Origins of Christianity: The True Story
It was almost universal for primitive man to imagine that all the events of nature are
caused by invisible people. Some of the things that happen in life are pleasing to us,
and some things are not. But another universal tendency is for man to project his
internal feelings into the external world, and to assume that a particular event is
pleasing or displeasing to him, not because of his individual desires, but because
the event is universally “good” or "bad" in itself. And so the next step in human
consciousness was to assume that these invisible people could be divided into
"good" spirits and "bad" spirits. Gradually, the spirits were given names and
personalities. There were fertility gods, war gods, sun gods, gods of the sea, etc. If
a person wanted good luck with his crops, he had to ask the appropriate god for his
help. This is called "prayer," which means "to ask," or "beg." But man knew that the
god would expect payment for his services. So man offered him something of value
– food, gold, slaves, etc. This is called "sacrifice."
For thousands of years, prehistoric man tried to control his own destiny through
prayers and sacrifices to a multitude of gods and goddesses. This type of religious
belief is called "polytheism."
In Egypt, there was a pharaoh, named Amenhotep IV, also known as Akhenaton,
who ruled from 1379-1362 BCE. He conceived the idea that there was only one god
– Aton, the sun god. And this god was responsible for everything that happened,
both good and bad. This system of belief is called "monotheism."
Monotheism has certain advantages over polytheism. It provides a kind of
ombudsman whom one can approach directly with a problem, and thus bypass all
the complications of going through a polytheistic bureaucracy. The concept of
monotheism also provides man with a convenient panacea. No matter what
question is asked, the answer is always the same: "!t is the inscrutable Will of God."
This is a primitive attempt at scientific generalization. But a panacea is a fallacious
explanation. It sounds like an answer, but it is not. Because it provides us with no
information that we can do anything about – except concentrate all our energy on
sacrificing to a single god.
Akhenaton devoted his entire life to promoting the spread of monotheism. But he
was not particularly successful. If one god is responsible for both good and evil, then
he has two faces, and two opposite aspects to his personality. This tends to split the
concept of "God" into two separate principles – a god of goodness, and a god of
evil. When the universe is thus perceived as being controlled by two opposite
forces, the belief system is called "dualism."
All of the early cultures of the world were polytheistic – including the ancient
Hebrews. But their slavery by the Egyptians brought them into contact with the
monotheism of Akhenaton. And they began to think of their own sun-god, "Yah," as
THE One-And-Only GOD – who just happened to have adopted their tribe as His
Chosen People. They called themselves monotheists; and most of the books of the
Old Testament consist of stories about both the benevolent and the cruel sides of
Yah, or "Yahweh," as he was also called. The Latin translation was "Jehovah."
In Egyptian mythology, the world was created by Ra, another name for the sun-god.
And it was created as a paradise. But when man was created, he offended Ra, and
was punished for his sins. Another element of Egyptian religion was the belief that
each person is accountable for his life on earth. And after death, his spirit is
weighed in a balance scale. The righteous person lives eternally, although not very
happily, in a dark underworld called "Tuat.” The unrighteous person is tortured by the
fires of Ra. The pharaoh, however, being a god himself, is exempt from judgment.
He can do no wrong, so he lives eternally in the sky.
The later Mesopotamian and Babylonian empires had a rich tradition of creation
myths, the most important of which are the epic poems of Gilgamesh and
Atrahasis. To the Egyptian idea that the earth was once a paradise, they added the
idea that man had been made from clay, and that man was made to serve as a
slave to the gods. That is why we must now live by the "sweat of our brow," and offer
regular sacrifices to the gods.
Gilgamesh is a god-king, like a pharaoh, who tries to save mankind from death. He
finds a sacred fruit which will confer eternal life. But alas, a serpent steals it from him
and eats it. Thus, it was a serpent that deprived man of eternal life.
