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Politiek en macht eerste prioriteit #1

De vroege dagen van het Christendom

2.2.1. Politiek en macht de eerste prioriteit

Sint Constantijn (Άγιος Κωνσταντίνος); deel van een Kretenzische icoon waarop ook Sint Helena staat afgebeeld.

Sint Constantijn (Άγιος Κωνσταντίνος); deel van een Kretenzische icoon waarop ook Sint Helena staat afgebeeld.
Foto: RKK

Het was gewoon onmogelijk om mensen terug naar de oude eenvoud te brengen alsook om hen terug tot de oude heidense geloofsvormen te brengen en tot de nationale vorm van verering terug te komen. Derhalve moest het imperium zich zo ver mogelijk identificeren met de progressieve beweging, de bestaande middelen van het nationale leven aanwenden, tolerantie uitoefenen, concessies doen aan de nieuwe godsdienstige tendensen, en de Germaanse stammen ontvangen in het imperium. Deze overtuiging spreidde constant uit, vooral aangezien Constantijn zijn vader goede resultaten daar uit had verkregen. In Gallië, Groot-Brittannië, en Spanje, waar Constantius Chlorus heerste, steeg de vrede en de tevredenheid, en de welvaart van de provincies zichtbaar, terwijl in het Oosten de welvaart door de bestaande verwarring en instabiliteit werd ondermijnd. Maar het was vooral in het westelijke deel van het imperium dat verering van Mithras overheerste. Constantijn vroeg zich af of het niet mogelijk zou zijn om alle verschillende nationaliteiten rond zijn altaren te verzamelen. Kon Sol Deus Invictus, waaraan zelfs Constantijn zijn muntstukken lange tijd wijdde, of Sol Mithras Deus Invictus, door Diocletian en Galerius, niet opperste god van het imperium worden om zo vereerd te worden? Constantijn kan hier over lang nagedacht hebben. De officiële zonnereligie moest algemeen door iedereen in zijn rijk aangenomen worden en die het niet erkenden mochten een kopje kleiner gemaakt worden. Maar hij had de gedachte noch niet verworpen zelfs nadat een wonderbare gebeurtenis hem had beïnvloed ten gunste van de God van de Christenen. [1]

Om politieke redenen, na zijn overwinning tegen zijn rivaal Maxentius, verleende Constantijn tolerantie aan de Christenen en trof een verdere maatregel in hun gunst. Hij was de eerste Romeinse keizer die de weerstand van de kerk tegen een heidens Romeinse staat erkende die op de heerserscultus als politieke factor werd gevestigd.

In 313 gaven hij en Licinius in Milaan het beroemde gezamenlijke bevelschrift van tolerantie uit. Dit verklaarde dat de twee keizers in verband met wat voordelig voor de veiligheid en het welzijn van het imperium was en vooral zou zijn, hadden overlegd en de dienst in overweging hadden genomen die de mens aan „de goddelijkheid“ verschuldigd was. Daarom hadden zij beslist Christenen en al de anderen vrijheid in de oefening van godsdienst te verlenen. Iedereen zou die godsdienst kunnen volgen welke hij het beste beschouwde. Zij hoopten dat „de gekroonde goddelijkheid in hemel“gunst en bescherming zou verlenen aan de keizers en hun onderdanen. Dit was op zichzelf bijzonder genoeg om heidenen in de grootste verbazing te werpen. Wanneer de verwoording van het bevelschrift zorgvuldig wordt onderzocht is er duidelijk bewijsmateriaal van een inspanning om de nieuwe gedachte op een manier uit te drukken die onmiskenbaar om het even welke twijfel wil wegnemen. Het bevelschrift bevat meer dan het geloof, waaraan Galerius aan het eind stem had gegeven, dat de vervolgingen nutteloos waren, en dat vrijheid van verering aan Christenen verleende, terwijl het tezelfdertijd poogde geen belediging aan het adres van de heidenen te brengen. Zonder twijfel werd de term goddelijkheid (god-godin) doelbewust gekozen, voor een heidense interpretatie niet uit te sluiten. De voorzichtige uitdrukking kwam waarschijnlijk in de keizerkanselarij voort, waar heidense concepties en heidense uitdrukkingsvormen nog lange tijd duurden. Niettemin kan de verandering van de bloedige vervolging van het christendom tot de tolerantie er van, een stap zijn die erkenning impliceerde, vele heidenen opgeschrokken en in hen verbazing opwekte maar hun ook de kans gaven om hun godsdienst te laten samensmelten met de andere.

De gevangengenomen Christenen werden bevrijd uit de gevangenissen en de mijnen, en werden ontvangen door hun broeders in het Geloof met toejuichingen van vreugde. Opnieuw geraakten de kerken gevuld, en dezen die afvallig waren geweest zochten vergiffenis. Maar gelukkig bleven er godsdienstige lui die er aan hielden om het originele Christelijk geloof te blijven aanhangen en die zich bewust waren van de gevaren van deze politieke handdruk.

