aniconic religion aided in their survival by making them a distinct people and helping
them stand apart from their often more materialistic neighbors. Unfortunately this social
need got translated into a religious rule that became the basis of religious intolerance,
particularly under Christian and Islamic dogma.
I also admired
the Greek Orthodox churches in Jerusalem, which were quite beautiful and ornate, much like
Hindu temples with their images, incense and candles. I learned that the Greek Orthodox
tradition is the older form of Christianity. All the old churches in Jerusalem are
Greek Orthodox, which was the religion of the Eastern Roman and Byzantine Empire.
The Roman Catholics didnt get to Jerusalem until the time of the Crusades and
dont represent either original Christianity or its forms near its homeland in
Israel, which were more mystical in nature.
However, Christianity in all its forms appeared to be permeated with a
sense of sorrow, the crucified savior, and a burden of original sin. I think there is a
deeper meaning for this. Christianity reflects a mystical vision that was crushed
before it could really develop. From a Jewish religious sect opposing the Romans it
eventually assumed the power of the Roman State and came to embody the very tyranny that
it first opposed. A study of the Dead Sea Scrolls reveals that the early Christians were
one of many related Jewish movements of the times opposed to the Romans. Most of the
teachings attributed to Jesus were part of older Jewish teachings, including many of