New Testament and Early Christianity
New Testament and Early Christianity RELC 1220
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The Gospel of Mark 12122010 54600 PM Redaction criticismComposition criticismEditorial criticism The gospel of Mark is the earliest of the gospels in the new testament and the briefest We don t know where Mark comes from so everything we know about it has to be deduced from the gospel itself There is nothing about the birth childhood or family background of Jesus Begins with the baptism of Jesus No resurrection stories Originally ended at 168 where the women found Jesus tomb empty Early readers added endings first a short one then a longer one Provides only 9 parables of Jesus Much of Jesus ethical teachings is left out Mark contains many miracle stories healings and nature 2 parts Has the last days and the suffering of Jesus Part 1 miracle stories exorcisms chapters 110 Jesus is seen as a powerful figure able of exerting power over the natural Seen as a figure of authority Quickly paced gives a sense of urgency The word immediately is used approx 35 times Jesus attempts to hide his identity tells the demon to quiet when the demon proclaims that he knows who Jesus is and does the same for the people he heals Jesus used parables not to teach but in order to prevent people from understanding The disciples are presented as consistently failing to understand Jesus Part 2 Jesus last days o Jesus is seen as vulnerable and powerless o Entirely subject to the design of others o The pace greatly slows down almost hour by hour According to Mark s gospel Jesus deliberately tried to keep his identity a secret and to keep his teachings private The Messianic Secrecy motif unique to the gospel of Mark o Should we assume that this is actually the way Jesus was o Or should we assume that it is a literary device that the author chose to use Chapters 8910 are transition chapters o Jesus poses the question to his disciples who do you think I am and one responds you are the messiah Jesus then sternly tells them not to say that to anyone o Passion Prediction Jesus anticipates that he will die that he will rise again and who will bring about his demise o Should we assume that Jesus actually knew the future o Mark 930 second passion prediction when Jesus tells his disciples what will happen to him but they do not understand o Chapter 10 there is another passion prediction 1033 the third passion prediction which is more detailed than the first two The only true identification of Jesus in the gospel of mark is made by a Roman soldier detailed to watch him and the soldier says truly this man was the son of God There is a predominant theme of suffering throughout Mark o Does the suffering make sense What is the reason we are meant to undergo this suffering Answer you suffer because Jesus and his disciples suffered This is part of your life as Christians The Gospel of Matthew 12122010 54600 PM Matthew s gospel is much longer than Mark s o Matthew includes many more teachings of Jesus than Mark o Matthew includes a birth story and genealogy of Jesus o Matthew includes a resurrection story Matthew says that Jesus conception was the fulfillment of prophecy Mark does not put much emphasis on the teachings of Jesus Mathew is called the most Jewish of the gospels Joseph is described as a righteous man c He is given instructions by God to go through with his marriage to Mary even though she is pregnant Do not think that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them Matthew 517 The Gospel of Matthew has a bunch of quotations from Jewish scripture o These quotations are called formula quotes Matthew will sometimes take parts from two different prophesies and put them together to create a new prophetic statement which he then applies to Jesus He is obviously making a strenuous effort to show that Jesus fulfills the ancient prophesies and the Torah c He does this by modeling Jesus off of Moses both through the activity and teachings of Jesus o Matthew asserts that Herod was out to kill all the newborn males in Bethlehem to get rid of a potentially new leader as was the case in Egypt with Moses o According to Matthew Jesus spends 40 days in the wilderness between his baptism and following activity Matthew arranges Jesus teachings into 5 long discoursessermons o Sermon on the Mount Chapters 57 true obedience o Chapter 10 missionary activity o Chapter 13 parables about the kingdom of God o Chapter 18 rules and regulations for the Christian community o Chapters 2425 apocalyptic discourse about the future judgment and salvation c He models this after the Torah which contains the 5 books of Moses How does Jesus fulfill the Torah c He reveals the true meaning of the Torah the true interpretation 0 This is meaningful because there were many different interpretations at the time o Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven o Jesus exemplifies obedience towards God through his obedience thus making himself a model Jesus is asked by a scribe what the most important commandment is and Jesus responds love the Lord thy God and love one s neighbor as one s self Love commandments Matthew reworks Jesus baptism when compared to Mark o Matthew includes a dialogue between Jesus and John the Baptist 0 The dialogue emphasizes Jesus superiority to John 0 It avoids any implication that Jesus needs to be baptized for forgiveness o Gives Jesus an opportunity to express why he wants to be baptized mainly to fulfill all righteousness Story of the temptation of Jesus o Mark offers a brief allusion to the fact that Jesus experiences temptation o Matthew includes a lengthy dialogue between Jesus and Satan 0 Jesus refuses Satan three times Matthew represents the last days of Jesus o Matthew elaborates on the episode in the garden of Gethsemane and emphasizes Jesus total submission of his will to God s c When Jesus is crucified he is subject to the taunts of bystanders o Matthew makes it much more explicit that the death of Jesus is a fulfillment of prophecy and divine will The word church only appears in the Gospel of Matthew Matthew has an emphasis on Peter o Chapters 16 and 18 o In response to Peter s statement that Jesus is the messiah Jesus responds blessed are you Simon son of Jonah because flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my father in Heaven and goes on to say that he will build a church there and he will give Peter the keys to the kingdom of Heaven 0 Catholics say that Jesus is making Peter the supreme authority by giving him the kingdom of Heaven 0 Protestants say that he is simply acknowledging his faith Matthew sees Christianity as the culmination and perfection of the Jewish community o Matthew s Christian community is not composed strictly of Jews but also includes gentiles The Gospel of Luke 12122010 54600 PM Luke elaborates on Mark by