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Religion Chapter 6: Christianity the Basic Facts

Judea: part of a mountainous area (now divided between Israel and Palestine) that Jews believed had been promised to them by God Jewish: name given to the people of Israel after their exile in Babylon; the survivors were mainly from the tribe of Judah Jerusalem: capital city of Israel; was also the capital city of Judea The Temple: the temple built in Jerusalem Roman Empire: Rome and the Roman Empire had, by Pauls time, controlled all the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Sea including Judea and Jerusalem; the Romans spoke Latin, but Greek was just as important Messiah: the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation Gospels: the story of Jesus life and teachings, especially as in the first four books of the New Testament Tenak: acronym for the Hebrew Bible that is made up of the Teachings: (Torah T), the writings from the Period of Prophecy (Neviim N) and other writings from the remaining books (Ketuvim K) Pharisees: a religious sect that was active in Jesus day Sadducees: a high-status religious group of Jesus day Essenes: a separatist religious group of Israel in the first century CE

Historical and cultural context


Christianity is close to 2000 years old, beginning in Judea, the Jewish peoples kingdom Jerusalem was the main religious and economic centre of the region, which contained the Temple, the main place of worship, where priests tended to the house of their God and performed sacrifices and other rituals Christianity started as a Jewish development as the leaders and early followers were Jewish, and Christianity adapted religious ideas from societies it moved into as it grew At Christianitys beginning the Roman Empire obtained near complete control of Judea, resulting in religious and political tension Jerusalem was once occupied by the Greeks under Alexander the Great and the Persians before him, many Jews worried that their God abandoned them

Political and religious groups were attempting to find a way to free to free Judea from Roman control and was a time of crisis and self-reflection for the Jews Some of them hoped that a Messiah would come and lead an independent and powerful Judea. This long awaited man a deliverer of political and religious freedom is referred to often in the later part of Jewish scripture, the Hebrew bible, where prophets spoke of a saviours arrival. Many Jewish people were waiting and hoping for change in the form of the Messiah, but there were other who grew fearful As well as other political and religious tensions, Judaism was split into smaller groups, e.g. the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes The attitude of Jesus to these groups when he began his ministry shows that he was attempting to revitalise Judaism The Pharisees were progressive and held closely to Jewish religious laws, but added many of their own interpretations, and they declared themselves more holy than any ordinary Jew. Jesus called them hypocrites for masking the true laws with so many other rules The Sadducees, were opposed to the Pharisees, believed only in what was written in Hebrew scripture, and were a more conservative part of Jewish establishment that Jesus berated The Essenes aimed to remove themselves from the world and keep themselves pure. Evidence of their community at Qumran was first discovered in 1947, together with what are now called the Dead Sea Scrolls, a number of texts found sealed in jars. These texts helped us understand the ideas that were current when Jesus lived

Judaist Groups of Ancient Judea


Modern Presence Approach to Greek Culture Worship Pharisees Developed into modern Judaism Apolitical and against Greek influence in Judaism In the Temple, and after it was destroyed in 70 CE by Romans, a synagogue Approached Jewish scripture liberally and interpreted it within reason Democratic and Sadducees Disappeared as a group after 70 CE Were political and in support of Greek culture Worshipped in the Temple Essenes Some modern Jewish sects identify with the Essenes Indifferent Led a monk-like existence involving celibacy, vegetarianism, and refused to keep slaves Interpreted the Jewish Bible in a radically different way; see Dead Sea Scrolls Were against the

Scripture

Took Jewish scripture literally as the absolute truth Conservative,

Politics

liberal

aristocratic and supported the Jewish monarchy

ruling family of Judea (who acted as governors for Rome)

Ex-6.01
Q1. List the way the Greeks, Romans and Jews may have influenced the origins of Christianity. A1. The actions of the groups influenced the events leading to its creation Their cultures may have influenced the people Their forms of writing could affect who the bible was translated Q2. What is the Messiah? A2. The Messiah is the promised deliverer of political and religious freedom for the Jewish people, who was often referred to in the later part of Jewish scripture. The Messiah is believed to be the saviour, and Christians believe him to be Jesus Christ. Q3. List the major Jewish groups of Jesus day and identify their main features. A3. See table above

