It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
In the three centuries before Constantine, both mainline Christian authorities and those of Rabbinic Judaism equally and unitedly (in this case) condemned the people who were establishing synagogues or churches showing mixed pagan beliefs with biblical themes and with making pagan designs on various funerary artifacts found over the Roman world. As we will come to see, it is the Christian authorities who say more about such people because they were more of a menace to Christian teaching than to Rabbinic Judaism (just why will be explained later). And while Professor Goodenough did not see what he thought might be classified as "Christian" art in the artifacts he catalogued (except at the small church in Dura Europos), he surmised that all the specimens that he recorded were probably "Jewish." He was actually wrong in his identification of the peoples who originated such things. His early training caused him to misjudge the evidence. Goodenough started his academic career by concentrating on the teachings of Philo the Alexandrian Jew who lived in the time of Christ. He reasoned that Philo gave the impetus for later Jews to adopt Hellenistic ways (that is, to use Greco-Roman pagan ideas in their everyday religious beliefs and practices). Goodenough surmised that the majority of Jews after C.E. 70 blended their interpretation of Scripture with pagan motifs into their religious services and into their daily way of living. But Goodenough (as brilliant as he was and deserving great praise for his work) was wrong in his identification. It wasn’t Philo who lived at the time of Jesus who gave the incentive for all of the paganistic artifacts in some of the synagogues and burial grounds found around the Mediterranean basin. The blame goes to another person who also lived at the time of Jesus, and, incidentally, who was a contemporary of Philo. That man is singled out in the New Testament as the originator of the first heresy to afflict the Christian community. Just who was this person? According to all early Christian authorities the person who started the mischief was a man whose people consistently honored and adored the symbols of the Tabernacle of Moses (the Menorah, the Torah shrine, etc.) while regularly mixing these scriptural themes with pagan ideas and theologies. That man, according to all early Christian scholars before the time of Constantine was a Samaritan by the name of Simon Magus. If Goodenough would have substituted all his references to Philo with the name "Simon Magus" as the originator of this so-called paganistic "Judaism" from the first to the sixth centuries, he would have provided the key that would have identified the people who manufactured much of those pagan artifacts. Those people are indeed The People That History Forgot. And who are they? They are principally the Samaritans ― especially those who followed one of their own countrymen called Simon Magus and his successors into the theological teaching called “Gnosticism.” There were countless people in the Roman world who got caught up into the heretical movement of Gnosticism which flourished from the second to the fourth centuries of our era. Indeed, they composed a voluminous amount of literature to back up their various teachings and they were influential in many parts of the Roman world. The Importance of the Samaritans All the mainline (or "orthodox") Christian authorities for the first four centuries claim that the major heresy that afflicted the whole world with error started with the activities of the man called Simon Magus, a Samaritan.
When the Jews were rebuilding the Temple after the Babylonian captivity, the peoples of Samaria came to the Jews and said, "Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as you do; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esar-haddon king of Assyria, which brought us up hither." Ezra 4:2 The Jews declined this Samaritan petition because they were mixing pagan religious practices with their worship of YHVH. This rejection infuriated the Samaritans. They resolved to thwart any attempt to rebuild the Temple if they could not have a part in its construction. Thereupon, they wrote a letter to the king of Persia asking him to put a stop to the building. The contents of this letter are interesting because its contents reveal a lot more about the origin of the Samaritans (and their brother tribes) and about where they came to reside in Palestine and Syria. The record of this letter in the Bible affords the historian a major key regarding the distribution of Babylonians west of the Euphrates. Let us notice what these Samaritans and their allies said of themselves. "Then wrote Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, and the Elamites, and the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnapper [Asshur-banipal] brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest [of the cities] that are on this side the river [in the cities west of the Euphrates], and at such a time." Ezra 4:9–10 Let us notice that all the tribes mentioned in this letter (ten groups of people altogether) were from eastern areas. Almost all were from Mesopotamia and Persia. And more importantly, note that these nations were settled not only in the cities of Samaria, but also in the rest of the cities on the west side of the Euphrates River. As far as the Persian government was concerned (which flourished at the time this letter was written), this whole region was called "Syria." Note what Bevan stated about the phrase "on this side the river." "This was the ordinary designation of Syria in the official language of the old Persian Empire."
"Influenced by foreign cultures, the Jews employed pagan symbols in some synagogue mosaics, for example: the Zodiac and the heads of impure animals, such as lions and tigers.
In Samaritan synagogues, even the most complicated mosaics are free of pagan symbols. Samaritan artists were careful to use only symbols mentioned in the Torah: the Tabernacle utensils, particularly the menorah (seven-branched candelabrum); the Shofar (ramshorn), trumpets, and the heads of pure birds and animals, such as doves, sheep and goats. Consequently, when viewed from ground level a Samaritan synagogue interior has a simple, modest appearance."
originally posted by: JohnthePhilistine