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Christianity
 The largest religion in the world today.
 2 billion
 Basic themes among all Christians:
 Uniqueness of Jesus of Nazareth
 Baptism
 Communion meal
 One lifetime, and an afterlife of heaven or hell
 Origins
 Began as a sect of Judaism
 1st Century
 Roman domination of known world
 Pax Romana: Peace and stability
 Made travel safe for missionaries
 Most spoke “Common Greek” language
 No major religious competition
 Widespread sense of “end times” and coming of a messiah
 Jesus of Nazareth
 No mention in non-Christian records from 1st Century
 So little is known, outside of Biblical writing
 Believed to have been born in Bethlehem
 and crucified in Jerusalem during the reign of Pontius Pilate.
 40 years later, early Christians began writing biographical material about Jesus.
 The Four Gospels
 Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
 Earliest was written 40 years after Jesus' death.
 Disagreement over many details of his life and ministry.
 Only Matthew and Luke write of his birth.
 Both say he was born of Mary, a virgin.
 Fits with prophesy of Isaiah
 (probably 4 BC, according to Matthew)
 Ministry
 Began ministry at age 30.
 After baptism by John the Baptist, in the Jordan River.
 (A charismatic preacher in Judea.)
 Celebrated Jewish holidays, and studied Jewish laws.
 Fasted for 40 days in the Judean wilderness.
 Tempted by Satan.
 Preached in Galilee.
 Chose a band of disciples
 Some had followed John the Baptist
 Usually given as 12, but may have varied from 4 to thousands.
 Ministry lasted perhaps three years.
 Mostly teaching and healing.
 Parables
 Taught via parables
 Short story that explains a truth.
 Prodigal Son, Lost Sheep, Good Samaritan
 Various themes to his teachings
 Pacifism—sometimes
 The people’s superiority over the Jewish law—sometimes
 The coming end of an age
 Human values, the perils of riches, and compassion
 Miracles
 The Gospels all agree that Jesus worked miracles.
 Healed the sick, the blind, and the lame;
 Fed the hungry;
 Raised the dead;
 Cast out demons;
 Walked on water.
 The Last Supper
 Entered Jerusalem during Passover and was welcomed.
 Taught and debated in the temple.
 Final meal (communion) with disciples on Thursday evening.
 Symbolic transformation of bread and wine? Or real? Christians disagree on this.
 Betrayed by disciple Judas in Garden of Gethsemane.
 In the Garden of Gethsemane
 Trial and Crucifixion
 Tried by the Jewish court and by the Romans (Pilate)
 Romans assumed he was dangerous.
 Some Jewish groups opposed him.
 Beaten and crucified at 9 a.m. Friday.
 “cataclysmic events” while he was dying
 Dead by 3 p.m.
 Buried in a nearby tomb.
 Resurrection
 On Sunday morning, the tomb found empty.
 The four Gospels give different accounts.
 Some say he appeared to the disciples and conversed with them.
 Ascended into heaven.
 The Gospels agree that the tomb was empty and that he had conquered death.
 The Gospels say he died to save all humans from sin.
 Early Christianity
 A sect of Judaism.
 Jesus’ followers gathered converts.
 Led by Simon Peter and by James (Jesus’ brother)
 Simon Peter may have gone to Rome to lead the church there—
 Thus his successors (bishops of Rome) became Popes of the Roman church.
 Paul
 Missionary
 Author of 14 books of the New Testament.
 Written in the 50s and 60s AD.
 “Second founder of Christianity”
 One of first to systematically state the beliefs of Christianity.
 Paul
 Persecuted Christians until “the road to Damascus.”
 Encouraged non-Jews to become Christians.
 Traveled widely, spreading the faith.
 Probably died in Rome—
 As anti-Christian persecutions increased.
 The Gospels
 Gospel of Mark:
 Written around 70 AD, as the Romans destroyed Jerusalem.
 Matthew and Luke:
 Written around 80 AD, based in part on Mark.
 John:
 Written between 90 and 100 AD
 Differs from the other three.
 The New Testament
 8 more epistles by anonymous authors—
 written between 90 and 150 AD.
 No agreement on the New Testament until the 4th Century AD
 General agreement on 27.
 Some were still disputed as recently as the 16th Century.
 Hebrews, James, Revelation
 Constantine
 Roman emperor
 313 AD: Edict of Milan
 Recognizes Christianity.
 Ends persecutions.
 325: Council of Nicaea
 Nature of Christ
 Christianity becomes the official religion of the Roman Empire by end of 4th Century.
 Eastern and Western Christianity
 Division over time:
 Western church,
 Headed by the Pope in Rome.
 “Roman Catholicism”
 Eastern church,
 Had “Patriarchs” in major cities.
 Emperor had religious authority.
 Refused to accept Pope’s authority.
 Becomes “Eastern Orthodoxy”
 (or “Greek Orthodox”)
 The Protestant Reformation
 Martin Luther, 1517
 Posts the 95 Theses
 Objecting to various practices of Catholicism
 Does not intend to start a new religion!
 Protestantism.
 Becomes a “denominational movement”—
 Similar doctrine but different practices.
 King James (I) Bible:
 1611 English translation
 Conformed to Church of England views
 Influential
 The Mormons
 Latter-Day Saint Movement
 Joseph Smith, Jr. (1830s-40s)
 Book of Mormon
 Is divine scripture
 Extremely controversial
 Killed in Nauvoo, IL (1844)
 Brigham Young
 1847 – becomes leader
 Trek to Utah
 Christian Holy Days
 Sunday
 Christmas
 Good Friday
 Easter