Jesus Christ/Jesus of Nazareth


Myth: a spiritual or religious idea expressed in human terms Herod, King: Idumean King of Israel at the time of Jesus birth Baptism: a religious act of purification by water that allows recipients membership of Christianity Ghostic: from the Greek word gnosis meaning wisdom; Gnostic doctrines hold that the world and humanity are corrupt and only wisdom of secret matters allows humans to connect with the small spark of the divine within them Apostles: students whom Jesus had chosen and trained for a mission of healing and preaching Disciples: Jesus students during his time on Earth Sermon on the Mount: the large section of Jesus teaching contained in the Gospel of Matthew (chapters 5-7) Parable: a short story containing a religious lesson Miracle: an effect in the physical world, which surpasses all known human or natural powers and is therefore ascribed to supernatural agency

Just about all that is known about Jesus is drawn from the New Testament, there are few references to him outside Christian texts Little is known about Jesus except the last three years of his life Jesus was born about 6 BCE, and seemed to grow up in Nazareth It is possible that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem, as Christians would like to think Jesus was born there to promote a political connection An extensive genealogy in the Gospel of Matthews opening chapters links Jesus with King David It is said Jesus family fled to Egypt due to King Herod ordering to slaughter of the male babies of Bethlehem, but there isnt evidence in history that King Herod actually did this Jesus was baptised at age 30 by John the Baptist Jesus wandered the wilderness for some time and resisted the temptations of the devil, and then returned to Judea and preached for about three years He selected twelve apostles, and then became known as a teacher and miracle worker A number of women disciples were part of his group Jesus encouraged his listeners to move beyond the strict legalism their days Judaism and look at motives for actions, he stated that he came to fulfil the law of Judaism and he mixed freely with people who were considered sinners and outcasts His teachings were radical and inspiring, using parables as an effective teaching device, which had various meanings for different people Jesus also worked miracles: healing the sick, removing demons, even bringing people back from the dead, which had been a part of Jewish and Classical magic, because of which he came into a conflict with the Jewish and Roman authorities In the last weeks of his life Jesus enter Jerusalem and got involved with a series of public debates with the Pharisees and Sadducees After the Last Supper on the Thursday evening (the celebration of the holy communion in the Christian Church) Jesus was arrested and brought to trail before Pontius Pilate, the Roman procurator He was sentenced to death and crucified on what is called by Christians as Good Friday, but his death was believed to be necessary, by Christians, to bring salvation for all On the Sunday morning, his tomb was found to be empty and angels declared that he had risen from the dead Over the next few weeks, believed by Christians, he was seen on several occasions by over five hundred people Forty days after his resurrections he was said to have ascended into heaven

Interpreting the Principal Events in the Life of Jesus


What Jesus did during his life has been a long discussion since there are only occasional references to him outside Christian texts, and there is no one simple account of his life

The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were written by early followers, each concentrating on various aspects of Jesus life A text called Q is supposed to be one of the earliest accounts of Jesus, containing much of his teachings, but is now lost Mark is taken to be the earliest account, concentrating on the last few years of Jesus life The book of John is quite different from the other Gospels, being a more theologically reflective document and had a different purpose In Johns account we are told Jesus is the Word made flesh, and Jesus goes from being a Messiah to God in human form Trinity is the concept of one God and three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), which was the basis of Johns development of the Jesus story John introduced elements and assumptions that are Greek, and called Jesus Christ, a pagan term similar to Messiah, in Mark Jesus was careful about stating whether or not he was the Messiah, but in John it was declared openly, illustrating how Christian attitudes developed Text written close to the life of Jesus are still being discovered

The Ministry of Jesus


Passover: the Jewish feast that celebrates the Exodus and related events Communion: literally, fellowship; has become applied to the sacrament of Holy Communion Anti-Semitism: prejudice against Jewish people Orthodox: literally meaning keeping to the correct teachings of the Church; has come to refer to the Eastern Church After his contact with John the Baptist he was able to perform a number of miracles: driving out demons, healing the sick, turning water into wine Sceptical scholars suggest that these were later exaggeration written into the story, misunderstandings or only partially true Some believe that the stories are just myths that allow an understanding of essential truths Ones position in this long debate is ultimately a matter of faith On both religious and political levels, Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, which is a highly metaphorical term that could have meant, e.g. the reestablishment of Judea or the Christian heaven Jesus said and did radical things, preached universal love and gave hope to the downtrodden During the Last Supper Jesus offered his followers communion of bread and wine, which he likened to his body and blood, which became a central part of Christian worship

