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Christianity has always had a more worldly side to it that it prefers to keep under wraps. When the various sects realised they had a chance for political clout (used by Constantine as a means to unify his empire) "the roads were filled with galloping bishops" as MArcellinus tells us. They couldn't wait to get their hands on influence and land (they were already raking in the cash as any good Roman entrepeneurian movement would)
I wouldn't say that it was entrepreneurial spirit that motivated the bishops - more like the opportunity to wield enormous political, economic, and spiritual power in their communities (like most members of the curial class, which they were almost exclusively part of, had for centuries) without being subject to the enforced euergetism of the late Roman state.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 06:26 AM   #20

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No. A more accurate date is 4 BC.
So it is more accurate to say that Jesus was born 4 years before Christ?

I'm not disputing this mind you, just commenting on the semantic irony.
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