adding the story of Jesus birth and a genealogy c He added the story of the birth of John the Baptist c He added resurrection stories which are different from Matthew s and more extensive The Gospel of Luke is part of the Acts of the Apostles this is unique from the other gospels o Originally they were one continuous narrative The author acknowledges that he is acquainted with other documents about Jesus c He wants to provide something that is more reliable and orderly than the other sources c He is providing a revised account Luke is the only gospel writer to asses the story of Jesus in a larger context c He correlates the activity of Jesus and the apostles with secular activity o Ex the story begins in the days of Herod the king of Judea the decree of Caesar Augustus Through this he anchors his narrative in the public past and thus makes the narrative of Jesus part of public history Luke s real objective is to represent the meaning of the story In Acts the story begins in Jerusalem but moves outwards o Aligned with the geographical movement is the presentation of the teaching to the Jews and their rejection of it and the turning towards the gentiles and out towards the larger world Travel narrative a long section in the Gospel of Luke when Jesus and his disciples are on the road from Galilee to Jerusalem o Luke makes this trip the context for most of the teaching he drew from Q and his other sources excluding Mark o Instructional journey Themes in the Gospel of Luke Divine spirit throughout the narrative the divine spirit powers Jesus activity 0 Only in Luke are Jesus last words into your hands I give you my spirit Many more female characters Luke has a positive view towards women Emphasizes the value of poverty and the danger of wealth o Tells the parable of the rich fool chapter 12 NonJews play a bigger part in Luke than in the other gospels Historical Jesus 12122010 54600 PM Historical Jesus o The man who lived in Palestine o Acted as a public figure o Jesus based on historical evidence Distinguishable from the Christ of faith o It is important to separate religious claims of Jesus from historical claims of Jesus o Example Jesus of Nazareth was executed by the Romans for political sedition versus Jesus died for our sins o The grounds for a religious statement are not historical but experiential The teaching of Jesus was squarely centered on the Kingdom of God o This is the fundamental theme of Jesus message o Jesus never defines the Kingdom of God Our task is to figure out what the phrase Kingdom of God meant in the context of first century Palestine o The phrase does not occur in Jewish scripture however it was normal to think of God as king o The wellbeing of human society and Jewish society in particular depended on the actuality of God s sovereign rule o Kingdom of God should be thought more as kingship o in the centuries before Jesus it became doubted in the Jewish community that God was actually in power 0 this came about because the Jews of that time were constantly under the rule of others What did Jesus mean when he referred to the Kingdom of God o The Kingdom of God is something that comes it is a happening 0 It will bring about profound change in the way that things are 0 To those that prefer the status quo the kingdom of God will come to them and bring them woe o The coming of the kingdom of God is something that happens to the world it is not subjective or individual c We have every reason to suppose that Jesus believed that the coming of the Kingdom was in the near future o It is reasonable to believe that Jesus believed that the coming of the Kingdom was tied in with his activity 0 This helps to explain the urgency that is conveyed through the message of Jesus IMMINENT impending IMMANENT inherent EMINENT distinguished Jesus Ethical Teachings 12122010 54600 PM The coming of the Kingdom means the actualization of God s sovereignty over the world and human kind The ethical teachings are the answer to the coming of the Kingdom Jesus strongly discounts family ties and wealth o it is better to enter the kingdom of God maimed or lamed than not at all Jesus puts little or no value in things as they are c The Kingdom is coming all ordinary things in life are trivial in comparison To devote oneself to the Kingdom means conforming one s life to the will of God o What according to Jesus was the will of God 0 Any good Jew would look in the Torah 0 Obedience to the will of God is no different than obedience to the laws of the Torah 0 Jesus seemed to have a more liberal attitude towards the Torah versus the Pharisees o Jesus insisted on a radical obedience to the will of God 0 The sayings in Matthew should not be seen as opposing the Torah but rather as strictly adhering to the will of God 0 Jesus insists on the obedience of the whole self 0 Jesus disallows any distinction between act and motive 0 Jesus eliminates exceptions and qualifications to what he sees as the will of God Jesus teachings are seen as radical teaching for a radical lifestyle o You cannot serve God and material things o One cannot be devoted to god without being devoted Parabolic Acts and Mighty Worksquot 12122010 54600 PM Various gospel writers have freely rearranged narratives to fit the story they re trying to tell o Therefore the actual sequence of individual events in the life of Jesus have been lost Jesus does not fit the model of a philosopher c He better fits the model of the prophet who not only proclaims the message but acts it out Jesus created a group of followers the disciples o They formed a fairly small circle around Jesus 0 It was not unusual at the time for a teacher to have a small group of followers o Jesus says little to the disciples that is not part of his public message o The disciples did not choose Jesus Jesus chose them o Jesus called his disciples to pledge allegiance not to himself but share allegiance with him to a greater calling o The gospels are emphatic that Jesus picked exactly 12 disciples o The gathering of 12 must be understood as symbolizing the nation of Israel in its traditional division into 12 tribes o By Jesus time effectively all but 2 of those tribes had disappeared o Only 2 of the disciples stand out with an individual profiled 0 These two are Judas and SimonPeter o Many of the close associates of Jesus outside his disciples were women 0 He also kept company with the poor and the lowest of Jewish society 0 He kept company with people who were immoral not religious 0 He ate meals with this people which at the time was a sign of mutual respect and admiration Jesus celebrated the coming of the kingdom with the ones who had the most to gain from the arrival of the Kingdom may be thought of as kingdom parties 0 The power to do miracles did not make someone supernatural o The exorcisms and healings Jesus are a sign that God is beginning to