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Thread: The root of Christianity

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    The root of Christianity

    I'm taking myself through the podcast series, Litterature and History, which is about ancient literature. After doing a synopsis of each piece he explains the context.

    https://literatureandhistory.com/ind...th-of-the-self

    In the linked episode he has an entire episode where he doesn't sum up a story, but just has an episode of context, explaining the difference of literature, religion and sense of self from before and after Alexander the Great.

    He mentioned something which stood out to me.

    Before Alexander the Great religion was collective. God punished cities and villages collectively. Empires were on the whole well run and of mutual benefit. Enter Alexander the Great. A military genius, but incompetent ruler and useless at book keeping. Where ever he showed up the economy was ruined, and vast numbers of people were sold into slavery for the flimsiest of excuses. Only so he could keep his army bankrolled. Seizing wealth and selling people into slavery was how he kept the Macedonian economy going. The way he held onto power was through terror. The ever looming threat of being sold into slavery kept people under Alexander, or one of his generals, obedient. If they had slave economies before Alexander, it was nothing compared to the economy after Alexander.

    After Alexander died and his generals chopped up his territories between them, turned on each other and then perpetuated the Alexandranian way of fighting wars for 300 years Creating an incredibly turbulent and violent period with little stability. Then the Romans came and stabilized matters. But by then the old ways were dying. Cosmopolitanism was the way of the future. Local cults were something of the past.

    Plays before Alexander could be scathing criticisms of politicians or the lampooning of men of power. After Alexander plays was about trivial personal matters that wouldn't offend anyone. It simply wasn't safe to annoy your superiors.

    Sending people (slaves) back and forward across the empire created cosmopolitan identities. Nobles no longer lived in the villages they ruled over. But lived in the capital, close to the power. They weren't apart of their native community. They were individuals. They had their own personal identity.

    Before Alexander religion was predominantly local cults where the gods inhabited statues in the village temple. You had to go there to talk to the gods. After Alexander religion was increasingly personal gods you could speak to directly. Because the chances that you were currently living in your home village wasn't great.

    Before Alexander people didn't believe in much of an afterlife. They believed that Earthly life was the main event. After Alexander life was so harsh and brutal that people needed to believe there was more to life than this Earthly shit life.

    He talked about it as if this is well established fact. It's the first time I hear about this connection between Alexander the Great's brutality and the spread of personal religion and thus the birth of the thinking which later became Christianity.

    Is it established fact? Or is it just another theory?

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    Senior Member OLDMAN's Avatar
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    We choose the gods we need. It really is that simple. Slaves had horrible lives with little to look forward to....so a life after death in heaven sounds calming.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Should we think of Alexander as a person or as an event? Did Alexander cause things to change or did things changing cause Alexander? Does a person make history or does history make a person?

    It's best we don't place too much importance on the individual, rather look at the forces and conditions operating that brought about the behavior we associate with given persons. The life of George Washington, for example, could have taken many different paths. He could have been another tobacco farmer and slave owner deserving of a footnote in the historical record had it not been for forces totally out of his control. U.S. Grant is another example.

    We're people, we have a tendency to glorify our own.

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    Should we think of Alexander as a person or as an event? Did Alexander cause things to change or did things changing cause Alexander? Does a person make history or does history make a person?

    It's best we don't place too much importance on the individual, rather look at the forces and conditions operating that brought about the behavior we associate with given persons. The life of George Washington, for example, could have taken many different paths. He could have been another tobacco farmer and slave owner deserving of a footnote in the historical record had it not been for forces totally out of his control. U.S. Grant is another example.

    We're people, we have a tendency to glorify our own.
    I'm also a historic materialist and believe in systems rather than people.

    But in this case, I think, the person is important.

    It's rare that a person both has the qualities of a brilliant military commander (one of the world's greatest in all of history) as well as being so utterly incompetent when it came to actually running the empire he acquired. Usually a person good at one is good at the other. In many ways it's the same skills. Not only that but he surrounded himself with generals who also had those same qualities. Wherever Alexander or any of his generals ruled the economy took a nosedive and they became chaotic and dangerous. Law and order collapsed. Under the Persians nobody had to worry about your village being raided by pirate slavers. This was an endemic problem under the Helenic rulers. Philosophy, literature and cultural life flourished in the pre-Alexandrian Mediterranean. In the Helenic Mediterranean very little new was produced. It was all just rehashing and restaging of works produced before Alexander. Artistic creativity didn't get going again until after the Romans were in charge.

    Only Ptolemy managed to create a stable and well functioning bureaucracy. But then again, he ruled the most lucrative province. He had the easiest job.

    It was because of the sheer incompetence of these guys that gave the opportunity to Rome to conquer them. Which they did with astonishing rapidity. The Romans, by contrast, had their shit together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by OLDMAN View Post
    We choose the gods we need. It really is that simple. Slaves had horrible lives with little to look forward to....so a life after death in heaven sounds calming.
    This is about it. It's good to think of religion like a recipe that evolves, and fills the shape of it's vessel (society). When a new idea comes up that people like it sticks, and spreads. Heaven and an afterlife is one of the selling points of Christianity and why it propagated so widely.

    I don't think people didn't care about death or an afterlife prior to Christianity (and certainly the concept existed around the world long before then), but when it came up many communities liked what Christianity was offering.

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    Formerly Joedad
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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by OLDMAN View Post
    We choose the gods we need. It really is that simple. Slaves had horrible lives with little to look forward to....so a life after death in heaven sounds calming.
    This is about it. It's good to think of religion like a recipe that evolves, and fills the shape of it's vessel (society). When a new idea comes up that people like it sticks, and spreads. Heaven and an afterlife is one of the selling points of Christianity and why it propagated so widely.

    I don't think people didn't care about death or an afterlife prior to Christianity (and certainly the concept existed around the world long before then), but when it came up many communities liked what Christianity was offering.
    It's also a terribly simple religion compared to the complexity and multiple personalities involved in competing religions.

    Someone was talking about Therapeutic Moralistic Deism somewhere hereabouts. Most "Christians" today are just that.

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    Senior Member Gnostic Christian Bishop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OLDMAN View Post
    We choose the gods we need. It really is that simple. Slaves had horrible lives with little to look forward to....so a life after death in heaven sounds calming.
    That was not the particularly true for the ancients but might apply to modern slaves.

    Have you wondered why no sage or mystic, not even Jesus, ever badmouthed slavery?

    They did not because they could not offer anything better.

    Slavery was the ancient social safety net.

    Regards
    DL



    Regards
    DL

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    Senior Member Gnostic Christian Bishop's Avatar
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    The root of Christianity was the Greek Chrestianity.

    The bible is a consolidation of many belief systems, just as thje Jewish religion is a combination of older belief system, mostly from Sumer and Egypt.

    Regards
    DL

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    And Gnostic Christianity based somehow on Jesus is a combination of beliefs?

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gnostic Christian Bishop View Post
    The root of Christianity was the Greek Chrestianity.

    The bible is a consolidation of many belief systems, just as thje Jewish religion is a combination of older belief system, mostly from Sumer and Egypt.

    Regards
    DL
    Do you have an argument? Why do you believe this?

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