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Homer Literature New Testament Richard Miller

Resistance to NT criticism

See the video uploaded today interviewing Richard C. Miller here.

Mimesis criticism is a method of interpreting texts in relation to their literary or cultural models. Mimesis, or imitation (imitatio), was a widely used rhetorical tool in antiquity. Mimesis criticism looks to identify intertextual relationships between two texts that go beyond simple echoes, allusions, citations or redactions. The effects of imitation are usually manifested in the later text by means of distinct characterisation, motifs, and/or plot structure.

As a critical method, mimesis criticism has been pioneered by Dennis MacDonald, especially in relation to the New Testament and other early Christian narratives imitating the ‘canonical’ works of Classical Greek literature.

Autobiography Child abuse New Testament Summer, 1945 (book)

The will not to know

Mexican José Barba Martín, born in 1937, spent two decades studying philology in the United States. He earned a master’s degree in Romance languages at Tufts University, a doctorate in Romance languages at Boston College and, finally, a doctorate at Harvard University in Hispanic literature. Barba was one of the victims of the powerful Catholic paedophile Marcial Maciel. Decades after Maciel abused him, Barba, along with other victims, began a campaign to expose the abuses. Because of his persistent activism, he has been called ‘José Barba: the man who defied two popes’.

Yesterday I saw a video interviewing Barba where he said, at this point in the interview (my translation), that the abuses committed by Maciel were not only sexual, ‘that he did not abuse only through the body, but through the soul: through a system that will take over the psyche; from children, adolescents, young people until the moment when one is no longer master of one’s own words, and then not even of one’s thoughts’.

Barba is not an apostate from Christianity; just a critic of the Catholic Church, even critical of two popes—John Paul II and Benedict XVI—who protected paedophiles in the Church. But what strikes me about Barba is his almost complete lack of insight into his words I have just translated. Barba has failed to realise that the very teaching of the doctrine of eternal damnation, which comes right from the Gospels, is abusive to the souls of children. (Those who have seen the film Angela’s Ashes, or read the autobiographical memoir of the same title, remember that class in which a priest terrorises Irish children with horrific hellish imagery.)

Since I have spoken to Barba several times in Mexico City, I would like to add something to what I wrote about him in my January 2022 article, ‘On Alberto Athié’. As an autobiographer, I keep records of a few encounters with acquaintances. Little of my many diaries appear in my eleven autobiographical books. But from time to time I can exhume, from those diaries, some anecdotes for publication on this site.

On 30 March 2018 Barba came to my house and what I told about him in the article ‘About Alberto Athié’ happened. The following year, on 2 November 2019 to be exact, I met Barba in the café of the old Librería Gandhi that the intellectuals of the Mexican capital used to frequent (now the old bookstore is closed). Barba was talking, in Latin, to one of my chess-playing friends but when I sat down at their table they switched languages and spoke to me in Spanish. As the Gandhi Café closed relatively early, we then moved on to a restaurant.

Barba mentioned the book I had lent him the previous year when he visited my house, Summer 1945 by Tom Goodrich, but didn’t say a peep about its contents. Apparently, the erudite man didn’t experience the slightest cognitive dissonance with the holocaust perpetrated by the Allies, as narrated by Goodrich. Although he mentioned nothing of the book’s content, he commented, as a good thing, the impeachment of Donald Trump planned by the Democrats.

The Catholic Barba is a liberal philo-Semite even though he has no Jewish background, and that night he called Dutch politician Geert Wilders an ‘extremist’. When I pointed out that, according to the Jew Ron Unz, a whole constellation of conservative authors on the Second World War had been cancelled, Barba said that perhaps these authors had been victims of McCarthyism! (and recommended me a book on McCarthyism). I was flabbergasted. Unlike the chess-playing friend who accompanied us, Barba couldn’t even conceive that he had in front of him an Other ideologically speaking: someone who was reasoning from a completely different POV.