Constantijn was hoofd van de Romeinse wereld geworden en was vastberaden om de geestelijke orde in het Oosten te herstellen zoals hij reeds in het Westen ondernomen had om de Donatisten bij de Raad van Arles neer te leggen. Hij slaagde er in om tot een overeenkomst met de meeste kerkleiders te komen door hen ook macht te geven, dit om sommige leerstellingen te veranderen, ingaand op sommige gedachtegangen, en op vieringen.

In de toewijding van Constantinopel in 330 werd een plechtige halve heidense, halve Christelijke dienst gebracht. Er was een triomfwagen voor de zonnegod geplaatst op de markt, en over zijn hoofd werd het Kruis, teken van de god van het kwaad Tamuz, voor Christus geplaatst, terwijl Kyrie Eleison werd gezongen. Kort voor zijn dood bevestigde Constantijn de voorrechten van de priesters van de oude goden. Veel andere acties die hij ondernam hebben ook de verschijning van halve maatregelen, alsof hij zelf had gewankeld en altijd in werkelijkheid aan één of andere vorm van een versmolten godsdienst had gehouden.[2] Aldus beval hij heidense troepen om van een gebed gebruik te maken waarin om het even welke monotheïst zich kon bij aansluiten, en dat zo liep: „Wij erkennen alleen jij als god en koning, wij roepen op jou als onze helper. Van jouw hebben wij de overwinning ontvangen, door jou hebben wij de tegenstander overwonnen. Aan jou zijn wij dat goede dat wij tot nu toe ontvangen hebben verschuldigd geweest, van jou hopen wij voor het in de toekomst. Aan jou bieden wij onze smeekbeden aan en smeken jou dat jij onze keizer Constantijn en zijn godvrezende zonen voor vele jaren niet gewond zullen geraken en victorieus zullen zijn”.[3]

This argenteus was struck in Antioch mint, und...

This argenteus was struck in Antioch mint, under Constantius Chlorus. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

De kerk tolereerde de cultus van de keizer onder vele vormen. Het werd toegelaten om van de goddelijkheid van de keizer, van zijn heilige paleis, de heilige kamer te spreken, en van het altaar van de keizer, zonder voor dit als heiligschenner te worden aanschouwd. Uit dit standpunt was Constantijn zijn godsdienstige verandering vrij onbelangrijk; het bestond uit weinig meer dan het afstand nemen van een formaliteit. Voor wat zijn voorgangers hadden getracht te bereiken door het gebruik van al hun gezag, en ten koste van onophoudelijk bloedvergieten, was in waarheid slechts de erkenning van hun eigen goddelijkheid. Constantijn bereikte dit eind, hoewel hij van het aanbieden van offers aan zich zelf afstand nam.


[1] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

[2] Syncretisme

[3] http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Constantine_the_Great

Nota:

Neuenheimer Mithraeum

Mithras relief als stierendoder te Neuenheim in de buurt van Heidelberg, omlijst door scènes uit het leven Mithras

De eerste zonnegod consequent aangeduid als Invictus was de provinciale Syrische god Elagabalus. De godheid Elagabalus ook wel als Jupiter en Sol gekend (fuit autem Heliogabali vel Iovis vel Solis).
De naam van de Perzische god Mithra (“Μίθρας”) [Sanskriet Mitra (मित्रः), gevonden in de Rig Veda], werd aangepast in het Grieks als Mithras, in het Sanskriet betekend “Mitra” “vriend” of “vriendschap”en werd gekoppeld aan een nieuwe en onderscheidende beeldtaal. Het Iraanse “Mithra” en het Sanskriet “Mitra” worden verondersteld afkomstig te zijn van een Indo-Iraanse woord mitra betekenend: “contract, overeenkomst, convenant”. De Romeinen namen de religie mysteriën van Mithras of mysteriën van de Perzen over en moderne historici verwijzen naar die godsdienstvorm als Mithraisme, of soms Romeinse Mithraïsme.Vanaf de 2e eeuw werd Mithras gevierd als de belangrijkste zonnegod. Lucius Domitius Aurelianus Augustus, of Aurelian, die de titel van Germanicus Maximus verkreeg en de Romeinse keizer was van 270-275, was verantwoordelijk voor de bouw van de Aureliaanse Muren in Rome en maakte Mithras de officiële religie in 270.Het was Constantijn die verordende (7 maart, 321) dat er een Solis-dag of dag van de zon moest zijn. Die  “zondag” werd daarom aangenomen als de Romeinse rustdag [CJ3.12.2]. Hij beval: “Op de eerbiedwaardige dag van de zon laat de magistraten en mensen die woonachtig zijn in steden rusten, en laat alle workshops worden gesloten. Op het platteland echter kunnen personen die in de landbouw werken, vrij en legaal doorgaan met hun bezigheden, omdat het vaak voorkomt dat een andere dag niet geschikt is voor de inzaai van graan  of aanplant van wijnstokken, opdat door het verwaarlozen van het juiste moment voor deze operaties de overvloed van de hemel zou verloren gaan. “+

