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Early Christian groups and The real teachings of Jesus

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Sacrifice code       wfor0360
Sacrifice date       25 march 2009

Early Christian groups and The real teachings of Jesus

Early Christian groups

Some of the most famous Gnostic teachers and authors were:

- Apelles, disciple of Marcion and author of Syllogisms (proving the forgery of the Books of Moses) and the Revelations of the prophetess Philumene.

- Axionicus, Valentinian Gnostic of the Oriental school mentioned along with Bardesanes by Hippolytus.

- Barbeloites, worshiped Knowledge as Goddess Barbelo, "the First Virginal Invisible Spirit", first emanation of the Unknown Father, described in Allogenes, The Apocryphon of John, Melchizedek, Marsanes, The Three Steles of Seth, Trimorphic Protennoia and Pistis Sophia.

- Basilides, a Syrian Gnostic active in Alexandria around 117-161 CE. One of the most distinguished of the Gnostics, according to Hegel. Derived his doctrines from Aristotle, according to Hippolytus.

- A disciple of Menander of Antioch. He received "secret words" from the apostle Matthias. His son Isidore (author On the Grown Soul, Ethics and Expositions of the Prophet Parchor) became his successor.

- Carpocrates, around 110 CE, an Alexandrian Platonist using TheSecret Gospel of Mark as its initiatory document. The Carpocratians were radical communists who condemned private property as the source of all injustice.

- Cerinthus, around 100 CE, trained in "the Egyptian tradition", according to Hippolytus. His followers claimed he was the author ofThe Gospel of the Beloved Disciple, or The Gospel of John.

- Clement of Alexandria 150-215 CE. He calls the Gnostics "the true Christians". Born in Athens, he became the pupil of Pantaenus of Alexandria in 180 and became head of the Catechetical school in 190.

- Ebionites, or "Poor Ones", considered the original disciples of the historical Jesus, led by Peter and James in Jerusalem in the first century. The documents recovered at Nag Hammadi had been preserved and hidden by them. They repudiated Paul because Jesus had never told his followers to convert people from other religions.

- Elkesai, a prophet who appeared in Syria c.100 CE. The Elkesaites were a Gnostic Judaeo-Christian Baptist sect and like the Ebionites, they denounced Paul's deviation. Mani's father was a member of this sect.

- Gregory of Nyssa 335-395 CE, one of the Cappadocians' Fathers, along with Basil (329-79 CE) and Gregory of Nazianzum (329-391 CE), whose work continued to develop the Gnostic mystical philosophy of Origen.

- Heracleon, Roman Gnostic and disciple of Valentinus. Only a few quotations from his memoirs survive in the work of Origen and Clement.

- Mani, born in 216 CE in Babylon (the Hebrew quarter of Cairo, Egypt), founded a Gnostic religion which soon spread across the Roman Empire.

- Marcellina, a female Valentinian Gnostic and follower of Epiphanes. She introduced his teachings to Rome around 130 CE, bringing with her painted icons illuminated with gold representing Jesus, Pythagoras, Plato and Aristotle.

- Marcion, born in Pontus in Asia Minor, where his father was a bishop. He appeared in Rome around 140 CE and by the end of the second century his Church "filled the whole world". Hippolytus traced Marcion's teaching to Empedocles. Marcion rejected the Old Testament and parts of the Gospels that he regarded as falsified. It is widely accepted tha t it was Marcion's criticisms that spurred the creation of the first Literalist canon.

- - Marcus, around 170 CE, from Asia Minor or Egypt. By the late second century his teachings had reached as far as the Rhone valley. His wisdom was received by revelation of the Pythagorean Tetraktys, which appeared to him in female form.

- Naasenes, a sect which existed under the reign of Hadrian (110- 140 CE). The Naasenes derived their name from Naas, meaning "serpent", and believed that every temple (naos in Greek) was secretly dedicated to this divinity. (Note: all the temples in ancient Greek and Hellenistic world worshiped the onphalus, that was very evidently a Shiva lingam with the snake coiled around it - illustrations are available). According to the Church Father Hippolytus, the Naasenes "constantly attend the mys teries called those of the Great Mother, supposing especially that they behold by means of the ceremonies performed there the entire mystery".

- Origen (185-254 CE). Born in Alexandria, studied Pagan philosophy with Plotinus under Ammonius Saccus, he preached reincarnation and apocatastasis, the ultimate salvation of all. He became a pupil of Clement and castrated himself in accordance with Matthew 19:12 (a practice that was also followed by the cult of Cybele, as illustrated in our next section about the ancient pre-Christian religions).
He established a school in Ca esaria in 231. He was posthumously condemned as an heretic by the Roman Church in the 5th century.

