Religion defined

Discussion in 'Religion' started by mathman, Nov 17, 2022.

  1. mathman Valued Senior Member

    When and hw did Christianity become a religion as opposed to a Jewish sect? Jesus and his followers were all Jews.
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  3. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    First Google hit for "birth of Christianity" seems to encapsulate it in one sentence.
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  5. mathman Valued Senior Member

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  7. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Jesus initially preached his message to Jews but eventually his ministry led to preaching to the “Gentiles,” so that’s how it expanded. Jesus’ message was in part that the Jews were no longer bound by Mosaic law, but that he was to make a new covenant with them. He would come to share that the Gospel wasn’t just for Jews, but for all to hear.

    But, Jesus began his ministry preaching to those who were Jewish and strictly followed Mosaic law.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2022
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

  9. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Paul got the call to go after gentiles -- he truly galvanized the shift. Albeit canon-wise, it is Peter, in Acts 10, who gets the ball initially rolling by baptizing Cornelius, the Roman centurion. But that earlier period still involved converting gentiles to Judaism, whereby Christ and the Gospel were merely an appended belief for a fringe sect.

    EXCERPTS: The primary impact he [Paul] has left on Christianity after him is through his letters, but in his own time, he sees himself primarily as a prophet to the non-Jews, to bring to them the message of the crucified Messiah, and he does this in an extraordinary way. He is a person who is somehow a city person, and he sees that the cities are the key to the rapid spread of this new message.

    Paul had decided to preach to gentiles apparently out of his own revelatory experience that this was the mission that had been given him by God when God called him to function as a prophet for this new Jesus movement. ... [...] in Paul's view it is the messianic identity of Jesus that is an important new element in this very traditional Jewish message and now there's one other element. He's taking it to a non-Jewish audience. He's preaching to gentiles.

    [...] It's during the time that Paul is in Antioch that a major new development starts to take place in the Christian movement. Because it's there that we first hear of the expansion of the movement more to gentiles, to non-Jews. Even though it's coming out of this predominantly Jewish social context of the synagogue communities of Antioch.

    Now the situation seems to be that initially when people were attracted to the Jesus movement, they first became Jews, and they had to go through all the rituals and rites of conversion to Judaism. But apparently it's among Paul and some of his close supporters that they began to think that it was okay to become a member of the Christian movement without having to go through all of those rites of conversion to Judaism, and that would, in the case of Paul's career, spark one of the most important controversies of the first generation of the Christian movement. Do you have to become a Jew in order to be a follower of Jesus as the Messiah?

    [...] The term "Christian" was first coined in Antioch probably some ten maybe even fifteen years after the death of Jesus. Now while this term Christian of course becomes the standard terminology for all later Christian traditions, and we think of it in much more lofty and positive terms, at the time that it was coined it was probably a slur. It was probably thrown at these early followers of Jesus as some derogatory designation of them. This is what we often see happening with new religious movements....
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2022
  10. mathman Valued Senior Member

    In this description Jesus is considered to be the Messiah (Jews are still waiting). When and did Jesus change from Messiah to God? Greeks and Romans had deification - Jews dud not.
  11. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    For ensuing generations, the belief that Jesus was God (or part of a three component family titled "God") arguably stemmed from the influence of the Gospel of John, which was unique in various ways from the other books.

    As Ehrman suggests below, there may have been a late school of thought in the first century which had incrementally evolved to that view espoused in GoJ. Which John the Presbyter or whoever the author really was then espoused in the so-called "Johannine works".

    Bart Ehrman: Well, what I argue in the book ["How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee"] is that during his lifetime, Jesus himself didn't call himself God and didn't consider himself God and that none of his disciples had any inkling at all that he was God.

    The way it works is that you do find Jesus calling himself God in the Gospel of John, our last Gospel. Jesus says things like: Before Abraham was, I am, and I and the father are one, and if you've seen me, you've see the father.

    These are all statements that you find only in the Gospel of John, and that's striking because we have earlier Gospels, and we have the writings of Paul, and in none of them is there any indication that Jesus said such things about him. I think it's completely implausible that Matthew, Mark and Luke would not mention that Jesus called himself God if that's what he was declaring about himself. That would be a rather important point to make.

    So this is not an unusual view among scholars. It's simply the view that the Gospel of John is providing a theological understand of Jesus that is not what was historically accurate.

    [...] what I try to show in the book is that that's a later view within Christian circles, that the initial view, based on these pre-literary traditions, is that Jesus is exalted to be divine and that as Christians thought about it more and more, they tried to put it all together.

    And so the first Christians ... they think God has taken Jesus up into heaven, he's made a divine being. Then they thought, well, it wasn't just at his resurrection, he must have been the son of God during his entire ministry...