Voorgaand: De vroege dagen van het Christendom 2.1. Hellenistische invloeden

Vervolg: De vroege dagen van het Christendom 2.2.2.  Politiek en macht eerste prioriteit #2

Engelse versie / English version: The early days of Christianity 2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

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Vindt ook:

  1. Een man die de geschiedenis van het mensdom veranderde
  2. Zondag, zonnegodsdag en zonnepartnersdag Van shabbat naar zondag; >‘Heilige’ samenkomst (mikra kodesh)
  3. Groei eerste christenen , “orthodoxie”
  4. Zeus een heerser van hemel en aarde
  5. Heil tot de gezondene van God of Zeus
  6. Doctrine van de Drievuldigheid
  7. Kerstmis, Saturnalia en de geboorte van Jezus
  8. Jezus’ heerschappij rekt verder dan wij vaak beseffen
    In het Romeinse Rijk was er maar één goddelijke redder, namelijk de keizer. In het begin van het geboorteverhaal van Jezus lijkt deze keizer de wereld te regeren. Hij voert bevel in heel zijn rijk.
  9. Paulus dienaar van het evangelie
  10. Vreemdelingschap
    Christenen in de tijd van de vroege kerk kregen al het verwijt dat ze te veel aan wereldmijding deden.
  11. Groei eerste christenen
  12. Vroege Kerk groeide slechts geleidelijk
  13. Zichtbaar houden van oudste kerken
  14. Scheiding van Kerk en staat
  15. Niet goddelijkheid van Christus toch
  16. Jezus van Nazareth #3 De Zoon van God
  17. Hashem השם, Hebreeuws voor “de Naam”
  18. Schoonheid van heiligheid

Politics and power first priority #1

The early days of Christianity

2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

File:ArsameiaSockelII.jpg

Mtihras; Dexiosis-Relief from Arsameia by Nymphaios, Turkey – Photo Klaus-Peter Simon

It was just as impossible to bring men back to the old simplicity as to make them return to the old pagan beliefs and to the national form of worship. Consequently, the empire had to identify itself with the progressive movement, employ as far as possible the existing resources of national life, exercise tolerance, make concessions to the new religious tendencies, and receive the Germanic tribes into the empire. This conviction constantly spread, especially as Constantine’s father had obtained good results there from. In Gaul, Britain, and Spain, where Constantius Chlorus ruled, peace and contentment prevailed, and the prosperity of the provinces visibly increased, while in the East prosperity was undermined by the existing confusion and instability. But it was especially in the western part of the empire that the veneration of Mithras predominated. Constantine the Great wondered if it would not be possible to gather all the different nationalities around his altars. Could not Sol Deus Invictus, to whom even Constantine dedicated his coins for a long time, or Sol Mithras Deus Invictus, venerated by Diocletian and Galerius, become the supreme god of the empire? Constantine may have pondered over this. Nor had he absolutely rejected the thought even after a miraculous event had strongly influenced him in favour of the God of the Christians. [1]

For political reasons after his victory against his rival Maxentius, Constantine granted tolerance to the Christians and took a further step in their favour. He was the first Roman emperor who recognized the church’s resistance against a pagan Roman state established upon the ruler cult as a political factor. In 313 Licinius and he issued at Milan the famous joint edict of tolerance. This declared that the two emperors had deliberated as to what would be advantageous for the security and welfare of the empire and had, above all, taken into consideration the service which man owed to the “deity”. Therefore they had decided to grant Christians and all others freedom in the exercise of religion. Everyone might follow that religion which he considered the best. They hoped that “the deity enthroned in heaven” would grant favour and protection to the emperors and their subjects. This was in itself quite enough to throw the pagans into the greatest astonishment. When the wording of the edict is carefully examined there is clear evidence of an effort to express the new thought in a manner too unmistakable to leave any doubt. The edict contains more than the belief, to which Galerius at the end had given voice that the persecutions were useless, and it granted the Christians freedom of worship, while at the same time it endeavoured not to affront the pagans. Without doubt the term deitywas deliberately chosen, for it does not exclude a heathen interpretation. The cautious expression probably originated in the imperial chancery, where pagan conceptions and pagan forms of expression still lasted for a long time. Nevertheless the change from the bloody persecution of Christianity to the toleration of it, a step which implied its recognition, may have startled many heathens and may have excited and given them a chance to blend their religion with the other one.