- Ptolemy (around 140 in Rome), disciple of Valentinus, founder, along with Heracleon, of the Italic school of Valentinus. He was the first exegete of the fourth gospel and his letter to his disciple Flora is still preserved.

- Saturnilus (Saturninus) of Antioch, a contemporary of Basilides.

- Tertullian (160-220 CE). Born in Carthage, he became a lawyer in Rome; converted to Christianity around 195, he became a Gnostic in 207.

- Valentinus (100-180 CE), Alexandrian Gnostic poet, wrote The Gospel of Truth found at Nag Hammadi and founded a school in Rome around 140. Valentinian Christianity spread to all parts of the Roman world such as Gaul, Rome, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Carthage and eventually Mesopotamia.

The influence of Greek and Hellenistic philosophers, who had already been influenced by the Indian gymnosophists from the times of Persians and Alexander the great, was very strong in all the ancient world and is considered the origin of western civilization. Jews also had a close connection with them because the ten Lost Tribes of Israel had been deported to the region called Arachosia (south Afghanisthan and Kashmir) after the destruction of Jerusalem, before Jesus' birth. We will discuss more about this later. Now we will just mention the example of Philo Judaeus (25 BCE-50 CE), an Alexandrian Jew whose works demonstrate the thorough interpenetration of Greek philosophy and Jewish traditions among Hellenized Jews. Philo's thought is dominated by the idea of the Logos. In the history of ideas he is an important bridge b etween the Greek philosophical tradition and later Christian Gnosticism.

Some of the other secret traditions that have somehow preserved their documents are:

- the Bogomils ("Lovers of God"), who around 872 were forced to settle in Macedonia. Despite intense persecution the Bogomils retained a power base in Serbia and Bosnia until the 15th century. At the anti-Bogomil council of 1211 the Bogomils were accused of performing "unholy mysteries like the H ellenic Pagan rites".

- the Cathars ("the pure"). As a synonym for initiates it can be traced back to the Orphic Gold Leaves around 400 BCE. Between 1150 and 1300 Catharism was the dominant religion of southern France and northern Italy (where they were known as Patarenes). The Cathars were vegetarian, had both male and female priests and believed in reincarnation. Like Simon and Marcion they rejecte d the Old Testament God as a tyrant. They called the Church of Rome "a den of thieves ... the harlot of which we read in the Apocalypse."

The real teachings of Jesus

Jesus Christ was born a Jew, and his preaching was destined to the Jews only (Matthew 15.24: "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel)", meant to correct the mistakes of their understanding about God, and not to other peoples.

The idea of a Christianity seeking to convert other peoples to its faith and to exert a political control over the world did not come from Jesus, who was totally contrary to these things, as we see from many quotes even from the Church's Gospels.

Christianity as we know it today has nothing to do with Jesus' teachings, and in fact it is quite opposite to what Jesus taught. So much that several commentators and historians have noted that, if Jesus were to appear again today, he would be disgusted by Christianity.

Let us now make a brief list of the original teachings of Jesus as still contained in the "authorized" Gospels (i.e. King James' version): (note: Mt stands for Matthew, Mk for Mark, Lk for Luke, Jh forJohn) :

- only preach to Jews and never attempt to convert any other people from other faiths (Mt 15.24)
- carefully and faithfully follow the Hebraic law (Mt 5.17)
- be completely non-violent even to aggressors (Mt 5.39,42, 5.5, Mk19.18-23, Lk 6.27,36, 9.56); everyone is a child of God so people can show their love for God by loving one's neighbor
- be always peaceful, merciful and just, help others make peace (Mt 5.5,6,7,9,44)
- do not accumulate material assets (Mt 6.19, Mk 10.23, Lk 6.20, 6.24, 12.15)
- do not judge others (Mt 7.1, Lk 6.37,41)
- give charity and lend money and goods to everyone without expecting anything in return (Lk 6.30,35)
- strictly avoid hypocrisy and deceit, especially in the name of religion (Mt 5.13, 7.21, 21.13, 23.24-26, 29, Mk 7.6, 12.3,39-40, Lk4.23, Lk 6.41,46, 11.46,52, 12.1, 14.34)
- spiritual life is a private matter and does not need official representatives or religious authorities (Mt 6.9, 21.13, 23.8, Mk7.6, 11.7)
- there is no need of animal sacrifices or temples, because God only accepts love in the heart of His worshiper (Jh 4.23-24) or in "spirit and truth".

Jesus was especially critical of the Pharisees and scribes, who had claimed monopoly over religion and were actually hypocrites, subtracting money and assets from poor people, imposing difficult rules to others (but not following themselves), who say "Lord, Lord" but do not follow God's instructions and rather teach invented doctrines to innocent and ignorant people by passing them off as God's orders (Mk 7.6). Therefore Jesus curses them, "woe to you! You have taken away the key of knowledge, you entered not yourselves and hindered those who wanted to enter" (Lk 11.52). He demanded that the truth be openly given: "there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known" (Lk 12.2)

These false priests "lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and you yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers" (Lk 11.46).

