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yonus

Christianity As A Sect In Judaism In The Early Time

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(salam) ,

If I were christian and I took a look at Islamic sects , I wouldn't find any differents with them because all of them believe in Allah , Muhammad is his messenger ,Quran is one , All of them pray toward Ka'ba ........ Etc .

And If I were muslim [ I am muslim ] and I took a look at chritianity sects , I wouldn't find any differents with them because all of them believe in God The Father , God the Son and God the holy ghost .

Regarding to Judaism , I have no idea about it's sects but I am sure they have same basic belief as well as Christianity and Islam .

So , If christianity was a sect in Judaism , then they believed in the basic belief of Jews ',didn't they ?

Another question quoted :

Suppose you could invite one of the original twelve apostles to your church this weekend. Can you imagine what it would be like to entertain Peter in your worship services? How do you think he would react to what he saw?

Would this apostle approve of your denomination's practices?

Or is it just possible that he would tell you that some of your most cherished beliefs were in error? How would you feel if he stood up and loudly proclaimed that your church was a promoter of heresy? What if he said that your religious practices were totally contrary to those of the primitive church formed immediately after the death of Jesus Christ?

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So , If christianity was a sect in Judaism , then they believed in the basic belief of Jews ',didn't they ?

I believe that the very early Christians were all observant Jews. They were led by James, who was Jesus's half-brother, and strictly observed Torah law. They just happened to believe that Jesus was the messiah (and, after he died, that he would very soon return and bring about world peace, restoration of the Davidic monarchy, return of the scattered exiles back to Israel, etc.).

Later, with Paul, Christianity became more of a gentile movement and left the Jewish fold.

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Thanks Maimonides ,

What was the Controversy between followers of Moses and followers of Jesus ?

What about the gospel , was it taught in the first church and how did followers of Moses view the gospel ?

What about the law , was it exactly same ?

We would like to see changes to know the goal of Jesus message .

Edited by yonus

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Thanks Maimonides ,

What was the Controversy between followers of Moses and followers of Jesus ?

What about the gospel , was it taught in the first church and how did followers of Moses view the gospel ?

What about the law , was it exactly same ?

I would have to defer to Ariella on these questions of early Jewish-Christian history. All I know is that the first 1-2 generations of Christians were observant Jews. There were tensions in the synagogues and I'm sure there were plenty of arguments, but the early ones stayed within the community and kept the mitzvot. Paul introduced the idea that Christians were not obligated to observe the Torah, which severed the "Jesus movement" from Judaism and turned it into its own religion.

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There were several things that led to the split, one of which was circumcision.

At the time of Jesus, about 1/10th -- 10 percent -- of the Roman Empire was Jewish. However, it had a difficult time growing because Roman men were very opposed to circumcision, and that alone was enough to stir up problems. Another problem was the strict monotheism of Judaism.

The evidence is that in the 50's CE, approximately 20 years after Jesus supposedly died, what became the Pauline movement started to dominate the Christian "church". As I recall, from fuzzy memory, somewhere between 50 and 60CE the entire Christian movement was excommunicated from Judaism. This is documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q266). There is a parallel between what is mentioned in 4Q266 and what James commanded of Paul in Acts -- that Paul repent, shave off all his hair, etc. (read Acts 15, I believe), and return to Torah Judaism. It's worth noting that Paul completely disappears AFTER the events where he is ordered to limit his teachings to the proper subjects, which means that Acts is very likely the last record of the Jewish part of the early Christian movement. From there, Christianity is dominated by the Pauline epistles, which deviate so strongly from normative Judaism.

To answer the question "What would the disciples do?", they'd leave the church immediately. Christianity simply is not a monotheistic faith, no matter how hard they try to claim it is. What Christianity has is a "pantheon of gods", the same as Romans. In that sense, they have a single "pantheon" with three "deities". That's the real nature of the "Trinity" and it's pretty obvious to anyone who approaches Christianity afresh.

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Thanks Ariealla,

Here are some documents :

According to Hans Conzelmann,

"The first Christians are Jews without exception. For them this is not simply a fact, but a part of their conscious conviction. For them their faith is not a new religion which leads them away from the Jewish religion" (History of Primitive Christianity, p. 37).

Rather, the Christians are both ethnic and spiritual Jews. Jesus is the Messiah, and the church is the true Israel.

"Since the Christians still know themselves to be Jews, they appear to have continued to participate in the Jewish worship in the temple and the synagogue. But this participation now has acquired a new sense. It documents the fact that the Christians hold to their membership in the chosen people and confess the God of Israel" (Conzelmann, p. 49).

Quran 42:13] He hath ordained for you that religion which He commended unto Noah, and that which We inspire in thee (Muhammad), and that which We commended unto Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and be not divided therein. Dreadful for the idolaters is that unto which thou callest them. Allah chooseth for Himself whom He will, and guideth unto Himself him who turneth (toward Him).

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Interesting thread.

Can we determine any significant stats from the era?

How many Jews did accept Jesus (pbuh) as the messiah? How many of them went along with Paul's version of christianity? How many went back to Torah Judaism after seeing what Paul was doing with the religion?

And what about this brand new group of Jews I'm hearing about; the guys who practiced Torah Judaism but accepted Jesus' (pbuh) messiahship? Did they all die off, follow Paul or return to regular Torah Judaism?

Edited by koroigetsuga

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Interesting thread.

Can we determine any significant stats from the era?

How many Jews did accept Jesus (pbuh) as the messiah? How many of them went along with Paul's version of christianity? How many went back to Torah Judaism after seeing what Paul was doing with the religion?

I don't know what good knowing any statistics would do. "Messiah" doesn't mean to us what it means to Christians.

Whatever the answer, it had to be vanishingly small as there is no record of him in any of our books. Even the scrolls from Qumran are silent as to who caused the conflict.

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Sounds like you've been reading too much Robert Eisenmann, Ariella, which no prominent scholar in the field that I know of takes seriously. Of course, while there's much we don't know, and a lot of this will be speculative, the idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls are a record of early Christianity is pretty far fetched, to put it lightly.

Edited by macisaac

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Wesley White says in his article :

Josephus describes how the Pharisees and the Sadduccees debated the concepts of fate, free will, and other issues over which they were at odds. Doctrinal differences were the order of the day in ancient Palestine.