Arch of Galerius (detail)

Arch of Galerius (detail) (Photo credit: George M. Groutas)

The imprisoned Christians were released from the prisons and mines, and were received by their brethren in the Faith with acclamations of joy; the churches were again filled, and those who had fallen away sought forgiveness. Though it was good that there were religious people who remained in the original Christian faith and were conscious of the dangers of this political handshake.

Constantine had become master of the Roman world and was determined on restoring ecclesiastical order in the East, as already in the West he had undertaken to put down the Donatists at the Council of Arles. He managed to come to an agreement with most of the church leaders by giving them also power, just for changing some teachings, giving in some ways of thinking, and of celebrations. In the dedication of Constantinople in 330 a ceremonial half pagan, half Christian was used. The chariot of the sun-god was set in the marketplace, and over its head was placed the Cross, sign of the god of evil Tamuz, for Christ, while the Kyrie Eleison was sung. Shortly before his death Constantine confirmed the privileges of the priests of the ancient gods. Many other actions of his have also the appearance of half-measures, as if he himself had wavered and had always held in reality to some form of syncretistic religion.[2] Thus he commanded the heathen troops to make use of a prayer in which any monotheist could join, and which ran thus: “We acknowledge thee alone as god and king, we call upon thee as our helper. From thee have we received the victory, by thee have we overcome the foe. To thee we owe that good which we have received up to now, from thee do we hope for it in the future. To thee we offer our entreaties and implore thee that thou wilt preserve to us our emperor Constantine and his god-fearing sons for many years uninjured and victorious.”[3]

The Church tolerated the cult of the emperor under many forms. It was permitted to speak of the divinity of the emperor, of the sacred palace, the sacred chamber, and of the altar of the emperor, without being considered on this account an idolater. From this point of view Constantine’s religious change was relatively trifling; it consisted of little more than the renunciation of a formality. For what his predecessors had aimed to attain by the use of all their authority, and at the cost of incessant bloodshed, was in truth only the recognition of their own divinity; Constantine gained this end, though he renounced the offering of sacrifices to himself.


[1] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

[2] Syncrtism

[3] http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Constantine_the_Great

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Previously: Hellenistic influences

Next: Politics and power first priority #2

Dutch version: Politiek en macht de eerste prioriteit #1

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File:Vatican-Apostolic Palace-Battle of Milvian Bridge.jpg

Vatican City, Apostolic Palace, Constantine and The Battle of Milvian Bridge – Photo Jean-Christophe Benoist

  • Constantine’s Gift to Christianity (insightscoop.typepad.com)
    On October 28, 312, Emperor Constantine met Emperor Maxentius in battle just outside the city of Rome at the Milvian Bridge, spanning the Tiber. This battle—occurring exactly 1,700 years ago—is one of the most important events in the history of Christendom, since it was through Constantine’s victory that Christendom began. It is a battle well worth reflecting upon.
  • Constantine’s Gift to Christianity: Catholic World Report (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
    There are, for example, those who take Constantine’s conversion as the beginning of the end of real Christianity. Christianity, they argue, is the Christianity of the early Church, the Church before it became favored and hence entangled with the empire, the pure Church, the Church before Constantine, the Church of the martyrs.

    The problem with this romantic vision of the pure early Church is that it wasn’t shared by the early Church. We owe it to them to take things, first of all, from their point of view.

  • October 27, 312 – Constantine’s Conversion (gentlereformation.org)
    Constantine reported having a dream in the night. In that dream, he saw the Chi-Rho sign (the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ), with the promise “in this sign, conquer.” Constantine believed he had received a sign from the God of the Bible, and commanded that his soldiers to place the Chi-Rho sign on their shields as they went into battle.
  • Christianity and Constantine 1700 Years Later (reflectionandchoice.wordpress.com)
    The defeat of Maxentius is a significant step in Constantine’s quest to become master of the entire Roman Empire, but historians have usually emphasized it as the turning point in his relationship with Christianity.
    +
    Constantine favored Christianity with money and attention and set a trajectory for its continued growth. He did not, however, make Christianity the official religion of the empire. That move would be made a few generations later.
  • Late Antique Crossbow Fibula Looted from Turin (adrianmurdoch.typepad.com)
    Dorothy King at Lootbusters passed over details of a crossbow fibula which was stolen from the Museo d’Antichita in Turin.
    +
    CONSTANTINE CAES VIVAS (May Constantine caesar live)… is an indisputable reference to the emperor who was going to have a greater impact on history than any other of the tetrarchs, the future augustus Constantine the Great.
  • Constantine and Christendom: Glory or Calamity? | Catholic Lane (nebraskaenergyobserver.wordpress.com)
    how the church became allied (sometimes, anyway) with the state, and how armed resistance to the state is also sometimes allowed under our doctrines. All of this as well as much more come from Constantine, who provides one of the major turning points in Christianity.

