Who Was This Man Called the Christ?

Even if Jesus originally wasn't largely the product of Greek Religion, certainly the theology forming afterwards owed a good deal to it. "The stories of the children of the gods were paradigms for the early Church in its understanding of Jesus" (Riley 19). Some early Christians in the hopes of understanding Jesus' nature looked to the story of the famed half-god Herakles championing man, fighting evil, dying, and then being adopted by the gods and brought up to Olympus to be of the gods, and struck upon the idea of adoptionism – that Jesus was born by man but adopted by God (120). This roughly corresponds with the ideas of the Ebionites, who were Jewish Christians rather than gentiles. Looking to their own stories about Elijah and Enoch ascending to heaven to be brought among the angels, they also held to this idea of adoptionism (121-122). Many gentiles looked to the very popular healing god Asclepius, a man begat of Apollo who went about Earth healing people. This sort of things put his worship in competition with that of Jesus (124); however, Asclepius did not have the ability to raise the dead, and was, in fact, slain for doing so by Zeus. After being slain, however, he was transformed into a deity (123). Asclepius surely was in the front of early Christians' thoughts in their attempts to understand Jesus; in fact, many Christian temples were built upon old centers of healing or shrines to Asclepius (125).

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