The same tendency was obviously shown by some of Jesus' first followers, as he tells them, "why do you call me lord, lord, and do not do the things which I say?" (Lk 6.46).

He also warned them, "beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Lk 12.1), "if salt loses flavor, how will it be seasoned? it is neither fit for the land not yet for the dunghill, but men cast it out" (Lk 14.34).

The main instruction to Jesus to his disciple was to go around Palestine and in other places where the Jews lived, heal people by imposing their hands, and preach truth and nonviolence. He recommended not to disturb people from other religions, because "he that is not against us is for us" (Lk 9.50).

So how did Christianity change so much and become exactly the opposite of what it was supposed to be?

The first two people to betray Jesus' orders and hijack his movement were Peter and Paul, still considered the "main apostles" by the Church.

Jesus knew Peter well. He rebuked him when Peter attacked a soldier with a sword, cutting off his ear, when Jesus was arrested. Since the arrest night was the official end of Jesus' career as a preacher in Palestine, one should wonder why Peter was still so violent and aggressive, in spite of all Jesus' preaching about non violence all along. It seems then that Peter's nickname as Cepha, "stone", must have referred to his stubbornness and dullness. Shortly before his arrest, Jesus had predicted that Peter would betray him three times before the morning, and the Gospel confirms that it actually happened.

From other original documents (which were not approved by the Church) we learn that Peter was also very envious of the prominent position of Mary Madgalene among Jesus' followers.

After Jesus' crucifixion, Peter fled from Jerusalem and the Church says he went to Rome, where he was killed after several years. Peter is famous for having killed two members of his Christian community, Ananias and his wife Sepphira, because they had not given him the entire price of their own property that they had sold when they joined the community.

A fisherman by birth, Peter appropriated all the wealth of the people who joined his Christian group, and lived enjoying life at the most, even against the most basic rule of vegetarianism that was rigorously followed by all members of the community. Once in Joppe Paul caught him gorging on a big plate of fish and meat, including pork meat that was doubly forbidden by Jesus and by the Hebrew law, too. Questioned about his behavior, he replied that he had received a special "order" from an angel who had explained him that he was not an ordinary man from the mass of people, but a privileged leader, so the rules of ethics didn't apply to him.

The other "main apostle" of the Church is Paul.

His real name was Saul, a "Pharisee son of Pharisees". He considered the teachings of Christ as revolutionary and dangerous for the political control of the state. As we have already mentioned, Hebraism was mainly organized as a state religion (theocracy) to control people with fear of a revengeful and jealous God, and subject them to the absolute authority of the corrupted priests.

Since these corrupted priests of Jesus' times could not stop Jesus' preaching based on non-violence, truth, simplicity and love, and on the complete separation between spirituality and political power, Saul of Tarsus was assigned to the task of infiltrating into the group of Christ's followers and hijack their spiritual movement.

Paul was an educated Jew of the priestly class, and heavily Romanized. He had assumed the name of Paulus, a Roman name meaning "small", and claimed "Roman citizenship" to get protection from Roman soldiers. It is common knowledge that in the beginning Saul was a great enemy of Christ and his early followers; he had many of them arrested and executed simply because they refused to give up their spiritual life. But the more Christians he had arrested and killed, the more people seemed to be interested in the new sect.

Finally he joined the community, telling the gullible ignorant neophytes that he had seen a miraculous vision and heard the voice of Jesus speaking to him from the sky while he was traveling to Damascus. The voice kindly asked him not to persecute Christians any more - rather, to lead them.

So Saul, from active persecutor of Christians, had suddenly decided to become a Christian himself, and moreover, he wanted to become the main leader of the Christians and give them a new doctrine.

He claimed that he was the only genuine representative of Jesus and everybody should follow him only.

Of course the leaders of the community didn't believe him and they kicked him out, but Paul was very expert in politics and had the full support of the Pharisee priests and the Romans. Within a few years James was killed, John and other leaders arrested and the other original followers scattered in hiding. However, he realized he had made a bad name for himself in Jerusalem by fighting against the early Christians, so he started traveling around and advertising himself as a great apostle, playing politics and changing the original teachings so that he could get more followers. Thus, Paul embarked on his creation of a "new christianity" based on an active campaign of conversions of "heathens", the establishment of a
material and political power for religious authorities, and the creation of a priestly class as opposed to the common congregation.

