It has been requested by someone dear to me to continue sharing interesting history about scripture that is little known to most of us. I am happy to oblige. Then I have business to do; Baptist business. Baptist friends, I am going to be reaching out to pick your brains. Please be ready. 😉 Also, I would like to plug Perkins School of Theology as a place to attend seminary. Theology is interesting here, and not separate from our human lives. Join the Baptist House of Studies if you are from the free church tradition. It is a party everyday with us – just the way Jesus would want it to be. Jesus came for the party, and we don’t get to tell God how to party by giving God the invite list. Nope!
First of all, for all the talk about history, I don’t think we can truly understand our history apart from religion and mythology. Religion creates societies, and it is deeply embedded in our history. Not studying history and religion together-in church and school-hinders our understanding of why events were/and are happening in culture, and why the church (or any religious institution) was/is responding the way it was/is to the events. They go together.
The creation of the idea of Separation of Church and State is not to create a world where our faith is a completely separate facet of our life; it is to allow us to worship how we want (all religions, or no religion) without fear. It is to create a pluralistic society. Our faith will always inform who we are in our society. It is supposed to be a benefit-not to discriminate and tell people they are out. We have a ways to go with this understanding, and that is because this idea of “us vs them” has a long history in our faith. Here is a little history. I am going to show how the gospels are political-well, just Mark for today. They are a counter-narrative to Caesar and the authoritarian rule of religion. Back in the days of Jesus separation of church and state did not exist. A lot of scenes we would call religious persecution might be more politically motivated to conquer land than actually oppressing the religion. But it looks like religious persecution b/c our faith should be opposing this. Great job to those who came before us and stood up to empire.
Rome is where we can probably mark the beginning of white supremacy and missionizing the world-peace achieved through slaughtering was good news:
Here is a reading from the Aenid- A Latin epic poem
Virgil, The Aeneid 6.851–53
Roman, remember by your strength to rule
Earth’s peoples—for your arts are these:
To pacify, to impose the rule of law,
To spare the conquered, battle down the proud.”
Then there is a whole family lineage Virgil is tracing back to Tros. Ares/Mars is in the lineage – God of War. This is how it all got justified, and we aren’t over it yet. This is hard to write in a FB post. This is why I recommend a NT seminary class at Perkins. They have the best professors. I have worked with all three! I also highly recommend Old Testament, and every other class too. All so good.
Ok, now that we have that background, I am including a coin of Octavian Augustus – Super Patron. He wants to be deified, and does it by avenging his father Julius’s death by conquering Mark Antony. He gets his own coin, and
the coin translates as Son of God.
Now that we know this. Lets go to the beginning of the gospel of Mark. (My favorite gospel, along with John)
The gospel of Mark is picking up where Malachi leaves off waiting for the return of Elijah who will return before the great and terrible day to return us to each other before the land is struck with a curse. Now lets read Mark 1: 1-3 NRSV
1 The beginning of the good news[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[b]
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,[c]
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,[d]
who will prepare your way;
the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
Look how political these three verses are. The beginning of the good news is not peace through slaughtering, but Jesus Christ. He is flipping the story.
John the Baptist is the new Elijah preparing the way.
And who is the Son of God? Not Caesar!