Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

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Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby asunthatneversets » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:08 pm

I'm not saying any of this is true, but it's interesting nevertheless!

Father Francis Tiso, (who does a lot of thorough investigation on the rainbow body phenomena) has gathered some interesting information from gnostic materials and aesthetic literature such as the nag hammadi codices and drawn some conclusions between them and the Bönpo and Buddhist Dzogchen practices. The older Christian practices are still widely unknown, Father Francis says that if we limit ourselves to what is written in the new testament then we really don't get a clear picture of what the practices of that time were. This is because a lot of the teachings were passed down in an oral tradition. For example; how would one celebrate the eucarist? If you don't know how it was done by the apostles or accept a 3rd or 4th century text as normative, you would have to go back and search for examples of Jesus celebrating the eucarist. And what happens is you end up saying the words of institution and accompany it with some other prayers, but that is not the living tradition. Scripture was not written as a complete manual of how to do rituals, or sacraments, or meditation. So we are left curious about these practices which are largely a mystery to us today. Even in the gnostic literature or the nag hammadi texts, it is frustrating because they do make references to ceremonies, rituals, prayer practices, meditation practices, even mantra practices but they only mention them or elude to them without an in depth instruction on how to do them. So Father Francis took what he could from these gnostic materials (such as the nag hammadi codices or Merkabah) and has attempted to draw some links. Because literature like the nag hammadi codices were preserved by a community of christian monks, the texts were considered useful for whatever they were doing in their own meditational practices and were held in safe keeping for a reason. Father Francis goes on to discuss the figure of Evagrius Ponticus who became a deacon in Constantinople, got into some trouble with the lady of the court and then went to Jerusalem to become a monk under the training of Melania the Elder and Tyrannius Rufinus who had established what can be considered equivalent to a mystery school. They trained Evagrius who was already a very profound theologian. Anyways he went on to write a few books, one by the name of The Praktikos, which is essentially śamatha and vipaśyanā christian style (practice examining thoughts etc). Another being The Gnostikos which essentially advises the student on how to find a suitable teacher or guru. The last notable being Kephalaia Gnostica which are his chapters on sacred knowledge or intuitive knowledge. The Kephalaia Gnostica consists of 6 chapters, with 90 paragraphs in each chapter, in this book Evagrius takes you from the beginning of the path, through relationships with the teacher, through a very demanding column system with 540 columns to meditate on which leads to the point of attaining what is tantamount to the nondual state. The very first line in the book is "There is nothing over against the primal good, because it is in it's essence that it's good, and nothing could be contrary to that essence", essentially saying that we and what you'd call "god" really have to be a unity. So you see a monk which passes from radical renunciation, to an incredible embrace of all phenomena. Sounds a little causal for dzogchen, but may be some definite similarities between this and other buddhist tantric/contemplative practices.

Father Francis Tiso also attempts to make some further connections. Some of which are studied by a Belgian (who's name I couldn't decipher) who wrote a book called "The Formless Light" which was a compilation of Nestorian Christian writings from the areas of Iraq, Qatar and Iran in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th centuries. Which is a bridge period between Evagrius and the rise of Dzogchen in the Dunhuang manuscripts of northern tibet from the 8th century. The monks who wrote these writings are kicked out of the Nestorian Church because some of their ideas are considered too radical. So Father Francis inquires, where did they go? He goes on to say that there are definite differences between the Dzogchen practices of the Bönpo/Nyingmapa and all the other tantric practices. The Bön and Nyingma say that Dzogchen is the highest practice, and maintain that it comes from the west from someone they call Garab Dorje. Father Francis goes on to describe Garab Dorje's history and draws some comparisons between his story and that of Jesus. Garab Dorje's mother was a nun and a queen at the same time. She is embarrassed by her pregnancy which is miraculous. Garab Dorje dies and rises again as a "good zombie" or Ro-lang (which are usually spooky but Garab Dorje is considered a benevolent Ro-lang) and various other unnamed similarities which Father Francis claims are in the biography of Garab Dorje. There indeed are all the stories of Jesus going to Kashmir but he claims this could be a much more reliable story. Could it be that Garab Dorje was a monk who was escaping from his Nestorian bishop? Or perhaps a community of monks who said alright, we're going to have to go out on our own, and began to insert themselves into the Vajrayāna world in order to live and keep their practices alive (which they knew brought them to the highest nondual realization)? Father Francis says he knows it would really blow the paradigms of the dzogchen practitioners if they somehow found out that their wonderful Vajrayāna practices actually came from Christian Egypt in the 4th century, but he says there are some interesting and definite correlations.

http://www.francistiso.com
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby MalaBeads » Thu Jun 14, 2012 8:33 pm

Of course, it will never be known if its true or not. But as long as it does it does not become just another thing to argue about, it is all very interesting to contemplate, isn't it?