The Babylonian epics also tell of the deluge, and of a man who builds an ark to save
the animals. They tell about the tower of Babel, and a story about a mother who
places her baby in a basket and sets him afloat on a river to save his life. The child
is found by a peasant, but he grows up to become a king. In each case, however,
the names and plot-lines are different from those later found in the book of Genesis.
"Adam" was a Hebrew word that meant "man," or "mankind," and "Eve" was a word
that meant "life," or "fertility." There are two different versions of the Adam and Eve
story in the book of Genesis, which differ from each other in several important
The Ten Commandments are derived from a fairly widespread tradition of common
law throughout the middle east. Several codes of law have been found on stone
tablets or monuments, and on scrolls of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. The most
complete is the Code of Hammurabi, found on a stone monument which had been
carved by a Babylonian king about 1758 BCE. Like the Book of the Dead, It
contains all of the injunctions of the Ten Commandments, but also a great quantity of
case law – rather like a compendium of Supreme Court decisions. This monolith is
on display at the Louvre, in Paris. The one advancement made by the Hebrews was
that their Ten Commandments represented an early effort to reduce certain
underlying principles into a manageable system – the first attempt at constitutional
The Code of Hammurabi, like all the earlier codes, consisted of three parts. There
was a preamble about how the code was handed down by the sun-god. Then there
was the body of the code. And finally, there was a codicil about penalties for
disobeying the laws.
About 600 BCE, in what is now the country of Iran, there lived a man named
Zarathustra, also known as Zoroaster. This prophet divided the Jeckle-and-Hyde
personalities of monotheistic gods into two separate but equal gods. This theology
is recorded in the Persian holy book, called the Avesta.
According to Zarathustra, Ahura Mazda is the creator of heaven and earth. But
coexisting with him is an evil spirit named Ahriman. These two gods are equal in
their powers. And man must choose whether to follow one or the other. If a man
chooses to follow Ahura Mazda and the path of truth, light and goodness, then he will
be rewarded with eternal paradise. But if he follows Ahriman and the path of lies,
darkness and evil, he will be tortured in a fiery pit.
At the end of the present age, Ahura Mazda will finally defeat Ahriman, the righteous
will arise from their graves, and live eternally in a paradisaical world.
Zoroaster was able to synthesize polytheism, monotheism and dualism. By
postulating a pantheon of angels to assist Ahura Mazda, and demons to aid
Ahriman, this satisfied the polytheistic urges of man. But these were lesser beings
than the two supreme gods. The equal division of powers between Ahura Mazda
and Ahriman satisfied the dualistic urge. And the inevitable defeat of Ahriman
preserved the concept of monotheism.
Zoroastrian priests were called Magi, and they were supposed to have the power to
work miracles. This is the origin of our word, "magic."
The earliest books of the Old Testament occasionally made mention of a Judgment
Day, an underworld called Sheol, or Gehenna, and several demons. But these
concepts were not developed in much detail. And the reason for man's suffering
was ascribed to his repeated disobedience to Yahweh. Adam and Eve, Cain and
Abel, Sodom and Gomorrah, the flood story, all repeat the theme of man's
wickedness. This was the Jewish version of the "Fall of Man." The majority of the
Old Testament was written between 900 BCE and 100 BCE by various groups of
But when the Greeks invaded Judea, followed by the Syrians, then the Romans,
Jewish prophets thought it was the end of the world. Things could not possibly get
any worse. What particularly annoyed them was seeing their own people
collaborating with the enemy and adopting foreign customs. The Hebrew word for
enemy was "satan." "Devil" comes from "diaballen," which means to oppose,
accuse, or slander. During the various occupations, obviously, "satans" and "devils"
were everywhere. Prophets began writing "apocalyptic" books. Reflecting the
Persian influence, these were visions about how a spirit of darkness and evil – THE
"Devil," or "Satan," had taken control of the entire world, and was now in a struggle
with Yahweh, the Lord of light and righteousness.