In the Gandhi Café, before going to the restaurant, I told Barba about Solzhenitsyn’s 200 Years Together; then, at the restaurant, I told him about the contents of the book. When I got home, I sent him an email with the link to 200 Years Together, as well as a link to Unz’s article.

On June 4, 2022, I saw my chess friend and Barba again, this time near the park where, as a young man, I used to play chess. I talked to him for a long time but I was shocked that, once again, Barba couldn’t conceive of the existence of a creature ideologically different from him. Barba is one of those old-fashioned men who believe that we younger people see them as repositories of ancestral wisdom. But I don’t see him that way. The religious manner in which he spoke to those present, without first inquiring whether they were atheists or not, could only mean that he was treating us as if we were his pupils. There was a moment when Barba mentioned the alleged deeds of Jesus’ apostles, and I replied that to me that was literary fiction.

Barba reacted by saying that this was extreme scepticism, and I was perplexed because Barba had read Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why by Bart Ehrman. How could Barba have been unaware that the fundamentalist Christian Ehrman became an atheist after his New Testament research? The fact that Barba gave four copies of Ehrman’s book to his Catholic friends, in another occasion, gave the impression that he wanted to convince them of a more sceptical approach to the historical Jesus. But Barba not only swallowed the aforementioned story from Luke’s book as real history, he did something that puzzled me even more.

When I asked him if he was familiar with the field of critical NT studies that started in the Enlightenment, he said he was (Ehrman himself is part of that field). But Barba didn’t seem to realise that New Testament studies had moved several exegetes to lose faith since the seminal works of Reimarus, who flourished in the 18th century, and David Friedrich Strauss, who flourished in the 19th century. I could not believe that the very learned Barba, who reads the NT in the original Greek, would ignore facts relating to authors whose books he has given as presents!

And it is not a case of senility, for when I last saw him near the park of old chess friends, Barba was perfectly lucid. It is a matter of being locked in a theological bubble to the extent of being unable to hold a friendly discussion with the unbeliever in front of him. In ‘On Alberto Athié’ I omitted that Barba ignored my argument that women have less cranial mass than men—and that’s why, in chess, they compete against each other, parallel to the men’s tournaments so that men don’t massacre them in the science-game. Similarly, Barba ignored or didn’t know, that there are scholars who believe that the Acts of the Apostles is a religious novel rather than real history.

I could write pages and pages about my latest disagreement with Barba. But I don’t think I need to. Perhaps I will do so in the comments section if someone asks me for more detailed information about those disappointing meetings. What I am getting at is that scholarship is not wisdom and that someone can be highly respected in the media—like Barba—and yet be enclosed in such a bubble that he dissociates the existence of the dissenter in front of him. It is not that I want to convince Christians like Barba that the NT is fiction. It is simply the inability to communicate the fact that there are scholars who believe it is fiction that alarms me!

All this sheds light on what I was saying about the holocaust perpetrated by the Allies: something that normies, even when confronted, are unwilling to know as Barba did when I lent him, for a year, Goodrich’s book.

Alberto Athié, Barba and Fernando González wrote the book La voluntad de no saber: Lo que sí se conocía sobre Maciel en los archivos secretos del Vaticano desde 1944 (The Will Not to Know: What was Known about Maciel in the Vatican’s Secret Archives since 1944). Published in the context of Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico, this book reveals the Vatican’s documents on the Maciel case demonstrating that, for more than sixty years, the highest authorities of the Catholic Church knew about the criminal conduct of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ.

But these guys have another kind of will not to know. They lack the will to know that several New Testament scholars say that the NT accounts are pure fiction, including the Acts of the Apostles, or that what the Establishment would have us believe about WW2 is rubbish. Likewise, millions of Westerners don’t want to know that the fact that we have different brains from women refutes feminism and the dogma of equality.

The way Barba treated me the few times I saw him is the way the normie treats the dissident: simply ignoring everything he says.

New Testament Richard Miller

Parallel universe

I hate living in a parallel universe next to the white nationalist universe. If I am wrong about the central premise of this site, that Judeo-Christian morality is responsible for our misfortunes (white nationalists would simply say ‘Judeo’, omitting the ‘Christian’ part), they should refute me. But they don’t: they simply ignore me.

