Thursday, May 20, 2010

Quote du Jour: Robbing Paul to Hype Peter



On this rock? Really?:

The most significant pope to exploit the new possibilities [after Constantine] was Damasus (366-84). After a highly discreditable election, in which his partisans slaughtered more than a hundred supporters of a rival candidate, and some very shaky years following that while he established his authority, Damasus sought to highlight the traditions and glory of his see. He was the first pope to use the distant language favored by the imperial bureaucracy in his correspondence. He took a keen interest in the process of making Rome and its suburbs into a Christian pilgrimage city, financing a series of handsomely sculpted inscriptions at the various holy sites in indifferent but lovingly and personally composed Latin verse, some of which survive. [...]

One aim of this programme was to place a new emphasis on the role of Peter rather than the joint role of Peter and Paul in the Roman past. Moreover, it was in Damasus' time that Peter came to be regarded not merely as the founder of the Christian Church in Rome, but also as its first bishop. Ironically, it was actually a North African bishop, point-scoring against his local Donatist opponents by stressing the North African Catholics' links to Rome, who is the first person known to have asserted on the basis of Matthew 16:17-19 that 'Peter was superior to the other apostles and alone received the keys of the kingdom, which were distributed by him to the rest'; yet significantly it was in the time of Damasus that this thought occurred to the North African, sometime around 370. All this promotion of Peter was not merely for the pope's greater glory; it was a conscious effort to to show that Christianity had a past as glorious as anything that the old gods could offer. The faith adopted by Constantine and his successors was no longer an upstart, but could be a religion fit for gentlemen. ~ Christianity: the First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch

The divine plan: Political assassination, sectarian conspiracy, public relations, concession stands, franchising, conventioneering, pyramid climbing, favorite son-ism, historical revisionism...

...this is what Jesus had in mind all along?
Update: In the interest of being "fair and balanced," here is the more orthodox spin on it.