In addition, the Jews living in other parts of the Roman Empire were influenced by Gnostic philosophies. Gnostic ideas were introduced in the Mediterranean lands in the first century B.C. Because of the Gnostic appeal to reason and secret knowledge, Hellenistic Jews felt they could accept these new ideas without being disloyal to the law of Moses. Thus, a variety of religious ideas and doctrines was freely circulating within Judaism.

When Christ began His ministry, He had to combat many of these false teachings. As pointed out by Charles Guignebert, a well-known Roman Catholic scholar, Jesus emphasized loyalty to God and His law and clarified how that loyalty was to be expressed. But He did not overthrow the law given at Mount Sinai.

In Guignebert's words,

"He did not come bearing a new religion, nor even a new rite ...Nor did he aim at changing either its creed or its Law or its worship. The central point of His teaching was the Messianic idea, which was common property to nearly all his compatriots as much as to him, and only his conception of it was his own" (Ancient Medieval and Modern Christianity, p. 44).

Jesus taught the Samaritan woman that "salvation is of the Jews." He dispatched His disciples to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He boldly proclaimed that He came to magnify the Law. Since the religious parties could not accuse Him of breaking the higher laws of God, they focused on his rejection of the traditions of the elders and his claims of being the Son of God. They had to manufacture evidence before they could condemn Him to death.

After Christ's resurrection, His disciples continued to remain within the fold of Judaism. The small community of believers was later called a sect by the Jews (Acts 24:5, 28:22), but it was still purely Jewish. Although their teachings were highly unpopular, day after day Christians went to the Temple to worship and to preach the Gospel (Acts 2:46-47, 3:1, 5:20).

The Jews in power seem to have tolerated their teachings until Christians began to attract large numbers of converts, including priests. The Temple officers, who were Sadduccees, wanted to kill the apostles not for their abrogation of Judaism but because they were stirring people up over the death of Christ.

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Or is it just possible that he would tell you that some of your most cherished beliefs were in error? How would you feel if he stood up and loudly proclaimed that your church was a promoter of heresy? What if he said that your religious practices were totally contrary to those of the primitive church formed immediately after the death of Jesus Christ?

I posted a reply to this topic. It was the second reply.

It put exactly the same points to Muslims as you have put here, to Christians.

The points I made were references to post in this forum.

That post has been deleted.

I suppose re-inventing your religious traditions and even composing new quotations from your prophet isn't something you like being highlighted. Though it would increasingly appear to be very necessary.

There seems little point in continuing discussions with people who can only cast insult, fabrication, and animosity yet refuse to tolerate any rebuttal other than with vitriol and censorship.

I can already hear you busily typing that the post was deleted because it insulted Islam.

The post made no insult of Islam at all.

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The difficult question ya brother surfinjo is this :

day after day Christians went to the Temple to worship and to preach the Gospel (Acts 2:46-47, 3:1, 5:20).

What is that gospel which was teaching something made jews agree with it ?

The Jews in power seem to have tolerated their teachings

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I suppose re-inventing your religious traditions and even composing new quotations from your prophet isn't something you like being highlighted. Though it would increasingly appear to be very necessary.

have heard [Edited Out] like this a thousand times; claims without proof are useless anyhow

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Continue The article :

The early Christians did not reject Judaism. They continued as its faithful supporters despite persecution from other Jews.

Some of the early followers of Jesus also lived outside of Palestine. The first conversions after the resurrection included Jews who were from far-flung areas of the Roman Empire (Acts 2). Christian communities of Greek-speaking Jews were soon established.

What did these Jewish Christians believe? Did they immediately begin to worship on Sunday, the supposed day of Jesus' resurrection, in place of the seventh day Sabbath?

Our only contemporaneous account is the book of Acts, which presents church history in barest outline form. M. Max B. Turner discusses several relevant points on this question in his essay in From Sabbath to Lord's Day: A Biblical, Historical, and Theological Investigation.

According to Turner, eight accounts of events that happened on the Sabbath can be found in Acts, but there is only one mention of an event that happened on Sunday. Acts describes Christian teachings, fellowship, temple worship, and growth of the Church, but nowhere is there evidence that the apostles instituted Sunday as the Christian day of worship. This is a rather startling admission from a scholar who supports Sunday as the Christian day of rest!

Christ's message was soon taken outside the realm of Jewish believers. After it was revealed to Peter that the Gentiles were to receive the Gospel, Peter, Paul, and other apostles began to preach the message to people who were not of Israelite descent. Note, however, that Paul and Barnabas typically gained Gentile converts who were already observing the Sabbath (Acts 14:1, 17:1-4).

A new controversy then arose. Were the Gentiles to enter, the new community of Israel through the ancient rite of circumcision? Were they to practice ritual observances?

A council in Jerusalem decided the matter. The Gentiles were to abstain from meats sacrificed to idols, from fornication, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. These were the four proscriptions found in Leviticus 17-18 which had applied to non-Jews living in Israel. Physical circumcision was not a requirement for those who wished to enter spiritual Israel, the Church.

The judgment of the apostles is stated in Acts 15:21, then repeated in verse 29 and Acts 21:25. These decrees were intended to smooth relations between Christian Jews and Gentiles--to make it possible for a mixed community of believers to remain in harmony.

The account in Acts shows that Paul and the Jerusalem apostles were in agreement over the Gentile mission. Later, James and the elders in Jerusalem asked Paul to take charge of four men who were going through purification rites to complete vows. Their purpose in doing so was to stop rumors that Paul disbelieved the law (Acts 21:21-26). James and the elders are presented in Acts as a mediating group between Jews who were zealous of the law and Gentile believers.

With respect to Paul's doctrines, an important point needs to be mentioned. As a result of ecumenism and efforts to free the New Testament of a perceived anti--Semitic bias, scholars have modified their view of Paul's teachings on the law over the past 30 years.

Now they speculate that Paul objected to Gentiles having to obey the law but not to Christian Jews subjecting themselves to rituals. The Paul of Acts

"never polemicizes against the law and often observes the requirements of Jewish ritual, including circumcision" (Shave J.D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, p. 167).

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Can someone please post a list of ALL the Jewish prophecies relating to the messiah.

I have heard christians on the "Jews for Jesus" forum claim that Jesus (pbuh) fulfilled over 300 prophecies relating to the messiah, so I would like to see for myself

Edited by koroigetsuga

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Can someone please post a list of ALL the Jewish prophecies relating to the messiah.

I have heard christians on the "Jews for Jesus" forum claim that Jesus (pbuh) fulfilled over 300 prophecies relating to the messiah, so I would like to see for myself

Seldom in the Hebrew scripture does it make an announcement this is about the Messiah. Often people read scripture and say this sounds like it is speaking of Jesus. So the claim is made to be prophecy fulfilled by Him. Now I will admit Christians are even more zealot to find Jesus in the OT then even Muslims finding scripture pointing to Mohammad.

Seldom do you find scripture like Daniel chapter 9 that specifically states it is about the Messiah. I find it interesting when reading a Jewish site listing the prophecies concerning the Messiah; I only find scripture Christians would say concern the 2nd coming of Christ. The Jews list prophecies referring to the Messiah who will rule and build the 3rd temple. Yet, they do not list any prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. The also don?t refer to Daniel which is obviously about the Messiah.

The real problem begins when we read scripture and ask how this was fulfilled. Sometimes a prophet told us things would happen and it seems to be unfulfilled. Here is an example. Read Haggai chapter 2 verses 1 thru 9. Then read Malachi chapter 3 verses 1 thru 5.

Haggai makes the claim the 2nd temple would be greater then the 1st. Now it is my understanding the 2nd temple paled compared to the original structure. Also the Ark of the Covenant resided in the 1st. The claim is also made God dwelled there. How could the 2nd temple?s glory be greater then the 1st?

Malachi said the Messenger of the Covenant, the one they desire, will suddenly come. This was stated during the time of the 2nd temple.

When were these fulfilled? Were the prophets wrong? If they were fulfilled who other then Jesus could have made these claims true? See what I mean. Are these prophecies and are they fulfilled by Jesus?

I found you a site claiming 365 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.

http://bibleprobe.com/365messianicprophecies.htm

And of course some to out do them. This site boast over 1000.

http://biblia.com/prophecies/

The question I have for you is how many prophecies does Jesus have to fulfill before you accept Him as The Messiah? Didn?t Mohammad say Jesus was the Jewish Messiah? Wouldn?t that be enough for you?

Please correct me if Mohammad did not say Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. I have thought this was a Muslim belief. If I am wrong, I would like to know.

Good luck on the huge task of checking all the claimed prophecies out.

I wish you Peace and Love from our Creator.

Edited by ShortOfDeeds

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Continue :

The End of the Apostolic Age

By this time, the apostolic age was rapidly drawing to a close. Historical events would shatter the mother church at Jerusalem, and Christianity would begin to take on a new character. By 70 A.D., James (the brother of Jesus), Peter, and Paul would all be dead. Jerusalem would be in total ruins. As the only living apostle, John was to be found in exile far from Palestine.

Following the death of James, Simon, who was a cousin of Jesus, had been unanimously chosen to be James' successor. Then, as the destruction of Jerusalem loomed frighteningly near, the entire Church fled to the nearby town of Pella.

After the Roman army razed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Christians returned to help rebuild the city. Two church historians, Eusebius and Epiphanius, tell us that the Church there remained under the control of converted Jews. The Church continued to exist peacefully in Jerusalem until the time of emperor Hadrian, with the kinsmen of Jesus playing an important role in it.

During the second Jewish war in 135 A.D., however, Jewish Christians were persecuted by the leader of the Jewish revolt. All racial Jews were subsequently expelled from Jerusalem by the Roman government. Thereafter, the church in Jerusalem was ruled by Gentiles, and other cities began to gain prominence as centers of Christian teachings.

It was about this time that Jewish Christianity became "stamped as heretical" (Conzelman, p. 134). Although these Christians held fast to the teachings of the apostles, they were seen as retaining a narrow and false legalism.

The weakening of the mother church in Jerusalem meant that there was no longer any one to decide on questions of doctrine. There was no apostle or prophet. The issue of which church could lay claim to having a true "apostolic succession" became a very important one.

At the beginning of the second century, most of the larger churches in major cities were autonomously ruled by local bishops, who had replaced the council of elders mentioned in Acts. Some of the more important bishops were from the churches mentioned in Revelation 2-3, as well as from Rome, which also had a long history of Christian fellowship. No single bishop had preeminence during the first two centuries of Christianity.

Nonetheless, the church at Rome was beginning to be held in high regard by the second century because of its supposed association with two apostles, Peter and Paul, its many converts, and its wealth.

The epistle to the Romans, written around 56 A.D., indicates a thriving primitive Christian community. Like many others, this congregation was first, composed of Jews, such as Priscilla and Aquila, who had been forced by civil authorities to leave Rome (Acts 18).

The Roman historian Suetonius tells us that in 50 A.D. emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome. The expulsion was due to their rioting over "the instigation of Chrestus." Historians consider this reference as an erroneous transcription of the name of Christ. The early Church in Rome was further decimated by Nero in 64 A.D. The influence of Jewish Christians had come to an end in the chief city of the empire.

Without the spiritual leadership of Jerusalem, the change in Christian beliefs was a fairly rapid one, arising predominantly in areas outside of Palestine.

"The ritual development of Christianity advances step by step ...It began with very simple practices, all taken from Judaism: baptism, the breaking of bread, the imposition of hands, prayer and fasting. Then a meaning more and more profound and mysterious was assigned to them. They were amplified, and gestures familiar to the pagans added ...It is sometimes very difficult to tell. exactly from which pagan rite a particular Christian rite is derived, but it remains certain that the spirit of pagan ritualism became by degrees impressed upon Christianity, to such an extent that at last the whole of it might be found distributed through its ceremonies" (Guignebert, p. 121).

For example, around 110 A.D. Gnostic followers of Basiledes began to celebrate a festival commemorating Christ's baptism on January 6 or 10. This festival was later worked into the Christian festal calendar as Epiphany, despite the fact that it was also the date of a pagan feast celebrating the birth and growth of light.

