Christianity left Israel as a Family, moved to Rome as a Religion, went to England as Politics and ended in Africa as a Business.
Before the advent of Christianity, Jewish people were merely a religious lot, ardently practicing Judaism inherited from their fore fathers, and synagogue worshippers. With the Pharisees and Sadducees overseeing its affairs. With them, you won’t go wrong on the laws of Moses, because they ensure they had it engraved in your minds, little tablets attached to their priestly robes and so forth.
JUDAISM, JEWISH RELIGION:
Judaism is a Jewish religion. It is an ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text. It encompasses the religion, philosophy, and culture of the Jewish people. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenant that God established with the Children of Israel. Judaism encompasses a wide corpus of texts, practices, theological positions, and forms of organization. The Torah is part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or the Hebrew Bible, and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Midrash and the Talmud. With between 14.5 and 17.4 million adherents worldwide, Judaism is the tenth largest religion in the world.
Within Judaism there are a variety of movements, most of which emerged from Rabbinic Judaism, which holds that God revealed his laws and commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai in the form of both the Written and Oral Torah. Historically, this assertion was challenged by various groups such as the Sadducees and Hellenistic Judaism during the Second Temple period; the Karaites and Sabbateans during the early and later medieval period; and among segments of the modern non – Orthodox denominations. Modern branches of Judaism such as Humanistic Judaism may be nontheistic. Today, the largest Jewish religious movements are Orthodox Judaism (Haredi Judaism and Modern Orthodox Judaism), Conservative Judaism, and Reform Judaism. Major sources of difference between these groups are their approaches to Jewish law, the authority of the Rabbinic tradition, and the significance of the State of Israel. Orthodox Judaism maintains that the Torah and Jewish law are divine in origin, eternal and unalterable, and that they should be strictly followed. Conservative and Reform Judaism are more liberal, with Conservative Judaism generally promoting a more traditionalist interpretation of Judaism’s requirements than Reform Judaism. A typical Reform position is that Jewish law should be viewed as a set of general guidelines rather than as a set of restrictions and obligations whose observance is required of all Jews. Historically, special courts enforced Jewish law; today, these courts still exist but the practice of Judaism is mostly voluntary. Authority on theological and legal matters is not vested in any one person or organization, but in the sacred texts and the rabbis and scholars who interpret them.
The history of Judaism spans more than 3,000 years. Judaism has its roots as an organized religion in the Middle East during the Bronze Age. Judaism is considered one of the oldest monotheistic religions. The Hebrews and Israelites were already referred to as “Jews” in later books of the Tanakh such as the Book of Esther, with the term Jews replacing the title “Children of Israel” Judaism’s texts, traditions and values strongly influenced later Abrahamic religions, including Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith. Many aspects of Judaism have also directly or indirectly influenced secular Western ethics and civil law. Hebraism was just as important a factor in the ancient era development of Western civilization as Hellenism, and Judaism, as the background of Christianity, has considerably shaped Western ideals and morality since Early Christianity.
Jews are an ethnoreligious group including those born Jewish, in addition to converts to Judaism. In 2015, the world Jewish population was estimated at about 14.3 million, or roughly 0.2% of the total world population. About 43% of all Jews reside in Israel and another 43% reside in the United States and Canada, with most of the remainder living in Europe, and other minority groups spread throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
At its core, the Tanakh is an account of the Israelites’ relationship with God from their earliest history until the building of the Second Temple (c.535 BCE). Abraham is hailed as the first Hebrew and the father of the Jewish people. As a reward for his act of faith in one God, he was promised that Isaac, his second son, would inherit the Land of Israel (then called Canaan). Later, the descendants of Isaac’s son Jacob were enslaved in Egypt, and God commanded Moses to lead the Exodus from Egypt. At Mount Sinai, they received the Torah -the five books of Moses. These books, together with Nevi’im and Ketuvim are known as Torah Shebikhtav as opposed to the Oral Torah, which refers to the Mishnah and the Talmud. Eventually, God led them to the land of Israel where the tabernacle was planted in the city of Shiloh for over 300 years to rally the nation against attacking enemies. As time went on, the spiritual level of the nation declined to the point that God allowed the Philistines to capture the tabernacle. The people of Israel then told Samuel the prophet that they needed to be governed by a permanent king, and Samuel appointed Saul to be their King. When the people pressured Saul into going against a command conveyed to him by Samuel, God told Samuel to appoint David in his stead.
