Rome, Israel, and the Christian compromise

Rome and Israel were in constant conflict for the first 200 years of Rome’s occupation of Palestine. Jesus, as a highly religious Jew, was part of that conflict and was executed for it. Jerusalem was besieged and the Temple destroyed in 70. After the umpteenth uprising, the Romans finally kicked the Jews out of Palestine in 135.

Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, 70 AD, by David Roberts

When Paul came along, he had the bizarre idea that he could meld his Jewishness and his Roman citizenship, and create a universally applicable religion. It was all done by blending and compromising, and it proved to be very successful. Here are some examples:

Israel: only one God, and no prayers or worship of anyone or anything else. Rome: thousands of gods, worship your own and those of other religions. Christian compromise: only one God… except He has three “persons”, one of which is Jesus… so it’s OK to pray to any of them… also to Jesus’ mother… well, and to any other of God’s angels, saints, etc… but it still counts as only one God.

Israel: God only cares about Israel, God’s Chosen People – ignore everyone else. Rome: local gods care about local people, so the bigger the Empire gets, the more gods care for it. Christian compromise: God cares for everyone who believes in Him, so keep making His empire bigger.

Israel: love Jerusalem, hate Rome. Rome: destroy Jerusalem, Rome is the center of power. Christian compromise: make Rome the center of the Jerusalem-focused religion.

Israel: 7-day week. Rome: 8-day week called “nine days” (inclusive reckoning). Christian compromise: 7-day week called “eight days” or “Octave” (inclusive reckoning).

Israel: Passover. Rome: Saturnalia. Christian compromise: Saturnalia traditions at Saturnalia to celebrate Jesus’ birth, Passover-type traditions at Passover to celebrate Jesus’ death.

Israel: circumcision of males mandatory. Rome: are you crazy? Christian compromise: circumcision of males voluntary.

Israel: detailed dietary and food preparation laws. Rome: eat anything. Christian compromise: no prohibitions most of the time, except Fridays and Lent.

And so on. It’s fascinating. And for a long time, it worked.

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5 comments on “Rome, Israel, and the Christian compromise

  1. This article is so speculatively flawed it’s not even funny. Paul didn’t invent lent or the no meat Friday. Those were incorporated hundreds of years later.

    Nor did he invent the trinity. The divine Son and Spirit were in the Hebrew Scriptures already.

    Paul had no plans to make Rome anything, and no Christian recognized Rome as anything other than the Beast of Revelation 13, 17-18 until hundreds of years later.

    He did not make circumcision voluntary, it was completely ended…

    • Paul provided the impetus for the syncretist religion that became “Christianity”. He was a Roman citizen, proud of it, and wanted to spread his new religion throughout the Empire. John’s view of Rome was naturally different from Paul’s.

      If you’re saying the Trinity is a concept expressed in the Hebrew Scriptures, you are out to lunch.

      Regarding circumcision, of course it wasn’t “completely ended”, millions of Christian boys are still circumcised every year.

      Circumcision was part of the larger argument about whether followers of Jesus should follow Judaism strictly, or should adopt Paul’s pro-Roman mysticism. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision_controversy_in_early_Christianity

      • How do you explain these references in the Hebrew Scriptures?

        Notice that the plural title for God is used more frequently than the singular (showing plural majesty) – Elohim as opposed to El.

        Why does Elohim refer to Himself using the plural “us” (Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isa. 6:8)?

        Who is the Son of the Creator Elohim (Prov. 30:4-5), or the Son of YHWH (Psa. 2:2, 7, 12)?

        How is it that YHWH is speaking, and then He says that YHWH sends Him (Isa. 48:12-17)?

        (Note: As blog owner I have edited down this reply by deleting the remaining 43 paragraphs. Feel free to contact Christian Huls directly if the details of his argument are of interest to you. He has a Word doc he can send you.)

  2. Hello Robin:

    Where to begin?
    – Jesus and His Disciples were persecuted by the Jews, and rejected by the Jews. Rome had Judea in a province, and the Jews exploited Roman authority to – against Roman law – to crucify Jesus. This is verifiable in both secular and Bible history. Christian persecution by the Romans did not begin in earnest until the time of Nero, presaging the time of tribulation spoken of by Peter and Paul.
    – Paul was a Roman citizen before his conversion. Paul, a Jew, was but one of a great number of Israelites having Roman citizenship. It is likely that you consider the term “Jew” to be synonymous with “Israelite”; it is not. The vast majority of Israelites were never called “Jews” or considered themselves “Jewish”. Moreover, Joseph of Arimathea also was a “Jew” and held Roman office. Was he, as well as Paul, also deluded?
    – The Gospel target was Israelites scattered all over the civilized world, including Rome.
    – Judaism did not exist in Jesus’ day. The term was coined in the 15th century. The temple practice at that time was Pharisaism, which was the precursor to rabbinism and modern Judaism – not Hebrewism. Its roots were in Babylon, and Jesus railed against them in Matthew 23.

    I would love to talk to you about this!
    -For His Kingdom,
    Brad
    thekingdomnow.org

    • Brad, that first point of yours is insane garbage. Jesus and his disciples *were* Jews. Jews didn’t crucify Jesus, the Romans did. It wasn’t against Roman law to crucify people who resisted Rome’s authority, it was the standard punishment.

      You appear to be unschooled in history, or “schooled” by a religious institution, which is the same thing. You need to read some (non-religious) history.

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