Nikitari, Cyprus: Asinou Church frescoes

Chris­tian­i­ty in its ear­ly cen­turies was marked by a remark­able diver­si­ty of beliefs and prac­tices. Com­pet­ing sects, such as the Mar­cionites and Gnos­tics, pre­sent­ed var­i­ous the­o­log­i­cal per­spec­tives. This arti­cle explores the the­o­log­i­cal diver­si­ty and the con­test­ed nature of ear­ly Chris­t­ian beliefs, ques­tion­ing which ver­sion, if any, can be con­sid­ered the true Christianity.

The Pagan Christ(ianity) 27

Chris­tian­i­ty is based on the mys­tery reli­gions of the ancient world. The doc­trines of the Trin­i­ty” and incar­na­tion” were bor­rowed from the pagans. In fact, the whole reli­gion was fab­ri­cat­ed after the depar­ture of Jesus. The leg­endary sto­ries of man-god’ sav­iors dying for the sins of their peo­ple (and ris­ing three days lat­er) were com­mon­ly prop­a­gat­ed. The Chris­tian­i­ty that we know today sim­ply pla­gia­rized the sto­ries and foist­ed them upon Jesus (P).

In the well-known sec­tion of Annales 15.44, Tac­i­tus refers unmis­tak­ably to Chris­tiani.” We shall present­ly take a fresh look at anoth­er pas­sage thought to be at least part­ly Tacitean and which also men­tions a sect called Chris­tiani.” In so doing, this will demon­strate how much his­tor­i­cal data can be suc­cess­ful­ly con­cealed in one brief pas­sage. As will be seen, when it comes to these Chris­tiani,” things are not at all as they have seemed. The sec­ond pas­sage in ques­tion is com­mon­ly known as Tac­i­tus’ frag­ment 2, much of which is gen­er­al­ly con­sid­ered to have once been part of the now lost por­tion of the fifth book of Tac­i­tus’ His­to­ri­ae. Frag­ment 2 was pre­served by the Chris­t­ian his­to­ri­an Sulpi­cius Severus in his Chron­i­ca 2.30.6 – 7 (ca. 400 – 403 CE).

It is unwar­rantably assumed by Chris­t­ian writ­ers that the incar­nat­ed Gods and cru­ci­fied Sav­iors of the pagan reli­gions were all either mere fab­u­lous char­ac­ters, or ordi­nary human beings invest­ed with divine titles, and divine attrib­ut­es ; while, on the oth­er hand, the assump­tion is put forth with equal bold­ness that Jesus Christ was a real divine per­son­age, seen and believed on in the world, and final­ly cru­ci­fied on Mount Cal­vary.” But we do not find the facts in his­to­ry to war­rant any such assump­tions or any such dis­tinc­tions. They all stand in these respects upon the same ground and on equal footing.