The Western Wall in Jerusalem is a remnant of the wall encircling the Second Temple. The Temple Mount is the holiest site in Judaism.
Once King David was established, he told the prophet Nathan that he would like to build a permanent temple, and as a reward for his actions, God promised David that he would allow his son, Solomon, to build the First Temple and the throne would never depart from his children.
Rabbinic tradition holds that the details and interpretation of the law, which are called the Oral Torah or oral law, were originally an unwritten tradition based upon what God told Moses on Mount Sinai. However, as the persecutions of the Jews increased and the details were in danger of being forgotten, these oral laws were recorded by Rabbi Judah HaNasi (Judah the Prince) in the Mishnah, redacted circa 200 CE. The Talmud was a compilation of both the Mishnah and the Gemara, rabbinic commentaries redacted over the next three centuries. The Gemara originated in two major centers of Jewish scholarship, Palestine and Babylonia. Correspondingly, two bodies of analysis developed, and two works of Talmud were created. The older compilation is called the Jerusalem Talmud. It was compiled sometime during the 4th century in Palestine. The Babylonian Talmud was compiled from discussions in the houses of study by the scholars Ravina I, Ravina II, and Rav Ashi by 500 CE, although it continued to be edited later.
Some critical scholars oppose the view that the sacred texts, including the Hebrew Bible, were divinely inspired. Many of these scholars accept the general principles of the documentary hypothesis and suggest that the Torah consists of inconsistent texts edited together in a way that calls attention to divergent accounts. Many suggest that during the First Temple period, the people of Israel believed that each nation had its own god, but that their god was superior to other gods. Some suggest that strict monotheism developed during the Babylonian Exile, perhaps in reaction to Zoroastrian dualism. In this view, it was only by the Hellenic period that most Jews came to believe that their god was the only god and that the notion of a clearly bounded Jewish nation identical with the Jewish religion formed.
John Day argue that the origins of biblical Yahweh, El, Asherah, and Ba’al, may be rooted in earlier Canaanite religion, which was centered on a pantheon of gods much like the Greek pantheon.
Ancient Israel and Judah, Babylonian captivity, Hellenistic Judaism, Hasmonean Kingdom, Iudaea Province, and Bar Kokhba revolt.
THE BIRTH PLACE OF CHRISTIANITY:
As it were, the birth of Jesus Christ was one that came by words of prophecy, an angel showed up and told Mary who was unmarried and still a virgin at that time she was going to be pregnant and give birth to a child and the child will subsequently become the savior of mankind and the universe as a whole. As at that time, Mary was already betrothed to Joseph her husband (would be). Mary was grossly amazed. How would that be, seeing that I am still unmarried and have never known a man? The same angel visited Joseph to brief him on the development. I am sure that at first, Joseph could not understand the whole thing but when angel Gabriel told him, your wife Mary is pregnant by the Holy Spirit and she’s going to give birth to a Holy Child!. And the angel encouraged Joseph to go ahead to take Mary his wife. And Joseph being a noble man went ahead to take his wife Mary his wife home as he didn’t want to publicly embarrass her.
After nine (9) months, the birth time was ripe and the couple had to travel from their place of residence to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel to be counted because it happened to be a time of census. Jerusalem was packed full with people coming from all over the place, from far and near; thronging into the city of Jerusalem. The town was filled with people, the hotels, motels and inns had been completely taken. Now, Joseph and Mary did not have a place to put up but a sheep pen for an inn. And that night, Jesus Christ arrived and was put in a Manger for a bed.
Christianity and its birth was noble and a humble one, mysterious though in the sense that it advent was heralded by the announcement from a heavenly creatures, an angel. Yet, it was simple, humble and blessed! There was no pomp and pageantry about it, just simple!
When the child king finally arrived the earth, his star shone forth in the east and the wisemen began to look for it, the star led them to Jerusalem to the then king, Herod a Roman, whom as at then, colonized and were ruling in Jerusalem Israel. Herod called the three wise men and pleaded with them to tell him if they find the place where Jesus was born so he would also go to greet and welcome him, all in a plot to kill him.