Among the racial right folk I know online, Irishman Gaedhal has been the most erudite on the subject of Christian theology. He once said that white nationalists were more primitive than liberal Christians when it came to New Testament knowledge. Gaedhal’s words came as a surprise to me. It was so obvious, but it was only when he wrote it that I realised it.

Even a famous writer who believes in the resurrection of Jesus, the Englishman Ian Wilson, is familiar with the criticism of the New Testament since the rise of biblical criticism in the Enlightenment. The white nationalists whose comments I have seen on the racial right discussion forums seem to ignore this textual criticism of the NT that began in the late 18th century (see these excerpts from Catholic Ian Wilson’s book for example).

But of course: Wilson’s book is only the first step in continuing to cross what I call the psychological Rubicon. If the white nationalist who holds to the faith of his parents is an honest fellow, he would not only read Wilson’s introductory book, an author who remains a Christian, but those who have devoted their lives to studying the New Testament and have taken steps beyond mere Christian apologetics.

To the honest Christian who wants to save his race from extinction I would suggest, in addition to Wilson’s book, to begin to familiarise himself with the videos interviewing Richard Miller (e.g., this one uploaded a couple of weeks ago), and pay attention to how the story of the Ascension to Heaven didn’t originate with the pen of an evangelist, but particularly in the story of the founding God of Rome: Romulus.

For the honest Christian, these would be the first steps across the river.

The way I see the world, it is impossible to save the white race if a considerable number of whites fail to cross this Rubicon.

New Testament Richard Miller

Imitatio Romuli

I would like to add something to what I said a week ago about Richard Miller’s Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity. Just before the section on the author’s conclusions, we read this paragraph:

Those properly comprehending, yet prone to resist the present thesis then must answer: How might a Judaized, Christianized adaptation of the “translation fable,” particularly one mimetically following that of Romulus, have appeared, if not more or less precisely as one finds crafted in the postmortem narratives of the New Testament Gospels? [page 177]

Miller is talking about how the Four Evangelists plagiarised the stories about the old God of the Romans when it came to the missing body, prodigies, darkness over the land, meeting on the road, eyewitness testimony, mountaintop speech and great commission, son of a god, ascension, taken away in a cloud and deification (classical sources about the Romulus story: Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plutarch, Ovid, Livy and Cicero).

Jesus New Testament

Unhistorical Jesus

by María [1]

The historicity of Jesus is a touchy subject. Talk about it on social media and you’re sure to attract both historicists and mythicists with strong views. New Testament scholars who dissent from the consensus suddenly find they’re unemployable in university religious studies departments, ridiculed online and occasionally by New Testament scholars who hold the line.

I stumbled into this topic during a period of binge-watching YouTube videos featuring New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, a former fundamentalist Christian whose studies eventually turned him into an agnostic atheist. In one of these, Ehrman referred to a ‘fringe’ view among some that Jesus never existed, and quickly dismissed it.

Like many Christians, my first reaction was amazed disbelief that such a wackadoodle theory could be taken seriously. I watched some videos online and some debates. I occasionally fact-checked the refutations and found that in fact, opponents of Richard Carrier often misrepresented or got their facts wrong.

The Trent Horn debate in particular amazed me because Horn insisted that something was written in a text, but when I checked, it wasn’t. (Horn claimed that the Life of Adam[2] showed Adam being buried on Earth; Carrier said the text has him buried in the third heaven. Both were insistent, because a lot hangs on it, believe it or not. I checked. Carrier was right.)

Wow – what was going on? How could something I had believed all my life to be a historic fact is a myth? Why couldn’t any of these experts demolish Carrier’s argument, as I’d expected them to do?

So—I read it for myself [Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus].

Slowly and carefully, often looking up the footnote references. Every serious argument from scriptures (e.g. Acts, Gospels, Epistles) and from the historical record (Josephus, Tacitus etc.) was examined, dissected and evaluated according to Bayes’ theorem, using the following method:

  • how likely is it that this text would look like this if Jesus was a historical figure?