    [...] That's a view that you appear to get in the Gospel of Mark, which begins with Jesus being baptized and God declaring him his son at the baptism. As Christians thought about it more, they started thinking, well, he wasn't just the son of God during his ministry; he must have been the son of God during his entire life. And so they started telling stories about how Jesus was born the son of God...

    [...] And Christians thought about it more, they thought, well, he wasn't just the son of God during his life, he must have always been the son of God. And so then you get to our last Gospel, the Gospel of John, where Jesus is a pre-existent divine being who becomes human.


    - - - - - - - -

    GoJ - Theology: In the prologue, the gospel [of John] identifies Jesus as the Logos or Word. In Ancient Greek philosophy, the term logos meant the principle of cosmic reason. In this sense, it was similar to the Hebrew concept of Wisdom, God's companion and intimate helper in creation.

    The Hellenistic Jewish philosopher Philo merged these two themes when he described the Logos as God's creator of and mediator with the material world. According to Stephen Harris, the gospel adapted Philo's description of the Logos, applying it to Jesus, the incarnation of the Logos.

    [...] According to James Dunn, this Christology view in John, does not describe a subordinationist relation, but rather the authority and validity of the Son’s "revelation" of the Father, the continuity between the Father and the Son. Dunn sees this view as intended to serve the Logos Christology, while others (e.g., Andrew Loke) see it as connected to the incarnation theme in John.

    The idea of the Trinity developed only slowly through the merger of Hebrew monotheism and the idea of the messiah, Greek ideas of the relationship between God, the world, and the mediating Saviour, and the Egyptian concept of the three-part divinity. However, while the developed doctrine of the Trinity is not explicit in the books that constitute the New Testament, the New Testament possesses a triadic understanding of God and contains a number of Trinitarian formulas.

    John's "high Christology" depicts Jesus as divine and pre-existent, defends him against Jewish claims that he was "making himself equal to God", and talks openly about his divine role and echoing Yahweh's "I Am that I Am" with seven "I Am" declarations of his own.

    Last edited: Nov 20, 2022
  12. ThazzarBaal Registered Senior Member

    I was thinking during Constantine's rule and when the books in the Christian bible were chosen. Council of Nicaea I think.
  13. Hapsburg Hellenistic polytheist Valued Senior Member

    Gradually, in a process that began around 50 CE and was generally complete by the start of the 4th century CE.
    Jewish Christians in the 1st and 2nd centuries still worshipped in synagogues and still held to Jewish holy days, identified as ethnically Jewish, and engaged with the Jewish intellectual tradition involving both written and oral Torah. Sects that completely rejected the Jewish heritage of Christianity (i.e. Marcionism) were not mainstream within the early Christian movement, and were met with scorn even among gentile converts. But the adherence to Jewish law became less and less, accelerated by the Jewish-Roman Wars. Gentile Christianity overtook it, along with an emerging Church hierarchy.
    The Council of Nicaea did condemn the Jewish-Christian Ebionites as a heresy, but that was more of a final-nail-in-the-coffin thing, as the sect had almost disappeared by that point in time. Honestly, the Council of Nicaea gets a lot of stuff assumed about it that just didn't happen; the main thing it did was set down how to figure out the date of Easter, and decide on Christology against Arianism. It did not determine which books were in the Bible-- that had happened through consensus over the previous couple centuries, and the council that finalized it was like 70 years after Nicaea. And really, Nicaea didn't actually solve most of the issues it was convened to resolve, since they had to hold another council and a half-dozen synods over the next century, and Arian Christianity remained a major sect until the 600s.

    In any case, the Jewish Diaspora was a bigger part of the schism between Christianity and Judaism than is usually considered, in my opinion. Prior to that, oral and written Jewish law was interpreted by both the Sanhedrin and by Pharisaic sages, and rituals were conducted at a central Temple. But between the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE and the last Jewish-Roman War in 135 CE, these institutions were destroyed, and the Jewish population was scattered throughout the Roman world and further east into Persia. Christians who were still connected to Jewish practices and scholarship were, like other Jews, suddenly bereft of a legal, religious, and cultural touchstone for that part of their traditions. So Jews that were Christian drifted in a direction similar to their Gentile Christian co-religionists, because it kinda became all they had left.
    The other Jewish communities ultimately came together under Rabbinic Judaism, wrote down Oral Torah, and developed the Talmud as a way to survive as a distinct ethnic community, but it was a very long and difficult road. And the course it took was just as much a reaction to the perception that Jewish Christians were heretical, and consciously evolving in a different direction.
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2023

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