History of "salvation"
Slowly, ever so slowly, I continue to investigate the history of the Judaeo/Christian ideas of "salvation" (soteriology). I have been working on my Study for more than a year and it will take me a few more months to prepare the Drafts of the remaining chapters.
My investigations have shown me that people have held -- and continue to hold -- a range of expectations, explanations, and opinions concerning a future existence and how that was provided, how it will be attained, and what will be experienced. This research has confirmed for me that religion is supernatural superstition exploited by a few in order to manipulate and manage the masses. This does not mean that religion does not help some people cope with the vagaries of life with its sadnesses and pressures. If it helps them to cope, they should hold on to It.
To date, my Study has considered the ancient Hebrews, some New Testament writings, Gospel of Thomas, the primitive Church, and the European Medieval periods, including people such as Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin, along with the Council of Trent and the soteriology of the Orthodox Churches.
Although the Study skims lightly across very deep lakes, its scope means that it is not small. I provide a comprehensive Contents at the rear of the study. A Bibliography near the rear explains the reference titles in the footnotes.
I am seeking corrections and advice, no matter how large or how small. You will find my email address in the Study.
I update the Study each time I complete a draft Chapter. Currently I am investigating the Pastoral Epistles (Timothy, Titus), which were written some 50 years after Paul's death.
My Study is available at:
This research has confirmed for me that religion is supernatural superstition exploited by a few in order to manipulate and manage the masses.
When said like this, it does sound harsh. I agree, and I also agree that some people do need hope, and explanation for what they fear, comfort, structure, a place to belong and a sense of community. Personally I always make a distinction between what a given religion teaches and what it does for their people. They can worship Mr. Potato Head for what I care, for as long as they bring some goodness to their people.
The control of the masses is a separate effect. There are well intended, welcoming religious groups that look to serve their people, not exploit it. They may not be as visible, but they are. I've myself have come to learn that.
Question: is there any reason why you seem to be studying mostly Judeo-Christian religions? I think that you may get a better sense of what religion in general serves to people if you expand the denominations (just curious, not criticizing).
The benefit I see -- for those who need it -- is that a Church provides them with a community of like-minded people. I guess I make it sound banal, but we see any number of communities of people who have similar convictions, and in this instance the commonality lies with myths and the supernatural.
I suspect that arguing against the belief systems of other myth-followers enables one to have a sense of protecting one's local community and of identifying with it. Although arguing against conflicting belief systems is a tool exploited by religious leaders to construct a fence around their sheep (Trinity, etc.).
While conducting this Study, I have been struck by the range of ideas and explanations regarding "salvation", to the point where I asked myself: "Why do people listen to and heed the opinions of religious leaders/voices?" Paul had his opinion (after supposedly speaking with the spirit of an executed person) but why should his ideas be taken as absolute?
My background had been within Christianity and that is the limit of my personal experience. There is such a vast tapestry for enquiry, and looking at these has helped me shape my relationship with current events. I have no real knowledge of belief systems outside the Judaeo/Christian stream.
I see Christianity as an element of Judaism. The Christian Bible is comprised of Jewish writings, apart from probably Luke, Acts, Hebrews and 2 Peter -- I am open to thoughts on whether there are other non-Jewish writings in any of the Christian Bibles. What about the Didache, Shepherd of Hermas, Barnabas and Thomas - were they Jewish in origin? Likely not.