First published on November 21, 2013.
Nothing annoys me more than historical ignorance being spouted as fact, lapped up by an equally ignorant audience. One of the reasons I never enjoyed going to the little country church way up in the North Carolina mountains where my family summered was because, by the time I was in junior high, I was such a total stickler about history, that I had no tolerance for the historical ignorance spewed by poorly educated country preachers. Yes, that makes me a snob. No, not a religious snob, but a history snob. It gets very old, very fast, trust me.
Both the far left and the far right have a very skewed version of the Christian religion. Both have a downright weird version of Christ. I don’t know which is the world. In a way, as long as they get the history and sociology right, then I don’t have as much to complain about.
Jerry Boykin has this very strange version of Christ, a man’s man, muscular, dirty, long-haired, smelly, and oh so very manly. His description of Jesus of Nazareth, the other day, borders on the homo-erotic. One thing he does prove is that he don’t know much about history!
This though is wild and crazy enough to discuss. The extreme right now has a new version of Christ. Not only have they basically erased the Sermon on the Mount, but they have tried to create something that works well with Ayn Rand and libertarianism. You know – up from the boot-straps, militant, sociopath, tax dodging, he man who probably hated women. They don’t need compassion, love, kindness, and feminism. Not their Christianity 2.1. Nope, Jesus of Nazareth was a he man, a man’s man.
“...”He was a man,” Boykin said. “He was a man’s man, but we feminized him in the church … He was a tough guy and that’s the Jesus that I want to be like. That’s the side that I want to be like. But we’ve feminized Jesus in the church and the men can’t identify with him anymore; not the kind of men that I want to hang out with, they can’t identify with this effeminate Jesus that we’ve tried to portray. He was a tough guy. He was a man’s man” …”
So many idiots and so little time!
The best way to get started is with the historical basics. Jesus of Nazareth lived during the Roman occupation of Judea. I’m perfectly content to use the dates that go anywhere from 7-2BC to 30-33AD. There are historic markers along the way to indicate the approximate time he lived. Pontius Pilate became the prefect (governor) of Judea in 26AD. He remained there until right before the death of Tiberius that occurred on March 17, 37AD. His prefecture probably ended in 36AD . He lived in Caesarea, and worked in Jerusalem. Typical of Roman bureaucrats, Pontius Pilate rose up through the ranks. He had some duties with the military, was in charge of taxes, and had limited judicial functions. The reason a person wanted to be a prefect in a fairly wealthy area such as Judea was in the taxes. Rome received its cut. The prefect kept the rest. That’s how a Roman became wealthy and retired in style. The prefecture of Judea was under the authority of the legate of Syria. Pilot had about 3000 soldiers at his disposal.
- Birth of Abraham c1976AD
- Earliest date of Exodus from Egypt c1476BC
- The Exodus from Egypt occurred (my theory) in the 18th Dynasty.* (1351-1334BC)
- Reign of King David 1041-1001BC
- Foundation of Solomon’s Temple is c 997BC
- According to legend, the traditional date for the founding of Rome by Romulus was in 753AD.
- Destruction of Solomon’s Temple is c 587BC as Judea falls to Babylon
- Babylon falls to the Persians in 539BC
- Judean return from exile is c 538-535BC
- Alexander the Great conquered Judea in 330BC (Hellenic Period Begins)
- Conquest of Sicily, First Punic War against Carthage 264/241 BC
- Second Punic War against Carthage begins 218BC
- Hannibal defeats Rome 216BC
- Second Punic War ends 201BC
- Maccabees and Hasmonean Dynasties 166BC
- Third Punic War begins 149BC
- Carthage Destroyed 146BC
- Pompey clears the Mediterranean of pirates 67BC
- Pompey of Rome conquered Jerusalem in 63BC
- First Triumvirate of Gāius Jūlius Caesar, Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus 60BC
- Gallic Wars 58BC-50BC
- Crassus defeated 53BC
- Caesar crosses the Rubicon & the path of history is forever changed 49BC
- Julius Caesar murdered 44BC
- Second Triumvirate of Octavian, Antony and Lepidus 43BC
- Battle of Actium 31BC
- Anthony & Cleopatra commit suicide 30BC
- End of Roman Republic 27AD
- Augustus dies August 19, 14AD
- Tiberius begins reign 14AD
- Herod the Great reigned from 37BC-4AD
- Rebuilding of Temple 20BC-64AD
- Birth of Jesus of Nazareth c4BC
- Herod’s slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem 4BC
- Tiberius conquers Middle East 5AD
- Judea becomes Roman Provence 6AD
- Coponius becomes Prefect of Judea 6-9AD
- Prefect Valerius Gratus c15-26AD
- Joseph Caiaphas appointed high priest 18AD
- Pontius Pilate becomes Prefect of Judea 26-36BC
*NOTE: I have a tendency to put the Exodus from Egypt as either directly before Akhenaten or directly after.
History is very important. One should keep in mind that, contrary to how the New Testament is pictured in Sunday School and by those ignorant of history, Jesus of Nazareth was as far removed from Abraham as my grandfather Froehlich was removed from Jesus of Nazareth – basically 2000 years.
We know how the world has changed in the 2000 years since Christ rose again, and the Christian religion began. Our world has completely changed. We don’t dress the same way, act the same, speak the same language, have the same diet, and the same technology. It is abjectly foolish to portray Jesus of Nazareth as living the same way that Abraham did. He existed in the Bronze Age. Christ lived in Classical Antiquity.
Another way to put things into perspective is that Jesus of Nazareth was as far removed from Moses as are Geoffrey Chaucer, Dante Alighieri, Scottish Wars of Independence, Edward III, Hundred Year’s War, or the beginning of the Renaissance, David II of Scotland, or Richard II of England from Jesus of Nazareth. The world had changed from the time of Christ, to the beginning of the Renaissance.
In order to understand the life of Christ, it is imperative to understand that the land of Roman Judea was so far removed from the Promised Land of Moses that it would have been unrecognizable to the first inhabitants of the Promised Land. The Roman Holy Lands are more recognizable to us that the ancient world of Moses would have been to anyone who lived during the time of Christ.
While the basic religion was the same, the culture of the Judeans would also be unrecognizable to Abraham or Moses, or even David. The dress was different, sociology was different, diet was different, and social customs were different. Abraham was barely out of the Neolithic era, a desert wanderer, and a nomad. His great-grandsons, the children of Jacob were almost savage, herders, barbarians, unwashed and filthy. When they went to retrieve grain from Egypt and encountered their long lost brother, Joseph, now the PM of Egypt, if not already Pharaoh, they didn’t need to announce their arrival. He would have been able to smell them a mile away.
Their descendents, who left Egypt would have been unrecognizable to their ancestors. They would have been bathed, probably bald, with all hair removed from their bodies to protect from lice and other bugs. They would have been extremely clean. They also would have been mostly naked and in their bare feet. They would have managed to forget their heritage (what little of it they once had) and had merged into Egypt’s matriarchal society where women were the equals of men. The reason each and every woman would have been topless was because it was the style – the fashion.
One of the reasons for the rules and regulations given to the Children of Israel during the epic journey through the desert was to pound some sense into them, ‘civilize’ them, and teach them entirely new customs. When the far right pictures the world at the time of Christ, their version is completely stunted. They are reading and dealing with the Old Testament, in a world that literally came to an end a good five hundred years before Jesus of Nazareth was even born.
The world he was born into was completely different from the Old Testament world, totally and completely.
Part II will continue on Saturday.