  • how likely is it that this text would look like this if Jesus began as a myth?

The chapter on the evidence from the gospels is particularly fascinating: a summary of recent scholarship that shows the brilliance of the four evangelists as myth-creators and propagandists. In the end I was convinced—on the historicity of Jesus, there is indeed reason to doubt.


[1] Posted on Amazon Books reviews by a United Kingdom reviewer on February 28, 2019.

[2] The Life of Adam and Eve, also known in its Greek version as the Apocalypse of Moses, is a Jewish apocryphal group of writings. While the surviving versions were composed from the early 3rd to the 5th century c.e., there is wide agreement among scholars that the original was composed in the 1st century c.e.

New Testament Richard Miller Videos

For Christians


The literary rosetta stone
that explains the gospels

‘Christianity is just one participant in a broader set of phenomenology that needed to be understood across the board, and not just studied in some kind of isolationism.’

—Richard Miller

Derek Lambert and Dr Richard C. Miller

This site is dedicated to those who want to know the basic aetiology of white ethnosuicide (and who want to do something to counteract this mental illness). It is not a site for Christians. But this post is for them.

Last month I posted a couple of entries about New Testament scholar Richard Miller (here and here). But his book, Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity only reached me on Tuesday and I’ve started reading it.

It is a book for seasoned scholars: it contains quotations in Greek, Latin, French and German; and the English translations of quoted paragraphs are by the author. By ‘translation fables’ Miller means innumerable fables of Greco-Roman gods, demigods and mortals who, for their deeds, were translated to, let us say, a cloud in the heavens after their deaths and, in the case of Romulus, the legend even speaks of apparitions and a Great Commission (see the second chapter of Resurrection and Reception).

It is a perfect book for Christians because, unlike Richard Carrier who was never a Christian, despite his very gradual and agonic apostasy Miller maintains a positive image of the religion of his parents. He shows us a gallery of the Greco-Roman myths of the resurrection or translation of so many heroes, and then does a rigorous exegesis of what it all means. The connections between Greco-Roman apotheosis narratives and the gospels, originally written in Greek, make Miller’s work an important contribution to contextualising Jesus’ resurrection narratives.

The honest Christian who approaches Miller’s work will be confronted with the same dilemmas that this scholar confronted as he devoted his whole life to New Testament studies. If you don’t want to read his book, just watch this interview.

New Testament Richard Miller Romulus

Richard Miller

Yesterday I discovered the biblical scholar Dr Richard C. Miller, author of Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity. I am in the middle of the revision of the forthcoming PDF book and I wonder if I should add a sentence in ‘The Appian Way’ explaining that there are noble Christians, who can apostatise from the religion of our parents out of sheer evidence.

Miller, raised (as I was) in a very Christian family, has three master’s degrees and a doctorate in New Testament studies. He has studied in elite universities the texts that marked the destiny of the West. Do you remember how on this site I have dedicated several posts to the discovery I made thanks to the book of another exegete? I am referring to Romulus: the Roman god par excellence whom some rabbis took as a blueprint to write the Gospels (Romulus’ resurrection, Romulus’ post-mortem appearances and Romulus’ ascension to heaven, etc.). Given Miller’s nobility, when he made this discovery he lost his Christian faith, as we can see in this videotaped confession.

Forbidden history: Romulus, ascended
to heaven by a light and turned into God.

Incidentally, Derek Lambert, the young man who interviews Miller, is anti-racist as can be seen in other of his videos. Yesterday I left Lambert a message in the comments thread on another of his videos: that, if he is anti-racist, he is still a Christian even if he doesn’t know it and I recommended Tom Holland’s book to him.

As long-time visitors to The West’s Darkest Hour (WDH) know, I would like my books to be printed on paper again, without being taken off the platform again as happened to us early last year. One of the reasons I chose a single word, Neo-Christianity, for our next book (which for the moment will only be available in PDF) is that I would like the word neochristian to start being used as an epithet in our discussions with today’s typical atheists, so ready to replace the faith of the crucified rabbi with the anti-racist faith that is killing the Aryan.

