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More Historical Context

Posted by Bob on November 10th, 2005 under History


What if you were talking to a Learned Theologian and you mentioned Islam, and his reaction was to give you a dead-fish expression and say, “What is Islam?”

I don’t know about you, but I would be deeply suspicious of what that Learned Theologian actually knew.

It won’t happen, because everybody who has the intelligence to button his shirt, and many who don’t, know what Islam is.

Half of the civilized world in the period when Christianity developed consisted of the Persian Empire. The official religion of Persia was, and had been for over a thousand years, Zoroastrianism.

Let me tell how this gets practical.

Christians always talk about Manichaeism. Manichaeism was developed by Mani, a resident of today’s Iraq. He sought to harmonize the teachings of the two great religions of his time.

The two great religions of Mani’s time were, let me repeat, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.

Saint Peter was a Manichaean in his early life. It is from that background that he derived his fanatically hatred of sex.

How can a person be an expert on religion, someone who knows all about the influence of Manichaeism, but be completely ignorant of half of the basis of Manichaeism, which is Zoroastrianism?

Easily. He just has to be a historical and theological moron.

The great religious teacher Origen actually castrated himself for Christ.

Now let me ask you something. How can you possibly get the idea that castrating yourself is a good deed by reading the Old Testament?

Where does all this monasticism and genetic suicide come from? Did Saint Paul just invent it out of his own head?

Saint Peter was a married man. Jesus said a lot about adultery, but, and this is not exactly a technical point, he never said anything against sex or procreation. Jesus had a brother. His mother had actually had sex and procreated with Joseph.

Neither Jesus nor James the Just, his brother, ever seemed to be horrified by the fact that their mother had had normal sex with a man and produced children.

But Paul tells us that it is better for a woman not to have sex at all, but “It is better to marry than to burn.”

Will anybody ever notice the fact that this makes Mary, Christ’s mother, a second-class citizen?

Of course not.

Where in heaven’s name did this Manichaeism come from?

If you get paid to talk about nothing but the Old Testament, you just avoid the question entirely. You sure can’t find the answer there.

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  1. #1 by Richard L. Hardison on 11/10/2005 - 8:46 pm

    Peter a follower of Mani, before Mani was born? Have you been into the lemonade again?

    Seriously, I have found no place in scripture that Peter hated sex. I’ve seen nothing in scripture that implies hatred of sex.

    Manicheism was one of many species of Gnosticism. It did have a large influence on Christianity during the time of Augustine, which led to many bad things in christianity, such as Augustinianism/Calvinism.

    The question I would have is, why would God hate sex when he invented it? Gnostics didn’t like it because it had to do with the flesh, and everything associated with the flesh was evil, while the things of the spirit were good. God created both flesh and spirit, so how could either be evil when he said it was good?

    The answer is gnosticism was not of God and taught doctrines not of God.

    The OT is in the same position as the NT here. Where Manicheism came from is irrelevant to the argument.

  2. #2 by Trager Smith on 11/11/2005 - 11:31 am

    Historical note about Jesus’ brother. The Roman Catholics believe that Jesus had no brothers, which makes Mary a virgin till she died. The Protestants disagree. It’s not a difference in the NT texts they use, but an interpretation. (I don’t think there is a single serious theological issue that results from different *surviving* MSS.) The Greek text in question says, “Jesus and … brothers.” The Greek word is ambiguous. It can mean either his brothers or the brothers. Had an unambiguous word for *his* brothers been in the text, the Roman Catholics would never have developed their doctrine of the perpetual virginity of BVM.
    Otherwise, what you say is excellent. The historical question is why Paul’s statement, “it is better to marry than to burn,” was taken not as a simple permission to go ahead and marry but as a prohibition on marriage by the *later* Roman Catholic church (7th century iirc). There are obvious interests here, as I think Darlington pointed out: The estate of a married priest might go to the wife and not to the Church!
    (I’m awaiting your reply to my reply to you on computers speeding up the economy.)

  3. #3 by Peter on 11/11/2005 - 1:57 pm

    Well said, Mr. Hardison.

  4. #4 by Elizabeth on 11/11/2005 - 10:49 pm

    Yes, there was no distinction between brothers and cousins in the New Testament
    days, in the Middle East. Even the distinction between blood kin and in-laws
    is fairly recent (after the Middle Ages). Folks died all the time, leaving
    orphaned children. If the extended family didn’t take the kids, they
    had to fend for themselves on the streets or in the wilderness.

    There’s something in the New Testament about a bishop needing to
    have a wife who could control her tongue and who could avoid
    drunkenness so she wouldn’t be a gossip.

    If the clergy married and had legitimate offspring, the offspring could
    have taken over Church property — and, in the Middle Ages, legitimate
    offspring of clergy could also have been a threat to the local
    ruler who had effective control over the territory on which
    the Church property sat. (The rulers wanted to control who got
    the good jobs in the Church: it made things handier for them if
    they could either give the job to one of their kids or to
    someone they felt able to control. For instance, Henry VIII was
    trained to one day become a major bishop when his older brother,
    Arthur, became king — but Arthur died and never became king.)

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