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The Semitic religious hearth
Christianity, Judaism, and
Islam all arose among
Semitic-speaking people
All three arose from the
margins of the
southwestern Asian
Judaism, the oldest,
originated about 4,000
years ago probably
along the southern edge
of the Fertile Crescent
Later, Judaism acquired
dominion over lands
between the
Mediterranean and the
Jordan River —
territorial base of
modern Israel
The Origins of Judaism
2000 B.C.
1300 B.C.
1200 B.C.
1020-922 B.C.
Father of Jewish
Led Hebrews
out of slavery
A prominent
Saul, David, Solomon:
Kings under whom
Hebrews united
Divisions in Judea
Romans conquered Judea
in 63 B.C.
Zealots called on Jews to
revolt against Rome
In 66 A.D., Roman forces
crushed the rebels,
captured Jerusalem &
destroyed the temple
Many enslaved and many
left Judea & survived in
communities around the
The main problems faced by the Hebrews
between 2000 B.C. and 700 B.C.
• constantly moving from place
to place
• being forced into slavery in
• fighting with neighbors over
• worshiping other gods
• performing forced labor
• paying high taxes
• dividing the Hebrew
kingdom in two
Judaism is…
“A 4000 year old tradition with ideas
about what it means to be human and
how to make the world a holy place”
(Rabbi Harold Kushner, To Life)
A “covenant relationship” between
God and the Hebrew people
A celebration and sanctification of
A faith, a people, a way of life…
As a faith, Jews Believe…
In one God, creator of the universe, personal but
In prophets of old – especially Moses, through
whom Torah was revealed to the Hebrew people
In Torah (first five books of the Bible), containing
religious, moral and social law which guides the life
of a Jew
the Hebrew Bible does not include the New Testament
As a people, Jews are…
A nation in Diaspora (dispersed)
15 – 16 million in worldwide population
United by a common heritage (an “ethnic” religion),
divided in contemporary practice:
 Orthodox:
 Modern
 Chasidic (Ultra Orthodox)
 Reformed (18th century Germany)
 Conservative –
moderates, response to reform
 Reconstructionalism (20th century America)
As a way of life, Judaism is based
613 commandments found in Torah (“Written Law”)
Talmud (“Oral Law”) – commentary of ancient rabbis
that elaborates on how to apply God’s Law in everyday
life through:
 Dietary rules (Kashrut/Kosher)
 Dress and other symbols
 Prayer and devotion to the one God
 The Temple and Temple rites
 Observance of Holy days
 Proper social relations between male and female, in
business, judicial rulings, etc.
Thus sanctifying life, blessing it in every way
How does Judaism sanctify life?
Life cycle celebrations:
 Bris – ritual circumcision, sign of the covenant
 Bar/Bat Mitzvah – full adult status and
responsibility within the religion
 Marriage - "Be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:22)
 Death – funerals, mourning (sitting “Shiva”), and
memorials (“Yartzeits”)
What are Jews really concerned
Tikkun Olam - “repairing this world” through
justice and righteousness; through “deed, not
The heart of Judaism is in the home and family,
social responsibility and doing Mitzvot (“good
deeds” based on God’s commandments)
Through education and hard work we make our
lives, the lives of others, and the world, what God
intended it to be – Holy!
How is Judaism related to
Judaism predates Christianity – it is the foundation of
Christianity but is not a part of it
Jesus was Jewish, as were his followers and the
Jews do not believe that Jesus was anything more than
a good and wise man who lived and died 2000 years
ago – Jews still await their messiah
The Jewish messiah would not be divine. He would be
a political figure who restores the Hebrew monarchy
and causes peace to reign on Earth
Jews are not concerned about salvation and the “world
to come”
The Semitic religious hearth
About 2,000 years later, Christianity
arose as a child of Judaism from this
same area
Islam arose about seven centuries
later in western Arabia, partly from
Jewish and Christian roots
Religions spread by both relocation
and expansion diffusion
 Expansion diffusion can be divided
into hierarchical and contagious
 Hierarchical diffusion — ideas are
implanted at top of a society,
leapfrogging across the map taking
root in cities
 Use of missionaries involves
relocation diffusion
The Semitic religious hearth
Christianity spread through the Roman Empire using the
existing splendid road system
Clearly reflected hierarchical expansion diffusion
Early congregations were established in cities and towns
Temporarily established a pattern of Christianized urban centers
and pagan rural areas
The Rise of Christianity
Religious Diversity in the Early
 Many polytheistic ideas
 Mystery religions
Cult of Isis
Rome tolerated religions
as long as they remained
loyal to Rome & worshiped
the Roman gods too
Jesus and His Message
Most info comes from the “Gospels”
Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John
Born about 4 B.C.
A descendant of King David
Virgin birth of Mary
Started preaching in Galilee at age
12 apostles, …Peter
Based on Judaism – 1 g-d, law of
Moses, and new beliefs
Many believed he was the messiah
Emphasized God’s love, service, &
Jesus and His Message
Some Jews welcomed him
Jewish leaders thought he
was challenging them
Roman authorities thought
that he was a
revolutionary who might
lead Jews into rebellion
Jesus was betrayed by one
of his disciples
He was arrested, tried and
condemned to be crucified
Although there were
guards at the tomb, his
body disappeared &
Christians believe he was
Spread of Christianity
Following His death, the
apostles spread the
message of Jesus, or the
Christ (anointed one)
Peter established it in
Rome itself
Paul, a Jew from Asia
Minor most important in
Spread of Christianity
Paul had persecuted
Christians, but had a vision
Traveled widely preaching
the gospel & setting up
Wrote most of the New
Taught that those who
believe in Jesus, would
achieve salvation
Spread of Christianity
 C’s refused to honor Roman
 Many were persecuted &
became martyrs
 Roman rulers like Nero
scapegoated them
 Both Peter & Paul were
killed during Nero’s reign
Nero – The burning of Christians
Christianity’s appeal
Jesus welcomed all people
 Paul was educated
 Missionary travel was fast in the
R Empire
 Martyrs inspired people to join
Persecution ended in 313 A.D.
when emperor Constantine
issued the Edict of Milan –
freedom of worship
- Constantine’s mother was
- Emperor Theodosius made it the
official religion of the empire
The Early Christian Church
Sins forgiven through
Bread & wine
Women served in
leadership roles
Each community had a
bishop that served in an
area (diocese)
The bishops of major
cities – patriarchs
The patriarch of Rome
started taking more
power & called pope.
In the east, 5 shared
Both areas started
addressing heresies