Blood Symbols, as a religious conspiracy thriller, falls in the same genre as Dan Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code. With Brown’s work setting a genre benchmark and the expectation that subsequent authors would attempt to ride the wave of his success, one must be circumspect in mentioning this successful author’s name when presenting one’s own work.
That said, Blood Symbols does fall into the same genre, and for a substantial portion of the book is also set in the Vatican. But fortunately for Blood Symbols there are a number of distinct differences, rendering the novel unique and fresh. As the Booklife Prize-2017 review by Publishers Weekly points out: “Inevitably, all mysteries centering on this topic will be reminiscent of The Da Vinci Code. Once the reader digs further, however, the story here (Blood Symbols) is strikingly distinctly different and original.”
What then about Blood Symbols is new?
The Da Vinci Code, is set in the time-frame of Jesus: dealing with questions of His possible marriage and the identity of His spouse; was she the Holy Grail; and did she and Jesus have offspring. While Blood Symbols covers the time of the Apostles: did they become the first Christians; did Peter convert Antiochene gentiles to the faith; and did his ministry culminate in Rome as the first pope.
Christianity, contrary to popular belief, did not originate in Judea. Neither did it ensue in the time of Jesus. Christianity originated in Antioch, Turkey, when Saul from Tarsus, a persecutor of Jews, converted Romans to his rendering of the Nazarene faith. The lack of Nazarene backing soon proved an obstacle for the growing gentile church, which in the fourth century became the Roman Empire’s official religion. The Nazarenes, however, who under the leadership of Apostle Peter had received the power and authority of God from Jesus, regarded the Roman Church as phony—an epithet, which did not sit well with the mighty Roman Empire.
To appropriate the power and authority of God for Rome, the Roman Church invented a link between itself and Apostle Peter. The supposed connection originates with the Roman citizen, Saul from Tarsus, where, in Antioch, he was busy converting gentiles to his perverted version of the faith. Peter challenged this and Saul summoned him to iron out their differences, an event known as “the incident of Antioch”, the outcome of which is unknown. To clinch the deal of legitimacy for Rome, in 325AD the Emperor Constantine called the Roman bishops to Nicaea for council. It is here that Christianity as an institution under one roof was born, sealing it as the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The Jewish followers of Christ, the Nazarenes, had no part in the establishment of Christianity for Rome. The Roman Catholic Church, and therefore Christianity in its entirety, is the work of Paul (formerly Saul), who laid the trail for Constantine, a skillful politician and sun worshiper, to appropriate the power and authority of God for Rome. And so, despite numerous breakaway factions, it remains to this day.
Christianity is based on the New Testament scriptures of the Bible, which consist of Canonical Gospels credited to the Apostles of Jesus, letters by the self-appointed apostle Paul, and other individuals’ works. The texts record the life and times of Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples, who were known as the Apostles after Jesus’ crucifixion. The Epistles of Paul, provide insights into the beliefs and conflicts of early Christianity, and which also lays the foundation for Christian theology and ethics as we know them today.
To cement Christianity’s place as the world’s foremost religion and to legitimize Rome’s status as the recipient of God’s power and authority, historical accounts were invented. However, since none of the scriptures date from the time of the actual events, and since none could have come from the hands of the people bearing their names, it is impossible to verify this information. As the Holy Roman Catholic Church spread across the world, the fabrications became ‘fact’. There is probably little that is true about the disseminated history of the Church. For legitimacy, the Church relies on holy traditions: unverified claims—broadcast as truth by the Church.
To separate fact from fiction is impossible. But to separate what is scriptural, from what is not, is possible. Dealing only with the time of the Apostles, what follows are some of the misrepresentations of the Holy Roman Catholic Church regarding its origins:
Christianity starts with Jesus.
Christianity’s history originates with the story of the Galilean, Jesus. Christianity as an organized religion, however, is traced back to Paul in Antioch where his gentile converts were dubbed Christians.
Saul persecuted Christians.
There were no Christians at the time that Saul persecuted Jews in Judea. Furthermore, the Jews who followed Jesus never became Christians, but remained true to the precepts of the Nazarenes.
Saul from Tarsus was a Jew.
Saul was a Roman first and foremost. No Jew could persecute other Jews in Judea. The area was occupied by Rome, and governed by Pontius Pilate, the appointed prefect. Persecutors of Jews must have been Roman.
The Jews accepted Saul’s ministry in Antioch.
The Jews rejected Saul in Antioch, going so far as to stone him. Christianity from here on in was exclusively gentile. Rome, governed by Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, declared the Catholic Christian faith to be the official religion of the Roman empire.
The Jews crucified Jesus.
The Jews did not persecute or crucify Jesus. That, despite beliefs that Pontius Pilot had given Jesus back to the Jews for His trial and subsequent crucifixion, was the work of Romans. Calling for tax collectors to stop collecting taxes and follow Him (Jesus) was a grave violation of Roman justice, punishable by death. Jesus had, on more than one occasion, called on Roman tax collectors to cease their business and follow Him. This defiance left Rome with no option but to sentence him to death.