transform the world o Jesus did not use these actions to prove himself rather they are used to show that the kingdom is getting nearer The Passion Narratives 12122010 54600 PM According to the Synoptic Gospels after a public appearance in Galilee Jesus made a journey south to Judea and Jerusalem and after a week was put to death o Why did Jesus go to Jerusalem o I must go on my way today tomorrow and the next for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem Luke Simply put Jesus went to Jerusalem to die Historically speaking it is unlikely that Jesus knew in advance that he was going to die o If he didn t go to Jerusalem to die why did he go o It was the season of Passover and all ablebodied male Jews were expected to go to Jerusalem and celebrate Passover there 0 If Jesus wanted to make a proclamation of the coming of the Kingdom Passover in Jerusalem was the time to do it because there were so many people there 0 It is possible that Jesus and his disciples went to Jerusalem expecting the Kingdom to appear there 0 In Mark s gospel the passion narrative covers 5 chapters out of 15 and takes place over a week Most early Christian communities had an intense interest in the suffering and death of Jesus o They had this intense interest because they had a redemptive significance The authors had an interest in showing that what happened to Jesus was in line with the divine will and fulfills the scripture o The early Christians were saddled with the necessity to explain the death of Jesus o Early Christians claimed that Jesus was the messiah and the messiah died 0 On Jewish ears this is a contradiction o Judaism was completely unacquainted with the idea of a suffering messiah l VZ J tll i l fl gjl F39ivg r i gil39lgillii Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday referred to Jews as the triumphant entry o If the entry took place the way the Gospels say it did it is unlikely that the Roman authorities would not have responded o Passover itself was a time of high security for Romans because of its potential for social disorder o It is more likely that the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was much more subtle and demure than the Gospel presents When Jesus enters the Temple he proceeds to overturn the booths of the currency exchanges and drives out the people who were selling sacrificial animals o This story is told in all four Gospels o This was an attempt by Jesus to purify Jewish worship according to the Gospels 0 This explanation is wrong because it made sense to Jews to have the temple as the place for ritual sacrificial worship o Most likely Jesus actions symbolized the destruction of the temple The next day Jesus and his followers go back to the temple to debate with the people there o The priests and aristocracy question his legitimacy and authority and he questions theirs The day after that Thursday was filled with preparation for the Passover meal Was Jesus justly executed by the Romans 0 yes The Resurrection of Jesus 12122010 54600 PM Sine qua non the without which not Extended statements about the resurrection of Jesus are only found in 5 places in the New Testament o At the end of each of the gospels o In first Corinthians Things that resurrection stories have in common o Jesus who was dead was subsequently experienced alive Differences o In John s gospel one woman came to the tomb in Matthew two came and in Mark three came o Luke indicates that all encounters that took place with the risen Jesus took place not in Galilee but in Jerusalem o In Luke the women tell no one of their discovery All the Gospel narratives differ greatly from Paul s report and Paul s report is the oldest record we have o Paul s account is the only account written by someone who claims to have had an encounter with the risen Jesus Paul has a lengthy discussion about resurrection not only about Jesus but about Christian believers All of Paul s emphasis is on the appearance of Jesus to various people Paul does not mention the empty tomb It is clear that Paul thinks of the resurrected life as something radically different than the life we know now it is sown a physical body but raised a spiritual body whatever resurrection means for Paul it simply does not mean the resuscitation of a corpse 0 thus it is not surprising that Paul has nothing to say about an empty tomb It is unlikely that the tomb was actually empty Appearances of Jesus were not public appearances o They took place only amongst the followers of Jesus o Thus some think that the followers could have halluncinated Jesus 0 This is a fairly nai39ve thought because the followers were dispirited after Jesus death 0 They had no reason to believe that Jesus could be risen from the dead The resurrection cannot be considered a historical event Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God or Jesus sits at the right hand of God o Means God has vested special power in Jesus In and with the resurrection God made Jesus the messiah o Only through this context did Jesus begin to be spoken of as Christ the messiah o Jesus in consequence of his resurrection stands in a new and unique relationship to God The resurrection signified the beginning of the end Primitive Christianity 12122010 54600 PM Primitive Christianity Christianity in a rudimentary form o Developed as a form of Judaism o Believed that Jesus was a human who had been exalted and in a way adopted by God as his son o Early Christians still attended synagogue meetings and observed the Law of Moses o Early Christians thought of themselves as Jews Kerygma Greek word that means the message or announcement Jesus proclaimed the kingdom but the church proclaimed Jesus o Jesus was the focus of the early church The proclamation of Jesus as the messiah was a forwardlooking claim Parousia Greek word that means the coming or arrival The early Christians read the scripture like the essenes by believing that the author of the scripture was writing about the here and now o They also gave up their private property and gave it to the community itself 0 Practiced a communist economy Primary authority in the early Christian community in Jerusalem was put on James the brother of Jesus o Although James was not a follower of Jesus during his lifetime o Believed that you had to become a Jew before you converted to Christianity Proselytes nonborn Jews who converted to Judaism Gentiles were expected to become converts to Judaism in the last days Paul thought that nonJews could enter the Christian community on the simple basis of belief in God Paul s Life and Letters 12122010 54600 PM The gentile mission represented a major shift in early Christianity c From a rural to an urban environment c From a religiously homogenous context to a more diverse context o Shift from Aramaic to Greekspeaking constituency o Relatively close proximity to broad geographical