    Here we see the beginning of the Church Militant, and the beginning of Christendom as we understand it. We have spoken here  of the importance of this to western civilization.
    +
    At first, Christians found it hard to adjust to this radical transformation.  In the end they found it impossible to discern the divine will without reference to salvation history.  Our ancestors in the Faith had to take divine Providence as it actually transpired, not as one might suppose the Great Helmsman of history could more fortuitously have steered the course of events. Proud minds ready to second-guess God wonder why the Divinity did not stop Christians from having recourse to the sword; or why God let the Church be sullied by immersion in power politics.

  • The historical evolution between the churches and politics in the Roman Empire (perspectives11.wordpress.com)
    Christianity started out as a small group of followers. They did not have a place of worship; they would often reunite at each other’s homes.In the early 60’s AD, a fire broke out in Rome that destroyed most of the city, emperor Nero blamed the Christians for it and ordered them to be killed. At the time, most of the Romans were Pagan; they believed in many Gods, as well as the emperor was considered a semi divine monarch. Christians were persecuted for centuries in the Roman Empire, and executed by getting torn apart by dogs or burnt alive.
  • The day Christianity became a fighting faith (thewesternexperience.com)
    + Jonathan Kay: The day Christianity became a fighting faith
    Constantine was a conqueror. And like all conquerors, he wanted to memorialize himself in word and stone. “Over his reign, he gave the Church an equal place alongside the traditional official cults, and lavished wealth on it,” writes Dirmaid MacCulloch in his 2009 opus Christianity: The first 3,000 years. “Christianity would now embark on its long intoxication with architecture, previously a necessarily restricted passion. Among [Constantine’s] many other donations were 50 monumental copies of the Bible commissioned from Bishop Eusebius’ specialist scriptorium in Caesarea: an extraordinary expenditure … for which the parchment alone would have required the death of around 5,000 cows.”

    In Constantinople (formerly Byzantium), Constantine created a network of churches devoted to various saints, festivals and holy days, thereby establishing the pattern of prayer-by-station that remains a feature of Christian pilgrimage to this day. He also promoted the practice of convening councils of bishops to settle questions of religious doctrine. This included the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. (presided over by Constantine in person), whose eponymous creed created the foundational dogma that Christ is “begotten, not made” “from the substance of the Father, God from God, Light from Light.”

    Unfortunately, Constantine used the same venue to promote the theme of Jew-hatred that would remain a stubborn part of mainstream Christian thought and culture until well into the 20th century. “At the council, we also considered the issue of our holiest day, Easter,” he wrote. “In the first place, it seemed very unworthy for us to keep this most sacred feast following the custom of the Jews, a people who have soiled their hands in a most terrible outrage, and have thus polluted their souls, and are now deservedly blind.”

     

Hellenistic influences

The early days of Christianity

2.1. Hellenistic influences

An ingenious and learned school, formed at Alexandria, had contrived, by a system of allegorical interpretation, to infuse Platonism into the Old Testament, the school at Jerusalem had been growing increasingly rigid, and interdicted any such daring exegesis.

In the first centuries of our current calendar the influence of the Greek culture in the Roman Realm was still noticeable and guarded Greece its cultural inheritance one of the most important universities of the Roman Realm which stood in Athens.

At the Athenian schools also Christians, like Prohæresios, the sophist, were found under its members.

Sophists (sophistēs, meaning “wise-ist, one who does wisdom,” and σοφός, sophós means “wise man”) were a category of traveling teachers who specialized in using the tools of philosophy and rhetoric for the purpose of teaching arete — excellence, or virtue — predominantly to young statesmen and nobility. As itinerant intellectuals they taught courses in various subjects, speculated about the nature of language and culture and employed rhetoric to achieve their purposes, generally to persuade or convince others which could be of good use for the youngsters to be able to have their say in the official meetings or ekklèsia (Ecclesia)

Many sophists’ questioned the existence and roles of traditional deities and investigated into the nature of the heavens and the earth, which prompted a popular reaction against them. The attacks of some of their followers against Socrates prompted a vigorous condemnation from his followers, including Plato the most famous student of Socrates, and Xenophon. The sophists became considered greedy instructors who used rhetorical sleight-of-hand and ambiguities of language in order to deceive, or to support fallacious reasoning. according to some the sophist was not concerned with truth and justice, but instead looked for power.

