Sunday, July 27, 2008

Imagine there was a Jesus born 100 years early

Let’s say there was a “Jesus,” but it was the Yeshua put to death as a Pharisaic religious and political rebel by Hasmonean king Alexandar Jannai in the 70s BCE, per the Jewish historian Josephus.

Huh, you may say, if you’re not familiar with this.

But, if there is any sort of Jesus of history behind both the Christian gospels and rabbinic legends, he may have lived 100 years earlier than claimed. Wiki has a brief synopsis here.

Then, per Rodney Stark’s theory that Christianity, without miracles, and based on the 175-year history of the Mormons, could grow at 40 percent a year, with a starting point of 100 Christians at the time of Jesus the Pharisee’s death, we would have had about 12,000 at the time of the great fire of Rome in 64 CE.

Stark’s book that explains his growth rate idea in more detail is here.

Given that Rome’s population was about 1/50th of the empire, this would have put about 240 Christians in Rome. That would have been 1/5,000th of the city’s population, or 0.05 percent. Would that have been enough to catch Nero’s eye, whether or not they were actually troublemakers?

Per the original view of when Jesus lived, and Stark’s theory of Christian growth, the empire would have had about 1,500 Christians at the time of the fire of Rome. A mere 30 Roman Christians probably wouldn’t have been enough to draw a letter from the apostle Paul. It certainly, as 1/40,000th of the city’s population, would have been below Nero’s notice.

See this June 2008 blog post for thoughts on how a newly-discovered Jordanian building, alleged to be a Christian church and alleged to date from the middle of the first century CE, would support my contention, setting aside obvious Jordanian tourism reasons to stretch the truth here.

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