But, they said, "The Good Lord" would soon send a "Messiah," – which meant a
divinely appointed king – to defeat their enemies and rid the world once-and-for-all
of Satan. Apocalyptic scribes began to engage in a considerable amount of
historical revisionism. As they recopied the ancient manuscripts of the Tanakh, they
placed their own words in the mouths of the prophets – which foretold of events that
would be a sign of the final days before the coming of The Messiah. And since
these events had already occurred, this seemed to give the ancients miraculously
accurate powers of precognition.
A large number of these apocalyptic books were written, and messianic cults began
to proliferate. The largest of these cults was a group called the "Essenes."
When Alexander the Great had invaded Judea he brought Greek arts, sciences,
philosophy, law, and religion. Greek culture had an enormous impact on the Hebrew
culture. One of the Greek philosophers, named Plato, had conceived another kind of
dualism. He said that the world consists of two different kinds of substances: matter,
and spirit. The real world was the world of spirit – or "ideals" as he called them. The
material world that we see around us is only a kind of illusion – an imperfect
representation of the "ideal" world which exists in heaven.
The messianics were impressed by Plato's philosophy, and they incorporated it into
their conception of the war between "God" and "Satan." "The Devil" was not only the
lord of the dark underworld, and all evil – but now he was also ruler of the earth, the
body, and everything in the material world. "God" was ruler of heaven and the pure
world of spirit, or "ideals." Each person was caught in the conflict between his body,
which belonged to Satan, and his immortal soul, which belonged to God.
The Essenes took all of this very seriously, and in order to escape from the
temptations of The Devil, they totally withdrew from the world and cloistered
themselves in monasteries. They spent all their time undergoing rites of purification,
praying and studying Holy Scriptures, while awaiting the imminent arrival of The
Most of the information we have about the Essene community comes from the
recently discovered Dead Sea Scrolls. These were found amid the ruins of their
monastery at Qumran, which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 73 CE. The
scrolls are estimated to have been copied around 100 BCE, and they tell us a great
deal about how the Essenes lived, and what they believed.
The community at Qumran always dressed in white, to symbolize their purity. And
their monastery was a self-contained commune, so that they could remain
completely detached from the outside world of Satan. They practiced baptism and
other ritual ablutions. They were sexually puritanical to the point of even forbidding
"lustful glances." And they studied the lessons of someone called "The Teacher of
The Teacher of Righteousness was thought to have possessed a supernatural
ability to understand the "hidden meaning" of the Scriptures. But, as always, not
everyone agreed that he was omniscient – so he was persecuted by "The Wicked
Priest" and by the "Teacher of the Lie." Finally, he was "chastised." Whether that
meant he was executed is unclear. And whether it was the Teacher of
Righteousness that was to return as the messiah is also unclear. But at their holy
meal, the "Messiah of Israel" was thought be present as a spirit, after the bread and
wine had been blessed by a priest.
Their devil was called "Belial"—one of the Persian gods. And they put a good deal
of emphasis on angels, particularly Raphael, Michael, and Gabriel. They believed
that "God" was omniscient – which necessarily requires a belief in predestination.
They taught that only those who were members of their cult were predestined to be
saved. The "saved" are those who believe in the Teacher of Righteousness, and the
"wicked" are those who disagree with them. What is essential to salvation is "faith"
in his mission and following his teaching. Those who follow the preacher of the lie
will "come into judgments of fire." "In the days of judgment God will destroy all the
worshipers of idols and the wicked from the earth." They will "suffer wrath in the
deep darkness of eternal fire.”
They believed that they were different from other Jews because their Teacher of
Righteousness had received a new revelation which made clear the TRUE meaning
of the Scriptures. They called it the "New Covenant." They believed that one must be
baptized annually – which they called being "born again."
"To love each his brother as himself" is one of the orders of the Teacher of
Righteousness. The members referred to themselves as "sons of man." They
believed there were two spirits battling for the soul of each person – a spirit of truth
and light, and a spirit of evil and darkness.