I like historical scholarship, in as much as it can be accomplished. Over time though, so much gets lost. And in the end, I wonder if it really helps anything. Maybe. Maybe it can show people that the workings of the world are much more mysterious and strange than they could ever imagine and could help them relax some of their rigid ideas as a result.

I like this Father Tiso guy, probably because I've known too many Catholic clerics who would be vehemently opposed to this kind of historical research.

:namaste:
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby spanda » Fri Jun 15, 2012 11:42 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:I'm not saying any of this is true, but it's interesting nevertheless!

Father Francis Tiso, (who does a lot of thorough investigation on the rainbow body phenomena) has gathered some interesting information from gnostic materials and aesthetic literature such as the nag hammadi codices and drawn some conclusions between them and the Bönpo and Buddhist Dzogchen practices. The older Christian practices are still widely unknown, Father Francis says that if we limit ourselves to what is written in the new testament then we really don't get a clear picture of what the practices of that time were. This is because a lot of the teachings were passed down in an oral tradition. For example; how would one celebrate the eucarist? If you don't know how it was done by the apostles or accept a 3rd or 4th century text as normative, you would have to go back and search for examples of Jesus celebrating the eucarist. And what happens is you end up saying the words of institution and accompany it with some other prayers, but that is not the living tradition. Scripture was not written as a complete manual of how to do rituals, or sacraments, or meditation. So we are left curious about these practices which are largely a mystery to us today. Even in the gnostic literature or the nag hammadi texts, it is frustrating because they do make references to ceremonies, rituals, prayer practices, meditation practices, even mantra practices but they only mention them or elude to them without an in depth instruction on how to do them. So Father Francis took what he could from these gnostic materials (such as the nag hammadi codices or Merkabah) and has attempted to draw some links. Because literature like the nag hammadi codices were preserved by a community of christian monks, the texts were considered useful for whatever they were doing in their own meditational practices and were held in safe keeping for a reason. Father Francis goes on to discuss the figure of Evagrius Ponticus who became a deacon in Constantinople, got into some trouble with the lady of the court and then went to Jerusalem to become a monk under the training of Melania the Elder and Tyrannius Rufinus who had established what can be considered equivalent to a mystery school. They trained Evagrius who was already a very profound theologian. Anyways he went on to write a few books, one by the name of The Praktikos, which is essentially śamatha and vipaśyanā christian style (practice examining thoughts etc). Another being The Gnostikos which essentially advises the student on how to find a suitable teacher or guru. The last notable being Kephalaia Gnostica which are his chapters on sacred knowledge or intuitive knowledge. The Kephalaia Gnostica consists of 6 chapters, with 90 paragraphs in each chapter, in this book Evagrius takes you from the beginning of the path, through relationships with the teacher, through a very demanding column system with 540 columns to meditate on which leads to the point of attaining what is tantamount to the nondual state. The very first line in the book is "There is nothing over against the primal good, because it is in it's essence that it's good, and nothing could be contrary to that essence", essentially saying that we and what you'd call "god" really have to be a unity. So you see a monk which passes from radical renunciation, to an incredible embrace of all phenomena. Sounds a little causal for dzogchen, but may be some definite similarities between this and other buddhist tantric/contemplative practices.

Father Francis Tiso also attempts to make some further connections. Some of which are studied by a Belgian (who's name I couldn't decipher) who wrote a book called "The Formless Light" which was a compilation of Nestorian Christian writings from the areas of Iraq, Qatar and Iran in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th centuries. Which is a bridge period between Evagrius and the rise of Dzogchen in the Dunhuang manuscripts of northern tibet from the 8th century. The monks who wrote these writings are kicked out of the Nestorian Church because some of their ideas are considered too radical. So Father Francis inquires, where did they go? He goes on to say that there are definite differences between the Dzogchen practices of the Bönpo/Nyingmapa and all the other tantric practices. The Bön and Nyingma say that Dzogchen is the highest practice, and maintain that it comes from the west from someone they call Garab Dorje. Father Francis goes on to describe Garab Dorje's history and draws some comparisons between his story and that of Jesus. Garab Dorje's mother was a nun and a queen at the same time. She is embarrassed by her pregnancy which is miraculous. Garab Dorje dies and rises again as a "good zombie" or Ro-lang (which are usually spooky but Garab Dorje is considered a benevolent Ro-lang) and various other unnamed similarities which Father Francis claims are in the biography of Garab Dorje. There indeed are all the stories of Jesus going to Kashmir but he claims this could be a much more reliable story. Could it be that Garab Dorje was a monk who was escaping from his Nestorian bishop? Or perhaps a community of monks who said alright, we're going to have to go out on our own, and began to insert themselves into the Vajrayāna world in order to live and keep their practices alive (which they knew brought them to the highest nondual realization)? Father Francis says he knows it would really blow the paradigms of the dzogchen practitioners if they somehow found out that their wonderful Vajrayāna practices actually came from Christian Egypt in the 4th century, but he says there are some interesting and definite correlations.

