The progress of Christianity could be traced as a parallel to the Herodian family's evolving relationship with Rome. As client kings the Herodians had to maintain the appearance of absolute loyalty to their Roman overlords. Privately, they were free to conspire. It led to an unbelievable web of intrigue, and makes it nearly impossible to sort out true individual motives now.
Some Herodians, like Agrippa (and later Josephus), seem to have considered themselves more Roman than Jewish and sold out their Herodian brothers for power and favor with Rome. This may have also been the path chosen by Paul, who was so proud of his Roman citizenship. He at first accepted a commission to take a customized Gospel to the Roman world and help prepare for a Jewish military revolution. However, he may later have seen the futility of resistance to Roman rule, cut a deal with Nero, and betrayed the Jerusalem church (leading to the murder of James brother of Jesus).
Likewise, in the Book of Revelation it is unclear whether the vast army from the East is coming to liberate the Jews from Rome or Rome from the (non-Christian) Jews.
In the Gospels we see that there was an increasing tendency to give Jesus the qualities of an imperial Christ, that is, retrofitting a divine birth scene and having him preach acceptance of Roman rule.
Ultimately, the Christian church did sell out to Rome. In exchange for official status, the Church leaders bowed to Roman emperors as a Messianic line of kings. With the change of Jesus' birth day to December 25th the transformation was complete.
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© Charles N. Pope, US Library of Congress. All rights reserved.