We can already imagine a bunch of teenagers, WDH fans, trolling the countless Lamberts who mistakenly see themselves as apostates from Christianity, calling them neochristians. Once Dominion’s message is understood—quoted at length in the forthcoming PDF—, the pejorative epithet ‘neochristian’ could become analogous to the pejorative epithet ‘pagan’ that Christians coined in the 4th century. It is a kind of semantic revenge for what was done to our culture so many centuries ago…

Jesus New Testament

Jesus the Jew?

I am glad that, at last, the Christian Question (CQ) is beginning to be discussed in earnest in the forums of the racial right. On Monday, for example, The Occidental Observer (TOO) published Thomas Dalton’s article ‘Jesus the Jew’ (screenshot: here), and on the same day it was reposted on The Unz Review.

At the time of writing, the latter webzine has 444 comments on the article and TOO only nine. I confess that I’d rather have a few commenters airing their views (as in The West’s Darkest Hour) than the long threads of sites like Ron Unz’s webzine or Stormfront. It is easier to discuss these issues with relatively few commenters than in a tower of Babel. However, regarding Dalton’s article, a commenter on The Unz Review hit the nail on the head by mentioning a work we’ve been promoting on this site. The commenter said:

I’m glad that you mentioned Dr. Carrier’s work. The longer, more scholarly, peer-reviewed book is On the Historicity of Jesus, a more popular book is Jesus from Outer Space, essentially a condensed version of the earlier, longer work. Dr. Carrier’s estimate of one chance in three that a historical Jesus existed was made by taking all favorable probabilities of the evidence for existence. If one goes the other way and takes all unfavorable probabilities of the evidence of existence, the odds are about 12,000 to one. The (probably forever undiscoverable) truth is somewhere in between. Dr. Carrier now says that he no longer pays much attention to Christian apologists, since faith-based belief is essentially unrefutable…

And Paul and the earliest Christians didn’t have to be liars. They may have sincerely believed in a celestial Jesus, whose death and resurrection occurred in heaven. The gospels may have been literary parables, intended to instruct the ordinary believers until they could be initiated into the oral traditions. Check the fourth chapter of Mark, which may be giving the game away.

What Carrier says about Christian apologists is important, and we can apply it to those on the racial right who are still Christians. They are not so much interested in historical truth as in how to combine their faith with racial preservation. If they were interested in historical truth they would start following the white rabbit, the links I posted yesterday in the comments thread of the TOO article.

But back to Dalton’s article. What I believe, and we have said it on several occasions, is far more sinister than a historical, Jewish Jesus. If we start from Carrier’s work (Dalton doesn’t mention it in his piece), it is clear that the evangelist Mark took up the distant, heavenly Jesus devised by Paul to, through his literary art, throw at us the apocryphal story of a worldly Jesus in Galilee: a story in which the evangelist inverted the values of the god of the Romans to the interests of Jewry.

This is fundamental to understanding not only the true origins of Christianity (Nietzsche was the first to intuit these realities in the 1880s), but the subsequent inversion of values, so well told by Tom Holland in his book Dominion.

In short, it is not that Jesus the Jew said things subversive to the Romans. He simply didn’t exist (Dalton, just for the sake of argument, assumes well into his article that Jesus did exist). This literary character, actually his whole figure, is an invention of Paul and Mark (the latter concocted his literary fiction right after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple by Titus because he was pissed off at the Romans). And as learned people who have read the literary criticism of the New Testament since the 19th century know, Matthew, Luke and John only added verses of their own authorship to Mark’s original text.

I would remind the visitor of what we have said here about a book that, for incomprehensible reasons, became very popular on the racial right: Joseph Atwill’s Caesar’s Messiah, which deals with an alleged Roman conspiracy to invent Jesus. For those who cannot distinguish between solid scholarship and crank scholarship, I recommend Richard Carrier’s ‘Atwill’s Cranked-up Jesus’.