http://www.francistiso.com


Very interesting. From where do you have this informations?
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby asunthatneversets » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:05 am

It's from the last 15 minutes or so of the presentation (link below) he did on the similarities between the rainbow body of light and the resurrection in Christianity. What I wrote above is just a loose transcription of the latter portion of his talk. He has other presentations online too (I haven't checked out yet personally) and I'm sure they're just as good.

http://noetic.org/library/audio-lectures/the-rainbow-body-phenomenon-with-father-francis-ti/
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby Lhug-Pa » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:16 am

And Gregkavarnos has mentioned that the Greek Orthodox Christians have teachings on Rainbow Body; which wouldn't surprise me, as I think that the Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Ethiopian and Egyptian Coptic Christianity, etc. are all much closer to the teachings of the original Gnostics and Essenes.

Whereas Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are generally more of a deviation from the original teachings. Not to say that these latter two have not ever produced genuine Saints....
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby spanda » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:32 am

asunthatneversets wrote:It's from the last 15 minutes or so of the presentation (link below) he did on the similarities between the rainbow body of light and the resurrection in Christianity. What I wrote above is just a loose transcription of the latter portion of his talk. He has other presentations online too (I haven't checked out yet personally) and I'm sure they're just as good.

http://noetic.org/library/audio-lectures/the-rainbow-body-phenomenon-with-father-francis-ti/



Thanks!
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby asunthatneversets » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:59 am

Lhug-Pa wrote:And Gregkavarnos has mentioned that the Greek Orthodox Christians have teachings on Rainbow Body; which wouldn't surprise me, as I think that the Greek Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Ethiopian and Egyptian Coptic Christianity, etc. are all much closer to the teachings of the original Gnostics and Essenes.

Whereas Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are generally more of a deviation from the original teachings. Not to say that these latter two have not ever produced genuine Saints....


Interesting, he briefly mentions the Protestant deviation in that talk. The roman catholics do have some interesting symbolism and iconography though, the vatican has a huge statue of a pinecone with two peacocks on either side in it's courtyard. Some believe the pinecone represents the pineal gland(endocrine gland associated with the third eye and transcendent wisdom) and also draw similarities between that imagery and the Buddha's bumpy pinecone looking head/hair. The peacock feather is symbolically used in dzogchen as well. Some also say the peacock eyes in the feathers represent the thigles in thogal practice. The pope also has a pinecone on the end of his staff he carries. Greg post some info on the Greek Orthodox rainbow body if you can!
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby Wesley1982 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 1:34 am

I think I can answer most questions about the Christian religion.
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby asunthatneversets » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:41 am

"I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
- Mahatma Gandhi
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby spanda » Sat Jun 16, 2012 2:35 pm

Wesley1982 wrote:I think I can answer most questions about the Christian religion.


Can you tell us about the different kinds of heats which arise in hesychast contemplation, their place of origin in the body, and how must every one of them approached?
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby Wesley1982 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:50 pm

spanda wrote:
Wesley1982 wrote:I think I can answer most questions about the Christian religion.


Can you tell us about the different kinds of heats which arise in hesychast contemplation, their place of origin in the body, and how must every one of them approached?


Heyschasm and Heyschastic contemplation/prayer belongs to a certain school of monks in the Orthodox Christian monastic tradition.

To get into the specifics you would have to ask the monk himself.
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby Jikan » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:57 pm

I'm sorry to be late to this particular conversation, so if my question has already been answered, I beg your patience.

Let's accept the claim that there have been instances of rainbow body among Eastern Christians for the sake of argument. I don't know if there have been or haven't. Some in this thread seem convinced there have been. So let's try some clarification questions:

*When & where was the most recent verifiable instance of rainbow body in this tradition?

