When Chrestianity began
"But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered and said to Him, "You are the Chrest." (Mark 8:29, Codex Sinaticus)
|Cleopatra (69[Walker, p. 129] – August 12, 30 BCE[T.C. Skeat, "The Last Days of Cleopatra: A Chronological Problem", The Journal of Roman Studies, 43 (1953), pp. 98–100]) did learn to speak Egyptian and represented herself as the reincarnation of an Egyptian goddess, Isis.|
The Roman accounts of how she and her children died are probably self-serving fictions, i.e. propaganda.
Isis was worshipped in the Roman world before empire began; we also have a record for Isis Chrest:
We will start with this inscription, found in Rome:
|CIL VI 24944|
Erík Zara addressed (Chrestians before Christians? An Old Inscription Revisited) the date of this inscription:
Regarding the dating of the inscription, it has been said that it cannot have been made later than 37 CE, the year Antonia Minor died. Dr. Martin Karrer, who seems to agree about this dating, calls the inscription the earliest documentation of the word Chrestianus, a word non-Christians used, referring to Christians, in the days of Tertullian (very late second century). The genitive Antoniae could indicate that she was still alive; otherwise one would perhaps expect her being called Augusta, or a word indicating that she was deceased, or perhaps her name not being mentioned at all, if Faustus was a free man. Dr. Münter believes that Cajus was emperor of Rome when the inscription was made. Cajus must be a reference to Caligula (whose full name was Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), who reigned during the last months of Antonia’s life in 37 CE, and until 41 CE. Even though the identification of Antonia is not totally certain, I will assume a dating not later than 37 CE, but not, as Münter, limit myself to the reign of Caligula, since there seems to be no reason to.I agree with Karrer, Zara and others that this inscription was made probably whilst Antonia was alive and thus not after 37 CE; it could be earlier. Further, Karrer is probably correct in identifying this as the first, known example of using the term Chrestianus/Chrestian.
The grandmother of Caligula (31 August 12 CE – 24 January 41) is Antonia, who is also closely related to the early-imperial families. Roman commentaries and historians treat her with admiration. At least in this period of the empire, a Chrestian need have no fear of public recognition (although this would change with Nero).
As I've mentioned many times in past posts, Alexander the Alabarch (c. 10 BCE – unknown CE) is Antonia's estate manager and his brother, Philo (c. 25 BCE – c. 50 CE), is a famous philosopher:
Philo used philosophical allegory to attempt to fuse and harmonize Greek philosophy with Jewish philosophy. His method followed the practices of both Jewish exegesis and Stoic philosophy. His allegorical exegesis was important for several Christian Church Fathers...This "fusion" is known by the scholarly term "syncretism", the same method used by Cleopatra with the Greek and Egyptian faith. Many today regard Philo as the author of a seminal christology ( “Moses as ‘God’ in Philo of Alexandria: A Precedent for Christology?,” in I. Howard Marshall, Volker Rabens and Cornelis Bennema ed., The Spirit and Christ in the New Testament and Christian Theology: Essays in Honor of Max Turner (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012) 246-265).
As the Logos, Jesus Christ is God in self-revelation (Light) and redemption (Life). He is God to the extent that he can be present to man and knowable to man. The Logos is God,[Jn 1:1] as Thomas stated: "My Lord and my God."[20:28] Yet the Logos is in some sense distinguishable from God, for "the Logos was with God."[1:1]
Theologian Stephen L. Harris claims the author of John adapted Philo's concept of the Logos, identifying Jesus as an incarnation of the divine Logos that formed the universe (cf. Proverbs 8:22-36).We therefore see (pagan) Chrestiany and its theology begin to appear and develop in the early decades of the modern era, in which the gospel story is set.
|Resurrecting Lazarus using a wand - Vatican Museum|