Chapter Thirty


       Jerusalem and the Temple lay in ruins. Many of its inhabitants
were dragged off to Rome as slaves to be sold in the markets throughout
the Empire. Most of these were bought by fellow Jews and freed. The
Jewish nation which had once been the object of hatred due to their
special treatment by the Romans, was now the object of derision and
scorn much as it had been centuries earlier when the Babylonians had
defeated them. Some of the animosity was also caused by the Jewish
religion itself. Many of the Jewish religious customs such as
circumcision, food separation, and Sabbath were looked upon by many
gentiles as stupid and elitist, circumcision because it was seen as a
mutilation of the body worshipped by Greek culture, kosher laws because
they created social segregation between Jews and non-Jews, and Sabbath
because it was considered economically counter-productive. On top of
this was animosity to the idea of the Jewish G-d itself. This idea, that
G-d cannot be seen but that, at the same time, is the only true G-d was
seen as Jewish hubris by the Roman world. All nations under the hegemony
of Rome had to worship Caesar as a god. Only the Jews were exempt from
this law. Instead they were required to pay a specific Temple tax to the
Empire for the privilege of not giving adoration to the Emperor. Now the
peoples of the Empire were able to openly express their hatred for these
enemies of the Empire, and of all "peace loving" people everywhere. They
were able to point to the Jews and say, "Where is your G-d now?". (Joel

       Many Jews asked themselves this same question and this should not
surprise us. They would be less than human if they did not question what
seemed to be the complete abandonment by G-d much as some modern Jews
ask about the hiddenness of G-d during the Holacaust. If the average
Pharasaic Jew was inclined to ask this disturbing question, how much
more so the Jewish Nazarene, who believed he was already living within
redeemed time, somehow already inside the Kingdom of G-d while the rest
of the world stepped on its thrreshold. For many a Jewish follower of
Jesus, the War which proved nearly fatal for his nation, proved
absolutely fatal for his belief in the Nazarene messiah. No doubt, many
a Nazarene left the Assembly of the Faithfull and rejoined his Pharasaic
brothers. A goodly number remained, undaunted by the national tragedy
and the failure of the parousia. The same tradition of a previous
national destruction by the Babylonians and subsequent national
resurrection that sustained the ordinary Jew in this time of trouble,
also sustained the Nazarene who continued to cling to his faith in his
resurrected Master. The only conclusion to be drawn, which would allow a
Jew to retain his sanity and his faith, was that the sins of the nation
had prevented the appearence of the messiah when he was needed most. To
the Pharisaic Jew, these sins had prevented the coming of the messiah.
To the Nazarene, these sins had prevented the return of Jesus. The
Pharisee told himself that the groundless animosity of the Jew for his
neighbor, and divisiveness of the nation were the cardinal sins. The
Nazarene told himself that the failure of the nation to recognize and
accept Jesus the Nazarene was that sin which prevented redemption.
Nevertheless, the post-War Nazarene continued to look upon himself as
part of the larger people of Israel, and wished to share the fate and
tribulation of Israel.

       Not so the gentile follower of Jesus. At first, the Christians
also felt shock at the destruction of the Mother Church, and of the
Temple which had played such a prominent part in the spread of the
movement (Acts 6:7;15:5). To this point, they had looked to Jews for
leadership. After all, it WAS the G-d of Israel they had chosen to
believe in as G-d. They had been consistently told that they were the
"wild olive branches" grafted into the true olive tree of Israel (Romans
11:17), and that they were not to puff themsleves up with pride over the
"natural branches" (Romans 11:18). Now the Jewish leadership was gone.

       The original Nazarene-Christian community of Rome, composed
mostly of Jews, had been weakened by the persecutions starting in CE 64,
when many of its Jewish members were fed to the lions as punishment for
spreading propaganda which the Romans considered subversive, namely that
their Jewish king would shortly arrive and destroy the Empire,
supplanting Caesar as world ruler, and for the charge of starting the
fire that had burned down much of Rome itself. The subsequent War, the
failure of the Jewish revolt, and the disappearence of the Mother Church
further weakened the Jewish authority of the Roman Church. Consequently
the Roman Church was taken over by gentiles who now constituted the
majority, and there began a policy of appeasing the Roman government by
ACCENTUATING PACIFISM, and disassociation from the Jewish revolt. Those
Nazarenes who remained of the Mother Church in the Middle East were
powerless to do anything about this new policy.

       Eusebius reports that immediately upon the conclusion of
hostilities, Vespasian had all known members of Davidic families living
in the Holy Land arrested or placed under survellience. The Nazarenes,
along with all other messianists, were considered to be anti-Roman,
especially as it was well known that they were Zealot
"fellow-travellers". The Nazarenes therefore had to curtail their
influence over gentile Christians, especially in the West. This being
the case, whatever co-hesion that had hitherto existed between Jewish
Nazarenes and gentile Chritsians began to fall apart. In the West, the
Church at Rome felt the responsibility to fill the vacuum and take up
the mantle of leadership.

