Notes On Early Chistianity: A World Religion

1540 words - 7 pages

Christianity evolved and expanded within this setting of declining classicism and heightening otherworldiness. The hope of personal immortality.ORIGINS OF CHRISTIANITY:* A Palestinian Jew named Jesus was executed by the Roman authorities during the reign of Tiberius (A.D. 13-37), who succeeded Augustus.* Jesus' ethical teachings are rooted in the moral outlook of the Old Testament prophets.* Rejecting the concepts of the resurrection of the dead and of an afterlife--Torah.* Challenging the aristocratic Sadducees, the Pharisees adopted a more liberal attitude toward Mosaic Law (Torah).* Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in life after death.* All later forms of Judaism developed ...view middle of the document...

* Jewish leaders believed that Jesus was setting the authority of his person over Mosaic Law--an unpardonable blasphemy in their eyes.* They feared Jesus as a political agitator, as a charismatic leader who could ignite Jewish messianic expectations into a revolt against Rome.* At the time of Jesus' death, Christianity was not a separate religion but a small Hebrew sect with dim prospects for survival. What established the Christian movement and gave it strength was the belief of Jesus' followers that he was raised from the dead on the third day after he was buried. The doctrine of the resurrection enabled people to regard Jesus as more than a superb ethical soul, more than a righteous rabbi, more than a prophet, more than the Messiah; it made possible belief in Jesus as a divine savior-god who had come to earth to show people the way to heaven.* There is no evidence that he intended to establish a new church; this was accomplished by his followers. In the years immediately following the crucifixion, the religion of Jesus was confined almost exclusively to Jews, who could more appropriately be called Jewish-Christians. The word Christian came from a name given Jesus: Christ (the Lord's Annointed, the Messiah). Missionaries of this dissenting Christian movement within Judaism were called Apostles--those sent out to preach the gospel of Christ.* Saint Paul: From a Jewish Sect to a World Religion--Saint Paul (A.D. c. 5-c. 67) came from the Greek city of Tarsus in southeastern Asia Minor. Originally called Saul, he belonged to the Diaspora, or the "Dispersion"--the millions of Jews living outside Palestine.- Non-Jews, or Gentiles (from Latin gens, or "nation").- Some Gentiles embraced Hebrew monotheism but refused to adhere to provisions of the Law requiring circumcision and dietary regulations.- Although he was neither the first nor the only missionary to the Gentiles, Paul was without doubt the most important. In the process of his missionary activity--and he traveled extensively throughout the Roman Empire--he formulated doctrines that represented a fundamental break with Judaism and became the heart of this new religion.- To Paul, Jesus was a resurrected redeemer who offered salvation to all peoples.- Increasingly Jesus' followers came to view the sacrificial Messiah as a savior-god, indeed, as God incarnate.- The Jews regarded their faith as a national religion, bound inseparably with the history of their people. Paul saw the new Christian community not as a nation but as an oikoumene, a world community. Jesus fulfilled not only the messianic aspirations of the Jews but also the spiritual needs and expectations of all peoples. To this extent, Christianity shared in the universalism of the Hellenistic Age.- Paul built on the personalism and universalism implicit in the teachings of Jesus (and the Hebrew prophets) to create a religion intended not for a people with its own particular history, culture, and land, but for all humanity.THE SPREAD AND...

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