At the time Jesus went to the Temple, he caused a disturbance by overturning the money changers stall located there and protested against commerce in a holy place, which could have been the cause of his arrest Romans used Crucifixion for executions while Jews used stoning, and the New Testament suggested that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, which had terrible consequences in the form of anti-Semitism The resurrection of Jesus three days after the execution is regarded by believers as his greatest miracle and is what asserted his divinity The story is re-enacted during the Easter celebration, from Good Friday to Easter Sunday

Jesus as the Model of Christian Life


Jesus is seen as sinless, as well as compassionate, and is the example all Christians should strive to emulate Jesus left in his teachings commands that are applied to ethical behaviour, but lived a life that Christians should follow Christians are expected to follow his example so others can turn to God The writer of the letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament suggested that Jesus was the first of a new faith who brings perfection

Ex-6.02
Q1. Recall where we learn about the life of Jesus. A1. Church Bible: the 4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Q3. Outline what the Kingdom of God is. A3. The Kingdom of God can be interpreted as a number of things, due to the term being partially metaphorical. One of the earliest examples was that it would be a re-established Judea. The most commonly believed meaning for the Kingdom of God is that it is where people ascend to when they die, where they can find peace and eternal life.

Development of early Christian Communities


Catholic: actually means universal; the denomination usually called Catholic is the Roman Catholic Church Pope: the head of the Roman Catholic Church Protestant: those churches that split from the Catholic Church in the 16th century in protest at the Churchs teachings Proselytising: encouraging converts from one religion to another Baptist: a denomination of Christianity that rejects infant baptising, believing that followers should choose to be Christian of their own accord

Evangelical: originally, from the Gospels; from the 18th century CE it refers to a Protestant movement that considers ones soul can be saved only by having faith in the atoning death of Jesus Pentecostals: followers of the variant of Christianity that emphasises the gifts of the Holy Spirit Creed: a statement of religious belief, often summarising the major concepts of that religion The earliest texts in the New Testament are the letters of Paul, who originally opposed Christianity, but he eventually became Christian, even though he never met Jesus in the flesh Pauls letters and the early apostles teachings have been the foundation of Christian theology and practice since New Testament times The Church at first had to meet secretly, but it became an influential movement during the first three centuries after the time of Jesus, eventually where it became the official religion of the Roman Empire

The Church: Christian Variants


Christianitys history is a history of division, often due to political or social reasons as well as theological ones. Here are five examples: Apostolic Succession: the unbroken handing on of authority and belief from the time of the apostles Priest: Someone who performs religious rites and makes sacrificial offerings Bishop: an authority figure of the Christian clergy Cardinal: a senior figure of the Roman Catholic Church Sin: An act considered a transgression of divine law, an offence against God Sacrament: a religious ceremony that celebrates an outward sign of an inner spiritual grace Immaculate Conception: the doctrine that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was free form sin from her conception Purgatory: The intermediate state between death and heaven, according to Roman Catholic theology Indulgence: in Roman Catholicism, a pardon from the expectation of punishment in Purgatory after the sinner has been absolved

Great Schism: the split between the Western and the Eastern Church in the eleventh century CE Icons: Stylised pictorial representations of saints, biblical characters or stories, used as aids to worship in the Orthodox churches Filioque clause: literally, from the Son; this clause was added to the Nicene Creed and caused great debate about the divinity of the Father compared with that of the Son. 95 Theses: writings by Martin Luther that expressed his displeasure at the sale of indulgences Anglican The Anglican Church of Australia is closely linked to the Church of England Was part of the Church of England until it received its own Australian constitution in 1962, and was named the Anglican Church of Australia in 1981 The Church of England was established by the English King Henry VIII Henry passed acts of Parliament between 1534-1535 that made the head of the Catholic Church in England the English King instead of the Pope in Rome. Henry primarily did this because the pope would not permit him to divorce his first wife. Henrys son, Edward VI, surrounded by Protestant councillors, from 1547 turned a part of the Catholic Church into a Protestant church Edwards successor, his sister Mary, tried to eradicate Protestantism and rejoin England to the Catholic faith. Elizabeth I turned England and its church into a Protestant domain, being a type of compromise between Catholic and Protestant extremes Traditionally, the Anglican Church highlights the importance of scripture, reason and tradition and determining matters relating to beliefs and practices The Anglican church of Australia is more closely related to Catholicism Anglican churches are more ritual-oriented and referred to as AngloCatholic, but still refuses the authority of the Pope.