In the early second century vague references to observing the "Lord's Day"--Sunday--began to appear. Then the voices for Sunday worship grew more strident. Ignatius of Asia Minor and Barnabas of Alexandria both condemned Sabbath-keeping. Although considered Gnostic heresy, Marcion's anti-Sabbath views were widely promulgated throughout the churches. By 150, Justin Martyr clearly indicated that the day of the sun was the day of rest for Christians. Sunday worship had become a widely accepted practice among these people who professed to follow Christ.

Paganism began to be grafted into every aspect of Christian life. In Roman cemeteries, for instance, the figure of a young man carrying a sheep on his shoulder was a common theme of funerary art. A much later Christian tradition identified this figure as Christ the Good Shepherd (Robert Wilken, The Christians As The Romans Saw Them, p. 81). Another typical portrayal of Christ as the Shepherd was obviously modeled on a statue of Mercury carrying a goat. The earliest known mosaic of our Lord (240 A.D.) shows him with a disk or nimbus at the back of his head. Yet this was also a common pictorial representation of the sun!

By the end of the second century the Mass had taken shape.

"Based partly on the Judaic Temple service, partly on Greek mystery rituals of purification, vicarious sacrifice, and participation through communion in the death-overcoming powers of the deity, the Mass grew slowly into a rich congeries of prayers, psalms, readings, sermon, antiphonal recitations, and, above all, that symbolic atoning sacrifice of the `Lamb of God'..." (Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, p. 599).

Overcome by the society around it, the religion that was now known as Christianity threatened to fragment into scores of uninspired and misguided creeds. One writer counted 80 heresies circulating among these so-called Christians. Wave upon wave of new doctrine and heresy inundated the churches.

Montanists rushed to Roman authorities begging for persecution. The Roman proconsul Antoninus is famous for his scorn of these would-be martyrs:

"Miserable creatures! If you wish to die, are there not ropes and precipices?"

The Theodotians considered Christ only a man, while the Docetists believed He was a phantom. Other groups taught that the Christian was free to do anything he desired since grace covered all sins. It was a period of great religious confusion.

The Consolidation of Church Authority

But some of the churches launched a counteroffensive. The second and third centuries marked a time when the church became "catholic" (in the sense of what was universally accepted) in doctrine and solidified its power and authority. Beset by groups which claimed to represent Christ, the bishops in leading cities sought to protect their flocks by hammering out, a uniform dogma.

The "catholic" church became the standard-bearer of orthodox doctrines as opposed to heretical ones. In reality, few of these doctrines were actually based on New Testament teachings. Rather, they represented a synthesis of pagan, Gnostic, and popular church beliefs of the time.

The first meeting of bishops took place in the middle of the second century. A hierarchy of churches soon developed, with Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch acquiring the most power and the councils emerging as major decision-making bodies.

The controversy over when Passover was to be celebrated is a compelling example of how doctrines became catholic. Although the book of Acts describes Christians observing annual High Days such as Pentecost and the Day of Atonement (see Acts 2:1, 27:9), the bulk of the churches which professed to be Christian had rejected nearly every Old Testament holy day. Passover was the last to be retained according to the Jewish practice.

Irenaeus wrote that the celebration of this day among Western churches was changed during the bishopric of Sixtus of Rome (between 120-135 A.D., roughly the same period when the influence of the Jerusalem church waned). Thereafter, Christianity was divided as to whether Passover should be celebrated on a Sunday in honor of Christ's supposed resurrection, or on the 14th of Nisan in honor of His death.

At this time, all referred to the day as the Pascha. It was not, until centuries later that the day became known as Easter. (Note: The King James Version of Acts 12:4 incorrectly uses the word Easter for the Greek word "Pascha." Other translations render it "Passover." )

The churches of Asia Minor, particularly those mentioned in Revelation 2-3, continued to follow the New Testament observance of the 14th of Nisan. Melito, a bishop of Sardis, traveled to Rome to discuss the Passover and other topics with Anicetus, bishop of Rome. Although they did not agree, neither was willing to let a quarrel arise between them. Melito continued to follow the practice left by the apostle John, while Anicetus felt obligated to follow the practice established by the four presbyters before him.

Several more rounds of sharp dissension took place in what has become known historically as the Quartodeciman controversy. A new element in negotiating the dispute was interjected when the emperor Constantine made peace with Christians. He called the council of Nicea, which finally settled the questions regarding the Passover by decreeing that it was to be celebrated only on Sunday.

This edict was not well received by the Christians who kept the Passover. A group known as the Audiani made a separation in the church and were consequently banished by Constantine. In 341 Quartodecimans in general were condemned as heretics. Later laws by Theodosius I and Theodosius II subjected them to severe penalties and even capital punishment for their religious beliefs.

The final consolidation of catholic Christianity as a force in the Roman empire can actually be attributed to Constantine. Up to that time, believers had been sporadically persecuted by Roman emperors. In fact, during the second century, practicing Christianity in any form could be a capital offense. Intense persecution was especially common in Asia Minor during the late third and early fourth centuries.

After allegedly seeing a cross in battle, Constantine abruptly ended religious persecution. For the first time, a Roman emperor recognized catholic Christianity as an official state religion. In 321 Constantine passed a law making Sunday the official day of rest in the Roman empire. He also established the celebration of Christ's birthday on December 25, traditionally the feast of the sun god.

Under Constantine's protective wing, catholic Christianity experienced a period of mass conversion of pagans. This flood of pagans had a great impact on the catholic system of worship. New customs brought over from paganism included

"devotion to relics, the use of the kiss as a sign of reverence for holy objects, the practice of kneeling, the use of candles and incense, and an increased use of ceremonies patterned on those used in the imperial court" (Barrie Ruth Straus, The Catholic Church, p. 36).

Worship of angels, martyrs, and Mary also began to arise during the fourth century as new converts transferred to them some of the reverence they had felt for pagan deities. The converts believe that they could offer prayer to any of these personages, who would then make intercession for them. By the end of the fourth century, the catholic believers were not the bride of Christ as they claimed to be, but a fallen woman!

