Around 10 thousand years ago, hominids learned to grow things and became sedentary. 5 thousand years ago, writing started, and those who mastered the art were considered superior beings, and wanting to improve the human condition, they started putting religion to paper. Some 1700 years ago, a few wise men wrote the New Testament, and Christianity, the most successful religion the world has ever seen, was created. What is less known is that, in the New Testament, Christ is a poor copy of Apollonius of Tyana.
Apollonius was born at the start of the Common Era (CE), and lived to be around 100. Very early on in life he opted for continence and abstinence, as opposed to pleasure and gratification, as a way of achieving enlightenment and freeing his spirit. He followed the teachings of Pythagoras, great philosopher, mathematician, ascetic and vegetarian, born in 569 BCE. Later Apollonius travelled and studied far and wide, including India, in order to further his knowledge. He was an avowed philosopher, social leader, moral teacher, religious reformer and healer, and from one end of the Roman empire to the other, he was honored by all, from slave to emperor. Many referred to him as ‘the master’ or the ‘savior’, for he healed the body as well as the soul.
After travelling to India where he was greatly influenced by Krishna, he became a naturopathic healer. He healed by ‘the laying of hands’, and by the use of hydrotherapy. The idea of baptism likely originated when he decided to clean the bodies of the poor wretches who came to consult him. He would rinse out their colon in order to rid them of worms, clean their bodies, insist on their getting a lot of clean air and sunlight, and above all, strongly urge them not to consume anything that Mother Earth did not directly produce. He was a strict vegetarian who did not drink wine, and respected the life of animals as much as that of humans.
In India he was introduced to the doctrines of Krishna, and the doctrines of Pythagoras and Krishna became one in his mind. In Judea and Egypt, he preached to the Nazarenes and the Therapeuts, and converted many. The Nazarenes and Therapeuts were also known as Essenes, individuals who belonged to a Jewish sect that had split off from the main body of Judaism. The Nazarenes lived near the Dead Sea and were the presumed authors of the Dead Sea Scrolls, while the Therapeuts lived near Alexandria where they were known as healers. Upon his return from India, Apollonius, already a famous teacher of moral, became a very successful healer, and he was no doubt the one responsible for spreading the Essene doctrine throughout the Roman Empire. Though not Jewish, he become known as an Essene, and converted many ‘new’ Jews, Romans and others, to his way of thinking. The Essenes were soon threatening to replace the foundering Roman religion, and they would become the first Christians.
In 325CE, faced with an Empire on life support, Emperor Constantine had an idea. Constantine had been made Augustus of the Western Roman Empire in 313 CE. A previous Emperor, Diocletian, had split the Empire into three parts in order to better rule, but it hadn’t helped, for thereafter the Empire was torn apart by civil war more than ever. Constantine lost no time in defeating and killing Emperors Maxentius and Licinius, in order to become sole ruler. Wanting to establish peace within the Empire before leaving for Byzantium to the east, Constantine proceeded to replace an ineffective impersonal Roman religion with the one based on the teachings of Apollonius. Instead of massacring the Essenes like Diocletian had done, he decided to use them by making the Essene religion the official state religion. In 325 CE, he convened the Council of Nicaea.
Constantine may be revered as a saint by the Greek Christian Church, and somewhat so by the Latin Christian Church which doesn’t quite know what to think of him, but regardless, he was a sanguinary. The Roman Church claims he was baptized on his deathbed, but that seems questionable and irrelevant. Constantine was a brutal man who butchered his enemies and executed his own wife and son. It’s clear that whatever this cruel man did was seeped in raw ambition.
As he convened the Council of Nicaea, Constantine must have insisted on having a few changes made to the about-to-be-created state religion. Apollonius, an Essene who had existed more than three hundred years before, was the acknowledged messiah, a holy man who had not only preached peace and goodwill among men, but also abstinence and respect for all living things. Understandably, a religion that condemned meat eating, wine drinking, lasciviousness and profit making, was out of the question. If it was to be declared the official state religion, it needed a few nips and tucks; it needed to be more in tune with Roman reality.