File:PopesixtusII.jpg

The martyrdom of Saint (Pope) Sixtus II and his deacons. Martyre de saint Sixte II et de ses diacres. Cote: Français 185 , Fol. 96v . Vies de saints, France, Paris – 14th century. – Richard de Montbaston et collaborateurs

Sixtus II, or Xystos, who suffered martyrdom in Rome about 258 C.T., also may have studied in Athens and is called “the son of an Athenian philosopher”. But the most noted men who frequented the schools here were Basil from Kæsareia, and Gregory from Nazianzos, about the middle of the fourth century. These schools of philosophy kept paganism alive for four centuries, but by the fifth century the ancient religion of Elevsis and Athens had practically succumbed. In the Council of Nikæa there was present a bishop from Athens. In 529 the schools of philosophy were closed. From that date Christianity had no rival in Athens.[1]

Jesus clearly taught that Jehovah is “the only true God” and that the human soul is mortal. (John 17:3; Matthew 10:28) Yet, with the death of the apostles and the weakening of the organizational structure, such clear teachings were corrupted as pagan doctrines infiltrated Christianity.

A key factor was the subtle influence of Greek philosophy. Explains The New Encyclopædia Britannica: “From the middle of the 2nd century AD Christians who had some training in Greek philosophy began to feel the need to express their faith in its terms, both for their own intellectual satisfaction and in order to convert educated pagans.” Once philosophically minded persons became Christians, it did not take long for Greek philosophy and “Christianity” to become inseparably linked.
As a result of this union, pagan doctrines such as the Trinity and the immortality of the soul seeped into tainted Christianity. These teachings, however, go back much farther than the Greek philosophers. The Greeks actually acquired them from older cultures, for there is evidence of such teachings in ancient Egyptian and Babylonian religions. As pagan doctrines continued to infiltrate Christianity, other Scriptural teachings were also distorted or abandoned.

File:HermesTrismegistusCauc.jpg

Hermes Trismegistus

The question how the Son was related to the Father (Himself acknowledged on all hands to be the one Supreme Deity), gave rise, between the years 60 and 200 C.T. to a number of Theosophic systems, called generally Gnosticism, and having for their authors Basilides, Valentinus, apologist and ascetic Tatian the Syrian or the Assyrian , writer of the Diatessaron (a  prominent Gospel harmony) and other Greek speculators.[2] According to some, it was through Gnosticism that pagan influences slipped into Christian worship. Gnosticism, they assert, served somewhat as a bridge between paganism and Christianity.[3] The Gnostic systems revealed more theosophy than theology and in the Jewish Kabbala is found a theosophy mixed with various forms of magic and occultism. The Kabbalah, which includes the tracts named Sefer Yetzirah, The Zohar, Pardes Rimonim, and Eitz Chaim, seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.
The Hellenistic main source is the Corpus Hermeticum or the Hermetic Corpus, a collection of texts attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, which became again of importance in the New Age. Therein astrology and other occult sciences and spiritual renewal are addressed. Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

Alexandria was full of Jews, the literary as well as commercial centre of the East, and the connecting link between the East and the West. There the largest libraries were collected; there the Jewish mind came into close contact with the Greek, and the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. There Philo wrote, while Christ taught in Jerusalem and Galilee, and his works were destined to exert a great influence on Christian exegesis through the Alexandrian fathers.

During the fourth century Egypt was going to give to the church the Arian heresy, the Athanasian orthodoxy, and the monastic piety of St. Antony and St. Pachomius, which spread with irresistible force over Christendom.

The theological literature of Egypt was chiefly Greek. Most of the early manuscripts of the Greek Scriptures — including probably the invaluable Sinaitic and Vatican MSS. — were written in Alexandria. But already in the second century the Scriptures were translated into the vernacular language, in three different dialects. What remains of these versions is of considerable weight in ascertaining the earliest text of the Greek Testament.

To the Jews, that were the mostly receptive for Hellenic influences, belonged the priests. For many of them meant the accepting of the Hellenism a manner to have Judaism going with its time.

While many Jews accepted the Hellenism, a new group calling themselves Hasidim or Chassidim — devout people (literally “loving kindness”, diverted of the Hebrew חסידות (chassidoet), meaning “piety”) — encouraged people to keep stricter obedience to the Law of Moses. The first group of Hasidim, also called the Assideans or Hasideans (the Anglicized form, derived through the Greek asidaioi, of the Hebrew Hasidim, “the pious”, men endowed with grace (Psalm 39:5; 148:14)), were an ancient Jewish sect that developed between 300 B.C.E. and 175 B.C.E. They were the most rigid adherents of Judaism in contradistinction to those Jews who were beginning to be affected by Hellenistic influences. The Hasidim led the resistance to the Hellenizing campaign of Antiochus IV of Syria, and they figured largely in the early phases of the revolt of the Maccabees or Machabees, Jewish family of the 2d and 1st cent. B.C.E. that brought about a restoration of Jewish political and religious life. They are also called Hasmoneans or Asmoneans after their ancestor, Hashmon. Their ritual strictness has caused some to see them as forerunners of the Pharisees. Throughout the Talmudic period numerous figures were referred to as Hasidim. [4]

