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John Corrigan, et. al. Jews, Christians, Muslims
Chapter 2 Christianity and Scriptures
Preliminary comment by Prof. Murray. Some factual errors are made in the introductory
paragraphs to this chapter on Christianity. “The earliest Christians promoted a Judaism
without Jews.” This is incorrect. The earliest disciples of Jesus were Jews who
continued to practice Jewish law and ritual. (The text says that further down.) And when
the split came, the new religion was not “Judaism without Jews.” It was Christianity,
some of whose members continued to be Jews. The Ebionites, a group of Jewish
Christians, survived for a long period.
Be able to discuss briefly the following terms.
Muratorian canon
First Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
Be able to identify the importance of the following individuals and know the half
century in which they worked or died..
Paul of Tarsus
Ulrich Zwingli
Karl Marx
John Calvin
Elizabeth Cady Santon
John and Charles
Alfred Loisy
Gregory the Great
Joseph Smith
John Wycliffe
Isaac Newton
Martin Luther
Baruch Spinoza
Be able to answer the following questions.
What explanation does the text give for the turn of earliest Christian missionaries to nonJews? Who was the Roman ruler during the birth of Jesus?
What was the Christian approach to the Jewish Scriptures? In the passage quoted from
the gospel of John (p. 29), what is Jesus called? Why did not the earliest Christians put
their message into writing? Jesus was crucified approximately in the year 30 CE. When
was the earliest surviving Christian document written? Who was the author of what is
believed to be the earliest Chrstian writings? What form did the writings take?
What are “gospels”? How many of them are there in the current New Testament? Who
are the four authors to whom they are traditionally attributed? The gospels were not
written as detached, objective biographies of Jesus. What was the major intended
function or purpose of the gospels from the perspective of those who wrote them? Which
is believed to be the earliest gospel? How long after Jesus’death was it probably written.
Each gospel appears to have been written with a specific audience in mind. Which was
written for Jews? Which was written for non-Jews of the Greco-Roman world? Many
gospels were written which never were accepted into the canon of Christian Scriptures.
How many different gospels may have been circulating by the year 200?
What is Gnosticism?
What is the book of Acts? What is the Apocalypse? How many books are there in the
entire New Testament? What is the earliest year in which we can say that the books in
the current New Testament have been declared as sacred scripture?
It is said that the Church had to decide on a canon of Christian Sacred Scripture because
of teachings that were being circulated by a man named Marcion. What was Marcion’s
approach to the Hebrew Scriptures? How did his vision of God differ from Hebrew and
Christian monotheism? In what sense can we say that the formation of the New
Testament canon was an act of aggression and defense?
The text claims that the Christian scriptures are part of early Christian social
organization? What is meant by that?
Clement and Ignatius of Antioch, wrote about 70 years after Jesus’death. They are cited
on pp. 36-7. What was their major concern and argument?
What was Origen’s major contribution to the interpretation of scripture? Origen’s
interpretations led him into conflict with Chruch authorities. What two “deviant” beliefs
does the text report of him? Allegorical interpretation of scriptures became common in
the Church. What was the major restriction?
Look at the picture on p. 38. Who is writing? What type of special assistance is he
receiving? Who are the three men under him and what are they doing?
When did the Roman empire finally collapse? What impact did that have on
Christianity? What did the terms “Catholic” and “Orthodox” eventually come to mean?
What was the major tension between them? In what year did they formally split?
Comment by Prof. Murray. The text claims that the power of the Catholic clergy in premedieval and medieval times was based on their monopoly over interpretation of
scripture. This is a potentially deceptive half-truth. The major power of the Catholic
clergy was based on teachings about, and belief in, their unique power to transform
bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharistic part of the Mass, and
to forgive sins in what was then called the Sacrament of Penance. Control of scriptural
interpretation was a minor issue. Furthermore the text implies that the Church kept the
Bible in Latin so that people would not understand it. “The peoples of Western Europe
did not have a Bible in their own language.” (p. 42). Wrong. In historical fact there were
many ecclesiastically approved translations of the Bible circulating in different European
languges long before the Protestant Reformation. True: most homes did not have bibles
in them. The same can be said of most of the student dorm rooms and apartments in
Gainesville. It’s not part of a sinister ecclesiastical plot.
What was the “sola scriptura” argument and what two figures spearheaded the concept.
On what issue did they disagree with each other? What two churches formed over this
When Catholic interpretation of scripture only by authorized clerics was rejected and
individuals were allowed to make their own interpretations, Luther and Zwingli
themselves came under attack from different quarters who claimed that their
interpretations were more correct than that of Luther and Zwingli. What new sect
appeared in opposition to Zwingli, and what was the issue that divided them.
What was Luther’s approach to the right to interpret scripture?
Commentary by Prof. Murray. The text (p. 45) says: “Following guidelines established
in Judaism…” Christians began interpreting scriptures on multiple levels. In historical
perspective, Christian multi-layered hermeneutic, beginning with Origen, preceded by
centuries the emergence of a parallel Jewish trend of four layers of interpretation (pshat,
remes, drash, sod). The question of influence is complicated, but it is more likely that
European rabbinic exegetes assimilated (and fully Judaized) interpretive practices that
had become common in the intellectual world of Christianity than vice-versa.
A period of religiously motivated bloodshed swept over Europe in the wake of the
Protestant Reformation. Give the rough beginning and ending decades.
What does the principle of cujus regio, ejus religio mean? What was this replaced by?
Which destructive war led to the replacement. What is the watershed year for this
To what does the term “Higher criticism” refer? When and where did it reach its high
point? Which two traditional beliefs does it directly challenge.
How did the phenomenon of slavery create confusion in the Christian world? What early
manifestation of feminist objections to the bible is mentioned in the text? What was the
source document for Protestant Fundamentalism. When and n what country was it
In terms of Catholic reaction to biblical criticism, briefly compare the position of the First
Vatican Council to that of the Second Vatican Council.