The changes introduced by Paul were:

1. Jesus had gone to heaven, but he would be coming back very soon, within the lifetime of his contemporaries. This "second coming" of Jesus would announce the "end of the world", a "universal" judgment day and a new mystical kingdom of God when all the dead people would come back to life. To prepare for this day, the world had to be "purified" and everyone had to become "Christian" (a totally new idea, because until then the followers of Jesus simply considered themselves as Jews). The more "Christians" one would make, the more merits he would get for the "judgment day".

2. Non-Jews could and should become Christians and there was no need for them to follow the Hebrew laws; furthermore, non-Jews who became Christians could also keep whatever beliefs they wanted or were attached to, and "integrate" them into their "new" Christianity.

Since the original community of Jesus' followers (who rejected Paul) did not accept non-Jews, Paul could create a larger movement with his "newcomers".

3. All the Christian communities must form a "political" union or "centralization of power" (allowing better political control), with the nomination of "bishops" who became the official and legal authorities of each community (while previously all members were considered equal).

4. There must be an "official" doctrine or written collection of teachings for the new Christianity. So Paul collected whatever writings he found useful, and personally wrote a great number of letters with his peculiar teachings, which are today considered by the Church as a fundamental part of the Bible.

5. There are no strict ethical rules to be followed by Christians. Paul taught that one could actually eat and drink anything, possess money and properties, work in the government, have a regular job etc (while the original followers of Jesus were only serving as healers and physicians without asking for any fees, just accepting food and shelter).

6. Not all Christians are same. While Jesus welcomed everyone on the same level of brotherhood, Paul believed in slavery and social oppression. A slave named Onesimus, who heard that the Christians were sheltering the poor and oppressed, ran away to Paul and Paul turned him in to his former owner, to sure death as this was the punishment for runaway slaves. Also women should never get any respect or position in society; they can only serve men: "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence." (1 Tim.2:11-15)

Thomas Paine writes: "Boulanger, in his Life of Paul, has collected from the ecclesiastical histories, and from the writings of fathers, as they are called, several matters which show the opinions that prevailed among the different sects of Christians at the time the Testament, as we now see it, was voted to be the word of God. The following extracts are from the second chapter of that work. "The Manicheans, who formed a very numerous sect at the commencement of Christianity, rejected as false all the New Testament, and showed other writings quite different that they gave for authentic. The Cerinthians, like the Marcionists, admitted not the Acts of the Apostles. The Encratites, and the Severians, adopted neither the Acts nor the Epi stles of Paul. Chrysostom, in a homily which he made upon the Acts of the Apostles, says that in his time, about the year 400, many people knew nothing either of the author or of the book. ... The Ebionites, or Nazarines, who were the first Christians, rejected all the Epistles of Paul and regarded him as an impostor."

Since in Palestine nobody was willing to listen to him, Paul moved on. He first converted a Roman centurion called Cornelius, thus defying the other Christian Jews, then he traveled in Turkey, Syria, Macedonia, Greece, always clashing with the Jewish communities in the various cities he visits and collecting a following of Greeks and Romans. In the meantime, from 40 to 70 CE Palestine revolted against the Roman empire, ending in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.

The surviving Christians took shelter in nearby cities like Damascus, Alexandria (the second largest city after Rome) and other cities in Egypt, Antioch, smaller villages, and even in the desert. Some also went to Rome and started small communities where they gave shelter to the oppressed and suffering, healed the sick, fed the poor, welcomed the women on an equal level, and celebrated rituals by singing and dancing. In this regard, we may add that the tradition described in the Bible as "prophetizing" was nothing more than singing and dancing, and sometimes preaching. Very rarely the "prophets" of the Bible foretell future events, however since some of them used to curse people with all kinds of disasters, the word prophet took the specific meaning it still has today.

Paul finally moves to Rome in 58 CE.

At that time Rome was the most important city of the world, the capital of a vast empire stretching from Egypt to England, from Spain to Turkey and Greece, with 50 million citizens. Rome was very rich, corrupt, and ruthless. Its culture was highly militarized, based on slavery and politics, but nonetheless it tolerated many different philosophies and cults, provided they accepted the superior authority of the government.

When Paul arrives in Rome, he clashes with the small Jewish and Jewish Christian communities there and starts his political preaching. The Roman government, that had tolerated and helped Paul in Israel because his schemes served the purpose of controlling the Jewish rebels, now finds that Paul is creating more problems than solutions, right in the capital city, and eventually, in 67 CE, they have Paul arrested and executed.

The new Christians led by Paul are intolerant, aggressive, clash with everybody, and find themselves quite at ease in the ruthless Roman society.

Crucifixion was a very common punishment for those who rebelled against the government, and not against the Christians in particular. In the Colosseum the Romans watched the gladiators, including the untrained commoners taken from the jails, such as ordinary criminals and beggars, killing each others with the help of ferocious animals, and at the same time ate bread distributed by the emperor, as well as other foods they used to bring along. They drank wine loaded with resins and lead, smoked opium, and many vomited freely to get their stomachs empty again for more food and wine. The circus was also teeming with prostitutes of all ages and sexes, and bookmakers who accepted bets on the fighting matches.