The Hellenization of the Jews in the pre-Hasmonean period was not universally resisted. Generally, the Jews accepted foreign rule when they were only required to pay tribute, and otherwise allowed to govern themselves internally. Nevertheless, Jews were divided between those favoring Hellenization and those opposing it, and were divided over allegiance to the Ptolemies or Seleucids. When the High Priest Simon II died in 175 BCE, conflict broke out between supporters of his son Onias III (who opposed Hellenization, and favored the Ptolemies) and his son Jason (who favored Hellenization, and favored the Seleucids). A period of political intrigue followed, with priests such as Menelaus bribing the king to win the High Priesthood, and accusations of murder of competing contenders for the title. The result was a brief civil war. The Tobiads, a philo-Hellenistic party, succeeded in placing Jason into the powerful position of High Priest. He established an arena for public games close by the Temple. (Ginzberg, Lewis. “The Tobiads and Oniads.”. Retrieved 2007-01-23. Jewish Encyclopedia.) Author Lee I. Levine notes, “The ‘piece de resistance’ of Judaean Hellenization, and the most dramatic of all these developments, occurred in 175 BCE, when the high priest Jason converted Jerusalem into a Greek polis replete with gymnasium and ephebeion (2 Maccabees 4). Whether this step represents the culmination of a 150-year process of Hellenization within Jerusalem in general, or whether it was only the initiative of a small coterie of Jerusalem priests with no wider ramifications, has been debated for decades.” (Levine, Lee I. Judaism and Hellenism in antiquity: conflict or confluence? Hendrickson Publishers, 1998. pp. 38–45. Via “The Impact of Greek Culture on Normative Judaism.”)

The ordinary people were disgusted by the Hellenised priests and chose more and more party for the Chassidim. There broke a period of martyrdom when Jews in the whole country were forced to go along or to settle with pagan happenings and offerings or to die.[5]

A gold multiple of “Unconquered Constantine” with Sol Invictus, struck in 313. The use of Sol’s image appealed to both the educated citizens of Gaul, who would recognize in it Apollo’s patronage of Augustus and the arts; and to Christians, who found solar monotheism less objectionable than the traditional pagan pantheon

Constantine (C., Flavius Valerius Constantinus) was during the decline period of the Roman Realm the Big Emperor (306–337 C. T.) and tried to merge Christianity with particular pagan customs and doctrines. He undertook the first steps to make this merger religion as the official state religion. Accordingly Greece became a part of Christendom. He moved the capital of the realm of Rome to Byzantium, which he named in honour of himself Constantinople.

In 321 C. T. Constantine ordained that the Sunday (Lat.: dies Solis, an old title that was connected with astrology and sun worshipping, not Sabbatum [Sabbath] or dies Domini [day of the Lord]) would be a day of rest for everybody, except for the farmers. Constantine moreover placed Sunday under the protection of the State. Constantine speaks not of the day of the Lord, but of the everlasting day of the sun as the believers in Mithras also observed Sunday as well as Christmas.

The winged sun was an ancient (3rd millennium BC) symbol of Horus, later identified with Ra

Belief in the old polytheism had been shaken; in more stolid natures, as Roman Emperor Diocletian, it showed its strength only in the form of superstition, magic, and divination. Probably many of the more noble-minded recognized the truth contained in Judaism and Christianity, but believed that they could appropriate it without being obliged on that account to renounce the beauty of other worships. Such a man was the Emperor Alexander Severus; another thus minded was Aurelian, whose opinions were confirmed by Christians like Paul of Samosata. Not only Gnostics and other heretics, but Christians who considered themselves faithful, held in a measure to the worship of the sun. Constantine cherished this mistaken belief.[6]


[1] Christian Athens, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[2] Arianism., Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[3] Notion and characteristics, Catholic Encyclopaedia, New York 1908

[4] In the 18th Century Eastern Europethis movement would be taken up again for the third time by Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer (1698-1760) also known asIsrael Baal Shem Tov as a reaction against overly legalistic Judaism.

[5] S. Lieberman, Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (1962); S. G. Kramer, God and Man in the Sefer Hasidim (1966); A. L. Lowenkopf, The Hasidim (1973).

[6] The original Catholic Encyclopedia

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Some Jews are known to have engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration in order to join the dominant cultural practice of socializing naked in the gymnasium, where their circumcisionwould have been a social stigma.