The New Sun Worshippers

The changes in the church over the first four centuries were bound by a subtle but. common thread: the incorporation of the symbols and imagery of sun worship. Though Christ was never referred to as a "sun" in the New Testament, the early church writers adapted the comparison in order to appeal to pagans. Tertullian, for example, urged pagans to worship the true Light and Sun, while strongly refuting the charge that Christians were sun worshippers.

By 150 A.D. professing Christians were praying toward the east. Clement of Alexandria claimed this was done because the birth of light came from the East and because some ancient temples existed there. The Apostolic Constitutions, an early document on church customs, stated that the church building and the congregation were to face the East (2, 57, 2 and 14).

A long-time sun worshipper, Constantine saw numerous similarities between catholic Christianity and sun worship. He made every effort to accommodate the two.

Why was sun worship so intriguing and influential a concept? To understand, we need to look at a cult that enjoyed an immense popularity in the Roman empire. Mithraism, the worship of Mithra the god of light, was brought to the empire by Roman soldiers. The first day of the week was held sacred to Mithra, and his followers celebrated his birth on December 25.

Around 150 A.D. Justin Martyr recognized the similarity between Christianity and Mithraism but maintained that these sun worshippers had imitated Christianity. Yet Mithraism was introduced in the Roman empire in the early part of the first century A.D., and converts to this cult spread throughout the civilized world just as quickly as did converts to Christianity. A number of the Roman emperors were followers of Mithra, with the cult of the Sol Invictus (the invincible sun) dominant in Rome and other parts of the empire from the second century A.D. Mithraism was a rival of Christianity, with the competition most intense during the third century.

In his condemnation of pagan sun worshippers, Tertullian described a Mithraic priesthood ruled by a "high pontiff" and made up of celibates and virgins, the partaking of consecrated bread and wine, and the climax of a ceremony ending with the ringing of a bell. He recognized the parallels between the sun cult and the Christianity of his day but refused to admit their common source.

What is historically interesting about Mithraism is that nearly every physical remnant of this religion was destroyed by Christians. After Constantine made Christianity a state religion, Mithraism was doomed. Christian mobs soon sacked and burned Mithraic temples and slew the priests. Intent on obliterating an ancient rival, church authorities turned a blind eye to the very same type of persecution that they had once endured. Believers went to great lengths to show their hatred of this cult. For example, in Rome the prefect Gracchus promised to destroy a Mithraic crypt to show his readiness for baptism.

"Nevertheless, the conceptions which Mithraism had diffused throughout the empire during a period of three centuries were not destined to perish with it ...Certain of its sacred practices continued to exist also in the ritual of Christian festivals and in popular usage" (Franz Cumont, Mysteries of Mithra, p. 206).

As historian Will Durant points out,

"Christianity was the last great creation of the pagan world" (Caesar and Christ, p. 595).

The alluring sights and sounds of ancient rituals were blended with Jewish monotheism and Greek philosophical thought. With its emphasis on brotherhood, probably no more appealing religion than Christianity has ever been presented to mankind. Yet it was never established by Christ!

As this massive apostasy from His teachings was taking place, what happened to the group labeled Jewish Christians? Part II will tell the fascinating story of how this small band of true believers survived the first four centuries. It will show how they remained faithful despite mounting persecution from Jews, professing Christians, and Roman authorities.

Written by: Wesley White

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Sounds like you've been reading too much Robert Eisenmann, Ariella, which no prominent scholar in the field that I know of takes seriously. Of course, while there's much we don't know, and a lot of this will be speculative, the idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls are a record of early Christianity is pretty far fetched, to put it lightly.

I'm not saying the Dead Sea Scrolls are a record of early "Christianity". I am, however, saying that they are a record of the Jewish community at that time.

As regards Eisenman, whenever someone insults me by likening me to someone else, I just have to find out more about that person. This is his website -- Robert Eisenman -- and entry on Wikipedia.

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I'm not saying the Dead Sea Scrolls are a record of early "Christianity". I am, however, saying that they are a record of the Jewish community at that time.

As regards Eisenman, whenever someone insults me by likening me to someone else, I just have to find out more about that person. This is his website -- Robert Eisenman -- and entry on Wikipedia.

Perhaps I was mistaken then. I'd assumed you were reading him as he's about the most well known authors propounding this view regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you don't know who Eisenman is, I'm wondering how much you've actually studied of the Scrolls.

Anyhow, what you stated was:

As I recall, from fuzzy memory, somewhere between 50 and 60CE the entire Christian movement was excommunicated from Judaism. This is documented in the Dead Sea Scrolls (4Q266).

4Q266, you mean the Damascus Document? So where exactly in there do you see any references to Christianity, much less a mass excommunication??

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Seldom in the Hebrew scripture does it make an announcement this is about the Messiah. Often people read scripture and say this sounds like it is speaking of Jesus.

Intriguing. Then where do the accusations that Jesus (pbuh) didn't fulfill all the prophecies come from. Surely there must be some sort of official list for them to say that.

Seldom do you find scripture like Daniel chapter 9 that specifically states it is about the Messiah. I find it interesting when reading a Jewish site listing the prophecies concerning the Messiah; I only find scripture Christians would say concern the 2nd coming of Christ. The Jews list prophecies referring to the Messiah who will rule and build the 3rd temple. Yet, they do not list any prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus. The also don?t refer to Daniel which is obviously about the Messiah.

I thought Daniel was not supposed to be a prophecy. I'm confused.

When were these fulfilled? Were the prophets wrong? If they were fulfilled who other then Jesus could have made these claims true? See what I mean. Are these prophecies and are they fulfilled by Jesus?

hmmm. I never thought about that

I found you a site claiming 365 prophecies fulfilled by Jesus.

http://bibleprobe.com/365messianicprophecies.htm

And of course some to out do them. This site boast over 1000.

http://biblia.com/prophecies/

Thanks for the links, I'll definitely check them out. The trouble that any lay person like me has is that I am not a biblical scholar. Hence I can't really say for sure if all of these prophecies are head on or misunderstood.

The question I have for you is how many prophecies does Jesus have to fulfill before you accept Him as The Messiah?

