Was the Christian Church with its headquarters in Rome merely a front for the old Roman Empire and its global ambitions?
Why was Jerusalem sidelined and destroyed by the Romans in 70AD?
The above is one of several questions posed in my historical novel – The Hare’s Vision – about the development of early Christianity.
In the Hare’s Vision Yeshua ben Pandira (Jesus to you and I) expressed this concern on his deathbed. He was troubled by a vision that his teachings would be misused by the Roman Empire to found a new religion and through this to perpetuate Rome’s global oppression.
So it fell to Ireland in the 6th century – as the only Christian country never to have been conquered by Rome’s legions – to honour Jesus’ dying wish that his true teachings be protected from imperial corruption.
But how and why did Rome – long term persecutor of Christians – become the centre of this new Middle Eastern religion instead of the holy city of Jerusalem where Jesus had walked and spent his last days?
Firstly the connection is through the legend that St Peter – one of Jesus’ disciples – and St Paul – an early convert to Christianity and one of its foremost evangelists – ended up in Rome and were martyred there. This caused Rome to be regarded as a place of great significance and pilgrimage by early Christians. But there is little or no proof of any kind that St Peter was ever in Rome, let alone buried there and tenuous evidence that St Paul joined him. So this connection to Rome is something of a myth most likely invented to further Rome’s age-old ambitions.
Secondly it was the Roman Emperor – Constantine I – who in 313 AD began the conversion of the Roman Empire to the new ‘Christian’ religion after he believed the Christian God had intervened in a battle on his behalf. Constantine himself never became a Christian. In fact in 313, while he formally recognised the Christian God, Constantine found time to kill his wife, son and nephew who he suspected of plotting against him
Later the ‘Donation of Constantine’ was used to enforce Rome’s claim to hegemony throughout Europe. This was an imperial decree by which Constantine the Great appeared to transfer authority over Rome and the western part of the Roman Empire to the Bishop of Rome. The decree was found to be a forgery in the 15th century. However by then the church was well established throughout Europe.
On the other hand the position of the early Irish Christian church was quite different.
Because Ireland had never been invaded by Rome she was outside Rome’s sphere of influence when it came to the development of the early Christian church. As a result, Ireland developed her own unique form of Christianity heavily influenced by her ancient Druidic culture and her close links with Egypt. This ‘celtic’ church created a golden age of learning in Europe from the 6th – 10th centuries producing magnificent works such as the Book of Kells. This lasted until the late 12th century when – at the behest of the Bishop of Rome – the Normans invaded Ireland: all traces of the indigenous celtic church were removed and replaced with the Roman version. They rest is history……….
The Hare’s Vision: an new Irish myth tells the story of how the Irish celtic church became the guardian of Jesus’ final radical teachings and through this challenged the power of Rome. These teachings threatened the very existence of the renewed Roman Empire in the 6th century (in the guise of the Church of Rome) as they had originally done in the 1st century with the old Roman Empire. It is available worldwide through Amazon in either paperback or ebook format. The paperback is also available through Waterstones in the UK