An essay donated by Tony Crosthwaite
Jesus versus Two Religious
Establishments: From Jew to Gentile
Jesus versus Two Religious Establishments: From Jew to Gentile:
Christianity has Jewish roots that sprang out of Palestine, but church doctrine as we know it was
developed by Gentiles that were from a non Jewish/Hebrew culture. The question is did the Gentile
interpreters of the Jewish/Hebrew writings that comprise the Bible really understand this work.
Matthew’s gospel is scathing about the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus confronted. It accused them
of conspiring to bring about the death of Jesus; it charged them with devouring widows’ houses and
making a pretence of long prayer; it branded them as full of hypocrisy and the children of those who
killed the prophets; it accused them of abiding by forms of the Law but neglecting the more important
matters of justice, mercy and faith; etc. (See Chapters 23, 24, 26, 27)
Elsewhere I have described the motivation of this Jewish religious establishment in its confrontation
with Jesus as follows:
Jesus’ clash with the religious establishment ended with his judicial murder. The establishment did
not accept his claims. Had he been like them, they might have thought differently about him. But he
was not like them. By destroying the man physically, the establishment proved they were right, or so
they thought. 1
After the crucifixion, what Jesus had started was continued by his disciples. Their efforts were
supplemented by the new convert Paul. This group’s personnel and background were thoroughly
Jewish and their Centrex was Jerusalem.
However, circumstances shifted this new movement dramatically and quickly in all its aspects from a Jewish to a Gentile base. Factors at play included the destruction of Jerusalem and the missionary activities directed towards the Gentiles. After 100 CE the Jewish element in the development
of “christianity” is little more than a footnote in history, and often out of step with the developing mainstream.
We know from complaints in the New Testament that well before the end of the first century corruption of the apostles’ teaching had already started to occur.
The question to address is this. Did the Gentile mind understand and appreciate the New Testament message, or did it interpret the words through its own cultural prism and in doing this continue a process of corruption whose beginnings are referred to in the OT?
This question is just as important now as it was then, because the Churches of today are the inheritors of the interpretations formulated by the Gentile Church Fathers.
From Jerusalem to the Roman Empire and beyond:
Culturally speaking the Roman Empire was divided into two halves. The east had a Greek heritage,
a legacy of Alexander the Great’s exploits; the west was more influenced by the Latin’s. The Greeks
were an imaginative lot and developed their own suite of gods to cover all situations, whereas the
Latins, being of a practical disposition, simply copied many of the Greek gods and gave then different
names. The human and divine characteristics of these “gods” were so intermingled that it was not
such a great leap to declare particular men of note gods, such as an emperor.
In the period following New Testament times, most of the development of what we call Christianity
took place in the Greek east of the empire. There is no need to comment on the detail of the
intellectual ferment of this period as factions went to war for their views, but it is relevant to note that
the nature of the controversies might have appealed to the intellectual nature of the Greek mind but
bear little resemblance to anything that would have engaged the Hebrew mind.
In the 380's CE, Christianity became the State religion of the Roman Empire. By then it had come a long way from its humble beginnings which saw its founder put to death at the instigation of the local religious
The Church became an integral part of the Establishment, jostling with the secular arm for dominance. Often the two arms were the same anyway, princes of the kingdom also being bishops
of the church. Power and privilege with arrogance and self righteousness flowed freely. The
debasements to which the Church fell can hardly be detailed here, but for anyone interested the
Donation of Constantine forgery, the Rule of the Courtesans in the Vatican, the Borgias, the Medicis,
the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre, the Inquisition, and the 20th century slaughter by the Ustashi in Croatia
provide but a few of numerous examples.
One wonders how this Church Establishment would have treated Jesus had he appeared in their time.
And one can only speculate if Matthew had been alive would he have spoken any more favorably of
this Church Establishment than he did of the one that instigated the murder of Jesus?
And has the Church has been the guardian of the Truth or of fabrications about “God’s anointed”?
Curiously, checking the virgin birth claims against the Bible holds the answer to the last question. 2
- "Does the Bible teach that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived?" — Post 432 at: http://www.theologyweb.com
- See the articles under Doctrine of virgin birth at:
Originally posted on 2010-NOV-17
Latest update on: 2010-NOV-17
Written by Tony Crosthwaite