|The Bible - more fiction than many want to admit|
One of the books I am reading on the trip is Reza Aslam's book, "Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth." For anyone who loves history and, perhaps more importantly, seeks to know the truth about Christianity, the book is a must read (I am about 3/4 through the book). It is easy to see why the professional Christian set and Christian fundamentalists have been horrified by the book and condemned it: it basically blows apart their entire version of Christianity and underscore how many portions of the New Testament are not historically correct and demonstrates over time how the Church fathers changed the facts to fit their agenda.
These rewritings range from the conscious effort to distance the new faith from Judaism in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and the vengeance of Rome against to shifting the blame for Jesus' execution to the chief priests of the Jewish Temple rather than Rome in the person of Pontius Pilate who in fact had ordered the crucifixion of thousands of Jewish "trouble makers" who challenged Rome's authority in word and deed.
The other stunning revelation that I never before fully understood is the fact that St. Paul was deemed a heretic and teacher of untruths by the original apostles, particular James, the brother of Jesus (who was diminished over time by the Church because his very existence blows to Hell the Church's myth of Mary as "the ever virgin"). What Paul concocted - and three times was reprimanded for by James and the other apostles based in Jerusalem - and which largely became what is now accepted Christian belief, bore little resemblance to what was being preached by the original apostles and Jesus' acknowledged brother and true successor as leader. Ironically, what allowed the transformation started by Paul to flourish was the fact that when Rome wiped out Jerusalem and all of its inhabitants in 70 A.D., the mother assembly and the surviving remnants of most of the original apostles and their closest followers were wiped out as well.
The overall take away? The true nature of Jesus - if he indeed existed - and what he and his immediate direct successors taught bears little resemblance to what passes for accepted Christian belief nowadays.