In Rome children and women were the private property of the father/husband, who had all legal rights to punish and kill them (or sell them into slavery) without being accountable to anyone else, including the government. Girl children were very often killed at birth or thrown on the street, where slave merchants rescued them and employed them for prostitution as early as at 5 or 6 years of age.

Only boys would get an education, but in schools they were mercilessly punished; the "discipline" was the name of a whip normally used by teachers to "train" their students to obedience.

In Rome, Paul finds many good opportunities for preaching and converting new recruits. On one side, the other Christian communities attracted people with their compassionate and liberal attitude, but keeping non-Jews ("Gentiles") at a certain distance, requiring people to follow the Jewish prescriptions and basic philosophy in order to join their community. On the other side, Paul gave his new recruits full membership in his community (except for women who were not allowed to teach) even when they kept their old beliefs and habits.

Furthermore, Paul encouraged his followers to fight against the "heathens", which gave frustrated people the opportunity to vent their anger "with holy religious blessings". The number of Paul's followers grew especially with aggressive and intolerant people, who preached the imminent end of the world and tried to "purify" the city by all means.

In spite of the noisy propaganda of the Church about its "martyrs", the number of Christians who were actually arrested and executed by the Roman government was extremely small, and never because of their religious beliefs. In fact, in Rome there was a great number of other religious groups who had very similar theologies and philosophies and, as long as they kept quiet and did not disturb society, the government allowed them to conduct all their rituals and traditions freely. However, Christians were often a social nuisance, and in fact many of them were arrested because they had committed other crimes, like arson, social disturbance, rebellion (of slaves), insulting government authorities etc, which they sometimes did openly and defiantly (and quite annoyingly), claiming to be the "chosen people" and the "only depositories of salvation".

Even those emperors who are described by the Church historians as the "worst persecutors" of Christians were actually extremely tolerant as a general policy, a very necessary quality at the head of an empire where hundreds of different civilizations and ethnic groups lived together, each with their own beliefs, traditions and cults.

Besides, the Romans were not sophisticated torturers as the apologists of the "martyrs" would us believe. Most of the horrifying stories of the "persecutions" were actually created by writers who had been trained in the diabolical and morbid codification of torture developed by the Christian Inquisition, unparalleled in the history of mankind. Some claiming to be Christians may have ended up arrested for stealing, begging or other illegal activities and the Romans didn't keep people in jails... the "antisocial elements" were either sold into slavery, sent to dig salt, minerals and coal in the government's mines or to row ships.

For a brief period in Roman history, criminals were used for the peculiar entertainment enterprise called the Colosseum. However, we must note that the overwhelming majority of the people who died in the Colosseum were professional gladiator slaves and convicted criminals. The Church would make us think that the Colosseum was built specifically to slaughter Christians, and "millions" of them were killed there. This is a shameless lie. From the beginning of Christian preaching with Paul, in 58, until the reign of Constantine in 306, the number of Christians jailed and executed for treason, arson, mendicity, rebellion (including the runaway slaves) and similar crimes has been estimated in not exceeding 2,000 people, of whom only a few were killed in the Colosseum. If we compare these numbers of people killed and methods of punishment in ancient Rome with the numbers of people killed and the methods of punishment under the Christian rule, we will see the extent of the impudence of the Church supporters and the bias of their presentation.

Emperor Nero, a disciple of the philosopher Seneca, reigned from 54 to 68 CE.

In July 64 there was the famous fire in Rome, that destroyed many houses of the common people, built in wood. The Church maintains that Nero himself had the fire started in order to get a pretext to persecute the Christians, falsely accusing them of arson.

Arthur Drews, in The Legend of St Peter, writes that in reality the Neronian persecution never occurred. It is a fiction of the Church fabricated by a 5th century disciple of Bishop Martin of Tours (The Chronicle of Sulpicius Severus). Neither the (numerous) early Christian writers nor the Jewish historian Josephus say nothing about any persecution of Christians under Nero, though Josephus is not slow to describe him as "acting like a madman" who "slew his brother, and wife, and mother."

In fact it is very likely that the followers of Paul must have had a hand in the fire, since many Christians showed a strong inclination for arson in "purification of the world": in his writings, Augustine boasts of having torched a synagogue, and history records a very long list of examples of Christian fanatics torching and destroying libraries, temples and schools of "heathens", and later, when no more heathens could be found, burning all dissenters within Christianity, called heretics and witches. Celsus stresses the obsession of these Christians with the "purifying fire": "They (Christians) postulate, for example, that their messiah will return as a conqueror on the clouds, and that he will rain fire upon the earth in his battle with the princes of the air, and that the whole world, with the exception of believing Christians, will be consumed in fire."

