Early Western Civilization

Traces the development of western civilization in 20 year time periods from 1050 to the present, in Europe and the New World.

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March 02, 2007

how did judaism affect early western civilization?

The converts from Judaism and Paganism to the new religion of Christianity found a new and mostly tolerant home in the big city of Rome where they flocked in their thousands looking for work and a better life.. Most of them were impoverished Greeks and their leaders tended to be relatively wealthy Jews from Judea, one of whom was Peter, a disciple of Jesus, who became the first Bishop of Rome

There is little doubt that the Christians were trouble-makers who were offended by what they saw as the barbaric practices of the Pagans, and when they were all blamed, rightly or wrongly, for the Great Fire of Rome in 64 -- during which Nero allegedly played his fiddle, totally oblivious of the chaos around him -- many innocent Christians lost their lives in the retribution that followed.

In fact, Peter himself, was blamed, and his request to be crucified upside down was granted.

But was the Great Fire of Rome lit by Christians angry at the Pagans, or by Jews angry at the Romans?

Two years later, in 66, the inflamed Jews of Judea revolted against aggressive Roman intrusion into their affairs, causing many to flee from the area -- so the Jews were causing as much trouble for the Romans as the Christians were.

Although we draw distinctions between Jews and Christians today, way back then they were essentially seen by the Romans as the same people with the same religion and the same leaders.

Sixty-five years later, in 131, another Jewish revolt against Roman rule took place in Jerusalem, led by Simon Bar Kokhba. Its brutality resulted in the great Jewish Diaspora of 132 -- moving west to North Africa, east to Syria, north to Greece or south to Arabia -- and most of the displaced Jews would have outwardly converted to the religion of their hosts.

From 193-235 the Roman Empire fell under the rule of fabulously wealthy African and Syrian emperors 
who brought their extended families, administrative staff and slaves with them. Consequently Rome's ethnic mix changed to reflect these new arrivals (some of whom were undoubtedly the descendants of the Jewish Diaspora, and practising their faith in secret).

By 293 the Empire was so big and so diverse that the Emperor Diocletian divided its rule between an eastern and western emperor and attempted a policy of SOCIAL UNIFORMITY by imposing upon everyone the observance of Roman traditions. 

This policy led to the persecution of the Christians (as well as other religions).

In 330 the Emperor Constantine confounded the native Romans not only by converting to the new religion of Christianity -- which was known as the new Judaism -- but also by establishing Constantinople in the east as the new seat of the empire's power. In doing so, Constantine gave the Bishop of Rome more power in relation to the traditional Pagan Priests and precipitated the decline of Rome's prestige which made it more vulnerable to Germanic invasion.

If you look upon early Christianity as the new Judaism -- with only the hardline Jews refusing to accept Jesus as their Messiah -- then early western civilization was not only founded upon Greek and Syrian ethnicity but also upon the ancient religion of Abraham from Ur in Iraq.

How on earth, then, did western civilization come to represent white Anglo-Saxons of Puritan persuasions?

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