It is difficult to overstate this fact: The Christianity that we know today results from the Gentiles’ transformation of what was probably the message of a Jewish Sage from Galilee. In fact, the Hellenized version of “Jesus” was first developed by Paul of Tarsus and John (of the Fourth Gospel). This Hellenized philosophy has little or nothing to do with teachings of the person known as Yeshu or Yeshua, the flesh-and-blood person who is likely the basis for the Gospel Jesus, which develops the image of Jesus promoted by the evangelists, who were not the immediate followers of Yeshua.
When we try to get to facts concerning Yeshua from Galilee we have to dig through numerous layers of doctrine and popular myth. Even for the critically-minded, educated historian-scholar, the flesh-and-blood person who walked the hills of Galilee and Judea is lost in the fog of subsequent doctrine, events and political drama (e.g., the need of the early Christians to distance themselves from the Jews and gain the sympathy of the Romans).
1/24 Historical Ironies:
Paul’s missionary work and his teachings were a major factor in the early development of Christian doctrine; yet Paul’s teachings had little to do with the message of Yeshua, the Galilean teaching.
Early in the fourth century AD, the Roman emperor Constantine was primarily responsible for the fact that Christianity became the major religion in the Roman Empire and eventually became a major world religion. Yet, Constantine was not by any measure a Christian man.
The teachings of a Jewish sage are transformed into a Hellenized, somewhat mystical philosophy and eventually Christian doctrine over the course of a few decades. After a few centuries, the Christian doctrine becomes a Roman institution.
To say that the Roman Emperor Constantine experienced a religious conversion is to speak in a very misleading way. Did he embrace Christianity as his faith and philosophy of life? Did he come to accept the teachings in the Gospels and accept the risen Christ as his savior? Any cursory reading of the history and actions of Constantine, before and after his alleged ‘conversion’ will surely yield an emphatic negative answer to each of those questions.
Yet, Constantine was probably most responsible for the fact that Christianity went from being primarily a minority cult to becoming a religion of universal significance.