*What is the content of the practice that produces this fruit in this tradition?

*Is there a historical claim associated with that practice? I mean a history of transmission. If so, from where is it said to have been transmitted?
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby gad rgyangs » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:46 pm

asunthatneversets wrote:It's from the last 15 minutes or so of the presentation (link below) he did on the similarities between the rainbow body of light and the resurrection in Christianity. What I wrote above is just a loose transcription of the latter portion of his talk. He has other presentations online too (I haven't checked out yet personally) and I'm sure they're just as good.

http://noetic.org/library/audio-lectures/the-rainbow-body-phenomenon-with-father-francis-ti/


holy crap, what an interesting lecture!

i found the Kephalaia Gnostica online:

http://www.ldysinger.com/Evagrius/02_Gno-Keph/00a_start.htm

the book by Beulay, "La Lumiere sans forme" seems to be as elusive as the rainbow body itself, there seems to be a copy at Columbia U....
Thoroughly tame your own mind.
This is (possibly) the teaching of Buddha.
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby spanda » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:41 pm

I'm sorry to be late to this particular conversation, so if my question has already been answered, I beg your patience.

Let's accept the claim that there have been instances of rainbow body among Eastern Christians for the sake of argument. I don't know if there have been or haven't. Some in this thread seem convinced there have been. So let's try some clarification questions:

*When & where was the most recent verifiable instance of rainbow body in this tradition?


Nobody "verify" this kind of result in christian mystical tradition. When after death, they discover that the body is missing from the tomb after just couple of days, they just consider that "God took him with the body also", and they consider this as a sign of his great spiritual realization. That's it.
You can find a lot of recordings of facts like this in some texts called "teachings of the olders".
I remember a story which impressed me, from such a texts of "desert fathers", about a monk, who came suddenly at a monastery in Sinai, become a monk, practiced the contemplative hesychast tradition very seriously in his cell, without talking almost with anybody, and after some years died suddenly, and his body disappeared from the tomb after couple of days. Even the authors if this old texts asked themselves who was this man, what was his real name, what was his history before coming to the monastery.. But they all praised his high spiritual realization, his great humbleness.

]What is the content of the practice that produces this fruit in this tradition?

A quote from a older post of mine:
"Also, I've seen that a lot of people have a very deformed opinion about Christianity on Buddhist site. I've been very interested about this subject and I can tell you one thing: there are extremely interesting aspects in mystical "technologies" of orthodox church. I'm referring at the practice of the Hesychast. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesychasm - a poor presentation)

The purpose of this exact contemplative practice, which has a specific physical posture, an exact point of concentration (at the level of the heart , exactly where is located the indestructible thigle in buddhism), and even an specific practice of breath retention, is very clearly explained in the oral tradition. (yes, there is a very powerful oral tradition). The purpose of this practice is to bring the mind into the heart so as to practise both the Jesus Prayer and sobriety with his mind in his heart. The descent of the mind into the heart is taken quite literally by the practitioners of Hesychasm and is not at all considered to be a metaphorical expression.
What is very interesting is the fact that in the first stages, the formula of prayer start repeating by itself in the mind. At the next level, the practitioner start practicing this prayer even in dreams, remaining perfectly aware.
There is also an extensive knowledge of the "warms" which appear in the body, when the practitioner starts to advance in this contemplative prayer. For example it is very clearly stated that the first warm that appear in the physical body, are not "the right ones" ( a warm which induce sexual feelings), only the higher forms of this warms are the one which are used, when the mind is very clear, and the monk is overwhelmed by a very powerful felling of love for all the creatures, and the wish to sacrifice himself for the good of others.
Then, at the higher stages, we enter in the domain of "revelation", when the mind stops completely (even the prayer stops), and in that "emptiness" appear "the Uncreated Light". Here, the mystics talk about the apophathic character of this experiences, which is beyond any possible definition (is beyond god or bad, beyond light and dark, etc).
Interesting are the results of this practice: at an advanced stage, the practitioner could live completely without food and it will be warmed by the warm of prayer. (Even in my country, there are advanced practitioner like this, who are hiding for peoples, and in the winter, they are almost without cloths, even at -20-30 degrees C, in the mountain, in caves.