dispersion c From Judaic traditions to GrecoRoman cultural traditions The most important figure in the missionary expansion in Christianity is Paul the apostle Pauline Christianity is much more accessible to us than any other form of Christianity The book of Acts o Composed 2030 years after Paul s death The letters of Paul are ordered in decreasing length Problem of Authenticity which letters did Paul himself write Problem of Integrity are the letters of Paul as we have them as Paul wrote them 1 Corinthians around 53 BC Romans the last letter that Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians the first letter of Paul o All the authentic letters are thought to be written sometime between 50 and 58 BC Paul s experience with Jesus was both o A ressurection experience and thus a sign that the end of time had begun o A sign that he was to be the apostle to the Gentiles Paul and the Churches of Galatia 12122010 54600 PM When talking about early Christian churches and communities we are not talking about actual Church buildings Early communities were small 2550 people Traditionally met in house churches After Paul had established the Galatian communities and had moved on other Christian teachers came along teachers that Paul saw as outsiders and infiltrators The outsiders claimed to speak w an authority that was greater than Paul s The outsiders sought to persuade the Galatians to understand a Christianity that was different than the one that Paul had provided to them The outsiders were Jewish Christians they preached a conservative message of Jewish Christianity They most likely came as representatives from the Church of Jerusalem or the Church of Antioch They tried to discredit Paul himself 0 They suggested that the only real authorities for Christians were the Jerusalem apostles 0 Anyone who differed from the Jerusalem apostles was preaching wo authority and wrongly 0 They claimed he got his missionary authority from the Jerusalem apostles but had gone off track that he had watered down Christianity for Gentiles Tried to displace Paul s understanding of Christianity 0 They taught that Christianity is accessible to Gentiles only on particular terms 0 It was not enough to have faith in Jesus as messiah but that they must be circumcised observed the Torah and must hold to the dietary restrictions of Judaism 0 They taught that Christianity was only open to Gentiles by way of Judaism Paul tries to reevaluate his authority in three ways He is an apostle by direct commission of Christ himself 0 Having received this commission I did not confer with flesh and blood I did not go up to Jerusalem to confer with those apostles before me When he went to Jerusalem he met with Peter James and John and those men confirmed the legitimacy of his message c He says that he has been consistent with his message even in the face of opposition from the conservative Jewish Christians James and Paul disagreed on whether Gentiles could be members of the Christian church Paul said Christians are related to God through faith in Jesus as the messiah not through the Torah c He said that salvation comes by grace not by obedience to the Torah Paul and the Church in Corinth Corinth was a prosperous city in Greece because it was rebuilt by Julius Cesar Renowned for its architecture commercial vitality cultural sophistication Located on a narrow isthmus between the Agean sea and the Adrianic sea 0 It thus had great ports Had many different kinds of religious cults and philosophical movements Famous for its promiscuity Paul worked in Corinth between 50 and 51 BC The letters date from around 5254 BC 1 Corinthian was prompted by a letter from their community addressing certain matters and an oral report from the Corinthian church the problems were many and diverse and yet they seemed to have a common basis Paul is aware that there are divisions and factions within the community 0 Each clique had associated itself with an authority figure Paul often alludes to claims that were being made by the Corinthians to possess a special kind of wisdom that was thought to constitute them as an elite group 0 At least some in the congregation prided themselves on being persons of higher insight of especially spiritual stature Some thought that they had already achieved perfection Charismata spiritual gifts They put special emphasis on speaking in tongues and would often break out into speaking in tongues to show that they were more spiritual than their peers These people understood their freedom as Christians to be absolute O O O O Gnosticism a mystical and philosophical sort of Christianity 12122010 54600 PM Believed there was an absolute distinction between body and spirit Believed the human self was a spiritual reality but the human world and body were evil Thought the physical world was created and ruled by demonic power Felt themselves to be alien to the world imprisoned in it Their objective was to escape the world and return to its transcendent point of origin through a special revelation of spiritual knowledge Paul does not take the same approach to the Corinthians that he took to the Galatians In the Corinthian letters Paul aims to be persuasive rather than combative Paul realizes that he holds some of the blame for the way the Corinthians were acting Paul insists to both the Corinthians and the Galatians that all faith must rest on the redemptive act In the first several chapters of 1 Corinthians Paul takes strong exception to the divisiveness of the community Genuine faith is not based on human wisdom The Christian claim that God manifests himself fully in the suffering and death of Jesus cannot be made reasonable to the human mind Paul insists that the death of Jesus is the redemptive event and the essence of the whole Christian message In chapter 5 Paul alludes to the fact that one of the men in the Corinthian community is sleeping with his stepmother The man apparently thought that his superior wisdom allowed himself to overlook the laws of common decency Paul demands that this man be expelled from the community on grounds of flagrant immorality In chapter 6 Paul addresses the issue that the Corinthians have developed all sorts of grievances against each other and subsequently took each other to Pagan court c To Paul this was an absolute absurdity if there had to be disputes they should at least have the ability to settle those disputes within the congregation itself o They thought themselves spiritually enlightened but yet they had to take their problems to a completely nonspiritual entity to solve their problems In chapter 7 Paul addresses questions that were sent to him many concerning sex o Two alternatives were offered in the community 0 Libertine Do what you want you are superior to your body and the world 0 Ascetic Christians should be nonsexual 0 Both were rationalized on the same