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With the conversion of Saulus, reality forked once more, creating Timeline Gamma. And Yeshua saw that although his Nazarene movement would survive the fall of Jerusalem, the blank wall in the future marking the death of Bat-El and El Shaddai remained intact.

Saulus, blinded by the touch of Yeshua, was led the rest of the way to Damascus by his traveling companions. Before he entered that city, they were intercepted by Ananias, a disciple who had been alerted by Yahweh. Ananias took them to his house in the city. There Saulus was baptized, and following the command of the Lord he began to call himself Paulus.

After a number of days, they journeyed again to Jerusalem, where Ananias tried to get the brethren to accept Paulus, but everyone was afraid of him, and feared he was trying to infiltrate their cells in order to betray them to the Jews.

In the end it fell to Barnabas, an old friend of Paulus who studied with him under Rabbi Gemalial, to meet with the man and find out what his story was. Barnabas was one of the earliest converts to Yeshua. He had been a wealthy landowner who sold his holdings in Crete and used the money to fund Kephas’ ministry. So Barnabas had the ear of Kephas, and after a long talk with Paulus he believed his friend really had met the Lord somehow and converted to the Way, just as he said. Yet it seemed incredible, and it would be a hard sell, for as Saulus he had been the worst enemy of the nascent Church.

Through the mediation of Barnabas, then, Kephas came to Paulus, who was still blind, and it was entirely within the power of Kephas to leave Paulus thus and remove a thorn from the Church. But Kephas was preaching a gospel of forgiveness, and he knew that Yeshua would scorn his hypocrisy if he did not try to heal the man. So Kephas touched his eyes, and something like scales fell away from them, and Paulus could see again, but his vision would never be nearly as good as it was before he met Yeshua, and Paulus would require the services of an assistant to write all his letters. Yet that, too, was part of Yeshua’s plan to mold his character. For years after that Paulus would beg the Lord in prayer to remove this impediment, and Yeshua would always answer, “No.”

“The Lord Yeshua spoke with me,” Paulus said to Kephas. “Not in a vision, but man to man, just as I am speaking with you now.”

“So you say,” Kephas replied. “He spoke with me too, after he was raised up from the dead. He spoke with me for years before he was put to death so I actually know the Lord. Can you say the same?”

Paulus shook his head, conceding the point. “The Lord said I was to be sent to the Gentiles.”

“And what will you tell the Gentiles?” Kephas asked. When Paulus again had no answer to that, Kephas said, “I see that Yeshua has left it to me to teach you his doctrine. Gentiles you say? Did you know that some of the apostles, even the Lord’s brothers, insist the Gentiles must become good Jews before they can be baptized in the name of Yeshua? That only the circumcised can come to the table of the Banquet of God?”

“The Lord Yeshua made it very clear to me that is not what he intended.”

Kephas nodded. “I’ve been trying to find some middle way. But now you come along and say you will go to the Gentiles, and not receive them as Jews first. I tell you that is the sort of thing that can split our Way irretrievably in two.”

“‘Come now, and let us reason together’, says the Lord,” cited Paulus from the prophet Isaiah.

And so they took the issue to the whole church at the Council of Jerusalem, convened by Yakob, the brother of Yeshua. Paulus was not permitted to speak, but Kephas pled his case before the council, and his position as the chief apostle carried much weight. But Kephas did not have the ultimate authority over whole the Church that would be enjoyed by the Popes much later.

Although he could not speak, the astonishing transformation of Paulus from enemy of the Way to a wannabe apostle carried much weight. So the final verdict of the Council of Jerusalem was that Gentile converts to the Way of Yeshua did not have to be circumcised or adhere to the whole Code of Moshe, but a handful of commandments which had Jews believed had been binding on all men since the time of Noah were retained. Paulus was not happy with the compromise, but few negotiators ever are.

Paul was ordained the Apostle to the Gentiles, while the original apostles would bring the children of Israel, scattered throughout the world, to the Banquet of God.

Finally Yakob the Righteous deigned to speak to him. “Remember, Brother Paulus, that here in Jerusalem we are burdened with many poor. Do not forget these people when you preach to your more affluent Gentile flocks of Yeshua and the Banquet of God.”

And so, with the blessing of the whole Church, Paulus began to make a series of travels throughout the northeastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, and he wove a network of a dozen new Churches in Greece and Asia Minor. Paulus benefited from his Roman citizenship, which came to him by virtue of being the son of his father. His father had purchased Roman citizenship upon becoming a successful tent-maker in Tarsus. This was a trade that Paulus had learned from his father, and a trade he relied on to support himself as he engaged in his missionary activity.

One time when Paulus had returned to Jerusalem with financial contributions he had collected from his constellation of Gentile churches, a vicious rumor sprang up to the effect that Paulus was teaching Jewish Christians not to obey the Torah. Yakob didn’t believe it for a minute, but he suggested that Paulus ritually cleanse himself in Herod’s temple to lay the questions to rest, and Paulus took this advice.

With everyone walking on eggshells over this point, an opening was seen by the enemies of the Church. After the death of the Roman procurator Porcius Festus, in the short span before Lucceius Albinus replaced him, the High Priest Ananus moved quickly during the power vacuum and assembled the scribes and priests and Sadduccees. Yakob was invited to attend this “hearing”.