At the highest stage; the practitioner will experience "the Uncreated Light" continuously, without any break, even in sleep, and here they acquire all kinds of extraordinary power: levitation, extraordinary knowledge, etc. But the essential characteristics of this advanced practitioners/saints is the overwhelming love, and the extraordinary capacity to sacrifice themselves for anybody, (with great joy!), a deep humility, and (the essential aspect) the continuous experience of "Uncreated Light". There are hundreds of example like this in the history of orthodox Christianity.
But what impressed me the most is the fact that in the texts which records this facts, there are also a lot of references at a strange phenomenon: sometimes when a great saint like this one died, his body was impossible to be found in the next days. This is a very known phenomenon, and it is considered a clear sign that the realization of that individual was so complete, that "God took him with the body" also.
There is a powerful oral transmission in this essential practice of orthodox Christianity (this is by definition "the method" of orthodoxy), because it is very clearly sad that it is dangerous to start practicing this method without a guide.
Of course, what I told you here is only a very very short presentation of a complex mystical path/tradition"

Is there a historical claim associated with that practice? I mean a history of transmission. If so, from where is it said to have been transmitted?

Oral Hesychast transmission. But they are no at all obsessed with this concept of transmission. It is just very clear known that you can't enter on this path without receiving this practices and being carefully guided by an "older" (this is how they call a very advanced hesycast practitioner, which is very hard to find indeed).
They also consider themselves the "real" christians, (" this is the meaning of the "orthodox"), and in general they consider all the other paths wrong/inferior. A little like Buddhists :)
Last edited by spanda on Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby spanda » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:50 pm

There is a huge literature about his tradition. In fact you can spend your whole life studding hesychast texts/the real mystical path of ortodox Christianity.

A typical story, the story of Hesychius the Horebite.

"He passed his life in complete negligence, without paying the least attention to his soul. Then he became extremely ill, and for an hour he expired. And when he came to himself, he begged us all to leave him immediately. And he built up the door of his cell, and he stayed in it for twelve years without ever uttering a word to anyone, and without eating anything but bread and water. And, always remaining motionless, he was so rapt in spirit at what he had seen in his ecstasy, that he never changed this manner of life but was always as if out of his mind, and silently shed hot tears. But when he was about to die, we broke open the door and went in, and after many questions, this alone was all we heard from him: "Forgive me! No one who has acquired the remembrance of death will ever be able to sin." We were amazed to see that one who had before been so negligent was so suddenly transfigured by this blessed change and transformation. We reverently buried him in the cemetery near the fort, and after some days we looked for his holy relics, but did not find them. So by Hesychius's true and praiseworthy repentance, the Lord showed us that He accepts those who desire to amend, even after long negligence."

etc, etc
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Re: Father Francis Tiso Dzogchen & Early Christianity Connection

Postby Sudarsha » Mon Jun 18, 2012 11:10 pm

I am not a scholar of much of any tradition, although I practise in the Theravāda and Dzogchen traditions. But, just after a friend sent me Fr. Tiso's talk on the Rainbow Body, to which I listen with rapt attention, I watched two documentaries (Decoding the Ancients, on the History Channel, very possibly not the very best source for accurate information) addressing the origins of Christianity. What fascinated me was that Roman soldiers probably spread early ideas combining Apollo, Osiris, Mithra, Jesus and who knows what else - maybe they heard that Jesus was a god so taking no chances, included him. The other documentary was about Constantine who doesn't actually appear to have been a Christian in his own life, but obviously saw the value in having a single, state religion. Besides which, of course, his mother was a believer in some form of Christian worship or practise or social organization.

Probably Constantine and his mother picked up whatever was passing as some form of Christianity from other Roman soldiers as it appears that by the early second century Christian ideas, or Roman religion incorporating Jesus, had spread throughout the empire via the military. Certainly Roman "believers" amongst the military are mentioned in the literature that has come down to us, but for what real reason, I do not think we will ever really know.

What I thought was really striking was that the documentary (Simcha Jacobovici http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simcha_Jacobovici) didn't include the obvious parallel between Saul of Tarsus hearing the voice of God and then, in the 4th Century at the Milvian Bridge, Constantine has the same experience. Actually, his contemporary biographer Eusebius omits any mention of the "in hoc signo vinces" episode in his first bio, only adding this later.

Jocobovici also made much of examining Constantine's arch finding no evidence whatsoever of any Christian influences. No crosses on any shields depicting his victory at the Milvian Bridge.

We owe much to the Romans, but I suspect that their inquisitive, superstitious and willy-nilly, believe-everything minds have hugely stood in the way of any clear perception, now, of what Jesus was actually like or thought or did. What we have is a hugely complex mishmash of ancient religion incorporating ideas from all over the Roman Empire, now systematized and sanitized as Christianity.
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