premise it is well for a man not to touch a woman o Paul prefers that all stay virgins however he allows for the legitimacy between Christians of a monogamous marriage o it is better to marry than to be consumed with lust o Paul says no divorce and appeals to Jesus teaching on divorce o Paul says that you should not abstain from sex within a marriage because that could result in lust o Everyone should remain in the condition they were in before becoming Christian 0 There is no point in trying to change your condition because the end is coming near Paul and the Church in Corinth cont 12122010 54600 PM In chapters 8 9 and 10 Paul takes on the issue of whether it is permissible for Christian s to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols o In the ancient world the slaughter and consumption of meat almost always occurred in religious context such as through sacrifices as a mode of worship 0 Such sacrifices could be sponsored by public authorities or by private individuals The sacrifices occurred in a temple most often in the temple of who the sacrifice was being made to The meat was separated into three parts one was burned on the temple wall the second given to the priests and the last was given back to the sponsor of the sacrifice to be consumed In the case of public sacrifice the part that was to be consumed was made to the public at large as a festival meal In private sacrifice the meat was eaten at a large dinner in the temple o In the ancient world meat was a luxury item 0 O O 0 There was a division in the Corinthian community as to whether it was okay to eat meat that had been sacrificed to pagan idols o Some thought that it was completely okay 0 These were the Corinthian spiritualists the ones who thought that they had superior knowledge 0 They said that there was only one God so sacrificing it to an idol did not harm the meat because those idols were not legitimate o Others thought that the Pagan gods were in some sense real and had some power 0 Thus the meat had been affected by the sacrifice and ingesting the meat could make one fall under the power of the pagan gods o Paul characterized this dispute as the strong v the weak the knowledgeable v the less knowledgeable Paul agreed in principle with the strong o Paul said it was true that the pagan idols have no real existence and diet will not commend us to God But in practice he agreed with the weak c He didn t want to drive away the weak because he didn t want to offend the conscious or undermine the convictions of a fellow believer c He asked the strong to exercise some selfrestraint Love takes precedence over freedom o Let no one seek merely for their own good but for the good of his fellow believers A question arises as to whether it is okay to eat the meat if one is invited to a private sacrificial meal o Paul says it is okay if there is no mention of whether the meat was sacrificed or not o But if it is said that the meat was sacrificed to an idol then it is better to not eat the meat Should the women of the congregation wear veils during the worship service o Paul strongly disapproved of women not wearing veils during worship services c It was thought in the ancient world that women s bodies were more porous than men s and thus more susceptible to outside forces o Thus the veil was thought to protect the women from outside forces o The refusal of women to veil themselves was an expression of their belief that they had already transcended gender differentiation o In this way they were putting into practice the eschatological gender equality that Paul preached in Galatians In chapters 12 through 14 he introduces the topic of spiritual gifts o Charismata gifts of the spirit which included prophesy speaking in tongues healing etc In Corinth the people took exclusive pride in the gift of speaking in tongues which is called Glossolalia The Corinthian spiritualists thought of speaking in tongues as the ultimate spiritual gift 0 They saw it as the mark of the ultimately spiritually perfect The well being of the community comes from the multiplicity of gifts within the community Paul and the Churches in Rome Romans is the last preserved letter of Paul This is Paul s most careful and systematic statement of his understanding of Christianity Paul s only letter to a Christian community that he himself did not found 0 Paul had not visited the church in Rome he was not on familiar terms with this community 0 He cannot take the same authoritative stance that he takes with churches that are under his direction Romans is also an occasional letter but in this case the occasion lies with Paul not with the church The Roman church was a Jewish Christian community The purpose in writing the letter had to do with the future of Paul s missionary activity Paul is hoping that the Roman church will give him support and a base of operation for his mission to Spain Paul believed that he was standing at a turning point in his own work when he wrote this letter Paul thinks that he has now completed his missionary activity in the eastern part of the Roman empire Paul is now looking to a new phase in his missionary work he plans to undertake a similar enterprise in the western part of the Roman empire 0 Expresses his intention of going all the way to Spain Before Paul could come to Rome he had to go to Jerusalem to convey to the Jerusalem church a collection of money from the Gentile churches for impoverished Christians in Jerusalem 0 Paul knows he has antagonists in Jerusalem including some in the church 0 When Paul goes to Jerusalem he was arrested and is then brought to Rome as a prisoner to await trial by Caesar The righteous by faith shall live 12122010 54600 PM Paul launches into an indictment of human faith o Christian community is distorted and corrupted o Comments at length of revelation of God s wrath on all of those who fail to recognize him o Paul thinks that human beings should be able to look at everything and know that there is creator God shows no partiality as between Jew and Gentile o Paul goes on to relativatize the significance of the Torah 0 He maintains that though the Gentiles do not have the Torah they have access to God s law but in their case it is a law written upon their hearts 0 The Torah is an advantage for the Jews if it is obeyed but it is not obeyed o but now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been disclosed and is attested by the law and the prophets Chapter 4 o Paul says that Abraham was justified by faith o Abraham s belief faith and trust was God s promise o The promise that Abraham s descendents would be numerous of the sands of the sea This promise seemed impossible to uphold because Abraham was old and his wife Sarah was old and barren 0 Chapter 5 o Paul brings in another figure from Jewish scripture Adam o Paul sets up a parallelism between Adam and the Christ figure 0 This is not a comparison of two individuals but each are conceived by Paul as the progenators of a race 0 Adam s disobedience leads to death corruption disillusion Paul asks at the beginning of Chapter six what shall we say Should we continue so that grace should abound o how can we who died to sin continue to live in it c He goes on to interpret Christian baptism as a participation in the death of Christ and thereby be dead to sin c Paul seems to think that Christians are insulated from sin Paul and the Churches in Rome cont 12122010 54600 PM Paul s argument in chapter 6 is that members in the Christian community do not and should not sin c They have died and in dying they are freed from all sin c Paul says that they had died to sin because of baptism The participation in Christ means participation in the new age o This metaphor continues into chapter 6 o Christians have participated in the death of Christ and thus they a free from the power of sin c Salvation is not a reward for living rightly the moral life of the Christian is the consequence of the experience ofjustification and participation 0 One is free by justification and participation to be obedient to the will of God 0 This corrolates to the notion that justification is a gift not a reward because nobody is deserving of the reward o The Christian lives out of and on the basis of that gift in gratitude Not only have Christian died to sin they have died to the law thus they are no longer obliged to the Torah c you have died to the law through the body of Christ so that you may belong to another namely to the one who has been raised from the dead o idea of the transfer of lordships one has been taken out of the sovereignty of sin and has been place under the sovereignty of God o through the law comes the knowledge of sin 320 The question in chapter 7 Is the law sinful o Paul s answer is absolutely not o Paul has an ambivalent attitude towards the Law of Moses 0 Conviction that salvation comes abut based on faith in the Messiah o Conviction that salvation is accessible to the Gentiles and the fact that the Gentiles do not possess the Torah means that the Torah cannot have any significance for the Gentiles o Paul s jewishness caused him to give a natural reverence to the Torah Paul emphasizes that the Torah s origin is with God and thus is must be essentially good Paul maintains that the Torah is an agent of sin 0 The Torah generates temptation and brings the possibility of disobedience into view by saying what should and should not be done Paul maintains that the Torah cannot be obeyed not simply because it is difficult and demanding but because the self does not have the capacity to obey it 0 Because the self is under the domination of sin the self cannot obey the Torah because sin itself compels disobedience Paul understands human self to be enslaved by this cosmic power that is sin The very effort to obey the Torah serves the purpose of sin Since God has provided faith in the messiah as the basis of salvation any reliance upon the Torah is a repudiation of the messiah and his message of salvation The effort to obey the Torah creates the illusion that one s destiny is in one s own hands and can be accomplished by one s own efforts 0 Puts one in a posture of selfreliance which for Paul is the very opposite of faith o Thus Paul regards the Torah as an agent of sin in the nature of the human circumstance O O 0 What most Christians think is that God is only concerned with the salvation of human souls o the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of god for the creation was subjected for futility for the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to the king and will obtain freedom and the glory of the children of God Chapters 911 o Gentiles become children of Abraham and thus participate in the promise Chapter 9 What about the Jews the chosen people what is to be their destiny The Christian mission among Gentiles had been largely successful The Christian mission among Jews had been for the most part a failure The disbelief of the Jews put a question mark in front of the Christian message itself 0 If Jews themselves did not believe the message why should others The lack of faith among the Jews would seem to indicate that the whole long history of Israel s coveted relationship with God had come to nothing and that now the Jews stand outside the divine purpose 0 this would mean that God was unfaithful to his promise o it is not as though God s purpose has changed and the rest of the argument that follows attempts to show God s promise to Israel Paul begins by discussing the sovereignty of God because salvation comes about through God s mercy Paul sites Jacob and Esau to show that God is sovereign Jacob was chosen elected and Esau was not and this choice was made before these twins were born Has God rejected the chosen peoples Absolutely not The present situation of the vast unbelief among the Jews is divinely created 0 Israel is hardened for a reason in order so that the Christian message may be brought to the Gentiles The faith of the Gentiles will in time and in turn provoke jealousy among nonbelieving Jews and then those Jews will come to believe in the messiah Paul s Legacy Among his Followers 12122010 54600 PM There are 13 letters that are specifically attributed to Paul Modern scholars consider only 7 authentic There are only 2 authors in the new testament who write in their own names they are Paul and the author of the book of Revelations Pseudonymous writing was only condemned when it was done for purpose of personal gain Paul had associates whom he mentioned in his letters they functioned as his emissaries Ephesians was not written by Paul and not written to Ephesus More likely it was a sort of theological treatise that was meant to be circulated throughout Asia Minor The language used in Ephesians differs greatly from that used in Paul s undisputed letters Paul spoke of the church of the local church but the author of Ephesians spoke of the church as an outcome of the eternal divine purpose and is set against a cosmic background Ephesians makes it clear that God s plan is not only for the church but continues to be worked out through the church There is a strong concept of election in Ephesians Ephesians states that Christians are raised with God but for Paul the believer had not yet been raised up with Christ because the Kingdom had not yet come Ephesians has a portion devoted to moral teachings Keeping Faith Hebrews and 1 Peter 12122010 54600 PM Christianity from its beginnings was a countercultural movement o it went against the grain of society at larger and everyone knew this o Christians were politically suspect 0 Their missionary zeal seemed to undermine the social fabric o They were often accused of atheism because they refused to participate in Greek and