       The knowledge that the Church at Rome had been established by
Peter, the lieutenant of Jesus, lent that Church much prestige. The
leaders of the Roman Church at once began to write letters to the
Christians living in the East, in the name of Peter, urging a
respectfull, passive attitude toward the Roman Empire (I Peter 2:13-17).
This was deemed necessary because, as Paul said before his death, the
Christians in Asia had fallen away from following him and had gone over
to Peter and the other Judaizers. Yet the words and ideas of Paul,
especially his ideas that Christains were now the new true Israel, and
that Jewish nationality offered no inherant superiority in terms "being
in Christ" (Romans 10:12), and that the real mission of that Christ was
not one of a political messiah but rather as KYRIOS SOTER, a universal
Savior sent to free men from sin and the grip of the devil by his death
and ressurection, began to take on new and significant meaning to the
Western Church in the wake of the defeat of the Jewish nation. Paul's
ideas seemed more revelant ands true now than ever before. The fact that
the Jewish Temple had been destroyed and that Roman soldiers had been
allowed to sacrifice to their standards in the very Temple Courts with
impunity showed that Paul's vision of the Risen Christ was the authentic
one and that the Nazarene vision of Jesus was Jewishly parochial,
ethnocentric and false. Paul had been, once and for all time,
posthumously vindicated and justified, and the Judaizers proven liars.

       From this time onward, even though Peter continued to be called
the Rock of the Church, and later to be known as the first Pope of Rome
by virtue of the inescapable historical fact that he indeed HAD been
Jesus' chosen successor and HAD established the Church at Rome,
nevertheless he was for all practical purposes demoted from his position
as Rock, and was unceremoniously given the position of fore-runner of
Paul much in the same manner as John the Baptizer had been given the
role of fore-runner of Jesus. The bitter irony is that during the lives
of the two men, Peter had always been strongly antithetical to Paul, a
fact even attested to by the pages of the New Testament itself.

       In the West, the adoption of the Pauline view continued to grow,
and Peter was made to endorse Paul's view by documents written in his
name. (I Peter 2; II Peter 3:14-16). These documents, written in the
West, were sent out to the Churches of the East. In the East, the
transition from Judaistic Petrine Nazarenism to Pauline Christianity was
somewhat slower but ultimately, deprived of Jewish leadership, there too
the Pauline view of Jesus ultimately prevailed. The Nazarene leaders,
those few that remained after the War, were simply too emotionally taken
up with their nation's defeat that they felt the need to draw closer to
their fellow Jews more than their need to continue the proselytization
of the non-Jews, many of whom were now outwardly and unabashedly
displaying hatred of Israel. Deprived of Jewish input and feeling the
pressure from their fellow gentiles, the Christians of the East felt
little recourse other than to fall into line with their Western
brethren, to espouse the path of pacificsm and neutrality regarding the
defeated Jews, followed by the abandoning of Jewish practices which
might make them suspect of being too sympathetic to and too identifiable
with that defeated people. Finally, under the thrust of Pauline
religious propaganda, they fell in line with that view of Jesus as well.

       This even extended to the Holy Land itself. After the destruction
of the Jerusalem Mother Church, the Church at Caesarea became the
dominant Church in the Land of Israel, and that Church was composed of

       As to the fate of the Nazarene leadership of the Mother Church,
unfortunately there is not much documentary evidence. Although the
offcial position of Christianity is that they fled to Pella in
Transjordan, some scholars of the period dispute that. Brandon
especially as he gives coherent reasons why Jews (Nazarenes) would
absolutely NOT choose Pella as a choice of refuge. Brandon speculates
with good logic that if the Nazarene leaders left the Land at all, the
most logical haven would be Egypt, and probably the city of Alexandria
which contained one of the largest Jewish communities of the ancient

       Exactly who these leaders might have been is also open to
question. As we have noted, James and Peter were already dead before the
War had begun. John the beloved disciple would have been the only
surviver of the original leaders, and Chritsian legend claims that he
went to one of the Greek isles where he lived out his days writing and
preaching about Jesus to the local inhabitants.If this has any
historical basis at all, we must conclude that he confined his preaching
to his Jewish brethren. As to the 15 men that Eusebius cites as the
first original Jewish "bishops" of the Assembly of the Faithfull, we
will conclude, as does Scheops, that they were in some way related to
Jesus as cousins or uncles, and as such, sought out by the Romans, and
arrested or killed. The historical fate of the various other original
twelve disciples is essentially unknown. They play no major role in the
story of the spread of either Nazarenism or Christianity in the Acts of
the Apostles. Later Christian tradition assigns each of them a fate of
converting various different nations, and ultimate martyrdom.

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