Here's the thing. I am muslim so to me it doesn't matter what anybody else's scripture says. The Quran has nothing like the Old Testament, where we take a previous religion's scripture and add it to our own. I see that as a strength because no one can then make any accusations of mistranslations/misinterpretations of anybody else's scriptures. My interest in the scriptures of other religions comes from the fact that I enjoy learning about what other people believe. But at the end of day, I know which religion I follow, and that is enough for me. All I need to know about Jesus (pbuh) is in the Quran.

Didn?t Mohammad say Jesus was the Jewish Messiah? Wouldn?t that be enough for you?

Please correct me if Mohammad did not say Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. I have thought this was a Muslim belief. If I am wrong, I would like to know.

Jesus (pbuh) was indeed a prophet, but that's where his role ended. By muslim standards he was not a part of God, or God himself, etc. He was just a man. Islamic monotheism is extremely absolute in this regard. So yeah we believe in him, but a very different version of him than the man found in Christianity.

Edited by koroigetsuga

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Intriguing. Then where do the accusations that Jesus (pbuh) didn't fulfill all the prophecies come from. Surely there must be some sort of official list for them to say that.

The Jews are correct that Jesus did not fulfill all the prophecies. I pointed out they are quick to list these which Christians believe will be fulfilled during the ?2nd Coming?. Here is a site listing some Messiah prophecies according to the Jews.

http://www.jewfaq.org/moshiach.htm

Notice they list Daniel 10 but not 9 which does announce it is about the Messiah.

I thought Daniel was not supposed to be a prophecy. I'm confused.

The Jewish link does explain why Daniel is NOT listed with the prophetic writings but the writings. I however do not buy their argument.

Here's the thing. I am muslim so to me it doesn't matter what anybody else's scripture says. The Quran has nothing like the Old Testament, where we take a previous religion's scripture and add it to our own. I see that as a strength because no one can then make any accusations of mistranslations/misinterpretations of anybody else's scriptures. My interest in the scriptures of other religions comes from the fact that I enjoy learning about what other people believe. But at the end of day, I know which religion I follow, and that is enough for me. All I need to know about Jesus (pbuh) is in the Quran.

I appreciate what you are saying. I came here only because of Maimonide?s thread allowing people to ask questions about Judaism. The answers he gave strengthened my faith. Reading other threads by Muslims caused me to question my beliefs and search deeper and again strengthened my faith. As you said the Quran is all for you. For me the denial of the crucifixion is too much for me to even consider the Quran. So for me I will stick with the Bible. I am considering buying the New Jewish translation of Hebrew scripture to give Jews a chance to show me the translation errors Christian have supposedly done.

I try not to belittle or ridicule others beliefs, but as others when reading threads get I worked up. I hope I have never offended you because this is not my intension. If I have ever offended you please forgive me.

I wish you Peace and Love from Our Creator.

Edited by ShortOfDeeds

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(Part 2)

As startling as it may sound, the religion the world knows as Christianity was not founded by Jesus Christ! Within the span of three hundred years, this religion had become a vast organization with a clergy presiding over rites taken from pagan mysteries and Judaism. It had borrowed the best elements of Greek philosophy and had formed a dogma appealing to human reason and emotion. This religious organization had become a powerful political force in the Roman Empire. But it was not the Church established by Christ!

"Contemplate the Christian Church at the beginning of the fourth century, therefore, and some difficulty will be experienced in recognizing in her the community of Apostolic times, or rather, we shall not be able to recognize it at all" (Charles Guignebert, Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Christianity, p. 122).

The congregations that adhere to the teachings of the apostles and their Jewish disciples are scattered and poor. They live in Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and possibly even in Rome, where they are nearly overwhelmed by the large churches filled with converts from paganism. In the first part of this series, you read how catholic Christianity rejected its Judaic heritage. Now let's look at some of the forces that influenced this repudiation.

Judaism in the Roman Empire

Jews were widely dispersed throughout the Roman Empire in New Testament times. Because Judaism had a long history as a religion, the Romans allowed the Jews to continue their practices. Julius Caesar granted them the right to observe the Sabbath and to meet in synagogues, exemption from military service, and the freedom to follow their own laws.

Outside of Palestine, Jews were allowed to exist as independent communities of resident aliens within larger cities. They were subject to their own political structure as well as to that of the Roman Empire.

In New Testament times, probably as many as 5-7 million Jews lived in the Roman Empire, with roughly a million in Egypt, another million in Syria, and close to one million in Palestine. At least 10,000 Jews lived in Rome; Jewish colonies also existed in the large trading centers of Asia Minor. As Josephus remarked,

"There is not a community in the entire world which does not have a portion of our people."

Judaism had long been viewed favorably by pagan writers; Jews were thought to be a race of philosophers, much like the Brahmins of India.

"Throughout the Roman Empire various practices of Judaism found favor with large segments of the populace. In Rome many gentiles observed the Sabbath, the fasts, and the food laws; in Alexandria many gentiles observed the Jewish holidays; in Asia Minor many gentiles attended synagogue on the Sabbath" (Shave J.D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, p. 55).

The gentiles venerating Judaism were no doubt the people whom Acts called those who "feared God" (Acts 13:16, 26; 16:14; 17;4, 17;18:7). They were not converts to Judaism, but they were appreciative of its doctrines. The major obstacle to their conversion was circumcision, which was looked upon as self-mutilation by Romans.

It has been argued by some scholars that one of the reasons that Jews wrote in Greek was to attract gentile believers. While Judaism had no official missionary work, individual Jews actively sought converts. Christ hinted at this effort when He said:

"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte..." (Matthew 23:15).

Judaism continued to gain converts and remained a viable religious movement within the Roman empire until the end of the fourth century.

Freedom of worship, however, did not mean there was an absence of tension between Jews and Romans. The Jews living as resident aliens in cities throughout the empire wanted both tolerance from and equality with their neighbors. They asked for the continuance of their autonomy as well as full rights of citizenship. Many cities refused, and disturbances broke out in Alexandria, Antioch, and Asia Minor during the first century A.D.

The tension was particularly acute in Alexandria, which became a center of anti-Judaic propaganda. "If the Jews wish to be Alexandrians, let them worship the gods of the Alexandrians" was the common sentiment.

