Answers to Questions by Yair Davidiy
If Jesus never lived, how do you explain the stories about him? This is a question for those who don't believe that Jesus ever lived.
How did Christianity begin?
A Jewish scholar who went bad named "Yeshu HaNotsri" was executed for idolatry in about 170-160 BCE. This was in Judea under the last of the Hasmoneans before the Romans came. The name "Yeshu" is short for Yehoshua. It was common practice to use shortened forms of popular names e.g. Yosef became "Yosi," etc. The followers of Yeshu the Notsri were known as "Notsrim". The Notsrim were (or later became) somehow linked with the Essenes. The Essenes dwelt by the Dead Sea (cf. Dead Sea Scrolls) and may have been descendants of Edomite converts.
The forefather of the Edomites had been Esau (Genesis 25:25) the twin brother of Jacob who was also known as Israel. The name Esau was also rendered as ‘Ousous’ or ‘Iesous.’ ‘Ousoos’ had been revered in the pagan city of Tyre some of whose inhabitants were also from Edom. The other form of the name ‘Iesous’ was also used as the Greek equivalent of ‘Yehoshua’ i.e. of ‘Yeshu.’ [Even today among the Arabs the names for both Jesus and Esau are conflated into one.] Not only that but descendants of Esau had helped found the city of Rome. Some of the Roman elite may have been aware of this.
The Romans worshiped a pantheon the chief deity of which was named "Jove." This cognomen could be pronounced similarly to the name of God in the Bible. The Romans at that time worshiped a synthesis of pagan beliefs that included a vague belief in one god, Zeus or Jove, who was equated by them with Baal, a mother goddess, a savior god who dies and is resurrected (who was also equated with Baal), and other deities.
In some respects it was not much different from early Christianity as we know it.
At that time in the Roman Empire there were many converts, quasi converts, and simple people who were very interested in Judaism.
Out of all this the Christian Gospels as we know them emerged.
Was all this planned in advance by elements among the Romans who wanted to stop the spread of Judaism, present a synthetic creed incorporating their pagan beliefs, and of course blame the Jews for the death of their sun god?
Or did it somehow simply evolve that way? Was their a confluence of different beliefs that came together?
Whatever the case,
Christianity serves a good purpose in the world in so far as it leads to belief in the Bible and brings its believers a little closer to the truth.