This week we wrap up the three part Dustin’ off the Degree series on Christianity’s origins. In the news we have FMG bills, rising vaccination rates, the heart warming response to the Hindu temple’s vandalism in Kentucky, the Pope admitting some nuns are sex slaves, and more!
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Dustin off the Degree – What are Christianity’s Origins
Christians generally believe that Christianity is purely descended from Judaism, but is that really where it comes from?
If we start with the earliest Christian texts, which were written by Paul to churches he had previously founded in Syria and Asia Minor, we find Paul bragging that everything he preaches was revealed to him in visions, in other words he dreamed it up, and he paints the picture of a god taking human form for a few days to be killed. He doesn’t even give him a name, just a title, savior. In Hebrew this is Yeshua and in Greek it is Christos. In other words, Jesus Christ is redundant.
If you look at the gospels, Matthew and Luke both copied heavily from Mark, and Mark is the story of Yeshua, the savior, told in the style of Homer’s Odyssey. These gospels were also all written anonymously, and according to tradition both Mark and Luke were assistants and scribes for Paul. The gospel of John was written much later and tells a very different story, it just has the same characters.
The author of Luke also wrote Acts, which tells the story of the early church, so if we accept the traditional author and his relationship with Paul, this story also comes from, or at least is heavily influenced by Paul.
What I can say with the greatest degree of certainty is that Paul was the founder of Christianity. Now, with much less certainty I have two hypothesizes of Christianity’s origin.
Hypothesis 1 – Paul’s movement only
In my first hypothesis, Paul has a fever dream of a god taking the form of a man and dying for humanity’s sins. He then travels around preaching about this and starts the Christian church. The story grows over time to this savior being a demigod born of the Jewish god raping a teenage girl, in the style of Zeus. This demigod then gets a backstory using the well known and familiar template of the Odyssey and details, like John the Baptist, are added in an attempt to make it easier to recruit Essenes, Mandeans, and members of the Jewish diaspora. Some of these details may have drawn on stories of actual people, the rest were probably made up whole cloth.
Hypothesis 2 – Movements coming together
The book of Acts includes includes two stories of Paul visiting with the apostles in Jerusalem, in the first he pissed off enough people that he had to escape death threats, in the second he was able to call a council what decided doctrine. In this hypothesis Paul had his fever dream and found a group of Essenes that he thought would be receptive to his message, they weren’t, but he picked up some ideas from them. Years later after he had found and developed a large enough group, he returned and they merged movements. The gospels and the book of Acts were then written to show that they had always been united.
To answer the original question several months ago, is Christianity descended from Judaism? The systematic destruction of records definitely makes it harder to answer this question, but I would suspect that early Christians probably borrowed bits and pieces from Judaism, kind of like how Mohamed borrowed bits of Judaism and Christianity in establishing Islam, and kind of like how Joseph Smith borrowed bits of Christianity. And much like the establishment of Islam, within a century there was nothing Jewish left.
Last year a federal court in Michigan ruled that the federal law banning female genital mutilation was unconstitutional and a matter that needed to be left to the states. Now, almost every state is scrambling to ban the practice, including Idaho.
Interestingly the headlines are that the Idaho bill would ban the genital mutilation of children, but it specifically only applies to circumcising, excising, or infibulation the whole or any part of the labia majora, labia minora, or clitoris of a child.
The Idaho Supreme Court has ruled against the Idaho Freedom Foundation deciding that the voter mandated medicaid expansion is legal. Now we just need the legislature to figure out how to fund it.
As of recording there are at least 52 confirmed measles cases in Washington and four in Oregon. This has resulted in a 500% increase in demand for the MMR in Clark County meaning a lot of “vaccine-hesitant” parents have accepted reality now that they’ve seen measles in their own community.
Much like California did after the 2015 Disneyland Measles outbreak, Washington is considering a bill to remove personal and philosophical exemptions to vaccine requirements for children in daycare or school. This will leave medical and religious exemptions intact.
A vandal broke into a Hindu temple in Louisville, Kentucky defacing shrines and artwork and spray painting messages like “foreign bitches whore fuck you” and “Jesus is all mighty is everything” and Christian crosses.
In response the police are investigating this hate crime, public officials, including the governor have visited the temple, and Christians, Jews, and Muslims helped them clean up.
Alabama executed Domineque Hakim Marcelle Ray for the 1995 rape and murder of a 15 year old girl. What makes this noteworthy is that he was Muslim and requested to have his Imam there with him. This requested was denied, but they planned on having a Christian chaplain there for him, something he had to specifically deny. A federal appeals court issued a stay based on this request, but the Supreme Court lifted it by a vote of 5-4.
A primary school in England was going to have a play about Charles Darwin and evolution for 7 – 11 year old students. A bunch of parents objected making the claim that this is anti-Christian, so the school cancelled the play. Now parents are complaining about the cancelling, in part because the local Church of England Vicar is the head of the school board and this is not a church run school.
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