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BibleWhy do Jews and Christians have very different beliefs (creed) and practices (code and cult) even though they share much of the same scriptures?How did a small first-century Jewish sect become the religion of the entire Roman Empire, and a major world religion?Why are there differences in the details between the four gospels?image of a trinity symbolHow and why do Christians believe that God is a Trinity, while Jews and Muslims deny this?images of churchesWhy are there so many different types of Christians? What do they share in common and how do they differ?What are the differences between Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant Christians?images of a dinosaur and Charles DarwinHow do Christians understand their faith in light of modern science and modern scholarly findings about the Bible and Christian history?Christian OriginsChristianity emerged in the first century from both Jewish and ancient-Greco religion.At the time of Jesus, Judaism was unified by certain core beliefs (creed) and practices (code and cult), but with many sects differing on important matters.Early believers in Jesus came from a strand of Judaism more open to Greco- Romanreligion. The first Christians were Jews who believed that Jesus of Nazareth, crucified as a criminal by the Romans, had risen from the dead and was the promised Messiah of Israel. Most Jews did not expect a crucified Messiah, and so saw Jesus as a failure or as being punished for his own sins. The first Jewish Christians understood Jesus’ death as not for his own sins but for the sins of others. The idea of a dying and rising Savior God was central to a number of ancient Greco-Roman mystery cults.Why Not Jesus?Imagine a new Christian preacher today who preached (loudly) that people must become Christians, but they don’t need to go to church, read the Bible, pray, share their faith, or give money to the church. This is how Paul was viewed by the early Jewish Christians.St. Paul the ApostleThe first Christians were all Jews. It was natural for them to believe that if a non-Jew wanted to follow Jesus, then they must convert to Judaism. It was extremely difficult for Greco-Romans to become Jewish, though. It was like joining a cult, because following the Law of Moses involved separation from non-Jews.
Although a Jew himself, Paul did not require non-Jews (Gentiles) to become Jews (get circumcised and keep the Law of Moses) in order to become Christians. This idea was revolutionary, gaining Paul many enemies, both Jewish and Christian.