Although the vast majority of people throughout the Empire were Essenes, called Arians by some, and barbarians by others, there were almost exclusively pro-Constantine prelates at the Council, individuals who were prepared to accept anything in order to have their religion declared the official religion. And if they chose a Jewish Christ to impersonate a Greek Apollonius, it was for two reasons. It was easy to have Apollonius morph into the new Savior, and it was a way to make a clean break from Judaism. If Christ, was made godly, if he became an enemy of the Temple, and if the greedy Jews crucified him in retaliation, that would make Jews Christ killers for eternity.
As it turned out, the revamped messiah not only drank wine and ate fish, but was declared Son of God. The prelates explained it all, in the centuries that followed, by saying that he had been conceived by a virgin who had been visited by a holy spirit. All the scriptures that have come down to us were either created or adjusted at that time in order to give credence to the God-made-man concept. Contrary to Apollonius, the acknowledged messiah, the alleged messiah accomplished a lot of miracles, miracles that were never corroborated by any historian. No matter, presenting the new Christ as the Son of God was something the superstitious hominids of the times would readily believe. It wasn’t much of a stretch for them to believe their Messiah was actually the Son of God who had been sent down on earth and made man in order to save them.
In pursuing their goal, the Church fathers were quite wise in keeping some existing myths. One such myth was a convoluted story where Adam and Eve, the first human couple, had been caught playing house in the Garden of Eden. The deed was so horrendous that God reacted violently and banned the couple and their descendants from the Garden of Eden for all time. Very odd behavior for a master creator who wanted to create a human race! Nonetheless, the Christian gurus’ stroke of genius was to have everybody believe that God changed his mind and sent his son down on earth to die on the cross in order to redeem humans from their ‘original sin’, a curse that was sending hominids straight to hell. From then on, if one wanted God to accept them into the Garden of Eden after death, all he had to do was to have that dreadful first sin washed away from his soul through baptism and to live according to the teachings of the revamped Christ. This transformed the lowly hominids into godlike creatures, and more importantly, they now knew where they came from, why they were here, and where they were going after death. They were relieved from the ‘original sin’, ‘existential sin’, or ‘sin of the flesh’, depending on one’s interpretation.
As for setting Christ’s birthday, it was rather easy. Because he was now considered the giver of eternal life, it was quite logical to have his birth coincide with the greatest event in the sun’s cycle. What happens on the 25th of December is a phenomenon that’s unique and unchanging in the northern hemisphere; the sun stops dropping off the horizon and can be observed reversing itself. Since the increased amount of sunlight is tantamount to a promise of new life, many ancient gods are said to have been born on this day. And since the Romans were used to celebrating Sol Invictus, why not continue the tradition and celebrate Christ’s birth instead?
Christ’s birth year was another matter. The prelates wanted to make it coincide as much as possible with the birth of Apollonius in order to make the imposture credible. So, in Roman Era 1279 (525 CE), a monk called Dionysius Exiguus introduced the Anno Domini calendar. Since the Easter calendar used during the Roman Era was a calendar referring to emperor years, Dionysius said it was intolerable to continually refer to Diocletian, the Emperor who had persecuted and massacred the Essenes, and he set about creating the Gregorian calendar. So, with imaginative arithmetic, he arrived at the conclusion that the Messiah was born in 753 of the Roman Era, and decided that January 1st of year 754 of the Roman Era would be known as January 1st of Year One of the Anno Domini Era (AD). It was much later, in 1582 CE that Pope Gregory, in spite of the dubious arithmetic used by Dionysius, made it official. Ever since, when dating historical events, the whole world uses BC or AD, acronyms that are tied to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a fabricated messiah. That’s why some people today prefer to use the acronym CE (Common Era).