The emperors Vespasian and Titus leave the Christians alone, but in 90 CE Domitian, alarmed at the growing numbers of the agitators, who even converted his cousins Flavius Clemens and Flavia Domitilla, tries to curb the problem and has some leaders arrested and executed. The subsequent emperors seemed to show great tolerance towards Christians, and in fact Nerva, Hadrian, Antoninus the Pious, Caracalla, Heliogabalus, Alexander Severus, Gordian, Philip Aradius and Maximinus of Tracia did not take any measure to condemn or repress them. Commodus even had Christians in his court. Traianus (98- 117) and Marcus Aurelius (161-180) arrested and executed some of the leaders of the Christians, and Settimius Severus (193-211) forbid forced conversions to Christianity. Decius (249-251) tried to separate the simple minded from the political agitators by requesting all Christians to swear allegiance to the government of Rome, and punished the rebels.

Lucius arrested the bishop of Rome Pius I because the bishop had publicly insulted him, believing that the emperor was interested in a prostitute that the bishop was attached to.

The last "persecution" of the Christians is under Diocletian (284- 305) who faced the rebellion of Christians in his own army (the Legion of Thebes) and gets angry because they had set fire to his own palace.

However, not all Christians were like the intolerant and aggressive followers of Paul. Many still preached and practiced Jesus' teachings, giving shelter to runaway slaves and destitute people and welcoming women who found in their communities extraordinary opportunities of dignity, position and service, unparalleled in Rome's chauvinistic patristic society. Women were accepted on the same level of men until 394 CE, with the Nimes synod, when they were forbidden to celebrate rituals in all communities.

The number of Paul's followers grew mainly by other means. One of Paul's early followers and successors, Anacletus, went as far as preaching that Christians could have sex without restrictions (in the name of "brotherly love" or "love feasts" -- called agape) in order to get more followers. Anacletus (76-88) made himself the first "bishop" of Rome after eliminating Linus (67-76), who in turn had eliminated Priscilla (a woman), the first leader of the earliest Christian community in Rome.

Clemens I (88-97), the next bishop of Rome, created the "priests" by establishing them as a special class over the common Christians, with special privileges and position; until that time there were no priests, everyone was living in community on the same level and everyone was celebrating all the functions without discriminations. Evaristus (97-105) went a step further by prescribing a distinctive shaving for the priests, who could be recognized immediately from the mass of the people.

After Evaristus, Alexander (105-115) was elected at the age of 20, inaugurating a long tradition of unbridled sex among bishops and popes, so much that Telesphorus (125-136, after Sixtus I, 115-125) became famous for having raped the seven virgin priestesses of Vesta, a roman Goddess, by breaking into that temple at night (a feat he liked to boast about). Many stories were told about his pride about his sexual prowess and other ruthless activities, but they do not deserve to be told in details, just like so many other popular details about his successors.

We will only say that among the first 30 bishops of Rome, generally called popes like all other senior leaders of Christianity in all cities, there were many notorious criminals, recognized as assassins and rapers even by the Church historians. Many accumulated huge amounts of personal money and property by exploiting converts, many were strangled or poisoned. Most of them survived in charge only very briefly, as their position was very coveted because of its material advantages.

Several bishops were even regular worshipers of other religions, against their own preaching. Many kicked out their wives and children, both "legitimate" and "illegitimate", either to take new women or homosexual lovers, all the while condemning sex as the worst sin. To react against this blatant contradiction, some Christians performed excesses of penance and especially denial of the body: they declared that even taking a bath was sinful because it involved touching one's body, so much as a common saying was created, "smelling like a saint". Many went as far as castrating themselves (like Origenes) directly or by having someone else perform the operation.

In the year 300 CE, Rome was so troubled by Christians that the emperor Constantine decided that it was more useful for him to make friends with Christians than trying to oppose them. Constantine found that the number of Christians in Rome had grown in the army, too, and that the new converts were faithful only to their religious leaders.

Such leaders were aggressive, determined, and ruthless, fighting each other for power and profit: he thought they might just be the political allies he needed to prevail over his own rivals at the top. Probably he was also sympathetic with them as his own methods were quite ruthless, too: as everyone knew, he had strangled his own wife, his father in law (former ally), his brother in law and his own son, because of political reasons.

Constantine made an agreement with the bishop Milziades, and with the edict of Milan (313 CE) he established Christianity as an official religion and gave some authority to the leaders of the Church. Constantine never renounced to his traditional title of "Pontifex Maximus", or supreme head of the Roman cult worshiping the State. Constantine actually never became a Christian (he was never baptized), nor wanted the Roman Empire to become Christian. It is very important to understand this point.

