These attitudes were shared, as Pagels has pointed out, by many of the early Christians--but not by all of them. It can, at least, be argued that the victory of this stark idea within Christianity came from its very essence--in the figure of Jesus. The only problem for Christianity that ran even deeper than its relation to Roman power was the question of Jesus and the Jews. The drama on the cross promised the believers eternal life, but that promise had been made, as well, by the Pharisees to those who obeyed the Law.
The Crucifixion cried out for a more cosmic interpretation, especially because it was the crucial point of difference with the "unbelieving Jews." That Jesus was the source of grace and forgiveness for the original sin that had tainted all of mankind was an interpretation grand enough to make sense of the walk to Golgotha. This theory explained why the Jews were wrong in not recognizing Jesus, for thus they remained forever in the state of original sin.