In part One last week we looked at the social “institutions” that recent research established as preconditions of effective, inclusive government that in turn was required to create inclusive economies capable of producing great national income and wealth. The world’s wealthiest nations all had these inclusive social institutions having ancient Judeo-Christian origins which in turn had absorbed extensive elements of Greek and Roman civilization. Without exception lists of the wealthiest and happiest nations on earth today had these antecedents.

In part One last week we looked at the social “institutions” that recent research established as preconditions of effective, inclusive government that in turn was required to create inclusive economies capable of producing great national income and wealth. The world’s wealthiest nations all had these inclusive social institutions having ancient Judeo-Christian origins which in turn had absorbed extensive elements of Greek and Roman civilization. Without exception lists of the wealthiest and happiest nations on earth today had these antecedents.

Consider the advanced nature of literacy manifest in the Psalms which date to the time of David [1000 BC.] How many peoples on earth even had writing then let alone effective government and economies? The Old Testament [covenant] in the time of Abram [Gen.12:2-3] Ca 2000 BC] was two-fold: God will create and bless a nation that will then be used to bless all nations. About 1800 BC famine forced this wandering, illiterate herding tribe into the most advanced civilization on earth, Egypt, where they learned the skills of civilization which always arise in cities. They left Egypt in the Exodus [1400 BC] led by Moses. Along the way they were given the Ten Commandments [Law, Talmud] which became the basis of their institutions.

The first four Commandments concern relations with God and the others ethical behaviors toward others summarized in the Golden Rule. [Lk.10] Jesus’s ministry modeled these twin spiritual and social emphases and gave his missionaries the same commission, “As you go, preach the message, ‘The kingdom of heaven is near, heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” [Mt.10:7-8] The Christian Church always provided a two-track ministry involving the spiritual gospel and social welfare.

Israel was warned ,“If you do not obey…the Lord will destroy you, you will be uprooted from the land and scattered among the nations. [diaspora]” [Deut.28] They were neither personally pious nor socially ethical and the nation was destroyed by Emperors Vespacian [70-72 BC] and Hadrian [132 A.D.] In Judea 985 towns were laid waste and 580,000 men killed.“ Through emphasis on the Law, stateless Jewry was kept a virtual community. The synagogue displaced the temple, teaching the Law replaced temple sacrifices, and rabbis replaced priests. They were condemned to poverty and humiliation, hiding in fear and obscurity while their offspring, Christianity went out to conquer the world.” [1]

Constantine to Luther

Being the most learned people in Europe, Jews were brought into Western governments leavening them with their social institutions. As The West became Christian their governments brought along Jewish institutions. Imperial Rome placed the state above religion and Christianity placed church above the state. Christian’s refusal to give homage to Caesars claiming the equivalent of sainthood brought periodic persecution until 312 A.D when Constantine converted to Christianity. Constantine moved his government east to Constantinople taking all the VIPs of the city with him leaving a governmental vacuum only the Church could fill. Having incorporated many characteristics of Roman government, the Church was equipped and willing to assume the duties of both church and state in the West.

In 1054 the “Great Schism” between Eastern and Western parts of the Church permanently divided the Church with the State ruling the Eastern Church by the 4th century and the Church ruling the Western Church by 391 when St. Ambrose forced Emperor Theodosius to submit to church discipline. Essentially, Theodosius reigned as a Christian Emperor. “A new civilization based on a new religion rose over the ruins of an exhausted culture and a dying creed. The Middle Ages had begun.” [1]

Several factors made Judaism and Roman Catholicism exclusive and centralized and in the case of the latter intertwined with and supportive of government from Constantine to Luther. Theological heresy from within and government persecution from without until 313 A.D. was naturally met with episcopal, centralized church structure. Church doctrines supporting the divine right of kings and obedience to civil authority was recognized and readily embraced by Constantine in 313 A.D. and wedded church and state for move than 1300 years in the West and until now in the East. Literacy within the Church was largely confined to monastic enclaves that developed libraries and academies that predated universities. The church supported centralized [extractive] monarchs and economies that provided the wealth that built the luxurious architectural monuments of Europe we now so admire.

Jacob’s and Joseph’s forced migration to Egypt by Jacob’s family gave the Hebrews the skills and institutions of civilization. It also gave them a commercial community in Alexandria that made them necessary to Rome in supplying Egyptian wheat for Rome’s subsidized grain ration required to keep their lower classes pacific. Their destruction and dispersion sent them to important Roman commercial cities around the Mediterranean Sea. Every Jewish community in these cities were starting places of early Christian missionaries.

Persecution drove Jews into enclaves which were semi-democratic and inclusive for their own. No Jew is known to have gone hungry. All youth studied 7 hours a day creating an educated cadre in an illiterate world—including most rulers. [That is why at age 12 Jesus, a carpenter’s son, could amaze temple scholars with his erudition.] Government and commerce depended on Jews for transactions and finance giving their inclusive institutions openings into governments of the West. Jews were universally persecuted and their assets confiscated driving them to focus their education on intellectual skills which could not be alienated. Social separation provided religious unity and education perpetuated them and their institutions.

The Reformation freed these exclusive civic institutions of Judaism and Christianity to create inclusive governments, economies, and wealth in northwestern Europe. [Next week.]

[1] Durant, Will, Caesar and Christ, NY:547-9 Simon and Schuster, 1944, 548,657.