Simply put, the Romans didn’t invent Jesus. It was the Jews.

David Skrbina, mentioned in the TOO discussion thread, says in his book that all the authors of the New Testament were Jews. I recently mentioned another thread in which several Christians recently commented on Counter-Currents. I left out that one of these Christians claimed that Luke was Greek. This is what Skrbina says on one of the pages at the end of his book:

 “It’s not clear that all the Gospel authors, apart from Matthew, were Jews. John certainly was not.” 

As I’ve replied earlier, the Gospel of Mark was written for a Gentile audience and thus takes on the superficial appearance of a Gentile work. There is a strong consensus that Mark himself was Jewish. The extensive OT references in all four Gospels argue strongly for Jewish authorship. There is no real evidence that Luke was a Gentile save his name, but as we know from Paul, it was not unheard of for Jews to change to Gentile names. The scattered anti-Jewish statements in all the Gospels—especially John—more reflect an internal Jewish battle over ideology than an external, Gentile attack. Paul is clearly and obviously Jewish.

And come to think of it, maybe it’s not so incomprehensible that the American racial right is a fan of Atwill’s discredited book. They see Jews everywhere but where they are: right under their noses, in the origins of their Christian religion! Thank goodness these issues are starting to be discussed a bit more in TOO (previously only Tom Sunic had tried to discuss them in that webzine).

Let’s be clear: if The West’s Darkest Hour focuses on CQ, it’s only because I want to save the Nordic race from extinction. And I find it impossible to do so unless the diagnosis of white decline is accurate. I am not doing this to unnecessarily provoke American racialists. Once they have an accurate diagnosis, they will begin to revolt against the reversal of Roman values that the Jew Mark initiated.

The rest follows from there.

New Testament

Resurrection myth

by Duke Mertz

The rediscovery of the mythical Jesus was an unintended consequence of biblical research carried out by devout Christians. Near the end of the Enlightenment, theologians began studying the oldest versions of New Testament books to make certain that translations from the original Greek were as accurate as possible. During this process, they noticed a distinct difference between the Gospels and the Epistles. The biographies of Jesus contained quotations from the Old Testament and allusions to Jewish traditions. The letters never referred to the Hebrew books, and on those rare occasions when Jesus or Jewish topics were mentioned, they seemed to be afterthoughts. Comparative analysis of the oldest existing texts of the Epistles indicated that some of the anomalies were the work of later editors.

This discovery prompted a more in-depth analysis of the Gospels, which also uncovered editorial additions. Some were revealed by changes in verb tense or point of view, but the majority were simply conflicting versions of the same incident. For example, there are two resurrection scenes at the end of Mark (16:1–8 and 16:9–20). Whenever it is impossible to determine which version of an event is true, neither can be relied upon. This fact is amplified by a comparative analysis of the five different resurrection scenes in the Gospels (all biblical quotations are from The New English Bible):

(Read the whole article, ‘The Quest for the Mythical Jesus’, here.)

Dominion (book) Judea v. Rome (masthead of this site) New Testament St Paul

Dominion, 2


How the Woke Monster originated

by Tom Holland

Holland’s book in my bedroom—Editor. For the
first instalment of this abridged series see here.

Mission AD 19: Galatia

Only the Jews, with their stiff-necked insistence that there existed just a single god, refused as a matter of principle to join in acknowledging the divinity of Augustus; and so perhaps it was no surprise, in the decades that followed the building to him of temples across Galatia, that the visitor there most subversive of his cult should have been a Jew.

The Son of God proclaimed by Paul did not share his sovereignty with other deities. There were no other deities. ‘For us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live’ (Romans 8.6).

