There is a generally understood history of Christianity among Christians that goes something like this: On or about year 1, Old Testament god sent a savior by having himself born as a human, named Jesus. Jesus grew up and preached for about 3 years. His words were written down. Then he was crucified for political reasons, but he rose again after being dead 3 days. His followers were renewed in their missions, and after Jesus rose to heaven body and soul they began spreading the good news and his following grew. Churches were established throughout the region. At first the Christians were persecuted, but after conversion of various persons Christianity was free to grow and expanded all over the world. And they lived happily ever after. The End.
Only…… what a fucking fairy tale! Here is the reality. Nothing actually happened. As Jesus cults started gaining traction at the end of the first century, it was the wild west of ideas. Some said Jesus defeated Yaweh, the Old Testament god that was an asshole, and took over as ruler of heaven. Some say Jesus was born in the year 100 BC. Some say Jesus was never a human, but was sent to a lower heaven, then hell, then rose again to heaven. Some say Jesus was just a regular dude until he was baptized and became the last prophet. It was a lawless time, with no known orthodoxy. The men wrote what they thought without being bound by decades of indoctrination.
Remember, this was their legitimate belief mere 1-3 generations after the supposed events happened. They had access to all the documents, all the records, all the people, all the travelers, all the earliest stories. And they were wildly different in nearly every aspect. Christianity was not SPREADING, it was FORMING. And this continued until one day in 325 CE a Roman Emperor decided that this religion was useful in controlling the masses, but they needed to get their shit together.
Motivated to have the church be an orderly tool, Emperor Constantine ordered all the Christian Bishops into a room and told them not to come out until they all agreed. By the time they adjourned for the last time, they had a document that was from then on to be the one and only story. It was the Nicaean Creed, named after the city in which the meeting was held. Anybody that didn’t get on board with that was kicked out of the church and their letters burned.
With a new, official version of the religion in hand, It was time to re-write the history books. For that matter, it was time to write the bible! Well, okay, it was time to decide what writings to include or not. The “not included” pile was the bigger pile. Then they pretended that Peter became the first leader of an unbroken line, tagged the Jewish Old Testament as the prequel, made up stuff to fill in gaps, and fitted in Paul’s often odd writings into the theology. Many of the early church fathers, who had a different idea of Jesus, may never be known or their actual writings never found. But sometimes another writer will bitch about them in their writings and what they said, so we can piece some of that together.
It is important to realize that Jesus myths were more diverse in the second century than they are even today. That’s how we know it’s made up. That’s why Paul is always bitching about the supposed disciples for being wrong, and complaining about false prophets. That’s why the writings of Marcion will never be read again. That’s why Christians don’t spend a lot of time digging into the dead sea scrolls. Laws and leaders would tame the wild west of Christianity.
Has Christianity’s story basically followed the fairy tale since the 4th century? Sure. Christianity spread, and it has divided. But the only time in history when there was only one Christian story was not CE 33. It was in 325, when the doors opened on that hall in Nicaea.
The Spartan Atheist