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Previous: The early days of Christianity 1.2. Considered as a danger 1.2.2. Minimizing the power of God’s Force the Holy Spirit

Next: The early days of Christianity 2.2.1. Politics and power first priority

  • contemplative political philosophy (acourseaboutnothing.wordpress.com)
    Contemplation has always been at the heart of liberal education.  Contemplation was known as practice, the practice of political philosophy.  All who had intimations of Socrates’ presence and purpose knew it.  Contemplation was (and is) an activity of mind-body.  Athletics (what the Greeks called gymnastics) was no less education than music and the performing arts.  Together these formed an organic whole in the image of a human creature.
  • Local Deities? Mystery Cults and Osiris and Isis. Soul and Spirit. (jamesbradfordpate.wordpress.com)
    Koester says that “The old Greek religion was a religion of city gods”, in which gods were the patrons of cities.  He says on pages 164-165 that “None of these cults would ever claim to be a world religion since the belief that deities were bound to particular holy places was still very much alive.”  But Koester narrates that people moved around and economics, politics, and science became increasingly universal, and so people were becoming dissatisfied with local deities.
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    In Christianity, Jesus dies and rises again, whereas it is not said in the myth of Osiris that Osiris was resurrected, but Osiris after his death goes to the realm of the dead to rule, while his son takes charge of this world.
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    Koester makes interesting points about the goddess Isis.  For one, he says that the woman in Revelation 12 resembles Isis, which stood out to me, as one who was raised in a denomination that tried to disassociate from the “pagan” elements of the “world’s” Christianity.  Second, according to Koester on page 189, Isis in Apuleius’ Metamorphoses 11.5.1-3 is treated as the “one and only god” and “ruler of the the universe” (Koester’s words).  As I look at the passage itself, there seems to be therein an acknowledgement that other gods exist, but there’s also an affirmation that Isis is “The single form that fuses all gods and goddesses” (the passage’s words).
  • Baptism of Pagan Practices (bythepen.me)
    Mount Carmel was previously a pagan site. In the Old Testament, we see that it was there that Yahwhey and Elijah took on Jezebel and the priests of Baal. Anti-Catholic conspiracy theorists eat this up, of course, but in reality, history has unfolded with Our Lord as the victor. This is just one of the several instances where that ancient serpent has been “crushed by the heel of Our Lady” – one of Christ’s most powerful tools.
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    there were bound to have been some parallels of Christian truth among pre-Christian beliefs and rituals. The early Christians were well aware of this and sometimes used it to their advantage in order to convert the pagans. In fact, St. Paul does this very thing in the Acts of the Apostles. I think of Paul as the father of the interpolation tactic described there. Unlike the Twelve, he was well educated in Hellenistic as well as Jewish law and religion, which is why I believe Christ chose him with a special purpose as “Apostle to the Gentiles”. He was a huckleberry who knew his stuff and how to use it to reach them.
  • Ancient Hellenistic Harbor Discovered in Acre, Israel – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
    An ancient harbor where warships may have docked 2,300 years ago has been discovered by archaeologists in the Israeli port city of Acre.The harbor, the largest and most important found in Israel from the Hellenistic period, was uncovered during archaeological excavations carried out as part of a seawall conservation project, the Israel Antiquities Authority said today. Among the finds were large mooring stones incorporated in the quay and used to secure sailing vessels, the IAA said.
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    The excavation will continue in those sections of the harbor that extend in the direction of the sea, the IAA said. The archaeologists will try to clarify if there is a connection between the destruction of the harbor and the Hasmonean uprising in 167 B.C., the destruction wrought by Ptolemy in 312 B.C. or some other event.
  • We owe a cock to Asclepius (ins2ition.wordpress.com)
    SO were the final, last Words said by Socrates.
    No one could help by then, Even Hippocrates.
    if YOU’VE said it once you’ve said One thousand times.
    I Don’t only say it because that line rhymes.
  • Live as the world wishes you to and accept all events: Stoic Philosophy (by Devin) (lvv4ublyth.wordpress.com)
    Stoicism was founded in Athens by Zeno in early 3rd century, it was originally taught by him at the Stoa Poikile. Another famous stoic is Marcus Aurelius, a famous roman emperor. The discipline of Stoicism teaches self-control as a means of defeating destructive emotions, which they believed were caused by errors in judgment and would not be felt by a true sage. Stoicism became the foremost philosophy among the leaders of Hellenistic and Roman society.
  • Pherecydes of Leros [Pherecydes of Athens] (vonfaustus.blogspot.com)
    Dionysus leading the Horae.
    [Day of Saturn + Hour of Mercury]
    Hermes I call, whom Fate decrees to dwell in the dire path which leads to deepest hell
    O Bacchic [Bakkheios] Hermes, progeny divine of Dionysius [Dionysos], parent of the vine,
    And of celestial Venus [Aphrodite] Paphian queen, dark eye-lash’d Goddess of a lovely mien:

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