Ananus said to him, “We, as well as all the people, know you are a just man, and partial to none. Therefore we ask you to restrain your people, for they have gone astray in their opinions about this Yeshua of Nazareth, and hold that he is the Messiah. Stand, then, upon the summit of the temple, that from that elevated spot you may be clearly seen, and your words clearly audible to all the people. For it is Passover, and all the tribes have congregated here, and some of the righteous Gentiles also.”

Yakob ascended to the pinnacle of the temple as he was asked, but there he declared that Yeshua sat in heaven at the right hand of God, and he that shall come again on the clouds of heaven with all the holy angels to judge the living and the dead.

The members of the council in great wrath threw him down from the temple, so the people would see and be afraid.

But Yakob was not killed by the fall, only crippled. So the members of the council began to hurl stones at him. In great pain he struggled to his knees under the bombardment and prayed, “I beg you, Lord God our Father, do not hold this against them, for they do not know what they do!”

Finally a textile worker took the staff he used to wring out the garments he dyed, hurled it directly at the head of Yakob, and smote him dead.

A huge fire broke out and destroyed a tenth of the city of Rome. Rumors began to spread that the Emperor Nero himself had started the fire to make room for his new palace. To diffuse these suspicions, he put a few Christians under torture and got them to “confess” to arson to stop the agony. Based on this “testimony” hundreds of known Christians were placed under arrest and fed to dogs, or crucified, or turned into screaming human street lamps. Kephas was arrested, flogged, and crucified on Vatican Hill. Paulus was a Roman citizen and could not be flogged or crucified so instead he was beheaded on the Ostian road just outside of Rome.

After that a revolt against Rome broke out in Judea, centered in Jerusalem. Nero appointed General Vespasian as military commander over three legions to put down the unrest. At first Vespasian had some success in Galilee, but when Nero was forced to commit suicide the Empire was plunged into civil war. Vespasian took some of his forces to Alexandria to secure the Egyptian grain supply, and ultimately was declared Emperor himself by the Senate. He left his son Titus in charge of the final assault on Jerusalem.

The city was defended tenaciously by the Jews, but with four Roman legions surrounding Jerusalem with mighty earthworks, the outcome was never in doubt. After a siege of five months the entire city, including the temple which was central to Judaism, was pillaged and razed to the ground, except for three towers and the Western Wall, retained on the orders of Titus as a reminder to the surviving Jews of their lost glory. Yeshua watched from the summit of Mount Olive.

Jerusalem, one of five Patriarchal Sees in the universal Christian Church, ceased to exist, even in name. The Romans eventually turned it into a colony named Aelia Capitolina.

The mother of Yeshua passed away peacefully while living in the house of Yohanan Boanerges in Ephesus, Asia Minor. Yeshua sent Issacharite women to gather her body and bury her near the Pool of Bat-El in Canterwood. No one saw her body removed. Yohanan knew only that before she could be buried her body could not to be found, and no one on Earth could have taken it. Thus began the cult of Mariam that would persist for all time.

When Yohanan died, bringing to a close the Apostolic Age, the leaders of various Christian communities began to assemble biographies of Yeshua, and all of these were forgeries, attributed to various deceased pillars of the Church to add a vernier of authenticity. This soon got out of hand. The bishops of Corinth and Carthage complained that someone was writing false epistles using their name to discredit them and promote their own agenda. In Rome, two men laid claim to the bishopric at the same time, and the controversy did not end until the Roman Emperor Maximinus Thrax exiled both of them to Sardinia.

Some emperors were a bit more harsh. Valerian ordered that all Christian bishops, priests, and deacons, including Pope Sixtus II, must sacrifice to the Roman gods, under penalty of death. Many of them chose death. Decius extended the persecution to the Christian laity. He issued an edict requiring all citizens to sacrifice to the emperor in the presence of a Roman official and obtain a certificate proving they had done so. Most Christians complied rather than incur fines or even death.

Other emperors, however, were more tolerant. Emperor Constantine, in fact, converted to Christianity on his deathbed and Julian the Apostate was the last non-Christian emperor. Emperor Theodosius I made Christianity the state religion of the empire, and eleven years later he outlawed most pagan rituals.

In the Seventh Century, a rival monotheistic religion called Islam arose to challenge Christianity, but the empire would resist the Muslim onslaught until the Fifteenth Century when Constantinople finally fell to the Ottomans. This marked the final end of the Roman Empire.

During the long twilight period leading up to that, the Popes called for a series of seven Crusades, all of them brutal wars of conquest against the Islamic empire by Christendom. During the seventh Crusade Mastema the Accuser came to Yeshua in Canterwood and handed him a sheaf of parchment. He said, “This is a papal bull titled Ad Extirpanda from Pope Innocent IV. Note in particular Law 25, where he authorizes the use of torture against heretics.”

“The head of state or ruler must force all the heretics whom he has in custody, provided he does so without killing them or breaking their arms or legs, as actual robbers and murderers of souls and thieves of the sacraments of God and Christian faith, to confess their errors and accuse other heretics whom they know, and specify their motives, and those whom they have seduced, and those who have lodged them and defended them, as thieves and robbers of material goods are made to accuse their accomplices and confess the crimes they have committed.”

Mastema said, “I can assure you, Yeshua, having made something of a study of this, there are things that can be done to human beings short of killing them or breaking their limbs that make even the agony you endured in Judea pale in comparison. Twelve hundred years, Yeshua, and this is what has become of your ‘Banquet of God’. So I think I can say, without contradiction, that I have won.”

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