The ruling body of the cult consisted of a trinity of priests, who were regarded as
divine. And below them were twelve disciples – or councilmen.
They believed that all men are born in sin, and only faith in the Teacher of
Righteousness can save them from damnation on Judgment Day.
There are several "Beatitudes" in the scrolls. There is one scroll that begins each
paragraph with "Blessed are...
The cultists regarded divorce and remarriage as adultery.
They forbad the swearing of oaths.
They taught that one should return good for evil.
They taught that one must be "perfect" in order to be saved.
They believed that personal possession of material goods was evil.
They said that "one cannot serve God and Mammon" (meaning materialism.)
The manner of handling an apostate, written in their Manual of Discipline (v.25-vi.1)
is identical with that found in the book of Matthew. (18:15.)
Paul is the only New Testament writer who uses the word "Belial" for devil. He also
refers to the conflict between the "sons of light" and the forces of darkness.
The Gospel According to John also refers, repeatedly, to the "spirit of truth" and the
"spirit of error," and the conflict between light and darkness. John also says (1:3)
"All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was
made." This is directly from the Manual of Discipline (xi.11)
The cult believed that a violent war between the forces of good and evil would mark
the end of the world (Armageddon.) The saved would live in eternal bliss with the
angels in the Kingdom of God.
They were ambiguous about the origin of the messiah. At times they said he would
come from the "House of David." But in the Rule of the Congregation they speak of
"God begetting The Messiah." All this is identical with later gospel accounts.
Since they were so strongly influenced by Plato, they undoubtedly believed in the
Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" – because this
had been written by Plato, in Book 11 of his Laws, in 347 BCE.
Scholars estimate that, if there actually was a Teacher of Righteousness, he would
have lived between 200 BCE and 100 BCE.
The "Jesus Christ" character, which is described in the New Testament, is alleged
to have lived during the time that Herod was king of Israel, and Pontius Pilate was
the Roman procurator. Herod and Pilate were well documented historical figures, so
the period during which their reigns coincided is how Christian calendars are
calculated into BC (before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini, i.e., in the year of Our
Lord) – or by non-Christian scholars as BCE (before the Common Era) and CE (of
the Common Era).
It is obvious from the Dead Sea Scrolls that most of the outlines of the Christian
religion had already been established several hundred years before the time of
Herod and Pilate, and if Jesus Christ did say the things reported in the gospels,
then he was only repeating the teachings of the Essenes. On the other hand, if the
Teacher of Righteousness was actually the Jesus Christ described by the gospels,
then he could not have been executed by Pontius Pilate.
The name, "Jesus" comes from the Latin spelling "Iesus" – which comes from the
Greek spelling "Iesous” – which comes from the Hebrew word, "Yeshua" – which is
a contraction of "Yah hosia" – which means aide, or emissary, of Yah.
The word, "christ" comes from the Greek word, "christos," which means "the
anointed" or, in other words, a king – the same meaning as the Hebrew word,
So "jesus christ" is actually a description rather than a proper name. It means "the
king who is a representative of Yahweh" – in other words, a typical god-king, like a
Other roots of the name come from Egyptian and Greek religion. There is a
common Christian symbol which is a combination of the Greek letters chi (X) and
rho (P). This monogram had been used in Egypt for thousands of years to represent
the resurrected-savior-sun-god, "Horus.” But it was adopted by the Christians to
stand for the first two letters in the word, "Christ." Also adopted from the Egyptians
was the symbol of the cross, which was a common variation on the "ankh," which
meant "life," and more specifically, "eternal life."
The letters IHS constitute another Christian symbol. These letters had previously
been the symbol for the Greek savior-sun-god, "Dionysus." When translated into
Latin, the Letters become "IES. ' When the masculine suffix, "US" is added, it
becomes IESUS. In English, the I becomes J. Thus, the Greek savior-god,
Dionysus, or Bacchus was also known as Jesus.