Now, by touring cities across the entire span of the Roman world, Paul set himself to bringing them the news of a convulsive upheaval in the affairs of heaven and earth. Once, like a child under the protection of a tutor, the Jews had been graced with the guardianship of a divinely authored law; but now, with the coming of Christ, the need for such guardianship was past. No longer were the Jews alone ‘the children of God’ (Deuteronomy 14.1). The exclusive character of their covenant was abrogated. The venerable distinctions between them and everyone else—of which male circumcision had always been the pre-eminent symbol—were transcended. Jews and Greeks, Galatians and Scythians: all alike, so long as they opened themselves to belief in Jesus Christ, were henceforward God’s holy people. This, so Paul informed his hosts, was the epochal message that Christ had charged him to proclaim to the limits of the world.

‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28-9).

Only the world turned upside down could ever have sanctioned such an unprecedented, such a revolutionary, announcement. If Paul did not stint, in a province adorned with monuments to Caesar, in hammering home the full horror and humiliation of Jesus’ death, then it was because, without the crucifixion, he would have had no gospel to proclaim. Christ, by making himself nothing, by taking on the very nature of a slave, had plumbed the depths to which only the lowest, the poorest, the most persecuted and abused of mortals were confined…

To repudiate a city’s gods was to repudiate as well the rhythms of its civic life. It was to imperil relations with family and friends. It was to show disrespect to Caesar himself.

By urging his converts to consider themselves neither Galatian nor Jewish, but solely as the people of Christ, as citizens of heaven, he was urging them to adapt an identity that was as globalist as it was innovative. This, in an age that took for granted local loyalties and tended to look upon novelty with suspicion, was a bold strategy—but one for which Paul refused to apologise. If he was willing to grant the Law of Moses any authority at all, then it was only to insist that what God most truly wanted was a universal amity. ‘The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”’ (Galatians 5.14) All you need is love.

Paul wrote to a second church, preaching the redemption from old identities that lay at the heart of his message. Corinth, unlike Galatia, enjoyed an international reputation for glamour.

As much as anywhere in Greece, then, Corinth was a melting pot. The descendants of Roman freedmen settled there by Julius Caesar mingled with Greek plutocrats; shipping magnates with cobblers; itinerant philosophers with Jewish scholars. Identity, in such a city, might easily lack deep roots. Unlike in Athens, where even Paul’s greatest admirers found it hard to pretend that he had enjoyed much of an audience, in Corinth he had won a hearing. His stay in the city, where he had supported himself by working on awnings and tents, and sleeping among the tools of his trade, had garnered various converts. The church that he had founded there—peopled by Jews and non-Jews, rich and poor, some with Roman names and some with Greek—served as a monument to his vision of a new people: citizens of heaven.

Among a people who had always celebrated the agon, the contest to be the best, he announced that God had chosen the foolish to shame the wise, and the weak to shame the strong. In a world that took for granted the hierarchy of human chattels and their owners, he insisted that the distinctions between slave and free, now that Christ himself had suffered the death of a slave, were of no more account than those between Greek and Jew. ‘For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave’ (Corinthians 7.22).

Like the great salesman that he was, he always made sure to pitch his message to his audience. ‘I have become all things to all men, so that by all possible means I might save some’ (Corinthians 9.22). Despite this claim, and despite the convulsive transformation in his understanding of what it meant to be a Jew, in his instincts and prejudices he remained the product of his schooling…

That the law of the God of Israel might be read inscribed on the human heart, written there by his Spirit, was a notion that drew alike on the teachings of Pharisees and Stoics—and yet equally was foreign to them both. Its impact was destined to render Paul’s letters—the correspondence of a bum, without position or reputation in the affairs of the world—the most influential, the most transformative, the most revolutionary ever written. Across the millennia, and in societies and continents unimagined by Paul himself, their impact would reverberate. His was a conception of law that would come to suffuse an entire civilisation. He was indeed—just as he proclaimed himself to be—the herald of a new beginning…

[Left, Paul the Apostle – Catacombs of St. Tecla, c. 380 C.E.—Ed.] Paul was not the founder of the churches in Rome. Believers in Christ had appeared well before his own arrival there. Nevertheless, the letter that he had sent these Hagioi from Corinth, a lengthy statement of his beliefs that was designed as well to serve as an introduction to ‘all in Rome who are loved by God’ (Romans 1.7) was like nothing they had ever heard before. The most detailed of Paul’s career, it promised to its recipients a dignity more revolutionary than even any of Nero’s stunts. When the masses were invited by the emperor to his street parties, the summons was to enjoy a fleeting taste of the pleasures of a Caesar.

