Ok. After watching up to 1:25 of From Jesus to Christ – The First Christians part 1 basically a retell of the spread of Christianity from the point of view of the NT, it doesn’t make sense to me; a Jewish sect, hated among the Empire, converting their fellow Romans by the bushel, c’mon something is out of whack here. I'm still confused, though I understand how Christianity grew in Egypt and why. However, how was it able to not only spread throughout the Roman Empire, but also overcome the centuries old stronghold of polytheism, and eventually become THE state religion of the empire? I would really appreciate a scientific explanation. Thank you!
Mighty Agrippa, thank you for this great question, and welcome.
For a scientific explanation of why Christianity triumphed, we have to understand the political purpose of religion, and also the mythic inputs.
The Roman Emperors saw religion as useful for political stability and unity, as noted by Gibbon in his famous line in Decline and Fall, that people saw religions as equally true, philosophers saw religions as equally false and magistrates (rulers) saw all religions as equally useful. So the rulers required a symbol that would serve the imperial interests of unity and stability. The sun had provided this function through the cult of Sol Invictus, the invincible sun. Jesus Christ supplanted the sun god, by anthropomorphising key features of the sun – shining on the just and unjust, born at the low point of the solar year at Christmas as the sun began its annual northward trek towards summer, and dying and rising at the spring point as winter gave way to new life.
More than this match to the natural symbolism of the sun, Jesus also served a powerful psychological and political function of conferring moral legitimacy on Rome. Paul’s instruction in Romans 13 to obey the rulers and look to the afterlife for redemption served to displace and sublimate rebellion. This social legitimising function can also be seen in the political framework of the mandate of heaven. An empire can be gained by the sword, but it cannot be ruled for long by the sword. Communities have to support the status quo for the empire to function smoothly, or too many resources will be required to suppress dissent, weakening the system to external attack. In order to gain this moral legitimacy of the mandate of heaven, Rome had to admit its faults.
The faults of Rome were neatly encapsulated in the mythic archetype of Mark’s story of the passion of Christ, that when the perfect man had appeared in the world, the response was denial and murder. Rome had to admit that its blood-soaked expansion had not recognised the legitimate rights of the nations it had conquered. But this admission was a bitter pill. If this admission of guilt could be placed within a moral framework that said despite the evil of the high powers of the world, nonetheless Rome was anointed by God, a narrative path could be found to justify imperial rule. Enter Jesus. Christianity presents an ambiguous story of human guilt, with Pilate ultimately responsible for the death of Jesus but only acting at the instigation of the Jews, who then provided a convenient scapegoat as Christ killers, even though the high priest said the only reason the Jews handed Jesus over was that otherwise Rome would destroy them.
Looking at the evolution of the Christ myth scientifically and historically, we also really have to place it within the coherent cosmic framework provided by astrotheology, as Acharya has argued at length here. Astrotheology is immensely controversial, because most scholars remain infected by their supernatural upbringing or its atheist antithesis, and find the new synthesis provided by astrotheology to be impossible to understand, and reject it out of hand as disreputable speculation. But this rejection simply fails to see the coherence of the cosmic basis of Christianity as it emerged from the pervasive ancient practice of star worship.
Ancient Egyptian religion started from the scientific premise ‘as above so below’, an idea that found its way into the Lord’s Prayer with the line ‘thy will be done on earth as in heaven’. To see how the will of God was done in heaven was an imaginary task that the ancient seers performed through observation of the stars, against the framework provided by the line from Peter and the Psalmist that a thousand years is as a day to God. Looking at this very slow cosmic day of God, the primary marker is the precession of the equinoxes.
The New Testament provides abundant coded references which show that the idea of Christ was founded in observation of the stars, as an earthly allegory for what they could see happening in the sky. The time of Pilate was selected as the ‘alpha omega’ moment, the turning point of time from BC to AD, for the simple and sound observational reason that the spring point of the position of the sun at the March equinox precessed from Aries into Pisces in 21 AD. This great slow movement of the heavens provided the big slow context for the history of the Roman Republic and Empire, a shift from an old pagan age to a new age of belief, from ‘I am’ (Aries) to ‘I believe’ (Pisces), from separation and variety to a common era. The other pole of the equinox, autumn, also matches directly to this cosmology, with the shift from the equinox in Libra (law) to Virgo (grace) matching directly to Paul’s vision that ‘you are no longer under law but under grace’.
A really fascinating scientific issue arising from this material is how successfully and thoroughly it was suppressed by Christian orthodoxy. The interest of Empire required that its moral framework have a supernatural magical stamp, that God as a personal entity should intervene physically in the world. But this whole stellar basis in observation of precession is deeply inconvenient for the populist agenda of Jesus Christ as a real person, so the cosmology at the foundation of Christian ideation was denied, suppressed, ignored and forgotten. After constructing Christ on the model of the stars, the church ‘pulled up the ladder’ and set about concealing its tracks by burning heretics and their books. So we only have glimpses of this foundational cosmology.
Those glimpses provide forensic clues that admit of no other coherent explanation than precession of the equinox as the scientific framework for the construction of Christian myth. Certainly the entire historicist literal story of Jesus is entirely farcical, since Paul never explicitly references Jesus Christ as the historical founder of Christianity. The spread of Christianity matches to the widespread transformation of a common idea, more like a 'Cambrian Explosion' happening everywhere when conditions were right than a 'Big Bang' spreding from a single starting point. Christianity transformed the widespread idea of a sun god into a man, who is marked as holy by his emergence from a neglected corner of the world. The evidence does not match at all to the 'Big Bang' myth of Jesus as the actual historical ‘pioneer and perfecter of faith’ as he is described in the Epistle to the Hebrews.
As the faith gradually evolved, the fictional imagination of Mark came to be interpreted as actual history. All the evidence was then systematically corrupted and amended to support this false premise of Jesus as historical, rather like the way Procrustes sawed off the legs of his guests so they could fit in his bed. George Orwell well describes the political syndrome in his book 1984, which really analyses Russia on the model of the Roman Church, especially with his line that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, and the systematic amendment of evidence to serve this false political premise. Since the church held that only the antichrist denies the incarnation, it had abundant motive to amend and destroy all contrary evidence.
The loaves and fishes is the single miracle that appears in all four Gospels. It was obviously central to the esoteric teachings of the early Christian sect. But now it is an obscure mystery, since it obviously did not actually happen. Symbolically, the loaves and fishes represent Virgo and Pisces, the stellar equinox poles of the new age, symbolising cosmic abundance. So Christianity was able to say that its story of Jesus, the beginning and end of the ages, was written in the stars. The actual message that was written in the stars was held as a Gnostic secret, and the suppression of Gnosticism meant this message was lost.
But now, as we move towards a next new age on the cosmic wheel of time, Aquarius-Leo, we can start to look at the Pisces-Virgo age as a whole, seeing how the Christian dogma has strong natural correlation in observation and in psychological and political needs. By systematically removing the false supernatural interpretation, the real allegorical meaning of the Christian symbols can start to be understood.