All Roman emperors were called Pontifex Maximus because they incarnated the sacredness of the political power. Rome had no specific religion: the only true religion of Romans was the worship of the State in the form of material power, conquest, law and order. Romans also worshiped their ancestors as those who had lived for the benefit of the State, the equivalent of the "saints" of later Christianity.

More than a religious figure, the Pontifex Maximus was a political figure, a supreme representative of the material mysticism of the Roman State. In the same way, the pope in Rome was (and still is) called Pontifex, or Pontiff. His position was (and still is) not so much a religious position, but a political figure, a kind of "head of state" or representative (Governor) of "Christ's kingdom" on earth.

Therefore Christianity did not develop as a religion: it was a political entity, a Nation, that had a capital city in Rome, ambassadors to other kingdoms, enormous properties and its own independent laws, mostly centered around the conquest or domination of the entire world.

Christianity as we know it was originated after Constantine, a duplicate of the materialistic cult and mentality of Rome, gradually losing more and more any connection with the original teachings of Jesus and the cultural and religious background of Hebraism.

Constantine remained the emperor and at the same time he clarified his supreme authority over the Christians in order to utilize them in the service of the State and specifically in a war he was going to fight. He made clear that he was above all the bishops and he could give them orders. In fact, the emperors were the ones who called and presided the Church councils, and appointed and removed bishops, for hundreds of years.

However, the emperor soon had to repent of his decision of giving so much recognition and importance, because it became apparent that by so doing, he had irreparably compromised the law and order of the empire, and especially in Rome. The Christians had become totally uncontrollable and their factions multiplied, fighting each other to get more and more power, and creating more and more social unrest. Besides, the Christians were openly going on a rampage by killing and destroying all the other cults, temples and worshipers.

Here is the chronological order of the events by which Christianity established itself in the Mediterranean area:

v 314, Immediately after its full legalization, the Christian Church attacks the Gentiles: the Council of Ancyra denounces the worship of Goddess Artemis as "demoniac".

v 324, Emperor Constantine declares Christianism as the only official Religion of the Roman Empire and gives special powers to the Christian clergy, including exemption from taxes and from court judgements.

In Dydima, Minor Asia, the Christian mob sacks the Oracle of the God Apollo and tortures the pagan priests to death. They also evict all the Gentiles from Mt. Athos and destroy all the local Hellenic Temples.

v In 325 Constantine calls the Council of Nicea (Bitinia) to try to control the situation, but without much result.

v 326, the Christians destroy the Temple of the God Asclepius in Aigeai of Cilicia and many Temples of the Goddess Aphrodite in Jerusalem, Aphaca, Mambre, Phoenice, Baalbek, etc.

v In 330 the emperor finds that the Christians are not going to be controlled by any means and they have turned Rome into a big mess. So he gives up Rome, moving to Constantinoples, or Byzantium, to build a new city that may be under his control. Rome remains under the control of the local bishop, who becomes the highest political power.

v 330 to 335, Constantine sacks many pagan Temples of the Mediterranean to decorate Nova Roma (Constantinople), the new capital of his Empire. He orders the execution by crucifixion of "all magicians and soothsayers", including the neoplatonist philosopher Sopatrus.

v 341, emperor Flavius Julius Constantius persecutes "all the soothsayers and the Hellenists". Many Gentile Hellenes are either imprisoned or executed.

v 346, New large-scale persecutions against the Gentiles in Constantinople. Banishment of the famous orator Libanius accused of being a "magician".

v 353, An edict of Constantius orders the death penalty for all kind of worship through sacrifices and "idols".

v In 353 CE Constant II, under the pressure and blackmailing of the Christians, established the death penalty for all those who disobeyed the priests, and of course this law included all those who wanted to worship according to the ancient Religions.

v So all those who refused to become faithful servants of the Christian priests or to be forcibly converted fled in the millions out from the cities and populated areas, taking shelter in isolated places (pagis in Latin) and became known as "pagans".

All the ancient temples, libraries, holy places were destroyed all over the Roman empire, and millions of followers of other religions, together with scientists, philosophers, artists, mathematicians and scholars of all kinds, even from the Christian communities themselves (the moderate and scholarly, called "heretics") were massacred. This edict remained valid in the Church's laws until 1974, when Paul VI was forced to eliminate it from the legal system of the Vatican state after a campaign of human rights activists that stirred the public opinion.