But Paul, in his letter to the Romans, had something altogether more startling to offer. ‘The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children’ (Romans 8.16). Here, baldly stated, was a status that Nero would never have thought to share. It was not given to householders filthy and stinking with the sweat of their own labours, the inhabitants at best of a mean apartment or workshop on the outskirts of the city, to lay claim to the title of a Caesar. And yet that, so Paul proclaimed, was indeed their prerogative. They had been adopted by a god.

To suffer as Christ had done, to be beaten, and degraded, and abused, was to share in his glory. Adoption by God, so Paul assured his Roman listeners, promised the redemption of their bodies. ‘And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you’ (Romans 8.11). The revolutionary implications of this message, to those who heard it, could not help but raise pressing questions. In the cramped workshops that provided the Hagioi of Rome with their places of assembly, where they would meet to commemorate the arrest and suffering of Christ with a communal meal, men rubbed shoulders with women, citizens with slaves. If all were equally redeemed by Christ, if all were equally beloved of God, then what of the hierarchies on which the functioning of even the humblest Roman household depended?

The master of a household was no more or less a son of God than his slaves. Everyone, then, should be joined together by a common love. Yet even as Paul urged this, he did not push the radicalism of his message to its logical conclusion. A slave might be loved by his master as a brother, and renowned for his holiness, and blessed with the gift of prophecy—but still remain a slave. Despite his scorn for the pretensions of the Caesars, Paul warned the churches of Rome not to offer open resistance to Nero. ‘Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established’ (Romans 13.1).

If Roman power upheld the peace that enabled him to travel the world, then he would not jeopardise his mission by urging his converts to rebel against it. Too much was at stake. There was no time to weave the entire fabric of society anew. What mattered, in the brief window of opportunity that Paul had been granted, was to establish as many churches as possible—and thereby to prepare the world for the parousia. ‘For the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night’ (I Thessalonians 5.2). And increasingly, it seemed that the world’s foundations were indeed starting to shake…

In AD 66, the smouldering resentments of the Jews in Judaea burst into open revolt. Roman vengeance, when it came, was terrible. Four years after the launch of the rebellion, Jerusalem was stormed by the legions. The wealth of the Temple was carted off to Rome, and the building itself burnt to the ground. ‘Neither its antiquity, nor the extent of its treasures, nor the global range of those who regarded it as theirs, nor the incomparable glory of its rites, proved sufficient to prevent its destruction’ (Josephus Jewish Wars 6.442).

God, whose support the rebels had been banking upon, had failed to save his people. Many Jews, cast into an abyss of misery and despair, abandoned their faith in him altogether. Others, rather than blame God, chose instead to blame themselves, arraigning themselves on a charge of disobedience, and turning with a renewed intensity to the study of their scriptures and their laws. Others yet—those who believed that Jesus was Christ, and whom the Roman authorities had increasingly begun to categorise as Christiani [1]—found in the ruin visited on God’s Chosen People the echo of an even more dreadful spectacle: that of God’s Son upon the gallows.

The gospels written in the tense and terrible years that immediately preceded and followed the annihilation of Jerusalem were different [than Paul’s letters—Ed.]. The kingdom of God was like a mustard seed; it was like the world as seen through the eyes of a child; it was like yeast in dough. Again and again, in the stories that Jesus loved to tell, in his parables, the plot was as likely to be drawn from the world of the humble as it was from that of the wealthy or the wise: from the world of swineherds, servants, sowers.


[1] Tacitus explicitly states that those condemned by Nero were abusively referred to by the name of Chrestiani.Unsurprisingly, then, neither in Paul’s letters nor in the Gospels does the word appear; but already, by AD 100 at the latest, Christians themselves seem to have begun to appropriate it.