Question for you Seeker:
What difference would monotheism or polytheism make? The Romans were polytheistic.
Has this thread suddenly becomes Idiot’s Corner over night? What’s up, Rich? Was it a slow night on the Age of Conan, or something? I know there’ s not much else happening on this board at the moment, too. So I guess you had to come in here, like one of those dratted flies that always come in through my windows just before it rains.
I appreciate that you may have just discovered that the Romans were polytheistic and so wanted to rush on here and share it with the world and, more particularly, Seeker, who must have been very surprised by such news. But if you are going to post in this thread, please do a little research first - at least to the least extent of reading this thread before you post. That way, you won't find yourself asking stupid questions or stating the obvious.
I couldn’t decide between two options: Telling you to run along and play, and take your ball with you. Or giving you a Dummies Guide to where we’re at in this discussion. I decided on the latter, so you need to concentrate your brain cell now and pay attention to this next bit which is 101 if you want to avoid public embarrassment in the future:
Dummies Guide to this discussion
1. There is no evidence of Jesus in first century Jerusalem. No sign of a human man called Jesus Christ who performed miracles, had 12 disciples and died on the cross and rose again.
2. However, there is evidence at the time of groups of mystics or Gnostics, that told fictional stories about such a birth-death-rebirth deity as allegory in other words, to hide a deeper meaning which was a spiritual truth and not a historical truth. The word ‘gnostic’ is Greek for a sort of ‘inner knowing’ or mysticism. Each Gnostic sect had their own stories about this mythical godman and wrote their own gospels to support their spiritual practises. But none of them believed that these stories were true and historical and thus didn’t feel the need to harass others whose stories were slightly different.
3. The first evidence we have of any belief in a historical Jesus Christ is in the second century, when those who believed that Jesus had actually lived in the flesh started to attack in writing said peace loving, live-and-let-live Gnostic types. Because these second century attacking types thought the Jesus story was literally true, we call them Literalists. And it was the Literalists who canonised (made orthodox) the four gospels that we know today, and chucked out all the rest. Btw, not one of the Literalists was Jewish or came from Judaea.
4. In those days, practically the whole civilised Western world was then part of the Roman Empire. And, in the second and third centuries, its capital Rome was a hotbed of all sorts of religious and philosophical sects of which the Gnostics and the Literalists were just a small part. The Romans, as you rightly pointed out, were polytheistic and worshipped many gods. And one of their favourites was Mithras who was born on December 25 and whose body and blood they consumed in the form of bread and wine.
5. But then, in the early fourth century, along came the emperor Constantine. Constantine felt the need to consolidate what had now become the Holy Roman Empire under one law, and he decided the best way to do that was to establish one religion for all. So all these various sects and philosophy schools had to go and, for reasons best known to himself, he chose the Literalist Christian religion to become the religion of the empire – and now, with this kind of state backing, Literalist Christianity really took off.
6. Constantine got this bloke called Eusebius to write or create the history of the Christian Church, and so, until recently, most of what we knew about the history of Christianity was spun from Eusebius’s PR machine that advertised a real life, historical Jesus who lived from 1 CE to 32 CE. All the hundreds of different manuscripts of the stories of all the other sects were called in and those that didn’t fit the Brave New World were destroyed or rewritten out of recognition, over time. Libraries were burned and meeting places destroyed. Later on, tens of thousands of Gnostics, like the Cathars and Bogomils, were killed to keep the story of the historical Jesus the only one in town.
7. Some of the Gnostics in the fourth century, realising that this was happening, hid or buried their stories. But these didn't come to light until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls between 1947 and 1979 on the West Bank, and the Nag Hammadi gospels in 1949.
8. But all of these Gnostic texts - for various reasons, including stalling by the authorities - have taken a long time to percolate down into the public domain. So it’s only really in the last 10-15 years that people have had free access to them, and have started asking these sorts of awkward questions of the Christian Church which is represented on here by Forum Monk and KB - you can see why the Christian Church is in trouble!
So I hope this helps.