In other words, the messianic-savior-god that the Jews were waiting for had to be
called "Jesus." It was more like an honorary title then a proper name. In Matthew (18:
21) an angel tells Joseph that his wife "will bear a son, and you shall call his name
Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
But in any case, it was not an uncommon name during that era. And there were
many who claimed to be the "Jesus-Christ." Any time one of these pretenders to the
throne began to attract a substantial following, the Roman government had them
executed. (Britannica, 1976, 4:481e)
In the year 110 CE, the Roman historian Tacitus mentioned a disturbance by a
group of "Christians." He says they are so called after their leader, who "was"
executed by Pontius Pilate. Whether Tacitus is stating this execution as a fact,
based on court records is doubtful. Since he dismisses the subject with only one
sentence, it is more likely that he is merely stating hearsay, based on the Christians'
The Jewish historian Josephus mentions that, in the year 62 CE, a man named
James was executed by stoning. He was said to be the brother of a "Jesus, who
was called the Christ."
In the Talmud, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, the rabbis refer indirectly to a
criminal named Jesus, who was the illegitimate son of a Roman soldier named
Panther. This Jesus, along with five accomplices, was reported to have bilked large
crowds while entertaining them with blasphemous monologues and magic tricks. On
Passover eve he was hanged.
But these references by Josephus and the Talmud have been questioned by many
scholars as possible insertions by later Christians to establish some kind of
historical evidence of his existence.
That's it. Everything else is hearsay.
The first person to call himself a "Christian,' that we know anything about, was Paul
of Tarsus. Paul had been raised as a Jew, but he was a Roman citizen, and he
spoke fluent Greek. He claimed to have had a "vision" in which the "resurrected
Christ" appeared to him. This is the first time that the Jewish Messiah had been
associated with the idea of a resurrected-savior-god. Resurrection stories about
sun-gods and fertility-gods were universal throughout the pagan world. The Greek
Jesus-Dionysus was one of them. Another Greek fertility god, named Attis, the son
of Zeus and the virgin-mother, Aphrodite, was another. In the Attis story, the god
allows himself to be crucified on a tree so that his blood will fertilize the earth, and
each spring he is resurrected, along with the vegetation.
Most of what we know about Paul is from his letters in the New Testament. And
about half of those are fraudulent. The Acts of the Apostles, written by someone
who calls himself Luke, tells us that, after his conversion, Paul had a meeting with
James and Peter, two of the original disciples. But the author of Luke and Acts was
not the same Luke as the physician, and companion to Paul, that are mentioned in
Paul's letters. Acts was written over thirty years after the death of Paul. So the author
of Acts may not even have met Paul. And Paul may, or may not, ever have met
James or Peter - if there ever was a James or Peter - because the letters attributed
to "Peter" also have proven to be fraudulent.
Paul traveled throughout the Mediterranean area, preaching his theories and
organizing churches. The only dates we have for his ministry are the year 51 CE,
when he was arrested in the city of Corinth, and his death in Rome, sometime
between 54 and 68 CE.
The earliest of the gospel stories was Mark, written between 64 and 70. The next
was Matthew, written between 70 and 80. Luke was written around 80, and Acts of
the Apostles somewhere around 85 to 90. John was written about 100. According
to Britannica (1976) the authors of these books are all anonymous, and from their
inaccurate descriptions of the place, it is doubtful that they had ever even visited
It was a common practice for members of the various churches to write biographies
of the Jesus-Christ. So during the first few centuries of the Christian era, hundreds
of them had accumulated – all disagreeing with each other on what he had done, or
said, and what it all meant. Constantine became Emperor of Rome in 312, and
converted to Christianity shortly thereafter. He decided to make Christianity the
official religion of the Empire. But nobody could agree on what "Christianity" really
was. So in 325, Constantine convened the first Ecumenical Council, in the city of
Nicea, near the Black Sea.