It is easy for us in the twentieth century to underestimate the role that religion played in the political life of the Roman Empire. The worship of local gods was considered a vital aspect of assuring civic peace and prosperity (Robert L. Wilken, The Christians As The Romans Saw Them, p. 58). Ritual and government were closely intertwined, and the cities that rejected the Jews' petitions were merely acting on long-standing beliefs.

Religion at that time was not a matter of personal conviction; it was a civic duty. Nonetheless, the Roman government chose to be somewhat tolerant of differing creeds provided their adherents could prove that their beliefs were based on tradition.

Anti-Judaic sentiment was intensified by the wars which the Jews waged against Rome. From A.D. 66-70, Palestinian Jews sought to expel the Roman legions from their homeland. The war ended with the burning of the Temple and the death of more than 500,000 Jews. Palestine was decimated of half of its population. Surprisingly, Jews in other parts of the Roman Empire suffered no repercussions from the hostile acts of their kinsmen. Yet they too later fought against the Romans in a major uprising in 115-117 A.D. Jews in Alexandria, Egypt, Cyprus, and Cyrene launched a revolt which brought destruction for both themselves and their gentile neighbors (Wayne A. Meeks, The Moral World of the First Christians, p. 67-68). The causes of the war are still unclear, but the result was devastation.

The final war between Romans and Jews was waged in Palestine in 133-135 A.D. Led by Simon Bar Kochba, the Jewish rebellion was caused by Roman actions which are also historically uncertain. Again, hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered and so many sold into captivity that their price fell to that of a horse (Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, p. 548). All Jews were expelled from Jerusalem, which became a city of gentiles.

In the context of these uprisings, it is easy to see how anti-Judaic feeling could develop in the Roman Empire. Resentment toward Jews in Rome became so strong after the first Jewish War that crown prince Titus, who had participated in the sack of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., was forced to give up his desire to marry Berenice, sister of Herod Agrippa the Younger.

One of the common complaints voiced by Roman writers during this time was that Judaism was a superstition. In the Roman view, a superstition was a religious practice that neither honored the gods nor benefited mankind (Wilken, p. 60). The Romans could see no value in the cults of the Jews, Celts, Egyptians, or Germans because they did not honor gods in the manner that Romans thought appropriate. Influential writers such as Quintilian, Plutarch, and Tacitus singled out Judaism as a superstition that was harmful and degrading to Roman society. Yet eventually these feelings subsided and Judaism peacefully coexisted with most religions for several centuries thereafter.

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The Rejection of Judeo-Christianity

But another storm was brewing. As they continued to reject the Judaic roots of their religion, catholic Christians increasingly viewed Jews as a problem. The conflict between Judaism and catholic belief became sharper from the second century onward. Instead of accepting their common heritage, the church fathers sought ways to reinterpret the Scriptures and to show the superiority of their new religious movement.

Some of them saw the destruction of the Temple as proof that God had rejected the Jews. Justin Martyr scornfully mocked the Jewish sacrificial system. The heretic Marcion claimed that the God of the Old Testament was evil and that only Paul's doctrines of love represented true Christianity. Although he was noted for his keeping of the Passover on the 14th of Nisan, Mileto of Sardis denounced the Jews as Messiah-killers and criminals. The invective against Judaism was continued by Origen, Tertullian, John Chrysostom, Cyprian, Ambrose, and other misguided men.

Tertullian in particular wanted to

"dissociate the Christian message from its Jewish trappings in order to give it a truly Latin expression" (Jean Danielou, The Origins of Latin Christianity, p. 139).

He was not content to confine himself to Judaism, however. He also attacked Jewish Christianity not only in its heterodox forms, but as it existed in the Christian church during his lifetime. His reaction against the Judeo-Christian element, became more pronounced in each of his writings, which influenced a new generation of church leaders.

Ironically, the major criticism leveled at the emerging catholic church was its rejection of Judaism. Around 180 A.D., the Greek philosopher Celsus charged that Christians had deserted the Jewish law. They wantonly disregarded the points that were mostly clearly set forth--the keeping of the Sabbath, the festivals, and the dietary laws. The fact that church fathers were writing rebuttals 80 years later shows the impact that Ceisus had.

But even more devastating were the arguments of Porphyry, a well-known biographer, and philosopher. Several generations of churchmen were unable to answer Porphyry, whose works were finally put to the torch by Constantine. Intimately acquainted with the Scriptures, Porphyry showed that the Christians of his day had abandoned the teachings of Christ and had introduced a new cult in which Jesus Himself was deified. Since they were unable to counter his accusations, the church fathers grew even more vehement in their attempts to allegorize the Bible.

By the end of the third century, the Jews had become an embarrassment. They represented a large and unpopular group that should have but would not accept catholic norms. Under the emperor Theodosius, when Christian uniformity became the official policy of the empire, Christian mob attacks on synagogues grew common. This unlicensed violence was contrary to Roman public policy, since Jews were regarded as valuable and respectable members of society for their general support of authority.

In 388 A.D. the Jewish synagogue at Callinicum on the Euphrates was destroyed at the instigation of the local bishop. Theodosius decided to make the incident a test case and ordered it rebuilt at Christian expense. The bishop Ambrose hotly opposed the decision, and Theodosius withdrew his orders. This event marked an

"important stage in the construction of a society in which only orthodox Christianity exercised full rights" (Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity, p. 104-105).

The Survival of the "Faith Delivered to the Saints"

An even greater embarrassment to the church was the continued existence of Jewish Christian congregations--the element that Tertullian wanted to extirpate. In their efforts to disavow the influence of Judaism, catholics soon viewed these Christians as heretical.

"Yet what was Christian heresy? And for that matter, what was the Church? Most of our knowledge of early Christian history comes from the writings of Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century. Eusebius was in many ways a conscientious historian, and he had access to multitudes of sources which have since disappeared ...He wanted to show that the church he represented had always constituted the mainstream of Christianity, both in organization and faith. The truth is very different ...A dominant orthodox Church, with a recognizable ecclesiastical structure, emerged only very gradually" (Johnson, p. 43).

The apostle Jude, the brother of Christ, urged Christians at the end of the first century to "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints." His epistle is regarded by some modern scholars as one of the literary remains of Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, written after the fall of Jerusalem. What is significant is that the primitive Church was already being threatened from within. True Christians were forced to begin to defend the faith against men who called themselves brothers in Christ.

