– Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Francesco Hayez, oil on canvas, 1867. Depicting the destruction and looting of the Second Temple by the Roman army.
by Liam Scheff
So, one day you wake up, and your head goes:
70 AD. The siege, a four-year constant brutalizing attack on the smaller Jewish population by the armies of the Roman Empire in Judah (Now Palestine/Israel) ends with the obliteration of a nation and a people. The destruction and looting of their single, large holy place, their massive temple, their point of solace, pride, a symbolic home on earth for their particular and strange mythology…in a moment is gone, evaporated; no, worse, cracked, broken, bloodied, raped, enslaved, mortified. And all of the tribe of Israel now servants of an Empire they despised and feared.
– Gone, baby, gone.
70 AD. That’s when the first stories of a Jew who would carry forward the soul from the dying body of Judaism – a story that had been floating around since the first cultures on Earth. Mithras, Horus, Osiris, Dionysus – the Son of the Heavenly Gods who comes to earth, often through the body of a human, and teaches us something — something about how to deal with this mess.
These stories had always existed; and the various splinter sects of Judaism that had encountered ancient Greek philosophy had broadened their psychological view to include a notion of a spirit God, “Logos,” the unknowable, which was beyond all things, which became all things. Other sects flirted with and reveled in the Dionysus and Mithras cults, the worship of God-men who came to earth and taught us how to live, then died on a tree and rose, giving us a gift of their blood and flesh, the wine and bread, the grape and barley and corn…. Every culture had this myth; or almost. The Jews didn’t, but they were incorporating it at the margins.
– the busy ancient world with a calamity of bickering tribes and sects
At the same point, at the same time, history was being recorded by the dozens of minds and hands throughout the Roman Empire, from Egypt to Rome itself and everywhere in between — and no one knew or recorded or witnessed a thing about a single magic man who did actual miracles in Judah. On the contrary, there were a multitude of ongoing reports about the variety of annoying radical preachers, who were dragging Judaism into the direction of both Logos (Gnosticism) and Dionysus (God-man). Most disappeared from history without note; some were put to death. Many were called Yeshua, which was a title for a ‘Godly’ person, more than a simple or single name, not just for one person, but for many. Just as “Chrestos” (or “anointed”) was a title bestowed upon some one, like “Mahatma” or “His Excellency,” or “The Honorable.” And there was no “Nazareth,” but only the “Notzri,” the spiritual seekers of wisdom who followed these various sects.
– the old world of Judah, about to be Roman.
Three titles, combined by the mind reeling after the total and final obliteration of a two thousand year way of life and being. ‘Jesus Christ of Nazareth.’ Yeshu. Chrestos. The Nazri. One of many, combined in an allegory that told a different story; the story of the rightful descent of old Judaism, and its replacement, ordained by Yahweh, the old mountain thunder god, to let the tribe transform, transmute and survive in a new identity.
And until that point, until 70 AD, when their beautiful, precious Temple was destroyed and looted, the silver and religious artifacts stolen by Roman Soldiers…Until that point, there was no “Jesus Christ.”
There were no stories, no indications, no recorded history, no eye-witness anythings to a figure called “Jesus Christ” who did any magic, healings or ‘miracles’ until the Jewish tribe had been assassinated in the ancient world.
The Death of Judea:
“The death rate among the besieged increased. Soon, the Kidron valley and the Valley of Hinnom were filled with corpses. One defector told Titus that their number was estimated at 115,880. Desperate people tried to leave Jerusalem. When they had succeeded in passing their own lines and had not been killed by Roman patrols, they reached the palisade. Here they surrendered: as prisoners, they were at last entitled to some bread. Some of them ate so much, [because they had been starving] that they could not stomach it and died. In that case, their oedemaous bodies were cut open by the Syrian and Arabian warders, who knew that some of these people had swallowed coins before they started their ill fated expedition. Titus refrained from punishing these violators when he discovered that there were too many. One of the defectors was the famous teacher Yohanan ben Zakkai, who escaped in a coffin and saved his life by predicting to Titus that he, too, would be an emperor.
Since there was no wood, the construction of new siege dams to attack the Antonia [part of the city’s defense complex] took three weeks. A sortie of weakened Jewish warriors had no success. Soon, the sound of the battering-rams was to be heard, and one night, a wall of the Antonia collapsed; but the legionaries discovered that a new wall had been build behind the breach. The Antonia had to be taken by other means.
During a dark night at the beginning of July, twenty-four Roman soldiers climbed the walls of the castle, killed the guard, and sounded a trumpet. The garrison of the Antonia overestimated the number of enemies; many fled to the Temple. At the same time, Titus ordered his men to enter the mine that John [of Gischala’s] sappers had made. At three o’ clock in the morning, these men entered the fortress; after ten hours of fighting, they had driven John’s men away.
A couple of days later, on 14 July, prisoners told them that the priests in the Temple had been forced to interrupt the daily sacrifices, which had greatly demoralized the defenders of Jerusalem.
The Antonia was demolished. The stones were used to build a new dam, this time towards the Temple terrace. The Romans used the dam to set fire to the porticoes on the northern and western side of the terrace, but it was impossible to bash trough the walls. On the tenth of August, the Temple itself was burning. Six thousand women and children were taken prisoner at the Court of the Gentiles, while the legionaries sacrificed to their standards in the Holy of Holies.
During the four years of war, the Romans had taken 97,000 prisoners. Thousands of them were forced to become gladiators and were killed in the arena, fighting wild animals or fellow gladiators. Some, who were known as criminals, were burned alive. Others were employed at Seleucia, where they had to dig a tunnel. But most of these prisoners were brought to Rome, where they were forced to build the Forum of Peace (a park in the heart of Rome) and the Colosseum. The Menorah and the Table were exhibited in the temple of Peace.” Livius.org
– “Coin of Vespasian, showing a personification of Judaea mourning the loss of her independence. Legend: JUDAEA CAPTA, ‘Judaea conquered’. (Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen)”
Humiliated, Ground To Dirt And All But Broken, The Phoenix Rises From The Ashes Of Its Own Corpse
When the old authority was gone, demolished and destroyed, it was possible for the sects and splinter groups to fill a gap. “Nature abhors a vacuum,” and fills it with whatever is nearby.
Isis and Horus became the Virgin Mary and the infant Jesus. Osiris/Dionysus became part of Jesus. Old Torah stories were wound into the new text, to make it seem like it was all “ordained” and “prophesied.”
But it was just all clever re-writing of existing myths, slowly, through dozens of new texts, correcting each other, replacing each other, upending each other, and eventually winnowed down to Four, plus some letters, and some new material added by the new rulers in Rome, to flesh it out and make it stick.
This Is Our Myth
Christianity is the ground sausage created out of the flesh of the mythic world of ancient Rome, Egypt and Greece that filled the hollow created by the death (and murder) of Judea in 70 AD. It is a strange brew stuffed into (or pouring out of) a wound in the ancient world.
The story of “Chrestos” (the dying-rising God-man) had been told for thousands of years under different names; the story of “Logos” or “Word” had been told since the time of Heraclitus in ancient Greece. The story of Virgin Mothers was as old as Sumer and Ur. The death and rebirth of a God-man was the story of agriculture. The death of the grain so that humans could live and survive the winter, the fallow season.
That’s why none of it really works, and all of it is self-contradictory, line to line; because it’s a potpourri, an all-you-can-eat buffet at a mixed ethnicity Indo-European-Greco-Roman-Egyptian-Hebrew-Babylonian-Assyrian restaurant. Mixed with a notion of ‘capitalism’ and oil to power it, this is what we eat.
This is where we live. That’s why things look as they do. Because we have a profoundly schizophrenic multi-headed Hydra at the center of anything we can call a cultural “philosophy.”
And then, we’re entirely “Roman.” If you can sell it, then it is “GOOD.” If it gets in the way of commerce, it is “BAD.” This is our morality. This is where we live. This is the torn and self-contradictory core of our mythic modern world that wants to be good, wants to be kind, wants to love and preserve the world… but can’t, because it has to sell it all.
- Read more: Jewish War 70 AD (C.E.)
Liam Scheff is author of “Official Stories,” drilling to the core of the gooey religious center of science.