At that time, 318 bishops from all the churches around the Mediterranean voted that
the Jesus-Christ was not merely a prophet, as the more Jewish-oriented faction
said, but a resurrected-savior-god, preferred by the Greco-Roman faction. The
"Nicene Creed" was written and, for the first time, the basic doctrines of the
Christian religion were spelled out. This was the beginning of the Catholic Church.
There was much controversy about which of the many biographies of Christ were
true and which were false. Several additional Ecumenical Councils were held to
debate the merits of various books. Finally, in 382, after 57 years of arguing, Pope
Damusus proclaimed that the books called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John came
closest to agreeing with each other. So those, and the other 23 books now included
in the New Testament were "divinely inspired." All the others were then destroyed,
or included in the Apocrypha, as partly, or possibly inspired. The Catholic Vulgate,
written in Latin, was the only Bible recognized by the Church for hundreds of years.
However, after Martin Luther and King Henry the Eighth started the Protestant
Reformation, there were several early attempts to combine the Jewish Tanakh,
which Christians call the Old Testament, with the New Testament into an English
translation. Several of these translators were executed by the Catholic Church for
Finally, King James the First of England had his scholars go back to the earliest
Hebrew and Greek manuscripts to make direct translations, instead of translating
from secondary Latin sources. And in 1611 the King James version of the
Christian Bible was published. This Protestant version differs in many respects
from the Doua version, which was the Catholic translation from The Vulgate into
English. Since then there have been hundreds of different versions – including two
major revisions in the King James. The version that modern fundamentalists usually
cite as the TRUE Word of God is actually the 1885 edition.
The most obvious features of Christianity today are its anti-intellectual and anti-
sexual attitudes. These features stem from the combination of Platonic and
Zoroastrian dualism. Plato said there are two basic substances: spirit and material.
Zoroaster said there are two kinds of spirit: good and evil. The Essenes concluded
that the world and the body are material substances, and therefore belong to Satan.
So all human knowledge, and all functions of the body are the work of The Devil.
Only by dying can we escape from sin into the pure realm of spirit.
In order to prove their contempt for the world and the body, many early Christians
became hermits and ascetics – turning their back on the world, and deliberately
torturing their own bodies. They believed that only through suffering could they
escape from sin.
Sex, obviously, is not only pleasurable, but it generates life. And all life is evil. So the
favorite representation of Satan is the Greco-Roman sex-god, "Pan" – part man and
part goat. And the most common Christian interpretation of the "Fall of Man" is that
sex was the sin that caused Adam to lose favor with God. Since we are all
descendants of Adam, and since we are all born as a result of sexual intercourse,
we are all, therefore, "born in sin." One of the books of the Apocrypha says, "... the
serpent poured upon the fruit the poison of his wickedness, which is lust, the root
and beginning of every sin."
According to this dualistic line of reasoning, any knowledge that does not come
from "divine revelation" is mere "human" knowledge; so it therefore follows that
libraries and universities are temples of Satan. In fact, there is another tradition
which holds that it was Adam's desire for knowledge that caused the "Fall of Man."
As a consequence of this anti-intellectualism, as soon as Christians gained control
of the Roman government, all the major libraries and universities were destroyed.
The library of Alexandria was the first great research center in the world. There was
a copy of virtually every manuscript in existence. So in 391, the bishop of Alexandria
ordered it burned. And most of the recorded wisdom of perhaps ten-thousand years
of civilization was lost forever.
After establishment of the New Testament canon, the church began compiling a list
of forbidden books – which might tend to cast doubt on the infallibility of their
decisions. And anyone caught with one of these books was executed. Today, this
Catholic "Index" looks like the required reading list for a liberal arts degree. Virtually
all of the Harvard Classics and the Great Books of the Western World are on it.
The Christian Church ruled the entire western world for a thousand years. And we
have never completely recovered from those Dark Ages.