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Origins of ChristianityJudaism in the First Century B.C.oIn the first century B.C., four social-religious parties existed among Palestinian Jews:SadduceesReligiously conservative gentry and priestsWanted to maintain literal maintenance of ancient Hebrew teachingsPhariseesHeld a more liberal attitude toward Mosaic LawBelieved in life after deathEssenesEstablished semimonastic community near Dead SeaEssene scrolls discovered in 1947ZealotsDemanded Jews not pay Roman tax or acknowledge emperorEngaged in acts of resistance to RomeoJesus (4 B.C. – c. A.D. 29) lived in this context of Jewish religio-national expectationsoPrevalent yearning for a Messiah to liberate them from Roman ruleJesus: The Inner PersonoFew sources exist about JesusoWhat we know derives from the New Testament, written decades after his deathJesus began to preach the coming of the reign of God
Placed ethics at the core of Mosaic LawRejected the exaggerated rabbinical concern with ritual and restrictionsFor Jesus, spirit of the law more important than letter of the lawoTo Jewish leaders, he was a subversive who set himself over Mosaic lawoRomans feared he would lead ignite Jewish messianic expectations into a revoltoNew Jewish messianic movement had to separate from corporate body of JudaismSaint Paul: From a Jewish Sect to a World ReligionoSaint Paul (A.D. c. 5–c. 67) was a Hellenized Jew from TarsusBelonged to the Diaspora (dispersion) of Jews outside PalestineOriginally named Saul, knew Greek well and persecuted Jesus’ followersoUnderwent a transformation and became a missionary of Jewish Christianity as “Paul”Because he was a Roman citizen, could travel and preach throughout the EmpireoChrist: A Savior-GodJesus’ followers now saw him as a savior-god, like mystery religions of the EastBecause Jesus actually lived in history, followers could identify with himChristians would tolerate no other divinity but their God, unlike pagansoThe Break with JudaismPaul saw no difference between Jew and Gentile and saw ministry of Jesus forallHe saw new Christian community as a world community (“oikoumene”)Here Christianity shared in universalism of the Hellenistic AgeBut Jews regarded their faith as a national religion for their people in history
Paul broke with Jewish roots by insisting that Mosaic Law was superseded by resurrection; this made new religion attractive to Greco-Roman worldThe Spread and Triumph of ChristianityThe Appeal of ChristianityoTriumph of Christianity is linked to decline of Hellenism, shift from reason to emotionRecoiling from rational values seen in Neo-Platonism paved way for ChristianityChristianity offered the individual what city-state and world-state could not