The Catholic Church


See the apostle Peter as the first pope, due to him being given a sacred mission by Jesus, which is passed onto all the other popes The pope gives authority to priests, bishops and cardinals Church claims to represent the true legacy of Jesus life Other Christian churches see the pope as a Christian figure of outstanding authority, but argue he has no automatic claim of authority over their churches Believes that confessing sins to a priest will aid in salvation

Priests take the role of being mediator in the Church through which others can gain access to God Recognises seven sacrament: Baptism Confirmation Holy communion Penance (confession) Ordination Marriage Extreme unction (anointing of the sick) Popes in Rome claimed that the Church had authority over kings and scientists Church officials started selling indulgences, exchanging donations to the Church for the cancellation of sin In 1517, Martin Luther, a monk in Germany, attacked the Church for this corruption, and eventually created, although not his original intention, his own religious group based only on scripture

Orthodoxy First thousand years of the Catholic Church, orthodox churches existed in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire In 1054 CE, the Eastern Church, (the Orthodox Church) split from the Western Church (the Roman Catholic Church), this split is called the Great Schism Both churches developed different ideas and practices, but both trace their origins to the apostles Popes authority was not accepted in the East and icons were used in the East The clergy can marry in the East, but not in the West Orthodox churches became regional churches and reflect the culture and identity of their people Pentecostalism Began as a revival movement within Christianity in the early twentieth century Its central concept is that it is possible for Christian believers to be made perfect by the will of God, referred to as baptism by the Holy Spirit Keep to a strict moral code The Pentecost is a time of the Jewish calendar, possible to have originally have been a harvest festival Emphasise that God is the emotional heart of this form of Christianity Protestantism Not a single church, but a movement of religious groups in Europe opposed to various non-Biblical doctrines of the Catholic Church, and not accepting the Roman Catholic Popes power Began with the nailing of Martin Luthers 95 Theses to the door of a German Cathedral in 1517

Luthers protest led to the breakdown of the authority of the Holy Roman Empire Emphasises the authority of the Bible as opposed to the authority of the Pope, the grace of God that brings forgiveness as opposed to purchasing indulgences, and the importance of faith as opposed to the idea of earning salvation through good works Recognise two sacraments, baptism and holy communion, compared to the seven of the Catholic Church Clergy can marry in Protestant church and have more flexible styles of church government

Principal Beliefs
Council of Nicea: the first council of Christian Church; also produced the Nicene Creed, the Christian statement of faith Ecumenism: movement towards unity within the Christian church between different Christian denominations Creed: statement of religious belief, condensing the major concepts one religion Organised its beliefs into a systematic theology, drawing from the sacred writings and traditions of the Church

Jesus as Human and Divine There were a number of different points of view on the subject of Jesus relationship with God: some could understand that a man could become a god, but why a god made himself into a man? Paul of Samosata believed in co-equality but difference of God and Jesus Arius suggested Jesus was created by God to put his plans into action on Earth, and Jesus was not eternal and less god-like than God Anthanasius thought that Jesus is the same nature as God and fully human The Roman Emperor Constantine, interested in Christianity, wanted the dispute resolved. He summoned the Council of Nicea, and Athanasius theory was adopted as the correct teaching of the Church, but other ideas and theories lingered in the East and North Africa for many centuries There are clear statements about both Jesus divinity and humanity in the New Testament. He is described in terms that suggest he is divine, e,g, he is worshipped, he is spoken of as the equal of God, Lord of all

Death and Resurrection of Jesus The resurrection of Jesus consisted of him dying in human form on the cross, and three days later rising from the dead to live forever The resurrection proves to believers that there is life after death Death being conquered by Jesus shows his mythical power to bring all of his followers to life after death

The Nature of God and the Trinity The creeds (statement of faith) of Christianity developed early on, as part of ritual and worship, or to simply sum up the beliefs of the religion Language makes strong connections between God and Jesus The central creed in the Western Church is the Apostles Creed, although it is unknown whether or not the apostles of Jesus used it, which cities their authority In 325 CE the Apostles Creed was expanded and developed at the Council of Nicaea and is now named the Nicene Creed and is used in Catholic and Orthodox Anglican rituals Traditionally, the Trinity has talked about in terms that state God is one, but three persons make up the Godhead, making this a Christian mystery Revelation A revelation is the disclosure of something which could not have revealed without the will of God The main Christian revelation was revealed by God through Jesus, which later took on the form of the Gospels One can distinguish between general and special revelation General revelation comes to Christians through the work of God that is seen evident in creation, and in their conscience Special revelation is the understanding that God provided of himself through Jesus and the sacred writings of Christianity