The disciples of Jesus were Christians.
The Jews who followed Jesus, which, of course, include the disciples of Christ, did not become Christian, but remained members of the Nazarene sect.
Jesus confronts Saul on his way to Damascus
Jesus, confronting Saul from heaven comes from the latter’s own testimony and, quite frankly, is stretching the imagination. If anything, the scripture quoting Jesus as saying: “Saul, why are you persecuting me…”, if at all, likely happened before Jesus’ crucifixion.
Paul converts to Christianity on his way to Damascus
Three things are wrong here: Paul was still Saul at the time; there is no record of Saul’s (or Paul’s) conversion; Saul did not convert to the faith, he invented it nearly a decade later in Antioch.
Saul, prior to his ministry, meets with the disciples of Jesus
There is no record of interaction with the disciples before Saul’s ministry. After his legendary Damascus visitation, Saul disappears for nearly a decade. When he reappears in Antioch, he attempts to preach to the Jews. They stone him, forcing him to turn to the gentiles instead.
Apostle Peter ministered to the gentiles in Antioch before Saul, paving the way for Saul to follow in his footsteps.
Apostle Peter’s ministry to the gentiles in Antioch is crucial to legitimize the Bishop of Rome’s apostolic succession. It lays the foundation for Rome having Peter as its founder of gentile Christianity. There is, however, no evidence that corroborates Peter paving the way for either Saul or Christianity.
Apostle Peter accepts Saul’s ministry to the gentiles
Saul’s ministry led to a protest from Peter, whose practice was to accept gentiles only if they were baptized in the name of the Lord, kept the Laws of Moses, and were circumcised. Peter was summoned by Saul to meet him in Antioch; the outcome of which is unknown. Peter’s trail goes cold after this, but Saul’s career, after changing his name to Paul, flourishes. Hell-bent on establishing a ministry and ignoring the Apostles’ teachings, Paul turns to the Roman gentiles. Thus, Paul’s ministry lays the foundations for the Roman Catholic Church.
Apostle Peter and fellow disciples adopt Saul’s doctrine of faith.
The Nazarenes did not adopt Paul’s ministry, especially not one based on faith alone. James, Jesus’ half-brother, is recorded as insisting that salvation depends on good works as well as faith. Centuries later, the Nazarene Jews still only acknowledge the Gospels, rejecting the Epistles of Paul. The Nazarene movement continued until Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis, Cyprus, declared them heretics in the fourth century, forcing them underground.
The Apostles convert gentiles to Christianity.
The Apostles were not Christians. Non-Jews, however, could covert to the Nazarene faith if they kept the Laws of Moses and succumbed to circumcision. Paul’s Christians and Apostle Peter’s Nazarenes remained antagonistic denominations; there is no evidence of reconciliation.
Apostle Peter ministered and was martyred in Rome.
Other than Catholic tradition and a handful of bones found in a twentieth century dig by Vatican archaeologist that could have belonged to anyone, there is no evidence to corroborate Peter’s presence in Rome. Peter’s ministry in Rome is the final requisite in establishing apostolic succession for the Bishop of Rome. But there is no evidence the Apostle ministered in Rome. We do however find circumstantial evidence in the New Testament that Peter did not minister in Rome.
Apostle Peter was the first pope of Rome.
Other than Catholic tradition, no evidence of Peter even making it to Rome exists. As a staunch Jew holding onto age-old Jewish tradition, it is unlikely that Peter would even have been allowed to become the head of an emerging religion in Rome. Paul, we know, did end up ministering in Rome, and since Paul, a Roman citizen previously endorsed by Pontius Pilot, by his own admission would not preach where someone else had already preached, Peter could not have been in Rome.
Apostle Peter bestowed the power and authority of God onto the second pope, Linus.
A Jew, probably with children, who never ministered in Rome, giving the power and authority of God invested in him to a Roman in Rome—impossible! There is no evidence corroborating such.
Apostle Peter is martyred in Rome, crucified up-side-down.
Peter’s trail goes cold after Antioch. If anything, he, as was the case with Jesus, came to an untimely death. If so, it could have been around the time of his meeting with Saul and possibly in the area.
The Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, therefore the gentile Catholic Church of Rome became the new throne of God.
The reason for all the conspiracy in fourth century Rome, was to consolidate, rid itself of contradictory religions, and establish gentile Christianity as the world’s foremost religion—the seat of God’s throne. Many original texts were destroyed, while a few—of which only copies survive today—were kept as a basis for doctrine. The rest came about through tradition, at times defended by declaring those who oppose the mendacious ‘truths’ to be heretics, burning them at the stake. With the goal of establishing Christianity as the world religion with the seat of God residing at the Vatican, the Roman authorities, three-and-a-half centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus, invented Apostle Peter’s ministry in Rome, claiming he had passed God’s power and authority to the newly formed church in Rome.