One of the first writers of Christianity, Augustine the bishop of Hippo, (354-430), was obsessed by lust and formulated the "doctrine of the original sin". He speaks of a "just war" against heathens and justifies forced conversion of heathens with violence by using Luke 14.23 "And the master said to the slave, 'Go out into the roads and the fenced-in places, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.'" At the same time, he is strongly intolerant towards "heretic Christians": "The Emperor has a duty to suppress schism & heresy... Scripture gives no false information... Since God has spoken to us it is no longer necessary for us to think."

v 354, A new edict orders the closing of all the pagan temples. Some of them are turned into brothels or gambling rooms. Executions of pagan priests.

v 354, A new edict of Constantius orders the destruction of the pagan Temples and the execution of all "idolaters". First burning of libraries in various cities of the Empire. The first lime factories are being organized next to the closed pagan Temples: a major part of the holy architecture of the Gentiles is turned into lime.

v 357, Constantius outlaws all methods of Divination (including astrology).

v 359, In Skythopolis, Syria, the Christians organize the first death camps for the torture and executions of the arrested Gentiles from all around the Empire.

v 361 to 363, Religious tolerance and restoration of the pagan cults are declared in Constantinople (11th December 361) by the pagan Emperor Flavius Claudius Julian (called by the Church "the apostate", "one who gives up one's religion", although Julian never became a Christian).

v 363, Assassination of Emperor Julian (26th June)..

v 364, Emperor Flavius Jovian orders the burning of the Library of Antioch.

v 364, An Imperial edict (11th September) orders the death penalty for all Gentiles who worship their ancestral Gods or practice Divination ("sileat omnibus perpetuo divinandi curiositas"). Three different edicts (4th February, 9th September, 23rd December) orderthe confiscation of all properties of the pagan Temples and the death penalty for participation in pagan rituals, even privately.

v 365, An Imperial edict (17th November) forbids the non-Christian officers of the army to give orders to Christian soldiers.

v In 366 bishop Liberius died, and two factions elected each one bishop, Ursinus and Damasus. After heavy fighting around the streets of Rome the followers of Ursinus are killed by the other party (the fighting claimed at least 137 lives, with the body count in one place only, the church where they had retreated). Ursinus (366-367) is exiled by decree of the emperor, and Damasus (366-384) becomes the bishop of Rome.

v In 370 Ambrose, bishop of Milan, declares anathema against a law of the emperor Valentinian I that protected widows and orphans from being robbed and exploited by the priests, so the emperor had to withdraw the law that "put lowly and miserable people above the priests".

v 370, Emperor Valentinian orders a tremendous persecution of the Gentiles in all the eastern Empire. In Antioch, among many others, the ex-governor Fidustius and the priests Hilarius and Patricius are executed. Tons of books are burnt in the squares of the cities of the eastern Empire. All the old friends and supporters of Julianus (Orebasius, Sallustius, Pegasius etc.) are persecuted, the philosopher Simonides is burned alive and the philosopher Maximus is decapitated.

v 372, Emperor Valens orders the governors to exterminate all the Hellenes and all documents of their wisdom.

v 373, New prohibition of all divination methods. The term "pagan" (paganos, villagers) is introduced by the Christians to demean the non-Christians.

v 375, The temple of Asclepius in Epidaurus, Greece, is closed down by the Christians.

v In 377 the Church declares all the previous bishops of Rome as saints, irrespective of their behavior. However, the mass of people vaguely felt that some "moralization" of the Church was in order, and the "Patres" of the Church put their brains at work. John Chrysostom and Augustine, as well as other intellectuals of the community, found the solution: blaming women and Jews. Both categories were still a considerable slice of the Christian community, and they could be singled out as "evil creatures" on the basis of some fabricated theological dogmas. The first theologians therefore proceeded to explain to the masses that it was the Jews who had killed Jesus, therefore they were all evil and they deserved to be persecuted. Augustine, the most famous of those early theologians, proudly boasted that he had personally set fire to the synagogue of Kallinikon, and all bishops encouraged the faithful to isolate, persecute, rob and kill Jews wherever they lived.

The other easy scapegoats were women. Since one of the main problems of the Christian community was the number of sexual scandals, Augustine cleverly deducted that the problem was in women (not in men's lusty propensities).

In this period the Church started teaching that the sexual act is the worst of sins, that babies who died before being christened are condemned to eternal hell, because they were "impure due to their contact with their mothers". Still in 1861 the Catholic theologian Beleth was forbidding Christians to take dead pregnant (Christian) women into the church for burial: the dead baby had first to be cut out from the dead mother's womb to be buried outside the cemetery (i.e. thrown in the garbage dumps).

The Church prescribed first 3 days, then 30 days of sexual abstinence to laymen after their legal marriage, plus 3 days for each festive occasion (including 20 days before Christmas, 40 days before Easter etc), with extreme penalties for those who transgressed the law. This situation was due to worsen even more, as we will see later on, but only to "balance" the unrestrained and shameless sexual indulgence of priests and bishops who, on the other hand, remained "above all criticism" as a separate and unquestionable class, although they were actually the reason of the scandal and moral degradation, with their behavior.


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