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Occident Civilization in the Times of Jesus
Threefold Unifying and Co-ordinating Influence
1. The Roman political and social systems.
2. The Grecian language and culture--and philosophy to a certain extent.
3. The rapidly spreading influence of Jewish religious and moral teachings.

"Nothing like the civilization of the times of Jesus has been seen in the Occident before or since those days."

Paper 121  The Times of Michael's Bestowal
Section 1  The Occident of the First Century After Christ
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First Century Mediterranean Society
Five Strata
1. The aristocracy The upper classes with money and official power, the privileged and ruling groups.
2. The business groups The merchant princes and the bankers, the traders--the big importers and exporters--the international merchants.
3. The small middle class Although this group was indeed small, it was very influential and provided the moral backbone of the early Christian church, which encouraged these groups to continue in their various crafts and trades. Among the Jews many of the Pharisees belonged to this class of tradesmen.
4. The free proletariat This group had little or no social standing. Though proud of their freedom, they were placed at great disadvantage because they were forced to compete with slave labor. The upper classes regarded them disdainfully, allowing that they were useless except for "breeding purposes."
5. The slaves Half the population of the Roman state were slaves; many were superior individuals and quickly made their way up among the free proletariat and even among the tradesmen. The majority were either mediocre or very inferior.
Paper 121  The Times of Michael's Bestowal
Section 3  Among the Gentiles
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Four Great Gentile Philosophies
First Century Schools of Philosophy
1. The Epicurean This school of thought was dedicated to the pursuit of happiness. The better Epicureans were not given to sensual excesses. At least this doctrine helped to deliver the Romans from a more deadly form of fatalism; it taught that men could do something to improve their terrestrial status. It did effectually combat ignorant superstition.
2. The Stoic Stoicism was the superior philosophy of the better classes. The Stoics believed that a controlling Reason-Fate dominated all nature. They taught that the soul of man was divine; that it was imprisoned in the evil body of physical nature. Man's soul achieved liberty by living in harmony with nature, with God; thus virtue came to be its own reward. Stoicism ascended to a sublime morality, ideals never since transcended by any purely human system of philosophy. While the Stoics professed to be the "offspring of God," they failed to know him and therefore failed to find him. Stoicism remained a philosophy; it never became a religion. Its followers sought to attune their minds to the harmony of the Universal Mind, but they failed to envisage themselves as the children of a loving Father. Paul leaned heavily toward Stoicism when he wrote, "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."
3. The Cynic Although the Cynics traced their philosophy to Diogenes of Athens, they derived much of their doctrine from the remnants of the teachings of Machiventa Melchizedek. Cynicism had formerly been more of a religion than a philosophy. At least the Cynics made their religio-philosophy democratic. In the fields and in the market places they continually preached their doctrine that "man could save himself if he would." They preached simplicity and virtue and urged men to meet death fearlessly. These wandering Cynic preachers did much to prepare the spiritually hungry populace for the later Christian missionaries. Their plan of popular preaching was much after the pattern, and in accordance with the style, of Paul's Epistles.
4. The Skeptic Skepticism asserted that knowledge was fallacious, and that conviction and assurance were impossible. It was a purely negative attitude and never became widespread.

"The gentile world was then dominated by four great philosophies, all more or less derived from the earlier Platonism of the Greeks."

Paper 121  The Times of Michael's Bestowal
Section 4  Gentile Philosophy
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First Century Gentile Religions
Religions of the Occident
1. The pagan cults These were a combination of Hellenic and Latin mythology, patriotism, and tradition.
2. Emperor worship This deification of man as the symbol of the state was very seriously resented by the Jews and the early Christians and led directly to the bitter persecutions of both churches by the Roman government.
3. Astrology This pseudo science of Babylon developed into a religion throughout the Greco-Roman Empire. Even in the twentieth century man has not been fully delivered from this superstitious belief.
4. The mystery religions Upon such a spiritually hungry world a flood of mystery cults had broken, new and strange religions from the Levant, which had enamored the common people and had promised them individual salvation. These religions rapidly became the accepted belief of the lower classes of the Greco-Roman world. And they did much to prepare the way for the rapid spread of the vastly superior Christian teachings, which presented a majestic concept of Deity, associated with an intriguing theology for the intelligent and a profound proffer of salvation for all, including the ignorant but spiritually hungry average man of those days.

Paper 121  The Times of Michael's Bestowal
Section 5  The Gentile Religions
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Jewish Program for Child Rearing and Education
Seven Stages of a Child's Life
1. The newborn child, the first to the eighth day.
2. The suckling child.
3. The weaned child.
4. The period of dependence on the mother, lasting up to the end of the fifth year.
5. The beginning independence of the child and, with sons, the father assuming responsibility for their education. [1]
6. The adolescent youths and maidens.
7. The young men and the young women.

[1]  "...on August 21, 2 B.C., Mary formally turned [Jesus] over to Joseph for further instruction."

Paper 123  The Early Childhood of Jesus
Section 2  The Fifth Year (2 B.C.)
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