Salvation Jesus death was a ritual sacrifice and he knew it was coming In Judaism, killing animals is a way of cleansing a person, or even the whole Jewish nation, of impurities they may have Salvation in Christianity can mean three different things: 1. Deliverance from sin 2. Being resurrected to an afterlife 3. Being healed through the power of the divine and united with God The Catholic rites of reconciliation concern the first of these forms of salvation, and offer individuals the opportunity to repent, and therefore be saved, from punishment for their sins The Christian belief in Christ resurrection is central to the belief that after death resurrection to heaven is possible for those who are forgiven The third aspect of salvation, see above, occurs even today, e.g. it is believed that the water obtained from the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes is believed to have healing properties for Christians In the New Testament, salvation has a past aspect (forgiveness of sins), a present aspect (living as a saved person) and a future aspect (looking forward to a life in heaven). Salvation is as much a present reality as a future deliverance

Ex-6.04

Q1. Write down three of the technical terms used in this chapter and your own definition of those terms. A1. Messiah: the one who would bring salvation to the world Parable: a Christian story that is told because of its religious meaning Protestant: Christian churches that split from the Catholic Church and do not bind themselves to the authority of the Pope Q2. Explain the Christian view of the human and divine aspect of Jesus. A2. There are a number of different theories concerning this subject, but according to the bible two things are true, that Jesus is the incarnation of God on Earth and was made man.

Sacred Texts and Writings


Torah: the word of God in Judaism Ten Commandments: the summary of the law given to Moses Epistles: letters, a term used in the Bible from the Greek word The sacred text for Christians is known as the Bible The word bible comes from the Greek term biblia, which means books

The Bible The Christian Bible is made up of several texts, some clearly Christian and others that are borrowed from the Jewish religious tradition The Bible is made up of several major sections and is a closed canon, meaning that it is considered complete and no new books can be added More than two-thirds of the bible is comprised of Jewish scripture, including five books of the Torah, believed to be written by Moses The Torah contains the Ten Commandments and the miracles God preformed to protect the Jewish people at various stages of their history The New Testament constitutes the last third of the bible, beginning with the four gospels, the first three concerning the last three years of Jesus life, while the fourth reflects the book of Genesis The Acts of the Apostles follow the Gospel of John, but are unrelated in style and content, record the events experienced by Jesus followers after his death as well as the spread of the early Church, and also provide hints of interest about the communitys early life The Epistles, or letters, follow, which were written by Paul and other early followers of Jesus The final book is the Revelation of St John, or the Apocalypse, which is difficult to understand due to it being rich in imagery and symbolism, which led to many different interpretation of the end of the world The Catholic and Orthodox versions of the Bible also include twelve books called the Apocrypha, which are not accepted by Protestants, but are

valuable in filling in understanding of historical events and developing religious ideas Importance of the Bible Christianity is the only religion that reads from the New Testament, showing how Jesus is the fulfilment of the Hebrew Bible The New Testament retains a strong focus on the last three years of the Jesus life, demonstrating he was not only a religious revolutionary, with included political dimensions, but also Gods incarnation on Earth Many Christian beliefs were introduced, or developed, in the Bible The Bible is used for the spiritual development of Christians, as well as their devotional lives and understanding of God The Bible possesses a role of a guide for Christian behaviour and in the practices of Christians, e.g. personal prayer and liturgical worship

Ex-6.05
Q1. Discuss what the term closed canon means. A1. The term closed canon could refer to the Bible being complete and cant be expanded by other writers, which could be because of legal or religious reasons. Q3. Describe why the Bible is important to Christians. A3. The Bible is important to Christian because it aids in their spiritual lives and understanding of God, and it instructs them in Christian practices.

Core Ethical Teachings


The core ethical teachings of Christianity come from a range of sources, including the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament Some churches, e.g. Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox, also draw their ethical teachings from the statements of Church Councils, the Bishops and the Pope All Christians stress how important an individuals conscience in developing ethics

The Ten Commandments The most important laws dictated by God to the Jewish prophet Moses The first two commandment are concerned with how to worship The commandments tell us that we: 1. Shall Worship the Lord 2. Shall not worship carved images 3. Must not use Gods name in vain 4. Must keep the Sabbath day Holy 5. Must honour and respect our parents 6. Shall not commit murder 7. Must honour our marriage vows and avoiding premarital sex 8. Are forbidden to steal 9. Must not lie when speaking of another

10. Must love our neighbours and not desire their property, as well as to look at motives as well as actions The Beatitudes