A Great Historical Mystery... Finally Solved:
Second century documents, such as The Sybilline Oracles and the Apocalypse of Peter, reveal a very big surprise.
These documents show that the vast majority of second century Churches taught the doctrine of temporary punishment during their services.
And this is not the only historical surprise. Other documents show that, out of the original six Christian theological schools, five of them taught their students the doctrine of temporary punishment as well.
As a whole the historical record shows that, up until the fifth century, the doctrine of temporary punishment was the mainstream, majority view - the view of most laymen, most churches, and most theological institutions.
However the historical record reveals another big surprise. The historical record shows that, by the end of the fifth century, everything had suddenly and drastically changed. Almost all at once virtually every new Christian believed the exact opposite doctrine. By the end of the fifth century, new Christians were almost exclusively being taught the doctrine of eternal damnation in hell.
So here is the great historical mystery: What happened in the fifth century that suddenly and dramatically changed the course of the Christian faith?
The answer is shocking. And you can discover the shocking answer for yourself in The Jerome Conspiracy.
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About the Author:
I didn't begin digging into the history of Jerome with the idea of uncovering any dirt on him - let alone pegging him with a fifth century religious conspiracy that changed the course of Christianity. Rather I backed into the discovery quite accidentally while solving a Dead Sea Scroll puzzle I was working on.
For centuries Christians believed there was only one Hebrew version of the Jewish scriptures - the version that is contained in the Old Testament section of the modern Christian Bible. However the Dead Sea Scrolls found in cave four revealed something quite startling: There once were three Hebrew versions of the Jewish scriptures. One Hebrew version (from the Jews in Egypt) was translated by Egyptian Greeks in the second century BC. This translation of the Egyptian Jewish scriptures is called the Septuagint (also known as the LXX). Another Hebrew version (from the Jews in Palestine) was translated into Aramaic. This translation of the Palestinian Jewish scriptures is called the Peshitta. And the remaining Hebrew version (from the Jews in Babylon) is what is used in Christian Bibles today. It is called the Masoretic Text.
In a nutshell, there were three textual lines of Jewish scriptures by the time Jesus was born: Egyptian, Palestinian, and Babylonian. Jesus, his disciples, and the early church all quoted the Greek Septuagint (which was based on the Egyptian version of the Jewish scriptures). Modern Bibles, however, contain the Babylonian version of the Jewish scriptures. So the initial historical puzzle that started it all was: When and why did the church abandon the Egyptian version of the Jewish scriptures for the Babylonian one?
In investigating the answer to that question, it didn't take long to learn that Jerome was the one who replaced the Egyptian version of the scriptures with the Babylonian one. He did this when translating the Latin Vulgate Bible. So once I learned when the change occurred, I then wanted to know why it occurred. Why did Jerome replace the original Christian version of thirty nine biblical books with a significantly different set? And it was during my investigation into that question I fell down the rabbit hole. As I peeled back the layers of the onion I began to realize Jerome did a lot more than just swap one version of the Old Testament for another. He was a very busy man.
So I made a list of all the changes Jerome made to the Bible and early Christian writings (which were many). I was determined to connect the dots. I was determined to understand what all the changes he made had in common. That's when I realized they all converge on one inescapable conclusion - the conclusion I call The Jerome Conspiracy. And ironically, the discovery of Jerome's conspiracy led me full circle back to the Dead Sea Scrolls found in cave four. The very scrolls that started me down this unexpected path ended up providing the requisite empirical proof of Jerome's conspiracy.
Jerome's motivations were related to his pet doctrine of eternal damnation in hell - a doctrine believed only by a tiny minority of Christians during his day. The Jerome Conspiracy parable begins with an evangelical couple losing their adult atheist son to a car accident. They are convinced his rejection of Christianity has damned him to an eternity of hellfire. However, as the story unfolds, the evangelical parents begin to uncover many surprising historical facts regarding the original Bible and the original Christian faith. In the end, they realize that all the facts connect back to one man ... Jerome. What they learn next forces them to reassess both sacred cows: their view on eternal damnation and their viewpoint of their son's fate in the afterlife.
Michael Wood, the son of an evangelical minister, has been awarded multiple U.S. and international patents (including U.S. Patent numbers 5003596, 6108702, and 6405248). As an accomplished inventor, Mr. Wood has a proven ability to find previously undiscovered connections linking disparate pieces of information. It was this skill that enabled him to discover that a diverse set of archaeological findings-ranging from the Dead Sea Scrolls to newly discovered Aramaic writings-are surprisingly linked together in The Jerome Conspiracy.
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