“Hyperian History Of The World (1st Century)
As the Roman Empire spread in the 1st Century, much of the Mediterranean world was conquered, including the former Greek, Hellenic lands. These lands fell under Roman law, yet still mainly subscribed to Greek culture. One area, however, had a drastically different culture, one which would cause great strife in the world. The land in question was Palestine, which had formerly been the ‘promised land’ of the Jewish people.
Despite the former kingdoms of Israel having been destroyed centuries earlier, and the Jews carried off into exile, they had been allowed to return to their land and their zealous monotheism, greatly at odds with most of the surrounding cultures, had only increased in intensity. In the time since the fall of Israel, the Jews had finalised all of their holy texts and compiled what we now call the Old Testament. The bulk of this text consists of an idealised account of the history of the Jewish people and their covenant with their god, but the books towards the end, more recently written, were of a more prophetic nature and spoke of the coming of the ‘Messiah’, a great king of the Davidic line who would restore the kingdom of Israel.
Under the Roman occupation of the 1st Century, the Jews in this land had splintered into many competing sects and it was very common for charismatic figures to rise from these sects, claim to be the Messiah and attempt to drive out the Romans in order to restore the Davidic kingdom. However, all such attempts failed as a rabble of religious fanatics were never a match for the might and discipline of the Roman army. However, one particular Jewish ‘Messiah’ would go on to become one of the most influential figures in the history of religion, despite his failure to restore the Kingdom of Israel.
This figure has become known as Jesus Christ, yet it is very difficult to decipher any truth about his life. It seems that he was yet another charismatic Jew who rose up amongst his people, claimed to be the Messiah and attempted to take on the might of Rome. Of course, he failed and was put to death. Yet, somehow, his devoted followers, despite his failure, became convinced that he was the Messiah, and that he had, in fact, risen from the dead and ascended into heaven following his crucifixion by the Romans.
Initially, this new sect, which became known as Christianity, was just another Jewish sect among the many in Palestine, yet this one grew and spread all around the Hellenic world in the decades following Jesus’s death. The growth and spread of Christianity, however, has little to do with Jesus and much more to do with one Saul of Tarsus, later known as Saint Paul.
Initially, Christianity, as just another Jewish sect, spread mostly around the Jews, and came under attack from rival sects. Saul of Tarsus was, initially, one who persecuted this latest sect. However, he eventually converted to this new form of Judaism and came up with the key idea of spreading its teachings amongst non-Jews, or Gentiles.
Now calling himself Paul, he knew that Gentiles were unlikely to respond to Jewish Messianism, as it had nothing to do with their pagan culture, yet Paul’s knowledge of that culture helped him to formulate a new version of Christianity, more distanced from Judaism and closer to Greek/Roman paganism.
Given that all the other Jewish sects denied that Jesus had been the Messiah, Paul realised that he needed to find a way to include the Gentiles in the Covenant with the Jewish god. Paul began spreading the message that Jesus had been sent to the Gentiles precisely because the Jews had rejected him. Paul convinced Gentiles that they could be part of the Covenant by telling them that Jesus’s death and resurrection had been for the sake of all the faithful, and that being baptised and having faith in Jesus would suffice to include them in the covenant, without them having to subscribe to Jewish religious laws such as Circumcision, which Paul knew pagans found repulsive. According to Paul, baptism allowed anyone to ‘participate’ in Jesus’s death and resurrection. Thus, Paul managed to remove much of Judaism from Christianity and make it much more palatable to pagans.
Following Paul’s innovations, Christianity began to split further and further away from Judaism. Meanwhile, the Jews were still giving the Romans trouble in Palestine, leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70. Following this the Jews were once again forced into exile, dispersing all across the land. Christians too dispersed and settled separately from the other Jews until, in the year 98, Christians were exempted from the Roman tax on Jews, thus confirming them as a completely Gentile sect distinct from any kind of Judaism.
Eventually, the establishment of Christianity as a new, Gentile religion would have disastrous effects on the Roman Empire and the glory of Ancient Greek culture. It would take a few centuries, but the appearance of this new religion would lead to a time of great darkness in the world, one from which we still have not entirely emerged.”
Brice Merci – Hyperian