Roman civic observances often with scorn o It was thought that Christians practiced cannibalism and free love in their late night meetings There was no governmental policy against Christians until the late 3rd and early 4th centuries Epistle to the Hebrews o The document is anonymous 0 From the 2nd century onward it was taken in the eastern part of Christianity that this was a letter of Paul but that was doubted by the western part of Christianity o Probably delivered as a sermon or a homily just as a written track to some group of Christians o Some Christians were probably considering leaving the religion as a result of the persecution that they experienced o A dominating theme in Hebrews is the wandering people of God o Another dominating theme is the superiority of Christianity to Judiasm o The author argues for Jesus as a high priest The End is Near Imminent Expectation51212201o 54600 PM The central theme of the teaching of Jesus was the coming of the Kingdom of God o Jesus appears to have expected that event in the near future o Early Christianity inherited this expectation from Jesus o Within Judaism resurrection itself was an eschatological event This imminent eschatological expectation is evident throughout early Christian literature o It is in Paul s letters Paul understood himself and his communities as living in the overlap between the old age and the new age 0 The new age was characterized as righteousness freedom and life and had already begun but the old age had not ended o The new age would not be fully in place until the return of Jesus 0 Paul believed that Jesus would come again during his own life time 1 Thessalonians o the earliest of the preserved letters of Paul o probably written around year 50 o written to address the death of a few members of the community that had caused disturbances because they thought that they would all live until the Kingdom came 0 they thought that the ones who died would thus not be able to enter the Kingdom when it came because they would not be living The biblical basis for the idea of rapture is exceeding flimsy The book of Revelation is the only early Christian apocalypse in the New Testament o It was popular in the western church but was not accepted into the eastern church until the 4th century and even then with some misgivings it was not to be interpreted literally c There is a lot of crazy stuff that goes on including monsters and great destruction Apocalyptic literature shows a perfect world that is in the future 0 it expresses a longing for change belief and for a better life 0 it depends heavily on sensuous symbolism and imagery o it speaks in secrets that are meant to be understood by the in group only the author of Revelation starts out the book with having a vision the purpose of Revelation was to strengthen its Christian readers in opposition to the Roman government 0 he does this by assuring them that God is on their side and the Roman empire will soon be destroyed the author sees Satan in the Roman empire the land beast is probably meant to represent the roman governor Rome was referred to as the city of seven hills Jesus is seen as a major character in the book of Revelation 0 Here he is portrayed as the messiah of popular Jewish expectation a conquering warrior king who spites his enemies and proves beyond doubt his right to universal role 0 This contrasts the gospels because he comes not to forgive sinners or instruct people but to inflict a wrathful punishment upon his opponents 0 He is represented as a slaughtered lamb c There are two symbols present Jesus as a lamb and Satan as a dragon 0 The sacrificial death of Jesus is what guarantees his victory over the dragon In the end the sufferer is the conqueror Or Maybe Not Adjusting Expectations 12122010 54600 PM Rejuvenation Reinterpretation Postponement Jesus did not return to bring the Kingdom of God when he was expected to The promise of God did not materialize as anticipated Thus the cherished expectation of the early return of Jesus became increasingly questionable Christianity was faced with a new prospect of continuing history What do we do now that the parousia has not come as we had expected it to come One response to the fact that the parousia had not come was rejuvenation When a deeply held hope seems in danger of disappointment one hopes all the more strongly There are two issues brought up in 2 Thessalonians 0 A Some people were persuaded that the end was already at hand 0 There was a letter written that was circulated that told that the end was at hand 0 B Because some members of the community thought the end was extremely imminent they quit their jobs and waited 0 To persuade them to pick up theirjobs again the author reminds the congregation that when Paul was among them he worked for his own food etc o In order to squash this belief the author sets an apocalyptic time table 0 He gives events that must happen before the coming of the kingdom the lawless one or an antiChrist figure most come 2 Peter also had to wrestle with the delay of the parousia o the author warns the congregation of scoffers that will come 0 he repudiates the scoffers claims by making a formal appeal to tradition o the author says that maybe it does seem like a long time to you but God reckons time different than human being do 0 he says that God gave people more time to repent so in a way he acknowledges that the scoffers were correct Another response was reinterpretation o the fullness of salvation is already available in the present so the future holds nothing that is not already available in the present realized eschatology o In the gospel of John we see realized eschatology O O The portrayal of Jesus is very distinct from the other gospels The Kingdom of God virtually disappears from the message of Jesus in the Gospel of John The Jesus of John can say that the believer has already passed from death to life The parousia of Jesus is completely recast in the Gospel of John it is assumed to take place in the coming of the spirit and in the fourth gospel it has already happened The final option was postponement c this is seen most clearly through Luke and Acts 0 Luke frequently modifies sayings of Jesus to reduce their imminent eschatological nature The author intended to break down the a close connection of Jesus life and death on one hand and the eschatological events on the other by inserting the narrative of the Church in between The ascension of Jesus is doubly narrated at the end of Luke and at the beginning of Acts Jesus is taken off stage so that the Christian community can take center stage in LukeActs The travel narrative in Luke is a teaching journey during which Jesus prepares his disciples for when he is no longer allowed Jesus giving up the spirit that he was endowed with at his baptism is explicit in LukeActs Luke s response is the traditional