Cleopatra VII and her son Caesarion at the Temple of Dendera
The artefactual evidences so far treated at Origins of Christianity describe a new religion appearing with the foundation of the Roman Empire and I term it Chrestianity. It derives from the Ptolemaic faith of Egypt, which itself is a series of syncretisms between the faiths of Greece post-Alexander and of pharaonic Egypt. This culminated with Cleopatra VII and was introduced into the Roman Empire through the imperial elite (Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Augustus), including and especially Antonia Minor.
Augustus as pharaoh. Also: Octavian named pharaoh in cartouche.
Chrestianity uses Greek Magic, which in this period also incorporates that of Mesopotamia; it is probably refined at the Library of Alexandria.
Denarius depicting Julius Caesar as Pontifex Maximus
For the early imperial period, I identify the leading Chrestians associated with Antonia Minor as the Alexandrian family of Alexander the Alabarch and their influence was felt strongly in the Herodian court at Jerusalem. At the beginning, the enemy of these Chrestians was messianic Judaism and its leaders, the series of Righteous Teachers based at Qumran.

The messianic movement was finally crushed by Hadrian in the last two Jewish-Roman Wars, his building Aelia Capitolina atop Jerusalem (then banning Jews from the city) and deleting Judea (to become Palestine); his resurrection of Antinous - along with the founding of a new cult in his name - marks a pivotal stage in Chrestian theology which later inspired the writing of the first gospel. Put another way, the original gospel (Q perhaps) must be post-Hadrian, though in conception they are not yet Christian. This grecophile emperor (who retained total control over access to the Library) was, in my opinion, Chrestian.
Statue of Hadrian as Pontifex Maximus - Musei Capitolini
Dating of the earliest texts and textual fragments ascribed as Christian are (a) unreliable by a wide margin and (b) make no mention of either Jesus, or Christ/Christian/Christianity; they are Chrestian and this category includes the earliest codices for the New Testament. I identify the earliest dated reliably as P. Dura 24, associated with the baptistery nearby and whose authorship is probably the School of Bardaisan. For these to be present in Dura Europos, they were imperially sanctioned.

Dating for the arrival of Christianity is obscured by (a) unreliable dating of biblical texts and (b) the failure of historians to follow proper methods of historiography in dating the textual tradition. The earliest period for which I would speculate is 6th century; the actual period could well be the reign of Charlemagne:
Charlemagne continued his father's policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy, and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He also campaigned against the peoples to his east, Christianizing them upon penalty of death, at times leading to events such as the Massacre of Verden. Charlemagne reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned "emperor" by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day at Old St. Peter's Basilica.
Called the "Father of Europe" (pater Europae),[3] Charlemagne united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire.
8. If any one of the race of the Saxons hereafter concealed among them shall have wished to hide himself unbaptized, and shall have scorned to come to baptism and shall have wished to remain a pagan, let him be punished by death. (Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae)
The Roman Empire became Christendom, still headed by the Pontifex Maximus and extending its faith - power and influence - by force. This strategy continued through the Middle Ages with, for example, the Northern Crusades (which include the Wendish Crusade, Livonian Crusade, Prussian Crusade and four Swedish Crusades).
Seal of the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, medieval Livonia
There is much more to tell of course, especially the detailed mechanics of how this all happened and - a particular favourite of mine - the links between Chrestianity and Buddhism, for this involves the Silk Road and events at either end. It is in the remnants of the Hellenistic empire stretching all the way to India where Bardaisan and others found inspiration to resurrect their cultic heroes as the divine men of the modern era.

The gospels, Pauline epistles and Acts-Luke are first Greek, though colonial rather than of Greece proper; they emerge from Greek culture, what had been Seleucia and Ptolemaic Egypt. This is the empire founded by Alexander II of Macedon and it stretched from the Mediterranean and Africa to India. The literary roots of the New Testament lie in Greek culture, syncretised with numerous gods, theologies and religious customs of this Greek and Greco-Roman world. Some syncretisms are obvious and others less so.
Château de Floure, a hotel in France which was once a Roman villa, then monastery. Numerous villas became early monasteries, usually owned and managed by local royalty. Unpaid slaves became unpaid monks working in powerful, economic centres.
To untangle Christian origins fully requires identifying its starting point in the medieval period - who did it and how. The method was unoriginal, following the same series of syncretisms as had the Greeks, then Romans, so the mix included Chrestianity and other faiths too. The textual tradition is a perverted, mirror image of Roman imperial history, so the Roman Church could claim imperial authority for itself.
"Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives." -- Matthew 24:45-46.
"Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church; rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain." -- 1 Timothy 6:1-5.
"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart." -- Ephesians 6:5-6.
"Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men." -- 1 Peter 2:13
"Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval." -- 1 Peter 2:18-29.
"Slavery among men is natural, for some are naturally slaves according to the Philosopher (Polit. i, 2). Now 'slavery belongs to the right of nations,' as Isidore states (Etym. v, 4). Therefore the right of nations is a natural right." -- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, "On Justice"
"The prime cause ... of slavery is sin, which brings man under the dominion of his fellow -- that which does not happen save by the judgment of God, with whom is no unrighteousness, and who knows how to award fit punishments to every variety of offence." -- St. Augustine of Hippo, City of God, Book XIX, Chapter. 15.
"Masters contribute greater benefits to their servants than servants to their masters. For the former furnish the money to purchase for them sufficient food and clothing, and bestow much care upon them in other respects, so that the masters pay them the larger service ... they suffer much toil and trouble for your repose, ought they not in return to receive much honor from you, their servants?" -- St. John Chrysostom, "Homily 16 on 1 Timothy"
"Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons. ... It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given.  The purchaser should carefully examine whether the slave who is put up for sale has been justly or unjustly deprived of his liberty, and that the vendor should do nothing which might endanger the life, virtue, or Catholic faith of the slave." -- Instruction 20, The Holy Office (Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), June 20, 1866.
Whatever were the intentions of Chrestian authors, once the project became imperial, the focus was on the relationship between lord and servant, master and slave, in a practical, secular manner appropriate to its period, though dressed up/rationalised as theology. We see it today in the way 'the great and the good' lord it over the masses/electorate/wage slaves.

Chrestianity began as a means to combat messianic Judaism in Judea and neighbouring states such as Syria and Egypt, and so keep power within the ruling, Roman-backed elites of the provinces. However, as ever-practical Rome cared less about personalities and religions than they did about loyalty to Rome, Chrestians had to remain covert and when needed, assassinate emperors they regarded as too tolerant of their enemies. In the first century, it was equally dangerous to be either a messianic Jew, or an emperor who opposed Chrestian policy.
If you think I'm wrong, why have no bankers have been convicted for the series of massive scandals?
Faith is a personal matter; religion however is a pillar of the state and thus serves a political purpose, which for Christianity always was (as with Chrestianity) to focus power within a ruling elite. Religion is just one of the (few) levers of power, nothing more. In this, Chrestianity and Christianity were founded for the same purpose.

Share this: