Apostolic Succession and the Papacy–separating fact from fiction

No “bishop of Rome” or “Roman pontiff” existed before the second century—with the first record of their being a Linus, successor of Peter, a fictional character in the Bible who was the least saintly of all the alleged Apostles.  The word “pontiff” never had the meaning of “pope” (papa, which is Latin from the Greek: πάππας (pappas), a child’s word for father) but in Rome came from the term “pontifex maximus” (ἱεροδιδάσκαλος, ἱερονόμος, ἱεροφύλαξ, ἱεροφάντης) but was a “heathen” title for high priests (their number swelled from four: Livy, X.6,9: Livy, X.6, to at least sixteen)  of the College of Pontiffs (Collegium Pontificum) in ancient Rome. The position of pontifex maximus was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, but was open only to patricians until 254 BC when a plebian (Tiberius Coruncanius: Livy, Epit. 18) occupied the position; Sulla increased the number to 15 in 81 BCE: Livy, Epit. 89; Julius Cesar, who was elected Pontifex Maximus in 63 BCE, raised that number to sixteen (Dion Cassius XLII.51).  The last to use the title was Gratianus (Orelli, Inscript. n1117, 1118).  The rulers styled Pontifex Maximus were:

712 BCE

Numa Pompilius It was claimed that the office began during the tenure of the Kings of Rome. The first Pontifex Maximus is recorded as Numa Marcius but it is difficult to determine if it was a different person, or the actual second king of Rome.

509 BCE

Papirius Complete dates in office unknown.

449 BCE

Furius Complete dates in office unknown.

431 BCE

Cornelius Cossas Complete dates in office unknown.

420 BCE

Minucius Complete dates in office unknown.

390 BCE

Follius Flaccinator Complete dates in office unknown.

332 – 304 BCE

Cornelius Callissa  

304 – ? BCE

Cornelius Scipio Barbatus Complete dates in office unknown.

254 – 243 BCE

Tiberius Coruncanius First Plebeian Pontifex Maximus

243- 221 BCE

Caecilius Metellus  

217 – 213 BCE

Cornelius Lentulus Caudinus  

212 – 183 BCE

Licinius Crassus Dives  

183 – 180 BCE

Servilius Geminus  

180 – 152 BCE

Aemilius Lepidus  

152 -150 BCE

No Pontifex Maximus  

150 – 141 BCE

Cornelius Scipio Nasica Corculum  

141 – 132 BCE

Publius Cornelius Scipio Nasica Serapio Plutaech describes Serapio as the first Pontifex to break the religious law not allowing him to leave Italy.

132 – 130 BCE

Licinius Crassus Dives Mucianus Also noted as the first to leave Italy, during the social disorder of the Gracchi Brothers, after which, it became increasingly common and certainly not against the law for the Pontifex to leave Italy.

? – 115 BCE

P. Mucius Scaevola Complete dates in office unknown, but assumedly shortly after his predecessor.

114 – 103 BCE

Caecilius Metellus Delmaticus  

103 – 89 BCE

Domitius Ahenobarbus  

89 – 82 BCE

Q. Mucius Scaevola  

81 – 63 BCE

Caecilius Metellus Pius  

63 – 44 BCE

Gaius Julius Caesar  

44 – 13 BCE

Aemilius Lepidus  

12 BCE

Augustus With Augustus’ accession, the election of the Pontifex Maximus ceased as each successive emperor held the office. In 382 CE, when the Eastern emperor Theodosius established Christianity as the official religion of the empire, the Western Emperor Gratian relinquished the office to the Christian bishops of Rome, who have held it since that time.

The College of Pontiffs, the antecedent to the College of Cardinals, lasted until Constantine outlawed it with his creation of his imperial catholic [universal] church in 325 CE (Arnobius IV.35). 

Ancient Roman pontiffs were known for luxurious living, maintenance of “nephews” who were known as secretaries or pontifices minores: “quos nunc minores pontifices appellant” as Livy detailed (XXII.57; compare Jul. Capitol. Opil. Macrin. 7; Cicero (de Harusp. Resp. 6) mentions the name of three minor pontiffs) and abandoned (licentious) living un unexcelled luxury (Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace): Horat. Carm[ina]. II.14.26] Martiales. XII.48.12:

Non Albana mihi sit comissatio tanti

Nec Capitolinae pontificumque dapes;

Inputet ipse deus nectar mihi, fiet acetum

Et Vaticani perfida vappa cadi.

 cp. Macrob. Sat. II.9), similar to that of Alexander VI, Julius II and other renaissance popes.  Emperors frequently assumed the title of Pontifex Maximus as late as 238 CE, when the two emperors Maximus and Balbinus assumed this dignity (Capitol. Maxim. et Balb. 8).

A Roman pontifex did officiate at religious ceremonies, but that was only one duty. A pontifex, like all the members of the great priestly colleges, was permitted by law hold any other military, civil or priestly office, provided the different offices did not interfere with one another. Thus we find one and the same person being pontiff, augur, and decemvir sacrorum  were elected for life. Their chief duty was to take care of the Sibylline books, and to inspect them on all important occasions, by command of the senate, as recounted by Livy at XL.42:

Eodem anno L. Duronius, qui praetor anno superiore, ex Illyrico cum decem nauibus Brundisium rediit. inde in portu relictis nauibus cum uenisset Romam, inter exponendas res, quas ibi gessisset, haud dubie in regem Illyriorum Gentium latrocinii omnis maritimi causam auertit: ex regno eius omnes naues esse, quae superi maris oram depopulatae essent; de his rebus se legatos misisse, nec conueniendi regis potestatem factam. uenerant Romam legati a Gentio, qui, quo tempore Romani conueniendi regis causa uenissent, aegrum forte eum in ultimis partibus fuisse regni dicerent: petere Gentium ab senatu, ne crederent confictis criminibus in se, quae inimici detulissent. ad ea Duronius adiecit multis ciuibus Romanis et sociis Latini nominis iniurias factas in regno eius, et ciues Romanos dici Corcyrae retineri. eos omnes Romam adduci placuit, C. Claudium praetorem cognoscere, neque ante Gentio regi legatisue eius responsum reddi.

Inter multos alios, quos pestilentia eius anni absumpsit, sacerdotes quoque aliquot mortui sunt. L. Ualerius Flaccus pontifex mortuus est: in eius locum suffectus est Q. Fabius Labeo. P. Manlius, qui nuper ex ulteriore Hispania redierat, triumuir epulo: Q. Fuluius M. f. in locum eius triumuir cooptatus, tum praetextatus erat. de rege sacrifio sufficiendo in locum Cn. Cornelii Dolabellae contentio inter C. Seruilium pontificem maximum fuit et L. Cornelium Dolabellam duumuirum naualem, quem ut inauguraret pontifex magistratu sese abdicare iubebat. recusantique id facere ob eam rem multa duumuiro dicta a pontifice, deque ea, cum prouocasset, certatum ad populum. cum plures iam tribus intro uocatae dicto esse audientem pontifici duumuirum iuberent, multamque remitti, si magistratu se abdicasset, uitium de caelo, quod comitia turbaret, interuenit. religio inde fuit pontificibus inaugurandi Dolabellae. P. Cloelium Siculum inaugurarunt, qui secundo loco nominatus erat. exitu anni et C. Seruilius Geminus pontifex maximus decessit: idem decemuir sacrorum fuit. pontifex in locum eius a collegio cooptatus est Q. Fuluius Flaccus:inde pontifex maximus M. Aemilius Lepidus, cum multi clari uiri petissent; et decemuir sacrorum Q. Marcius Philippus in eiusdem locum est cooptatus. et augur Sp. Postumius Albinus decessit: in locum eius P. Scipionem, filium Africani, augures cooptarunt.

Cumanis eo anno petentibus permissum, ut publice Latine loquerentur et praeconibus Latine uendendi ius esset.

Instances of a pontifex maximus being at the same time consul, are very numerous (Liv. XXVIII.38; Cic. de Harusp. Resp. 6; compare Ambrosch, Julius Athanasius (1839). Studien und Andeutungen im Gebiet des altrömischen Bodens und Cultus. 1es Hft. Breslau: Hirt, p. 229, note 105; in German).

Petronilla daughter of Peter (13th century)

Not only was Peter different from the other Twelve Apostles (he was married (Mark 1:29-31, cp. Matthew 8:14; cf. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata III.vi, ed. Dindorf, II, 276) and had a legendary daughter named Petronilla (De Rossi, Giovanni Battista (1864-1877). Roma sotterranea cristiana. Roma, Italia: Cromo-litografia pontificia. vol. I, pp. 180-181; in Italian) who was the source of the story of the maiden Rapunzel locked in a tower to be rescued by a handsome prince; this legend became the hagiography for St. Barbara, and by the tenth century story was the insipriation of the Persian tale of Rudāba, included in the epic poem Shahnameh (شاهنامه) by Ferdowsi (whose poetry has been praised as being equal to the heavenly Eden: در بهشت عدن فردوسی نگر). Rudāba offers to let down her hair from her tower so that her lover Zāl can climb up to her) and the daughter is mentioned in the Gnostic apocryphal Acts of St. Peter, dating from the 2nd century but no name is given (Lipsius, Richard Adelbert  (1887). Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten u. Apostellegenden:  ein Beitrag zur altchristlichen Literaturgeschichte 2,1 in II, i, Braunschweig, Germany: Schwetschke, pp. 203 sqq.). 

Having children was commonplace.  It was expected of the early “bishops of Rome” (culminating with Siricius) for they were married and expected to having numerous children (with the exception of Alexander I).  This gave rise to the belief that Roman Catholic families had to be large and birth control discouraged. In spite of this, Siricius, it is written, wrote a letter to Bishop Himerius of Tarragona (c. 385 CE) to stop cohabiting / living with their wives: Coustant, Pierre (1721) ed. Epistolae Romanorum pontificum: et quae ad eos scriptae sunt, a S. Clemente I. usque ad Innocentium III … Tomus 1, abanno Christi 67 ad annum 440. Parisiis [Paris] France: L. D. Delatour, A. U. Coustelier, et P. Simon, 1721; reprint by Farnborough, 1967, pp. 623-638, no. 16, 9-12 (it is a forgery)—but the Epistle, No. 8, also talks about rampant sexual abuse among the clergy, especially with young girls; the text can be read in Somerville, Robert and Brasington, Bruce (1998). Prefaces to Canon Law Books in Latin Christianity.  New Haven, CT, USA: Yale University Press, 1998), pp. 36-39; I am using my copy of the original Latin version printed in 1721), but was the first to deny his relationship with the Jesus of the New Testament (John 21:15-17, Mark 14:70-72, Luke 22:60-62), had limited (Mark 14:38), if any, faith in the New Testament Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29 where Peter walks on water—and sinks, Mark 14:66-68), was overly boastful without substance (Mark 14:69-70), etc.

Simon bar Jonas (or, Peter: Greek: Πέτρος, or Cephas: Greek: Κηφᾶς; they are sometimes combined as in the Syriac ܫܶܡܥܽܘܢ ܟ݁ܺܐܦ݂ܳܐ) was anything but a saint.  He was proclaimed a saint only because he allegedly suffered martyrdom that he could have avoided, making his martyrdom a deliberate suicide (there is no contemporary record of any Simon or Peter being executed in Rome, but would have been in the imperial records by law; the earliest record of this alleged death appears in Tertullian at the end of the second century CE (hardly a reliable source) and then of Origen Adamantius (born in Egypt and died in Phoenicia in the third century) in Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica III.1, written in the fourth century).  While Christian apologists cite these records, their reliability is at best questionable since they are written hundreds of years after the event, and there is no record of the crucifixion of Peter in the Bible–the Book of Acts of the Apostles drops all mention of Peter less than half-way through, as the writers turn their attention to Saul of Tarsus/Paul.  (No legitimate historian would use one book to prove the contents of the same books; this fact makes the Bible an untrustworthy source as it is not history nor its contents verified elsewhere during the times it was written. 

Peter walking on water (painting by Francois Boucher, 1766)

As for Peter being the stone or rock for believers, that fiction is rejected in Acts 4:8-12 (cf. Matthew 16:18 that is mistranslated, as Peter and stone are the same word in Greek: πετρος).  Furthermore, the advent of this “rock” is but a reflection on the birth of the god Mithras, favored by Rome’s soldiers, who was born out of a rock (Vermaseren, Maartan J. (1951). “The miraculous Birth of Mithras”, in László Gerevich. Studia Archaeologica: Publicationes Instituti archaeologici Academiae scientiarum Hungaricae. Red.: L[ászló] Gerevich 0. Besitzerspezifische Fußnote. Budapest, Hungary; reissued as Studia Archaeologica: Gerardo van Horoon Oblata (Studia von Horoon), a festschriften, Leiden, Netherlands: E J Brill. pp. 93–109).

God Enki walks out of the water to the land

Various religions in the days that it is claimed that Peter lived have similar accounts of miracles and walking on water–as the records are about how the earth was formed and how people were born.  The legend of Peter “walking on water”, as it appears in current Bibles, is nothing new in the world’s religious literature, and it did not occur only with the Jesus of the New Testament nor with Peter.  It is not a story of faith but of the power of the god(s) current at the time.

Walking on water is found in universal non-Christian theologies: Egyptian (Horus and his son Hapy who ruled over the Nile, and Naunet who was the god of wells and later of all water, especially the ocean, (a prototype for Neptune / Poiseidon) in Etruscan theology and known as Nethuns), Hindu (Huang-Po), Greek (Orion), Canaanite (in Mesopotamia, Enki was god of water and walked on it and saw it to be the “birth water” that flowed out of his wife, calling faithful fishermen from their boats to walk on water to prove their faith; and in numerous Asian religions, the gods were avatars—those who control elements—and walked on water),

Pre-Inca (Peru) God of creation who walks on water

which also appears in Pre-Inca (Peru) theology as Viracocha (also known as Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra) who created the world flood while the Inca god Kon controlled the rain.  Pre-Inca theology had Virachocha as “a man of medium height, white and dressed in a white robe like an alb secured round the waist, and that he carried a staff and a book in his hands” (De Gamboa, Pedro Sarmiento.  History of the Incas translated by Clements Markham, Cambridge, MA, USA: The Hakluyt Society 1907, pp. 28-58).  Virachocha (the name means “sea foam”) had one son (Inti) and two daughters, a trinity, who destroyed the earth and all the animals on it with a universal flood because of the sinfulness of people, pardoning only two people to bring civilization to the rest of the world: Manco Cápac, the son of Inti (sometimes taken as the son of Viracocha), which name means “splendid foundation”, and Mama Ocllo, which means “mother fertility”.  In another account, Viracocha had two sons, Imahmana Viracocha and Tocapo Virachocha. After the Great Flood and the Creation, Viracocha sent his sons to visit the tribes the sons created to the Northeast and Northwest to determine if they still obeyed his commandments (Viracocha traveled North). During their journey, Imaymana and Tocapo gave names to all the trees, flowers, fruits and herbs (there was no first woman). They also taught the tribes which of these were edible, which had medicinal properties, and which were poisonous. Eventually, Viracocha, Tocapo and Imahmana arrived at Cuzco (in modern-day Peru) and the Pacific seacoast where they walked across the water until they disappeared.

At the time the Gospels were being written, Asian theology was present in the Roman world), and throughout the Scandinavian world (with Ahti the most important water deity, but also Thor, Odin, etc who ruled over everything), and O-Wata-Tsu-Mi of Japan, Chac in Mayan theology, and so forth.  

Moschophoros (Athens 570 BCE)

“Borrowing” religious symbolism was common and took on an unusual urgency by the middle of the fourth century for the emerging groups of “brethren” who would people the congregations of “the lovers” when the Emperor Constantine decided to formally create his catholic [universal] church, calling a council of warring bishops to Nicaea to thrash out details and decide on a uniform code.  From this, and other such state-controlled councils in the East, symbolism played a critical role, such as the symbolism of Jesus carrying a lamb which is a part of the theology of Attis, Dionysus, Mithras, Apollonius of Tyana, and so forth, and is known both as μοσχάρι-κομιστή: calf-bearer and αρνί-κομιστή: lamb-bearer (Hermes: Ἑρμῆς. is the lamb-bearer (Hermes Kriophoros: Ερμής αρνί-κομιστή) and one of the crucified saviours of the ancient world).  In each case the lamb carrier /calf carrier is representative of a shepherd or cowherder who was in charge of protecting the flocks from predators (from the Latin praedātor:  plunderer and was used for “flock stealing” or taking from one religion to another by using lies).  From this symbol those who would proclaim themselves (or be proclaimed by others) as leaders (bishops: ἐπίσκοποι episkopoi, but does not become a recognized category until 108 CE, as defined by Ignatius of Antioch who held that a bishop had greater authority than a priest) or council of advisers (presbyters who exercised teaching, priestly, and administrative functions; from the Greek πρεσβύτερος (presbuteros), the comparative form of πρέσβυς (presbus), “old man”) determined that they would have to ensure purity of faith by expelling (and ultimately killing) heretics and apostates.

Justin Martyr (acclaimed a saint under the most dubious of circumstances, rewrote the Bible on his own, substituting Latin words that were/are not the equivalent of the Greek Koine) wrote in his First Apology 21: “When we say that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.”  The actual New Testament text matches that of Buddhism.

Linus does not appearing in any document before the highly questionable writings of Irenæus of Lyons (d. 200 CE).  Linus is not mentioned again until Eusebius, the Arian bishop of Caesarea (ca. 339 CE).  In fact the original (old) Liber Pontificalis (Book of Popes: the oldest copy that I have in my private library is emended/edited by de Lutiis, Jacobi [bishop of Cajazzo] and Burckardi, Joannis (1497-16 Aug), Liber Pontificalis. Romae, Italia: Stephan Plannck, (dated) 16 Aug. 1497; the actual imprint reads: Per Magistrum Stephanum Plannck sedente Alexandro. vj. Pontifice Maximo, anno eius. v. M. CCCC.lxxxxvij. [1497] Die xvj. Augusti; text is in Latin and is published in two parts: I: the Popes to 715 CE, and II: Popes to 817 CE) bound in signatures) does not list Linus—but Clement (who never claimed to be a papa); Linus does not appear until the third-century spurious document Apostolic Constitutions surfaces (VII.iv.xlvi). 

There was no monoarchical Episcopal structure of church government in Rome until the fourth century (McBrien, Richard P (2005). Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI.  San Francisco, CA, USA: Harper, pp. 33-34).  There is but one mention of a Linus in the New Testament (2 Timothy 4:19-21: Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus…: 19Ἄσπασαι Πρίσκαν καὶ Ἀκύλαν καὶ τὸν Ὀνησιφόρου οἶκον. 20Ἔραστος ἔμεινεν ἐν Κορίνθῳ, Τρόφιμον δὲ ἀπέλειπον ἐν Μιλήτῳ ἀσθενοῦντα. 21Σπούδασον πρὸ χειμῶνος ἐλθεῖν. Ἀσπάζεται σε Εὔβουλος καὶ Πούδης καὶ Λίνος καὶ Κλαυδία καὶ οἱ αδελφοὶ.  The majority of the new converts were women who had women leaders.  In the Letter to Timothy,  Linus plays a minor role and is recorded only as an afterthought (as is found in an early fifth century scroll in my private collection). 

There is no reference there that Linus was ever a bishop or ever at Rome—the closest one can speculate is the Linus mention in 2 Timothy (4:21) lived in Corinth, along with Pudens, Claudia (a female prophet/priest), “and all the brethren” (brethren was a word for “believers”).  More precisely, since others were mentioned before Linus, that situation shows that he was not considered “first” even among equals—but was a minor player in the emerging community.

Tertullian of Carthage (Africa)

Contemporary papalography is filled with errors. Lopes (Lopes, Antonino (1997), The Popes: The lives of the Pontiffs through 2000 years of History. Roma: Futura Edizoni, p. 1) makes the error of writing “Tertullian maintains that Cletus and not Linus was the successor to St. Peter”, while, in fact, Tertullian lists Clement (in some redactions Tertullian argues that the succession went first through Polycarp (Tertullian, De Prescriptionibus, in Patrologia Latina, xii; cf. Jerome, De vir. III., xv), not Cletus as the successor (Liber de praescriptione haereticorum).  Tertullian, however, does not use the word “papa” nor πάππας (pappas).  The first to carry the title of pope was the Patriarch of Alexandria, Pope Heracleus (232–249 CE), the 13th Alexandrine Patriarch.  The first historical first record is assigned to Pope Heraclas of Alexandria in a letter written by the bishop of Rome, Dionysius, to Philemon: τοῦτον ἐγὼ τὸν κανόνα καὶ τὸν τύπον παρὰ τοῦ μακαρίου πάπα ἡμῶν Ἡρακλᾶ παρέλαβον (I received this rule and ordinance from our blessed pope, Heraclas), as recorded by Eusebius the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine, Historia Ecclesiastica VII.vii.7. 

Irenæus of Lyons, in his Adversus Haereses (III.iii.2-3, written about 180 CE–which makes it less valuable as it is not an eye-witness account nor a verifiable historical record of an incident that took place, allegedly, around 120 years earlier)—is on the order of the fable of George Washington cutting down a cherry tree—a tree that Japan would not send to the USA until 1912; the first trees imported in 1910, had to be destroyed because of an infection.  Irenæus bases his list upon tradition and there are no dates for his entries; his only reference to Linus, is in reference to Paul’s mention of Linus in his Letter of Timothy (itself of dubious origin).  Irenæus is not a reputable or valid source, for he claims, in error, that Paul and Peter started the church in Rome, but in Romans 15:20, Paul claims that he “should [not] build upon another man[’s] foundation (cf. Sullivan, F. A. (2001), op. cit., pp. 35, 147). Even more startling is Irenæus claim that “Peter and Paul” did not ordain or commission Linus, but appointed him, as Irenæus did not see either Peter or Paul as bishops (Sullivan, op. cit., p. 148). 

Ignatius of Antioch makes no mention of Linus or other successors in any of his writings, including his Letter of Polycarp of Smyrna.  Polycarp, who thinks well of Ignatius, makes no mention of Linus, Cletus or anyone who became “bishop of Rome” nor does he acknowledge in any of his eight epistles any “bishop of Rome” by name or title.  The Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) does not mention Linus, Cletus or anyone who became “bishop of Rome.”  At best, Rome was led by a college of presbyters (Sullivan, op. cit., pp. 13-15)—or teachers that included women.

Clement of Rome never declared himself to be a “bishop of Rome” nor did he ever sign any letter with that title (cf. Duffy, Eamon (2001). Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes (2nd ed.) London, UK: Yale University Press, pp. 9-10, 13), and he made no reference to a Linus as a bishop—not even as an elder—of the church in Rome. The Roman Catholic scholar J. P. Kirsch (1910) writing in The Catholic Encyclopedia (vol. IX), notes that “Linus…his pontificate dates from the death of the Apostles Peter and Pau, which, however, is not known for certain…”  Even the “tomb” of Linus is rejected as historical (De Rossi, Giovanni Battista (1857) Inscriptiones christianae urbis Romae septimo saeculo antiquilores, Romae: Ex Officina Libraria Pontifica [real date: 1861]-1888, vol. II (published 1888), pp. 23-27).  In short, there is no historical evidence for either Peter or Linus. 

This is made clearer when reading the writings of John the Beloved—who, allegedly, was alive throughout the first century.  At no time, in no epistle or gospel, does John mention a “bishop of Rome” or a “vicar of Christ” by title.  No where is the name Linus found in any writing of John.

If there had been a bishop of Rome, a far more appropriate choice would have been John (if he even lived), as tradition tells us that he was the last of the Apostles (as with all the Twelve Apostles, who represented the known twelve constellations, there is no physical evidence that John ever lived nor wrote). John, however, would not accept such a pretension as it would be apostasy in his age.  Not even the madman John of Patmos (a creation of writers), who was definitely not John the Beloved but frequently confused as being the same man, in the Apocalypse makes no mention of a “bishop of Rome” nor the writings of any “pope”.  The only comment Patmos makes of the “leadership of the church” is the church that exists in Asia Minor (Revelation 1-3) with its leadership going back to the elders of Jerusalem, Antioch, and so forth.  Rome is not mentioned.

Various Roman Catholic scholars equally contest the assertion that Peter founded the Roman Catholic Church and established a see in Rome.  F. A. Sullivan (Sullivan, Francis (Alfred) (2001). From Apostles to Bishops: the Development of the Episcopacy in the Early Church.  Mahwah, NJ, USA: Newman Press; and, New York: Newman Press, pp. 80, 221-222) notes: “the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century.”  Sullivan is supported by Richard P. McBrien (Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. San Francisco, CA, USA: Harper, 2005, p. 34).  McBrien writes: “Early sources, including Eusebius, claim Linus held office for twelve years, but they are not clear about the exact dates or his exact pastoral role and authority.  …the Episcopal structure of church governance … still did not exist in Rome at this time.”

Contrary to the apologists for Linus and the myth of apostolic succession, history does not record either a “pope” or a “bishop of Rome” until late in the fourth century CE.  Such a pretentious claim does not appear until Siricius (384-399) who took the Greek word for father (papa) as his title (Lopes, A., op. cit., p. 13; cp. Epistle vi in Patrologia Latina (Migne, Jacques-Paul [1844-1891?]. Patrologiae cursus completes. Series Latina: sive bibliotheca universalis … omnium ss. Partum, doctorum scriptorium que ecclesiasticorum qui ab aevo apostolic ad usque Innocentii III tempora floruerunt. Parisiis [Paris, France]: Apud Garnien Fratres, editors et J.-P. Migne successors; hereafter cited as PL) XIII, col. 1164.)

No superiority was accounted for the “papa” in Rome.  Rome’s bishop, a personage slow to emerge, was but one “father” or priest (countering my own 1968 thesis An Apology for the Petrine Doctrine. Cedar Falls, IA, USA: University of Northern Iowa).  Rome’s bishop, once one was declared, was never considered infallible on any teaching or question of morality (infallibility does not become an article of faith in the Roman Catholic Church until 1870 at the First Vatican Council, and then over the protestations of the majority of clergy (cp. the bull Qui quorundam (1324) that condemned the doctrine of papal infallibility put forth by Franciscans as the “work of the devil”: Hasler, August Bernhard, (1981) How the Pope Became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion (Doubleday; Garden City, NY), pp. 36-37); he was never seen as primate over other bishops nor even “first among equals” (Latin: Primus inter pares; Greek: Πρῶτος μεταξὺ ἴσων) and does not appear in Western tracts until 1054 (cf. D’Agostino, Michele Giuseppe (2008).  Il Primato della Sede di Roma in Leone IX (1049–1054). Studio dei testi latini nella controversia greco-romana nel periodo pregregoriano. Cinisello Balsamo, Italia: Edizioni San Paolo). It was blasphemy to consider such a pretender as supreme even in the early Middle Ages; cp. Bayer, Axel. Splatung der christenheit das sogenannte morgenlandische schisma von 1054. Köln : Böhlau Verlag, 2002) when the bishop of Rome attempted to impose his own interpretation on the “filioque” clause, and whether leavened or unleavened bread should be used in the Eucharist (cf. Hergenröther,  Joseph (1869) Monumenta Graeca ad Photium eiusque historiam pertinentiam, quae ex codicibus manuscriptis… Regensburg, Germany: Georg Tos. Manz, pp 62–71, reissued Farnborough: Gregg, 1969, who argues that Photius attempted to insert this divisive issue into the controversy; and, Hans-Georg Beck, Byzantinisches Lesebuch, München 1982, pp 245–247).  Rome had the “prerogative of honor” only because Rome was the imperial capital–until the New Rome (Constantinople) was built in Turkey (Second Ecumenical Council, Canon III), but that was heatedly debated that numerous other councils were called to wrestle with it.  The only bishops existed in Jerusalem by the end of the first century, and in Asia Minor by the second century.

Linus’ alleged successor Cletus (Anacletus: a Roman, also called, in error, Anencletus: a Greek; Irenæus, Eusebius, Augustine, Optatus, use both names indifferently as of one person) is also fiction.  There is significant work necessary to understand the name of this alleged pope, as in ancient Greek, Cletus translates as “one who has been called” while “Anacletus” translates as “one who has been called back.” Tertullian never mentions him, nor does anyone else within the first two centuries, yet later apologia, praises this pope that even the Bible does not mention nor any civil record, for requiring “priestly dress”—but there is no record of a priestly costume until the days of Constantine in the fourth century (Braun, Joseph (1912). Vestments translated by Michael T. Barrett, in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XV, New York, NY, USA: Robert Appleton Company).

What is clear is that there never was an “apostolic succession” as later popes claimed, as there is no record of direct succession, nor even agreement of who were popes. The entire Roman Catholic hierarchical structure is based on lies, mistranslations and pseudo-interpretations of documents: the majority of which are forged or redactions incorporating glosses into the text.  It was the same for the fabrication of persecutions in the early church, that even Roman Catholic scholars have been admitting for more than one century,  For example: “For between Nero and Domitian there is no mention of any persecution of the Roman Church; and Irenæus (1. c., III, iv, 3) from among the early Roman bishops designates only Telesphorus as a glorious martyr” (read: Kirsch J.P (1910). Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. Pope St. Linus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX) notes:

Hic temporibus suis, rogatus a quadam matrona Lucina, corpora apostolorum beati Petri et Pauli de Catacumbas levavit noctu: primum quidem corpus beati Pauli accepto beata Lucina posuit in praedio suo, via Ostense, iuxta locum ubi decollatus est; beati Petri accipit corpus beatus Cornelius episcopus et posuit iuxta locum ubi crucificus est, inter corpora sanctorum episcoporum, in templum Apollinis, in monte Aureum, in Vaticanum palatii Neroniani, III kal. iul.

(read: Edmundson, George (1913). The Church in Rome in the First Century: an Examination of Various Controverted Questions relating to its history, chronology, literature and traditions; eight lectures preached before the University of Oxford in the Year 1913 on the foundation of the Lat Reve. John Bampton known as The Bampton Lectures for 1913; London, UK and New York, NY, USA: Longmans, Green).

All those who died between Nero and Domitian, who were very few in number despite the histrionics of papal apologists, of and have subsequently been called and praised as “saints” (a title for anyone who, living or dying, believes in “the Christ”–it was not yet a part of the name of the Jesus of the New Testament in the first century–as found in 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 3:14-19; 2 Corinthians 13:5; in the Christian Bible there is only one person who is declared to be a saint: Aaron the brother of Moses Psalms 106:16-18, as even Saul of Tarsus/Paul said he was no saint:  Ephesians 3:8) left no record of testifying, and many sought death to end their earthly existence (suicide), yet their “martyrdoms” becoming the backbone of the Roman Catholic church and cause célèbreof Roman Catholic persecution of non-Roman Catholics—especially as seen in the unholy life and actions of the odious opportunistic founder of Opus Dei, Josemaria Escriva (among the greatest liars and propagandists within the Roman Catholic Church who required unwavering

Josemarie Escriva: the end justifies the means

and absolute obedience in all things; Josemarie Escriva, founder of Opus Dei wrote in his The Way: the faithful will use secrecy to obtain end results (The Way, No. 839), compromise is a form of laziness and weakness (The Way, No. 54), true Roman Catholics must follow blindly “in obedience” all Church teachings (The Way, No. 617 and in 941): “Blind obedience to your superior, the way of sanctity. Obedience in your apostolate, the only way; for, in a work of God, the spirit must be to obey or to leave.” Submission to religious authority is understood to be a good in itself, while calling non-Catholic schools, “pagan schools” (The Way, No.866). Escrivá de Balaguer, José María [also Josemaria] (1954, 1962 and 1979). The Way. Chicago, IL, USA: Scepter), Opus Dei cardinals (especially in the USAwhere deception is the rule, and Latin America where

Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima, Peru

thinking for one’s self (dissent) is rejected and denied as defended by the Peru College of [Roman Catholic] Bishops, whereas before 1971, dissent was recognized and even championed; this all was stopped with the elevation of nefarious Juan Luis Cipriani as archbishop of Lima who has even attacked the Pontifical University in Lima as “not Catholic” enough to suit his Opus Dei following, for he is a staunch member of the Opus Dei movement that seeks to suppress freedom of speech, inquiry, and advancement of the individual) and parasitic popes Urban II, Alexander VI, Leo X, Pius IX, Pius XII, John Paul II, and the ultimate predator propagandist Benedict XVI. 

Christianity took its concept of saints from Hinduism, a polytheistic religion that considers holy people to be “saints” derived from the Sanskrit sat (सद) (truth, reality) has overlapping usages, its root meaning being “one who knows the truth” or “one who has experienced Ultimate Reality” and ennobles them with the term Mahatma, Paramahamsa, or Swami, or with the titles Sri or Srila (cf. Pruthi, Raj and Ram, S(2008). Hindu Saints and Mysticism.New Delhi : Crescent Pub. Corp.; cp. Lāla, Rāma; Poddar, Hanuman Prasad; and Sampūrnānanda (1957). Bhārata ke santa-mahātmā : Bhārata ke 114 santa-mahātmāom ke jīvana kī rūparekhā. Bambaī : Vorā enda Kampanī Pabliśarsa; in Hindi).  What most Roman Catholics either do not know or reject is that “St. Cletus” was removed from the office General Roman Calendar as a saint in 1969 (although he does continue to appear in the Roman Martyrology as one of many saints of April 26; cf. Calendarium Romanum (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1969), p. 121).

Clement of Rome

The fourth “bishop of Rome” is equally a phantasmal being.  Contemporary lists of popes give Clement as the fourth successor or Peter—but the only Clement in the Bible is found as an afterthought in Philippians 4:2-3: coming after (showing that Clement had little status) the salutations to the women Eudodia and Synthyche—but the reference is to a worker—not to an elder, presbyter or a bishop.  No where does it (or any contemporary document) say Clement was a preacher, priest or pope, not even in Rome.  Instead the text only claims that Clement resided in the Greek city-state (polis: πολίς) of Philippi.

Clement is not mentioned by John or any secular source in the first century.  Jerome comments that a Clement was “the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter” not in the sense of fourth successor, but fourth in a series that included Peter, and adds that “most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle” but makes no affirmation of the rightness of this claim but in a redaction indicates that he came fourth—but without serious agreement (this disagreement is read easily in Irenæus’ Adversus Haereses III.iii.3).  Most of the biographical references to Clement were written in the fourth century as defense works attempting to justify the existence of an emerging bishopric of Rome, and there is no tie between this Clement and the Clement mentioned by “Paul” in Philippians 4:3 until the late third and into the fourth century CE. It is stated that Clement instituted the formulary of “the Trinity” for the Old Testament “The Lord lives”.  The Trinity is far older than Christianity.  

Osiric Trinity of ancient Egypt (Horus, Osiris, Isis)

The word Trinity is not found in the Bible.  The concept is far older–as old as ancient Egypt.  The Egyptians more than 3000 years ago had a belief in a life after death, a divine judgment, heaven and hell, and gave prayers to their gods with the invocation “the Lord lives” long before there were Hebrews or Christians. 

Much of what ancient Egypt had fashioned in its theology was plagiarized by the second century Christian church–when it did not take from its Jewish roots those parts it found economically beneficial in winning converts.

In Egyptian theology the trinity is a concept that  proclaims the inseparability of Osiris, Isis, and Horus.  Horus, the son, is recorded as having said, “My father [Osiris] and I are one” (cp. John 10:30). 

By the time of Judas Maccabeus the Egyptian Trinity was heralded as Isis (goddess of creation), Ra (god of the sun), El (husband or teaching spirit): Is-Ra-El (Yahweh was a war-god from the southern desert regions of Palestine, and later fashioned into an agricultural god that married the Canaanite goddess Asherah: Astarte; cf. Delitzsch, Friedrich (1903). Babel und Bibel. Leipzig, Germany: J. C. Hinrich and his Anmerkungen zu dem Vortrag Babel und Bible, 1903; Delitzsch was an Assyrian specialist).  Closer to Christianity is the Hindu Trinity, consisting of the TriGods:  Lord Brahma (the creator), Lord Vishnu (the preserver) and Lord Shiva (the destroyer). They are aspects of Iswara the manifest Brahman, the highest God of Hinduism.  The Hindu Trinity is not native to the Vedas, but were a part of the ancient Indian culture, and is thought to have appeared at least 2000 years before the advent of Vedic Aryans who settled in the north.  The Hindu Trinity is one god with three different abilities or personalities / purposes–much like the Christian Trinity.

“In Scripture [the Bible] there is as yet no single term by which the Three Divine Persons are denoted together…The word trias (of which the Latin trinitas is a translation) is first found in Theophilus of Antioch about A.D. 180…Afterwards it appears in its Latin form of trinitas in Tertullian (“De pud.” c. xxi)”. (The Blessed Trinity. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XV, 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. New York, NY, USA: Robert Appleton Company).

Clement is also noted for the introduction of liturgical vestments—but they did not exist at that time, nor even at the time of Stephen I (254-257), as noted by Mann (Mann, H. (1912) transcribed by Kenneth M. Caldwell, “Pope St. Stephen I” in The Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIV. New York City, NY, USA: Robert Appleton Company), who wrote: “In his days the vestments worn by the clergy at Mass and other church services did not differ in shape or material from those ordinarily wore by the laity.”

The idea that Clement had authority over any other presbyter is absurd, especially by those who claim such a stature based on Epistle from Rome to the Corinthians that is surreptitiously ascribed as 1 Clement.  As Sullivan wrote, “1 Clement certainly does not support the theory that before the apostles died; they appointed one man as bishop in each of the churches they founded. This letter witnesses rather to the fact that in the last decade of the first century, the collegial ministry of a group of presbyters…was still maintained in the Pauline church of Corinth. This was most likely also the case in the church in Rome at this period” (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: op. cit. pp. 91, 101).

The fourth pope is alleged to have had the name of Evaristus.  He is not mentioned in the Bible or in any other document (civil or ecclesiastical). It is claimed that he instituted a group of seven deacons (one for each of the hills of Rome) to write down “the popes utterances” to avoid disputes over what each said, but these decretals are now known as Peudo-Isidore and considered forgeries and the general consensus is that they were written in the ninth century by Carolingian supporters to free the church and bishops from interference by the state and metropolitan archbishops (Kirsch J. P. (1909). Transcribed by Gerard Haffner. Pope St. Evaristus. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. V. New York, NY, USA: Robert Appleton Company; cp. Williams, Schafer (1973). “Codices Pseudo-Isidoriani, A Palaegraphico-Historical Study,” Monumenta Iuris Canonici Series C vol. 3, New York, NY, USA: Fordham University).  Nothing that the seven recorders where to have written down survives—nor a list of any popes, not even Evaristus—who was allegedly martyred, but there is no mention of any persecution in the Roman Church at this time (Irenæus, op. cit., 1.c. III, iv. 3).

Evaristus is alleged to have been followed by Alexander.  The only mention of an Alexander who followed Evaristus appears in one place: Irenæus, Adversus Haereses III, iii,3.  Legend has it that Alexander was only 20 years old when he was elected pope, and was quick to institute the use of Holy Water (dating from prehistoric and Paleolithic religions, known as chernips among ancient Greeks, the ancient Jews used it to determine purity in a woman (Numbers

Amrit Sanskar

5:12-31), the Sikhs use the term (Punjabi: ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ) for a ritual baptism ceremony known as Amrit Sanskar or Amrit Chhakhna.  It was popular among Mithraists from which Alexander took the concept; and, it would later be a part of Shi’a Islam as it is thought that by drinking the “healing water” the person would be cured of both physical and spiritual illnesses (Virani, Shafique (2007). The Ismailis in the Middle Ages: A History of Survival, A Search for Salvation. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. p.107-108). 

Legend states that Alexander also prescribed that the “host” (bread) be made from unleavened dough (without yeast)–which would erupt into a battle of words and swords between Christians in the West and East.  The only other thing he is noted for is the continuation of ancient Roman superstition, such as the custom of purifying a house from evil influences by sprinkling salt on the structure and its rooms (constituit aquam sparsionis cum sale benedici in habitaculis hominum).  

Holy Water for Purification in the theology of the Goddess Isis

Duchesne and Tillemont (Duchesne, Louis; Vogel, Cyrille (1886). Liber Pontificalis, Paris, France: E. Thorin, I, 127. Tillemont, Louis-Sébastien Le Nain de (1693-1712), Memoires pour server à l’histoire ecclesiastique des six premiers siecles, par le Sieur D.T. [i.e De Tillemont]. Paris, France: Chez Charles Robustel, II, 590 sqq) both claim that Alexander came up with neither the idea of holy water or salt or similar superstitious practices, as none are biblically sanctioned—and none are in any contemporaneous records.  Holy Water and salt to purify a home, person, or temple is found in ancient Egypt with the worship of the Goddess Isis, in Pompeii and Rome–thousands of years before the invention of Christianity or any writing by its apologists.  Both were regularly used in places of worship, homes, businesses, and even public baths.

 Why Alexander, the alleged bishop of Rome was beheaded is unanswered in ancient records, but there is a subtle inference that he died because he was a young man who was subject to military service and refused to fight.  This would, in most cases, lead to execution.  A stronger argument against Alexander is that he could have been beheaded because of his age (he was, according to legend, the youngest–some claimed he was only 20 years-old–bishop of Rome, and there exists graffiti suggesting scandal during his term) and being single, which was seen as a threat to the Roman family and continuation of its people as with the dwindling population, reproduction was expected: celibacy and chastity were equally seen as unnatural and abnormal behavior.  It may have been that Alexander was seen as an Archigallus by the Romans. 

Priest of Cybele (courtesy of V Roma) Archigallus burning incense to the Magna Mater terra-cotta relief of the Isola Sacra cemetery 3rd century CE

The priesthood of the Archigallus is described as either being instituted sometime during the Imperial reign of Claudius (41-54 CE) or Antoninus Pius (137-161 CE). The Archigallus was always a Roman citizen chosen by the Quindecemviri Sacris Faciundis (fifteen [quindecim] members of a college (collegium) with priestly duties, from which, ultimately, would come cardinals–cardinālis–a word that originally meant ” door hinge” on which the gates to heaven swing open and shut), whose term of service lasted for life and the Archigallus was forbidden to be celibate or avoid human sexuality.  It was through the Archigallus and his rites that the Magna Mater’s blessings of health and well-being were conferred on the Emperor, the Imperial family, the Senate, the army and the Roman State and people as a whole, and to avoid sexuality and stay a virgin would bring down the wrath of the gods. This was especially critical as by the time of the death of Marcus Aurelius (180 CE), a plague—most likely smallpox—spread fast, killing approximately 2000 people a day.

The next pope, Sixtus I (originally spelled Xystus) is a further illusion—one with the least credibility. There is no existing records to his existence or the claims that he ordered holy furnishings be touched only by priests, the triple chant of Sanctus (common in ancient Etruscan theology and later imported into ancient Roman rituals where it was known as carmen (Putnam, Michael C. J. (2001). Horace’s Carmen Saeculare. New Haven, CT, USA and London, UK: Yale University Press. p. 133; Frances Hickson Hahn, “Performing the Sacred: Prayers and Hymns”, in Rüpke, Jörg (2007) A Companion to Roman Religion. Malden, MA, USA: Blackwell Publishers); it even was a part of the Hawaiian Kahunas before the unfortunate invasion by Christian missionaries), or the writing of two letters that are now considered universally to be apocryphal.     

Sixtus may never have existed, but was a part of numerology that was a part of all world religions.  The earliest list of bishops of Rome to survive is the one supplied by Irenæus who was known as a systematic writer who put everything into order.  The first twelve “popes” represented the twelve original Apostles, but with the loss of Judas Iscariot, there was vacancy, and that vacancy was the sixth from which the Latin name Sixtus comes. (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p.14).                

Telesphorus is the eighth pope recorded after the fourth century by Eusebius of Caesarea: Historia Ecclesiastica iv.7; iv.14, in Greek: Εκκλησιαστική ιστορία), but that record we only have far later redactions on, as the originals were “lost”—most likely burned by apologists for Rome.  It may be have been, in part, reconstructed from later chronographers of the Byzantine school who made excerpts from the work. The tables of the second part have been preserved completely in a Latin translation by Jerome, but the Latin shows serious flaws with knowledge of the Greek and polemics did play a part in the translation and copying of the work. Both parts are still extant in an Armenian translation) places the beginning of his pontificate in the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Hadrian (128–129) and gives the date of his death as being in the first year of the reign of Antoninus Pius (138–139). 

What other references to Telesphorus that exist are fragments—and are only recorded (as such) by later writers, such as Eusebius (for example: in a fragment of a letter from Irenæus to Pope Victor I during the Easter controversy in the late 2nd century, preserved by Eusebius, Irenæus testifies that Telesphorus was one of the Roman bishops who always celebrated Easter on Sunday, rather than on other days of the week according to the calculation of the Jewish Passover), who claims, as it is alleged by many Roman Catholics today, Telesphorus created the Christmas Eve Mass and its songs.  There is no proof of this, as both Irenæus and Tertullian (the latter who ultimately renounces Christianity and becomes a Manichean) omit Christmas Eve from their list of feasts–and they wrote the earliest records on the history of the church. 

Origen was insulted by the idea, claiming in Lev. Hom (Homilies on Leviticus) viii (Migne, Patrologia Graeca, XII, 495) that only sinners, not saints, celebrate their birthday.  Arnobius (VII, 32, in PL, V, 1264) ridicules such “birthdays” as reminiscent of pagan gods—which had as its source ancient Egyptian rites (Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, I, xxi in P.G., VIII, 888) says that certain Egyptian theologians “over curiously” assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ’s birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus (Martindale C (1908). Transcribed by Susanti A. Suastika. Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III.  New York, NY, USA: Robert Appleton Company).   

All references to Telesphorus in the Liber Pontificalis are considered to be forgeries.  The Feast of Lent, and its fasting, does not appear anywhere before the fifth century CE.  Lent is a Teutonic word that denotes the forty days’ fast preceding Easter, originally meant no more than the spring season culminating in the worship of the goddess Oester (Easter).  (Thurston H (1910). Transcribed by Anthony A. Killeen. A.M.D.G. Lent. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX. New York, NY, USA: Robert Appleton Company).    Until the 600s, Lent began on Quadragesima (Fortieth) Sunday, but Gregory the Great (c.540-604) moved it to a Wednesday, now called Ash Wednesday, to secure the exact number of 40 days in Lent—not counting Sundays, which were feast days. Gregory, who is regarded as the father of the medieval papacy, is also credited with the ceremony that gives the day its name, and is credited with establishing chanting as a way of appeasing god. 

Irenæus knows nothing about lent, and most contemporaries condemned it and chanting as pagan (it has existed in nearly every ancient religion, and is common in Buddhism, Hinduism (Vaishnavism where chanting is included to free the body from “sins” especially by calling on the god Krishna, known as “the Christ”, where it is written: “One who fasts, follows the Janmastami vow, and keeps an all-night vigil on this day becomes freed from the sins of ten million births”,  all Mesopotamian/Abrahamic religions, and now in Islam where it is known as Ramadhan), as with Arnobius:

“What say you, O wise sons of Erectheus? What, you citizens of Minerva? The mind is eager to know with what words you will defend what it is so dangerous to maintain, or what arts you have by which to give safety to personages and causes wounded so mortally. This is no false mistrust, nor are you assailed with lying accusations: the infamy of your Eleusinia is declared both by their base beginnings and by the records of ancient literature, by the very signs, in fine, which you use when questioned in receiving the sacred things,—” I have fasted, and drunk the draught; I have taken out of the mystic cist, and put into the wicker-basket; I have received again, and transferred to the little chest”

(Arnobius [of Sicca]. Adversus Paganos or Against the Heathen (also known as Against the Pagans and as Against the Gentiles), V.26; the original is in Latin; a good translation, in German, is Des Afrikaner’s Arnobius sieben Buecher wider die Heiden Landshut: v. Vogel, 1842).

Arnobius further notes: The feast of Jupiter is tomorrow. Jupiter, I suppose, dines, and must be satiated with great banquets, and long filled with eager cravings for food by fasting, and hungry after the usual interval (Adversus Paganos, VII.32).  The emerging Christian communities rapidly adopted the heathen custom of having great banquets at the end of Lent.

Alexander Hislop was among the first to write of Lent’s pagan antecedents:

The forty days’ abstinence of Lent was directly borrowed from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess. Such a Lent of forty days, “in the spring of the year,” is still observed by the Yezidis or Pagan Devil-worshippers of Koordistan, who have inherited it from their early masters, the Babylonians. Such a Lent of forty days was held in spring by the Pagan Mexicans, for thus we read in Humboldt, where he gives account of Mexican observances: “Three days after the vernal equinox…began a solemn fast of forty days in honour of the sun.” Such a Lent of forty days was observed in Egypt, as may be seen on consulting Wilkinson’s Egyptians. This Egyptian Lent of forty days, we are informed by Landseer, in his Sabean Researches, was held expressly in commemoration of Adonis or Osiris, the great mediatorial god. At the same time, the rape of Proserpine seems to have been commemorated, and in a similar manner; for Julius Firmicus informs us that, for “forty nights” the “wailing for Proserpine” continued; and from Arnobius we learn that the fast which the Pagans observed, called “Castus” or the “sacred” fast, was, by the Christians in his time, believed to have been primarily in imitation of the long fast of Ceres, when for many days she determinedly refused to eat on account of her “excess of sorrow,” that is, on account of the loss of her daughter Proserpine, when carried away by Pluto…

Babylonians honored the resurrection of their god, Tammuz

Among the Pagans this Lent seems to have been an indispensable preliminary to the great annual festival in commemoration of the death and resurrection of Tammuz, which was celebrated by alternate weeping and rejoicing, and which, in many countries, was considerably later than the Christian festival, being observed in Palestine and Assyria in June, therefore called the “month of Tammuz”; in Egypt, about the middle of May, and in Britain, some time in April. To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its usual policy, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals amalgamated, and, by a complicated but skilful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity–now far sunk in idolatry–in this as in so many other things, to shake hands…

Lupercalia: the ancient custom of Lent

Let any one only read the atrocities that were commemorated during the “sacred fast” or Pagan Lent, as described by Arnobius and Clemens Alexandrinus, and surely he must blush for the Christianity of those who, with the full knowledge of all these abominations, “went down to Egypt for help” to stir up the languid devotion of the degenerate Church, and who could find no more excellent way to “revive” it, than by borrowing from so polluted a source; the absurdities and abominations connected with which the early Christian writers had held up to scorn. That Christians should ever think of introducing the Pagan abstinence of Lent was a sign of evil; it showed how low they had sunk, and it was also a cause of evil; it inevitably led to deeper degradation. Originally, even in Rome, Lent, with the preceding revelries of the Carnival, was entirely unknown; and even when fasting before the Christian Pasch was held to be necessary, it was by slow steps that, in this respect, it came to conform with the ritual of Paganism. What may have been the period of fasting in the Roman Church before sitting of the Nicene Council does not very clearly appear, but for a considerable period after that Council, we have distinct evidence that it did not exceed three weeks.

(Hislop, Alexander (1862). The Two Babylons, or, The papal worship proved to be the worship of Nimrod and his wife: with sixty-one woodcut illustrations from Nineveh, Babylon, Egypt, Pompeii, &c. Edinburgh, Scotland: James Wood, pp. 104-106, a revision of the 1858 publication that was printed privately in Edinburgh under the title The two Babylons: their identity, and the present antichrist also the last).

Telesphorus was, allegedly, succeeded by Hyginus.  Of him or his reign there is neither evidence nor the claim that he decreed that all children were to be baptized with godparents in attendance.  The only reference for Hyginus is in Eusebius’ Historia Ecclesiastica IV.xv-xvi, but it is not credible, being written two hundred years after the alleged bishop of Rome reigned.  Baptism is among the most ancient practices in all primitive religions, predating Christianity by at least 5000 years. Homer describes baptism as a “full body immersion” that initially was reserved for the gods, then the demigods (such as Achilles), and ultimately for mortals; baptism could be by water or fire (war, and flames).  The Tablets of Maklu saw baptism as a “spiritual cleansing” in the cult of Enke, lord of Eridu. 

Book of Going Forth by Day (Papyrus of Ani) preparing for Baptism

In the Book of Going Forth by Day in ancient Egypt, an entire treatise is devoted to baptizing newborn children to purify them of any blemishes acquired in the womb—an ideology that had as its source the theology of Osiris drowning in the Nile and being brought back to life by the washing of the water over his entire body. 

Ritual instruments for a crucified saviour (Cairo Egypt) 1285 BCE XIXth Dynasty

This ultimately led to the crucifixion of Osiris, as well as the invention of a special house to hide the god or the resurrection when he was not being worshipped.

Miniature shrine XVIIIth Dynasty ca 1325 BCE darkness to hide deity

Supreme Priests/Pontiffs, such as Seti I would oversee the receipt of special tithes and gifts to the crucified god.

Seti I consecrating offerings ca 1285 BCE XIX Dynasty

In the cult of Cybele—which became one of the parts of the great God Mithras—baptism was by blood in the right of sacrificing the bull (Taurobolium) to give the faithful greater vitality and virility (baptism has always had a sexual context, from rising from the water symbolizing the fetus leaving the womb to become a baby, to being covered with blood to endure hardships such as being wrongly beaten or being crucified, as with the ancient Akkadians: אַכַּד). 

Commemorative Taurobolium Altar (Rome ca 295 BCE)

The Emperor Theodosius the Great made Mithraism the only religion in the empire at the expense of Christianity, although the inscription appears no later than 134 CE and was widespread: from Asia Minor, Middle East, and so forth (Vermaseren, Maartan J. (1977).  Cybele and Attis: the Myth and the Cult. London, UK: Thames and Hudson p. 102).  By being baptized, the one receiving the water or blood gained “eternal life, being born again”.  The pagan origin of baptism was even noted in the early Christian communities that adopted the rite into their own ritual and rules:

“[Non-Christians] ascribe to their idols the imbuing of waters with the self-same efficacy [of purification]. … For washing is the channel through which they are initiated into some sacred rites–of some notorious Isis or Mithras…

Moreover, by carrying water around, and sprinkling it, they everywhere expiate country-seats, houses, temples, and whole cities: at all events, at the Apollinarian and Eleusinian games they are baptized; and they presume that the effect of their doing that is their regeneration and the remission of the penalties due to their perjuries.

Among the ancients, again, whoever had defiled himself with murder, was wont to go in quest of purifying waters.” –i.e. Washing away sin! [Tertullian, On Baptism, 5.]

Facts show that every sacrament, every act, every canon in the early Church was taken from ancient (“pagan”) religions and incorporated into Christianity before it became Paulinity.  This is seen in the legends laurelled around the first century popes—for whom there is no evidence, as Christianity borrowed salvation, baptism (including baptism of the dead in ancient Corinth (DeMaris, Richard (1996). Corinthian Religion and Baptism for the Dead (1 Corinthians 15:29): Insights from Archaeology and Anthropology. Provo, UT, USA: Maxwell Institute, p. 675) that gave rise to the ideology of the Mormons: Hugh Nibley, “Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times,” in Nibley, Hugh; Compton, Todd; and Ricks, Stephen (1987). Mormonism and Early Christianity (Salt Lake City, UT, USA: Deseret Book and FARMS [Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies]), pp. 100-167), the Eucharist, heaven, hell, a virgin born Son of God—and more—from ancient Pagan religions. This matured under the mythological Pius I.

Legend has Pius I following Hyginus as pope. Concerning Pius I, there is no concrete information and no records.  The claim that he established Easter as a Christian celebration is wrong; that he decreed that Jews who converted to Christianity and” should be admitted and baptized) are forgeries.  It is said that Pius was influenced by Justin Martyr—but Justin has not been universally accepted as a Christian as he was judgmental, xenophobic and as his Dialogue with Trypho (especially chapter 80) shows, Justin was out of touch with the Greek world where Christianity began.  The only existing record of Pius I comes from a spurious source: Shepherd of Hermas (also known as The Pastor), written between the late second century and early third century and thus of no value to the discussion, save to note that it includes the line “The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome.” The problem with the Pastor is that the author claims he was a former slave—and if he was the brother of Pius, both would have been slaves, which would be a stumbling block towards the papacy. (Caius, translated by S.D.F. Salmond, in Muratori, Lodovico Antonio (1738-1742) V.C. Antiquitates Italicae Medii aevi. Sive dissertations de moribus, ritibus, religion, regimine, aliisque faciem … Mediolani, Italia: Ex typographia Societatis Palatinae in regia curia. Vol. 3, col 854). Outside of that one line, nothing else exists.

Anicetus, it is claimed, followed Pius I.  Everything attributed to this claimant who has no documentation of having been a bishop or even having lived, can be traced to a different pretender or a later innovator. Anicetus’ main claim to fame was that he “dealt with” the Gnostic “heresy”—a heresy that lasted for generations more (Irenæus. Adversus Haereses III.iv.3 and iii.4).  What the Gnostic texts show is that few Roman Christians and no “bishop” had power over neither the Gnostics nor their theological interpretations. Other heretics included Justin Martyr (Eusebius Historia Ecclesiastica  IV.11). Justin, for example, did not believe in the immortality of the soul:

Trypho: “‘Therefore souls neither see God nor trans-migrate into other bodies; for they would know that so they are punished, and they would be afraid to commit even the most trivial sin afterwards. But that they can perceive that God exists, and that righteousness and piety are honourable, I also quite agree with you,’ said he.

Justin: “‘You are right,’ I replied.

Trypho: “‘These philosophers know nothing, then, about these things; for they cannot tell what a soul is.’

Justin: “‘It does not appear so.’

Trypho:“‘Nor ought it to be called immortal; for if it is immortal, it is plainly unbegotten.’ …

Justin: “God alone is unbegotten and incorruptible, and therefore He is God, but all other things after Him are created and corruptible. For this reason souls both die and are punished: since, if they were unbegotten, they would neither sin, nor be filled with folly, nor be cowardly, and again ferocious; nor would they willingly transform into swine, and serpents, and dogs and it would not indeed be just to compel them, if they be unbegotten” (Dialogue. IV-V).

Justin argued that the Jews (from which all Christians descended) erased parts of the Old Testament:

“And I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy…

Trypho remarked, “Whether [or not] the rulers of the people have erased any portion of the Scriptures, as you affirm, God knows; but it seems incredible.”

“Assuredly,” said I, “it does seem incredible”

(Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho, LXXI, LXXIII). If “Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35), how can Justin claim parts were lost?  Furthermore, while the early Christians assumed that Jesus was a “new man”, the congregations held that the world was only about 3000 years old, yet Justin wrote: “And He was predicted before He appeared, first 5000 years before, and again 3000, then 2000, then 1000, and yet again 800; for in the succession of generations prophets after prophets arose” (The First Apology. XXXI).

Justin did have much in common with other pagan religions, especially Mithras, in his claim that Jesus was born in a cave:

And when those who record the mysteries of Mithras say that he was begotten of a rock, and call the place where those who believe in him are initiated a cave…they have attempted likewise to imitate the whole of Isaiah’s words?…’he shall dwell in the lofty cave of the strong rock. Bread shall be given to him, and his water [shall be] sure…’ (Trypho, LXX).

But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him. I have repeated to you what Isaiah foretold about the sign which foreshadowed the cave (Trypho LXXVIII).

The greatest apostasy found in Justin Martyr is his claim that Jesus died on a cross  (crux):

“And the physiological discussion concerning the Son of God in the Timæus of Plato, where he says, He placed him crosswise in the universe, he borrowed in like manner from Moses; for in the writings of Moses it is related how at that time , when the Israelites went out of Egypt and were in the wilderness, they fell in with poisonous beasts, both vipers and asps , and every kind of serpent, which slew the people; and that Moses, by the inspiration and influence of God, took brass, and made it into the figure of a cross , and set it in the holy tabernacle , and said to the people, If you look to this figure, and believe, you shall be saved thereby. And when this was done, it is recorded that the serpents died, and it is handed down that the people thus escaped death. Which things Plato reading, and not accurately understanding, and not apprehending that it was the figure of the cross, but taking it to be a placing crosswise, he said that the power next to the first God was placed crosswise in the universe. And as to his speaking of a third, he did this because he read, as we said above, that which was spoken by Moses, that the Spirit of God moved over the waters. For he gives the second place to the Logos which is with God, who he said was placed crosswise in the universe; and the third place to the Spirit who was said to be borne upon the water, saying, And the third around the third. And hear how the Spirit of prophecy signified through Moses that there should be a conflagration. He spoke thus: Everlasting fire shall descend, and shall devour to the pit beneath” (First Apology, LX).

The cross, however, comes from Plato’s Timaeus (Robert Grigg, “Symphōnian Aeidō tēs Basileias”: An Image of Imperial Harmony on the Base of the Column of Arcadius” The Art Bulletin 59.4 (December 1977:469-482) p. 477, note 42).

Martyr is a cornucopia of absurdities who went so far as to have Jesus becoming equal to the god Prometheus:

“And then, when Jesus had gone to the river Jordan, where John was baptizing, and when He had stepped into the water, a fire was kindled in the Jordan” (Dialogue. Chapter LXXXVIII).

There is no fire in mentioned in any biblical account of Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:29-34). Justin simply taught this without biblical support.

The actual attack on those who twisted reality came from other groups or individuals, such as Polycarp of Smyrna.

While one can labor over all the other popes that the Roman Catholic Church claims to have sat in the chair of Peter (a chair more mythological than real), none can claim the title before Siricius (d. 398) who was the first to use it (Epistle VI in P. L. XIII, 1164), and then only with imperial permission. The Bishop of Rome (later called the Pope) the senior religious figure in the Western Empire which was drifting into a Dark Age of superstition while enlightened thinking and dialogue continued strong in the East at Constantinople. 

Siricius

The Bishop of Rome was seen officially as the chief Christian cleric only by imperial proclamation postulated in 380 by the Edict of Thessalonica. The fact that Siricius did not to set himself apart, but assumed the role of a spiritual father or leader—unlike today’s bishops, cardinals and popes who have made the outlandish, unbiblical and unhistorical claim initiated by Pius IX that they speak infallibly and have primacy over other bishops, endeared him to the imperial house and to the people. The claim that all bishops of Rome spoke infallibly, based on Matthew 16:18, is neither biblical nor provable by history in any of its facets.

The only Supreme Pontiff was the Emperor, as Justin Martyr noted: 

The Emperor Caesar Titus Ælius Adrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, Supreme Pontiff, in the fifteenth year of his tribuneship, Consul for the third time, Father of the fatherland, to the Common Assembly of Asia, greeting: I should have thought that the gods themselves would see to it that such offenders should not escape. For if they had the power, they themselves would much rather punish those who refuse to worship them; but it is you who bring trouble on these persons, and accuse as the opinion of atheists that which they hold, and lay to their charge certain other things which we are unable to prove. But it would be advantageous to them that they should be thought to die for that of which they are accused, and they conquer you by being lavish of their lives rather than yield that obedience which you require of them. And regarding the earthquakes which have already happened and are now occurring, it is not seemly that you remind us of them, losing heart whenever they occur, and thus set your conduct in contrast with that of these men; for they have much greater confidence towards God than you yourselves have. And you, indeed, seem at such times to ignore the gods, and you neglect the temples, and make no recognition of the worship of God. And hence you are jealous of those who do serve Him, and persecute them to the death. Concerning such persons, some others also of the governors of provinces wrote to my most divine father; to whom he replied that they should not at all disturb such persons, unless they were found to be attempting anything against the Roman government. And to myself many have sent intimations regarding such persons, to whom I also replied in pursuance of my father’s judgment. But if any one has a matter to bring against any person of this class, merely as such a person, let the accused be acquitted of the charge, even though he should be found to be such an one; but let the accuser he amenable to justice.

(The First Apology. LXVIII; Epistle Of Antoninus To The Common Assembly Of Asia). The letter (epistle) is considered spurious.  A future bishop of Rome would not usurp this title until late in the fourth century. 

The earthquakes were interpreted by many early Christians as a sign of the End Times when god would return to the earth and purge it of evil and evil-doers, leading to a great war—a war that fleshes out the horror story of John Patmos.  The letter argues that such a thought is nonsense and that End Times is a concept created by those who feel themselves persecuted.  The Emperor was not a Christian, as noted in his words, “some others also of the governors of provinces wrote to my most divine father, to whom he replied that they should not at all disturb such persons, unless they were found to be attempting anything against the Roman government.”  The word “atheists” meant anyone (basically the various Christian cults) who did not accept the official gods; it should be translated as “without the gods” not as “against god”; the problems of translation and interpretation are numerous here as the people to whom this letter was addressed were basically illiterate and seeking immediate answers written down for them, without having to use their own marginal reasoning intellectual powers.

While numerous historians consider the character of Antoninus a success and his reign “a blessing”, there are others who take a different, unfavorable view, as with Schiller, Hermann (1887). Geschichte der rom. Kaiserzeit. (Handbücher der Alten Geschichte: Ser. 1., ; 3. Abt. 2) II, p. 138. Eusebius op. cit. IV.26.10; Marcus Aurelius forbade “spontaneous” outbreaks of violence against Christians as it was disruptive of the pax or peace of the realm, loc. cit. IV.13, which later Christian apologists have attempted to define as an acceptance of Christianity and subtle reference to imperial approval—that is a misreading of the document—as Christians did die, either because of being found guilty of inciting others, or because of their determination to commit suicide, which “the brethren of believers” declared to be “martyrdoms” even though the deaths did not qualify as martyrdom—a situation that even present day apologists acknowledge:

“The pages of the contemporary apologists, though lacking in detail, are ample proof that capital punishment was frequently inflicted. The passive attitude of Antoninus had no small influence on the internal development of Christianity. Heresy was then rampant on all sides; consequently, in order to strengthen the bonds of discipline and morality, and to enforce unity of doctrine, concerted action was called for. The tolerant attitude of the Emperor made possible a broad and vigorous activity on the part of the Christian bishops, one evidence of which is the institution of synods or councils of the Christian leaders, then first held on an extensive scale, and described at some length by Eusebius in his Church History. In this way, it may be said, the Emperor contributed to the development of Christian unity”

gives the contemporary reader more insight into the charges brought against Christians as being “workers” against the empire, withdrawn, exclusive, and unsupportive.  The synods were anything but peaceful, with bishops drawing weapons, congregants screaming, participants impeaching opposition parties and philosophies and theologies, and the bans against “heresies” returned in kind and extent.  Under stronger secular rulers, such nonsense and barbarity of the early congregations was not tolerated (Tertullian, Ad Scapulam, ix: the last treatise Tertullian wrote as a Christian before he left the cult in disgust and became a “born again pagan”, being attracted to the New Prophecy (Montanism with a theology similar to contemporary Pentecostalism and the New Apostolic Reformation; as Eusebius wrote:

“And he [Montanus] became beside himself, and being suddenly in a sort of frenzy and ecstasy, he raved, and began to babble and utter strange things, prophesying in a manner contrary to the constant custom of the Church handed down by tradition from the beginning.”

Eusebius, op. cit., V.xvi,7, who noted such actions have no biblical foundation; later Tertullian in De Resurectione Carnis (On the Resurrection of the Flesh) argued that the New Prophecy cleared up ambiguities in scripture, which the traditional church rejected; recognized female bishops and presbyters, and other “worldly” activities denounced by Epiphanius, Against Heresies, 49.2.5, thereby acknowledging its existence) despite being the teacher of Cyprian (and predecessor of Augustine); cf. Quacquarelli, Antonio (1957). Tertulliani Ad Scapulam. Prolegomeni, Testo Critico e Commento. (Opuscula Patrum, i.) pp. 131. Paris, France: Desclée et Cie., 1957; the only existing copies are dated from the fifteenth century.  My personal copy is Q. Septimii Florentis Tertulliani Apologeticus et Ad scapulam liber: accessit M. Minucius Felicis Octavius Cantabrigiæ: Ex officina Joan. Hayes … : impensis Henr Dickinson & Rich. Green …, 1686 . [8], 135 p.).  What is unique in this document is the introduction of “holy oil” to be used by and for extreme unction by “the brethren” facing death (Tertullian, Ad Scapulamiv): an old and pagan custom going back at least 3000  years from Pharaonic Egypt (the

Hieroglyphic at Abyd

Pharaoh is depicted being anointed by Horus (sun-god and “father” of Pharaoh) and Thoth (god of wisdom), the oil of which is symbolically depicted as a stream of ankh); the Abhishekionians believed that the virtues of one killed could be transferred to survivors if the latter rubbed themselves with his caul-fat: the fatty membrane that surrounds internal organs; such anointing has a long history in Hindu theology, as well as most other religions.  It was a major part of Gnosticism and is discussed in the Gospel of Philip as well as the Acts of Thomas.  In Buddhism, butter (including that of yak) is commonly used.  Hindus use anointing oils to get rid of illness and bad luck as well as demonic possession.

The Gods anointing, sanctifying, and bestowing authority on Egyptian Pharaohs

Anointing is not unique to Judaism nor Christianity, but was incorporated into both by “pagan” cultures and theologies.  Judaism adopted it for the ritual of enthroning a king from the Pharoahs, Hyksos and ancient Sumerians, while Christianity incorporated it from the various rituals current in Alexandria, Egypt and the cult of Horus where much of the Jesus story is found.

What can be discovered in existing records is not only the absence of information for apostolic succession and the papacy, but equally important is the reality that most of what is allegedly Christian is far older than the Bible.  Its message is found throughout the Roman Empire in earlier civilizations.  The creation of the Bible was nothing less than an attempt to revise or rewrite history so as to control an ignorant people.

6 Comments

Filed under Ancient Egypt, Bible, Bishop of Rome, Church history, Roman Catholicism

6 responses to “Apostolic Succession and the Papacy–separating fact from fiction

  1. Pingback: Christmas, Jesus, December 25, and making merry | Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

  2. Pingback: Rick Santorum, Opus Dei, Roman Catholicism and USA democracy and freedom | Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

  3. Reblogged this on Critical Thinking – A World View and commented:
    Again an excellent article. Ensure that you get the to the very end of this article. As it really sums up the point of Christianity.

  4. Pingback: Education in Peru is failing and what can be done to restore it | Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

  5. Pingback: UNO Secular Student Alliance and Scott Voorhees attack on women and love of “fellow racists and extremists” | Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

  6. Pingback: Freedom of Religion: Fact and Fantasy | Arthur Frederick Ide's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s