As for Christ’s birth place, it was determined when Emperor Constantine stopped in Palestine with his mother Helena on his way to Byzantine. Helena was the one who led the way in having Christian holy sites built in Palestine. The historian Eusebius describes her as follows: “Especially abundant were the gifts she bestowed on the naked and unprotected poor. To some she gave money, to others an ample supply of clothing; she liberated some from imprisonment, or from the bitter servitude of the mines; others she delivered from unjust oppression, and others again, she restored from exile. While, however, her character derived luster from such deeds, she was far from neglecting personal piety toward God. She adorned the houses of prayer with splendid offerings, not overlooking the churches of the smallest cities. In short, this admirable woman was to be seen, in simple and modest attire, mingling with the crowd of worshipers, and testifying her devotion to God by a uniform course of pious conduct”.
Helena was the one who suggested Christ had been born in Bethlehem where she had a church built. In the meantime, Constantine had workers excavate the area where the demolished temple of Jupiter Capitolinus had been in Jerusalem. When they allegedly discovered the remains of the tomb that was reported to be that of Christ, they built a new shrine which today stands as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The temple of Venus had also also demolished, thereby exposing the site where Christ was allegedly crucified. Emperor Constantine had arrived at this conclusion after ordering the Bishop of Jerusalem to make a search for the cross which produced a few pieces of wood found in a cistern. Constantine and his mother may have had the Christian holy sites built, but the Jews and the Muslims disagree with their conclusions to this day.
The Council of Nicaea was indeed a momentous event, for thereafter, because the Roman Christian Church was now the official state religion, it grew exponentially. As for Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, and Vandals, Essenes for the most part, the Christian Church went about converting or massacring them with the help of anointed Absolute Kings of Divine Right, the first being a Frankish warlord called Clovis. After being baptized in Reims in 496 CE, Clovis started doing his godly chores by changing the minds of those who believed Christ was a prophet and not the Son of God. In enforcing the Nicene Creed untold numbers of Essenes were accordingly slaughtered. One could say that the first terrorists in human history were Christians.
Having gotten rid of all opposition, the growth of the new religion knew no bounds, and like a hermit crab, the church made good use of the Roman Empire infrastructure, especially in the Latin half. Having a church and a holy man in every small town fostered a feeling of solidarity and the poor hominids felt secure for the first time in all of their existence. To the east, in the Greek half, it was another matter. The Greek Church refused the authority of the Latin Pope and divided up in parts controlled by separate Patriarchs. And because it also had to face the pressures of the Muslim world, the Greek Church never attained the power and influence of the Latin Church.
The Christian Church very quickly became a considerable worldly power. Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by Pope Theo III in Reims, France, in 800 CE, and many other Kings of Divine Right were subsequently anointed, and ruled over what is now Europe. Because Christians tithed and many bequeathed their estates to the Church in order to ensure their passage to heaven, at one time, the Church owned as much as one third of all the wealth and property in Europe.
If the Scientology sect is so successful and has garnered so much power in a mere seventy-year span, we can only imagine how much wealth and power the Christian Church accumulated over the many centuries, especially if we keep in mind that it was the only game in town. But during its history, as it went about massacring the opposition, the Christian Church made two inbred enemies that would eventually join forces and replace it as a financial and political power.
No matter how we look at it, the enormous success of the Christian Church was due in large part to its psychological treatment of the faithful. When humans broke the time barrier, they were not only scared out of their wits upon becoming aware of their mortality, but they were also deeply ashamed of having to behave like animals, especially with regards to fornication. 3 million years later, Judaism, the original branch of Christianity, found ways to sooth both concerns. 3000 years ago, the Adam and Eve story helped make fornication acceptable by labelling it the original sin, and that was followed by the 10 Commandments that told them what they had to do to go to heaven. When in 325 CE, Apollonius morphed into Jesus and Christianity was born, the Church Fathers were telling the faithful that God had sent his son on earth to show them that he cared, and that he had chosen them as his people. When at the Council of Trent in 1545 CE the Church Fathers made confession a sacrament, the success of Christianity was assured. The local priest figure, today any pulpit thumper, was thereafter perceived as the one who was in direct contact with God, and could heal and forgive in his name.