As the founding historical Jesus Christ faded, and the Theological Jesus Christ emerged, so did these symbols.
So we start with the fact that a lot of astronomical myths and symbols predated Christianity, such as what are found in Mithraism, or ancient Egyptian or Gaulish religion.
There are many individual similarities between the gospels and earlier religions and myths that the astrotheological case is built upon. Some of these are already apparent in the letters of Paul and other early non-gospel texts of the NT, but the full story comes out in the gospels, the earliest of which (thought to be Mark) is typically dated around 70-90 AD.
This is the problem. When we talk about the earliest evidence for the historical Jesus, we are citing these same documents where the astrotheology elements are already present. As far as I know, an astrotheological interpretation of Christianity was never promoted by the church, whether it was the early churches or the official one later in Rome.
We know the theologies developed by the early church fathers because we have the literature and can see how it evolved over time. But the astrotheological elements are already present in the earliest documents, the same that we would use for building the purely historical case. Based on that alone I wonder how any historical information can be teased out at all. If we remove everything that is similar to earlier myths then we might literally have nothing left but a few names such as Caiaphas or Herod, and even Herod at least has been challenged on various grounds.
This also indicates that these elements must have been introduced very rapidly, and not over some great period of time, if they were introduced into an authentic historical narrative at all. They were there literally from the first time we see any historical evidence at all, and we are talking about records from people who are supposed to have walked and talked with Jesus and then recorded it all in writing, and then these writings passed to us with very little significant changes in the content (or so we assume). If Jesus was crucified around 30 AD as commonly believed, and the Gospel of Mark was written around 70 AD, that's roughly a 40 year period to work with, in order to explain how these things appeared so early in the texts. Many of the astrotheological elements also appear in earlier epistles.
Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10-Mar-16 05:26 by bsbray.