psholtz said, "Christianity and Judaism really have nothing much to do w/ each other."
Excellent posts. That is the best explanation I have ever read.
Your analysis confirms my long-standing belief that the biggest mistake Christianity ever made was holding onto the Old Testament. For Christians to believe that the New Testament is the Word of God is understandable, because those writings tell the story of the origins of their religion. For them to believe that the Old Testament is the Word of God is absurd. The Old Testament tells the story of the origins of an entirely different religion, Judaism. The Old Testament contains many examples of how "God's chosen people" oppose, dislike, and possibly hate the rest of humanity. "The rest of humanity" is referred to as "gentiles" in the OT. Of course, all Christians are gentiles.
The fact is that today many Christians believe that the Jews are God's chosen people, and many Christians consider themselves Zionists.
It would be interesting to know why the compilers of the Bible chose to include the OT. Was it a foolish error on their part, or were the Jews involved in this decision in order to make it possible for them to perpetually confuse and undermine the new religion.
This is an excellent question/concern, and it's something that I've often wondered about the more I learned about religion (and esp about Christianity and Judaism). For instance, I've long thought that Plato's cycle of philosophical Tetralogies would make a much better *introduction* to the NT than the OT does (to my mind, it's not even clear that the *God* of the OT is even the same *God* who makes his appearance in the NT... and based on the above discussion, he's probably not! LOL)
Voltaire once quipped that the Catholic church should have made Plato a saint, since he (Plato) invented Christianity 300 years before Christ did(!), and .. to be honest, I pretty much (completely) share Voltaire's conviction here. Whether or not Jesus was trained (religiously/philosophically) in Egypt is something we can speculate on (based on the readings from Hebrews 5-7), but we *know* for a (biographical) fact that Egypt is where Plato was trained in philosophy and where Plato was first initiated into the (ancient) Mysteries. Moreover, since Palestine had become deeply, deeply Hellenized (and of course, later Romanized) by the time of Christ, it's not surprisingly that we should see the imprint of Platonic thinking and philosophy coming through in the teachings of Christ.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the decisions of the early Church fathers were probably the wisest option they had open. In the first place, even though (chronologically) Plato came before Christ, the teachings of one do not really add anything to the teachings of the other. If you had Plato as the "OT" and kept Christ as the NT, then... well... Christ isn't really going to say anything in the NT that Plato hadn't already said (several dozen times) in his own writings.. and vice versa. Sooo you're not really adding any information, and so it would be kinda pointless..
Secondly, I believe that to be a truly enduring system of faith, a religion must embody the following three things:
* Solid, responsible moral code by which to live
* Representation of God as a Trinity
* The (all important) Commandment to be "Born Again" (<- using Christianity terminology)
The religion of the ancient Hindus had all three, and it persisted for many thousands of years.. the Mystery (Sun) religion of the Egyptians had all three, and it persisted for at least 3 millenia. Christianity has all three, and it's moving on into its third millenium now..
The Greeks already had the concept of a Trinity (Zeus was capable of manifesting in three aspects, viz Poseidon, Hades and Ammon), and Plato brought to the Greeks the all important doctrine of being "born again" (much like Christ brought it to the Jews). In Plato's philosophy, he describes being "born again" as "raising the Soul out of the Tomb of the Body".. Plato describes the Soul as being "asleep" inside the Body, which encases it as a Tomb, and that it's the responsibility of each human to "awaken" that Soul and to "resurrect" it and to bring it to life from w/in the Tomb.. This, btw, is why there are *soo* many people always being brought back to life from inside tombs in the NT (Lazarus, Jesus, etc).. Like I said, Christianity is a very Hellenistic/Platonic philosophy.
Also note all the times in the NT that Christ says something to the effect of "there will come the day when both the living and the dead will hear the Word of God!" When Christ uses the word "dead" in this context, He doesn't mean "dead" the way you and I traditionally think. He means, "alive, but spiritually dead".. He means, the person appears to be alive and breathing and what not, but the Soul inside is still asleep, and has not yet been brought back to life from inside the Tomb.. In post-1999 Warceski Brothers America, we might translate this commandment of Christ more accurately as "there will come a day when both those who are still plugged into the Matrix and are asleep, as well as those who have unplugged themselves from the Matrix by choosing the blue pill, will hear the Word of God!"
Christ's commandment to "let the dead bury their dead" bears much the same interpretation..
The Greeks, however, lacked a solid moral code by which to live.. it's my understanding that they were quite libertine ( :-P ), hence the (relatively) quick demise of their system of religion and philosophy (beautiful as it was). This is why, imho, it was wise for the NT writers to choose to append the NT onto the OT.. The OT does, after all, provide a very solid moral code (Ten Commandments and all), as well as very graphic depictions of what happens to people should they decide to break this moral code. So while Christianity (re-)introduces the concepts of (a) God as a Trinity; and (b) the importance of being Born Again, Christianity still must piggy-back off the OT so as to provide its moral "backbone" (so to speak).