Christianity did not follow a smooth evolutionary path after the mother Church in Jerusalem was scattered. It divided and re-divided. Gradually, a group of people who called themselves catholics agreed to accept certain doctrines--not the plain and simple doctrines of the New Testament, but doctrines which had been allegorized and reconfigured to their ideas and values.

By the end of the second century, the way of life transmitted by the primitive Christian community in Jerusalem was in grave danger. A few historians believe that it actually perished. Historical information about the groups that followed the apostolic traditions, unfortunately, is sketchy and comes almost exclusively from the writings of the church fathers. Under Theodosius and a later emperor named Valentinian, all writings hostile to the catholic church--including Christian works deemed heretical--were burned.

Yet a few historical traces have been preserved. After the fall of Jerusalem, a certain group of Jewish Christians remained faithful to the apostolic traditions, while another began to incorporate elements of legalism, Essenism, and even Gnosticism into its religious thought. Justin Martyr was the first to point out the difference between the two groups. Some Jewish Christians wanted to impose ritual laws on Gentile converts, but others did not.

Jewish Christians who maintained the apostolic legacy were accepted by neither Jew nor professing Christian. They were occasionally viewed as a political threat by authorities. Several Roman emperors examined their leaders, who were the descendants of Jesus' family, to see if they were a potential menace to the empire. From 90 A.D. the Jews banned them from the synagogues, and from the middle of the second century catholic churchmen strongly condemned their beliefs as unworthy of Christ.

Very likely the group known historically as the Nazarenes represented the Jewish Christianity taught by the apostles. The term "Nazarene" is first mentioned in Acts 24:5 where it is used to refer to true Christians. Later Jewish writings also referred to Christians as Nazarenes. Two catholic writers, Epiphanius and Jerome, stated that the Nazarenes of their day dwelt in Berea, Pella, and in other cities in the hill country of Judea and Syria. Julius Africanus corroborates that Jewish Christian leaders included offspring from Jesus' family. These Christians had a complete gospel of Matthew in Aramaic, as well as commentaries on the Old Testament, which Jerome himself used. They followed the law of Moses along with the teachings of Christ.

Augustine of Hippo was acquainted with such groups as late as 400 A.D. In Antioch, "the synagogue on Saturday, the church on Sunday" was a familiar summary of practice. John Chrysostom lamented the fact that some catholics had begun to observe the Jewish holy days and Sabbath; he admitted that many had high regard for the Jews and believed that their way of life was holy.

In the 430s, the Christian Council of Laodicea ruled in detail against Christian observance of the Jewish Sabbath, their acceptance of unleavened bread from Jews, and their keeping of Jewish festivals (Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, p. 482). The truth left by the apostolic Church was not easily extinguished.

Did this truth perish after the fourth century? The answer is no. As the catholic church moved into the Middle Ages, what it called Judaizing never ceased to exist.

"In the decrees of the Church councils, the term gained currency from the time of the Council of Laodicea in the fourth century onward. It was used by Christian ecclesiastics like Agobard, who charged Christians at Lyons (in the ninth century) with Jewish inclinations and habits. In the historical literature of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the term 'Judaizer' won frequent place, and came to designate either individuals or groups, who, as in Lombardy, adopted a Jewish outlook on life, and Jewish forms of ceremony and conduct. It was employed to designate certain heretical groups which challenged papal authority. Papal bulls during these centuries when heresies flourished are filled with references to Judaizers and 'Re-Judaizers,' the latter term being applied to Jewish converts to Christianity who later returned to their original faith" (Louis Newman, Jewish Influence on Christian Reform Movements, pps. 1-3).

Is Modern Christianity an Anachronism?

The truth has never been lost, but it has been ignored. Only within this century have scholars attempted to reconstruct early Church history apart from the writings of the church fathers. A few of them have been provocative in their reevaluation.

Whether or not they agree with his conclusions about the divinity of Christ, most Biblical scholars recognize that Hugh Schonfield made a significant contribution to our knowledge of church history. Along with S.G.F. Brandon and Robert Eisler, Schonfield clearly demonstrated that the early Church was a sect within Judaism, not a new religion.

In his book Those Incredible Christians, Schonfield presents an interesting thesis. The religion known as Christianity is an anachronism--an institution out of its proper time. By adopting the trappings of paganism, Christianity reverted to an ancient past. Yet paganism as a religious movement had been slowly dying out among the educated classes of the Roman empire. In a curious twist of fate, educated Romans were moving toward the monotheism that Judaism had embraced for centuries. By converting to Catholicism, they fell back into a form of polytheism evidenced by belief in the trinity.

Schonfield challenges the reader to examine his or her own religious beliefs. He concludes his book with an invitation to Christians to

"go back to the beginning and search out anew in the context of the Jewish vision, which the Church forsook, the mysteries of the Kingdom of God" (p. 225).

In this age of intellectual enlightenment, it is amazing that the modern Christian clings to outdated myths and practices. The one area of life--religion--that a Christian should consider of supreme importance is based on fallacy. One television evangelist has even gone so far as to admit that a certain holiday is pagan in origin, yet he claims it for Jesus just the same.

Is that what Jesus Christ wants? Christ placed a great deal of emphasis on knowing the truth. Remember that He had to combat the false doctrines and ideas of His time. He said,

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32).

He also said,

"God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit, and in truth" (John 4:24).

Now it can conceivably be argued that He was referring to "spiritual" truth --not truth based on historical evidence.

But twenty centuries later we are faced with a unique dilemma. To understand spiritual truth, the modern Christian must understand historical truth. It is difficult to separate Christian theology from Christian history, because they had an enormous impact on each other. Modern Christianity was shaped by key events and trends in history, as well as by the long process of doctrinal development.

If you believe you are a Christian, it's time to ask yourself some hard questions. Do your beliefs agree with those of primitive Christianity, or have they been accommodated to the society around you? If your church has, not been built on the foundation of Christ and the apostles as described in the New Testament, your faith may be a hollow shell--a relic of ancient religions far removed from the God of the Bible.

May God guide you in answering these questions!

Written by: Wesley White

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