early church

Some early Christians believed the magical Phoenix was a real bird

Some early Christians believed some pretty weird things.

The First Epistle of Clement gives us an example. It was written around the same time as Revelation and was widely received in the early church, even being included in some early Bibles (Codex Alexandrius) and listed as a book of the Bible in an early canon list (Canon 85, in the Apostolic Canons).

In this epistle the author articulates that he believes the magical Phoenix to be a real bird.

“Let us consider that wonderful sign which takes place in Eastern lands, that is, in Arabia and the countries round about. There is a certain bird which is called a phoenix. This is the only one of its kind, and lives five hundred years. And when the time of its dissolution draws near that it must die, it builds itself a nest of frankincense, and myrrh, and other spices, into which, when the time is fulfilled, it enters and dies. But as the flesh decays a certain kind of worm is produced, which, being nourished by the juices of the dead bird, brings forth feathers. Then, when it has acquired strength, it takes up that nest in which are the bones of its parent” (1)

Someone before Jesus was called ‘Son of God,’ and and carried the titles ‘Lord,’ ‘Redeemer,’ ‘Liberator,’ and ‘Saviour of the World’

“Imagine this question. There was a human being in the first century who was called ‘Divine,’ ‘Son of God,’ ‘God,’ and ‘God from God,’ whose titles were ‘Lord,’ ‘Redeemer,’ ‘Liberator,’ and ‘Saviour of the World.'” Who was that person? Most people who know the Western tradition would probably answer, unless alerted by thequestion’s too obviousness, Jesus of Nazareth.

And most Christians probably think that those titles were originally created and uniquely applied to Christ. But before Jesus ever existed, all those terms belonged to Caesar Augustus.”

-John Dominic Crossan (Prominent New Testament scholar/historian), God and Empire, 2007, p. 28

This is why some early Christians were persecuted, for they were seen as a political movement, as Marcus Borg puts it “In Paul’s world … Caesar was ‘Lord’ – and ‘Son of God,’ and the savior who had brought peace on earth. So when Paul and other early Christians proclaimed ‘Jesus is Lord’ (and the Son of God and the savior who brings true peace on earth), he and they were directly challenging Roman imperial theology and the imperial domination system that it legitimated.”

Chrsitianity destroyed some of the worlds greatest literary works

Did you know many important works of ancient history and science were lost because monks bleached the pages of these important documents in order to write biblical and liturgical texts on the paper?

In the 3rd century BC, a Greek philosopher, Archimedes, discovered some of the principles of integral calculus, however, as the Roman Empire underwent Christianization, many pagan works were burned and lost (except Plato, who was beloved by the early Christians). The only remaining copy of this work by Archimedes was later bleached by monks and prayers were written on the same paper. (1)

About 2,000 years after Archimedes, integral calculus was again developed, largely by Newton and Leibnitz. Then, in 1998 scholars used modern imaging techniques (ultraviolet, infrared, X-ray, etc) to find/read the calculus, hidden underneath the prayers. This document is called the Archimedes Palimpsest.