Christian stance on the parousia What did it mean for the Christian community as it began to sense itself within a larger historical context This called for a number of specific kinds of tasks Christians could no longer regard themselves as alien in a larger land they had to being to think of themselves as residents in the world and history o The Church had to find a way to stabilize and regulate itself internally o This was done gradually by developing a system of governance that served to order and regulate the life of the community From the 1st to the 215t Century 12122010 54600 PM Christianity is deeply engrained in Western culture Christianity over the century has been an evolving religious tradition c We are now far removed from its point of origins o Christianity is a historical religion It is important to think of Christianity as a tradition The scripture of the early church up until the 2nd century was the Jewish scriptures o These scriptures were the Greek version of the Jewish scriptures the Septugent o It had a larger content than the Hebrew bible and in portions different text In 367 CE the bishop of Alexandria when sending out his letter declaring the date of Easter for that year also set what books were permissible to be read in Church o These books were the 27 books of the New Testament in addition to the Jewish scriptures There were many early Christian gospels o The four that we know are the four that were most widely used in early Christian communities There are 3 main groups in the New Testament o The gospels o Paul s letters o The Catholic Epistles Most of the differences between bibles are in the Jewish portion Study Guide Questions 12122010 54600 PM RELC 122 STUDY GUIDE FOR THE FINAL EXAMINATION The final examination will emphasize materials covered since the midterm exam but will require some cumulative knowledge The exam will have basically the same format as the midterm 1 a series of objective questions truefalse andor multiple choice 2 a set of quotations to identify and discuss and 3 essay questions though the final exam will require you to answer two essay questions as compared to one on the mid term The objective questions may range over all the materials of the course The quotations on the final examination will be drawn from materials studied since the midterm One of the essay questions will relate to materials covered since the midterm but the other will have a more comprehensive character In preparation for the examination use all your resources biblical texts textbook lecture notes discussion materials Be sure to bring examination booklets to the exam I The following are sample questions for an essay on materials covered since the midterm 1 How did the earliest Christians interpret the quotresurrectionquot of Jesus that is how did they understand its nature and what basic meanings did they attach to it 2 Christianity was originally an intraJewish movement When why by whom and against what and whose objections was a mission to nonJews undertaken 3 Note and discuss at least three features of the Roman Empire that were especially conducive to the early missionary spread of early Christianity 4 Discuss the significance of Abraham for Paul39s understanding of Christianity in what ways and for what purposes does Paul appeal to him see esp Galatians 3 and Romans 4 5 What conception of Christianity arose in Galatia following Paul39s work there Why did Paul find it problematical and what were the main arguments he used against it 6 Why did some Corinthians claim that quotall things are lawfulquot Did Paul agree or not Why 7 What did Paul mean by speaking of quotthe foolishness of the crossquot 1 Cor 12 and what was the force of this appeal in the Corinthian situation 8 How did Paul understand quotsinquot and how in his view is sin related to the Torah see esp Rom 13 and 7 9 Why was Paul so deeply troubled by the failure of most Jews to accept the Christian message How did he explain this failure what did he expect to come of it and why Rom 911 10 Choose one of the following issues discussed by Paul a meat sacrificed to idols 1 Cor 810 b spiritual gifts 1 Cor 1214 c sexual behavior 1 Cor 7 or d the relations of the quotweakquot and the quotstrongquot Rom 1415 On the issue you choose discuss the practices of the community and their basis and the position taken by Paul and its basis 11 What does Paul mean when he talks about quotjustification by grace through faithquot In what letters in relation to what issues and for what purpose does he employ this conception 12 Discuss the nature purpose and sense of Paul39s comparison of Adam and Christ Rom 5 13 Compare and contrast Hebrews and Revelation as responses to problems that confronted Christians in the late first century 14 By the late first century both Jews and pagan Gentiles found Christians to be highly objectionable What features of Christianity offended them 11 The following are examples of the second more cumulative or comprehensive sort of essay question 1 Characterize the nature and basis of primitive Christian eschatology Then give comparative descriptions and explanations of the various appropriations or modifications of primitive Christian eschatology by the Gospel of John the Gospel of Thomas 2 Peter Revelation and LukeActs 2 The Torah of Moses its status meaning validity and purpose was a persistently problematical issue in early Christianity even in Gentile Christian communities Explain why this was so and compare the attitudes taken toward the Torah by the historical Jesus the Gospel of Matthew Paul39s Galatian opponents and Paul 3 The nature and significance of Jesus is differently conceived and expressed in various pieces of early Christian literature and is differently related to the situations and selfunderstandings of Christian groups Elaborate on this observation by a comparative discussion of any three of the following the Gospel of John the letters of Paul only those we have read the Gospel of Matthew the letter to the Hebrews and the Revelation of John In each case consider whowhat Jesus is conceived to be and in what ways he is represented as bringing about salvation 4 quotJesus proclaimed the kingdom but the church proclaimed Jesusquot Explain this statement so as to make clear both a the continuities and discontinuities between Jesus of Nazareth and the Christian community and b the decisive factors in the emergence of Christianity as a distinctive religious tradition 5 The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein once commented It is important that there are four Gospels in order that the truth should not be confused with the facts Interpret and discuss this statement taking into account the nature and purposes of the Gospels their differences and their relation to the historical Jesus
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