Though, he came to give life but satan through king Herod sought to take his life by taking the lives of many children from his birth age to a year old in Jerusalem.
When Jesus grew up and began His ministry, He decided to choose His disciples from yet a humble set of people; fishermen, farmers and peasant worker and people of lowly professions except for one who was a doctor (Luke), the rest were unschooled.
Antioch is a small town in the region of Israel where the first Christian movement began. An’tioch (pron. an’ti-ok); there are two cities of this name mentioned in the New Testament, one in Syria, about 290 ms. north of Jerusalem where the disciples of Christ were first called Christians; it is now a village of about 6000 or a few more inhabitants, 15 ms. from the Mediterranean; the other was in the extreme north of Pisidia, on the south side of a mountain range 502 ms. northwest from Jerusalem and in Asia Minor. It is an inhabited town with many ancient ruins.
CHRISTIANITY LEFT ISRAEL AS FAMILY:
Christianity suffered the first persecution even at an enfant stage. When king Herod realized the wise men were not forthcoming with the information as to where this great king, the savior of the world was born, he made sent soldiers to kill every child from Jesus’ to three (3) years of age.
Whereas God had warned Joseph in a dream to flee the town because Herod sought to kill the child, and they fled to Egypt in Africa where they remained until the plot was forgotten the Joseph. Mary and Baby Jesus returned home to Israel.
And Jesus grew in wisdom, knowledge and understanding. And the Lord was with Him, He went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind. Almost, every time Mary and Joseph were looking for Jesus, they had always found him in the synagogues teaching and preaching as He was growing up.
CHRISTIANITY ENTERED ROME AS A RELIGION:
Rome was a world power as at the period of the birth of Christianity, the Roman kingdom had the strongest, largest, well trained army that was so rudeless, beating down every force that stood on its way to conquering kingdoms for the Roman empire.
Christ’s teachings had spread wide amongst the Jews, even though it rocked their Jewish belief. Jesus’ teachings sparkled the flames that exported the Church to the Roman kingdom somewhat giving birth to the Roman Catholic Movement.
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC MOVEMENT:
According to tradition, the history of the Catholic Church begins with Jesus Christ and his teachings (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30) and the Catholic Church is a continuation of the early Christian community established by Jesus. The Church considers its bishops to be the successors to Jesus’s apostles and the Church’s leader, the Bishop of Rome (also known as the Pope) to be the sole successor to Saint Peter, who ministered in Rome in the first century AD, after his appointment by Jesus as head of the church. By the end of the 2nd century, bishops began congregating in regional synods to resolve doctrinal and policy issues. By the 3rd century, the bishop of Rome began to act as a court of appeals for problems that other bishops could not resolve.
Christianity spread throughout the early Roman Empire, despite persecutions due to conflicts with the pagan state religion. In 313, the struggles of the Early Church were lessened by the legalisation of Christianity by the Emperor Constantine I. In 380, under Emperor Theodosius I, Catholicism became the state religion of the Roman Empire by the decree of the Emperor, which would persist until the fall of the Western Empire, and later, with the Eastern Roman Empire, until the Fall of Constantinople. During this time, the period of the Seven Ecumenical Councils, there were considered five primary sees (jurisdictions within the Catholic Church) according to Eusebius: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria, known as the Pentarchy.
The battles of Toulouse preserved the Catholic west, even though Rome itself was ravaged in 850, and Constantinople besieged. In the 11th century, already strained relations between the primarily Greek church in the East, and the Latin church in the West, developed into the East-West Schism, partially due to conflicts over Papal Authority. The fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople by renegade crusaders proved the final breach. Prior to and during the 16th century, the Church engaged in a process of reform and renewal. Reform during the 16th century is known as the Counter-Reformation. In subsequent centuries, Catholicism spread widely across the world despite experiencing a reduction in its hold on European populations due to the growth of Protestantism and also because of religious skepticism during and after the Enlightenment. The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s introduced the most significant changes to Catholic practices since the Council of Trent four centuries before.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCHES BEGINNINGS:
According to Catholic tradition, the Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ. The New Testament records Jesus’ activities and teaching, his appointment of the twelve Apostles, and his instructions to them to continue his work. The Catholic Church teaches that the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, in an event known as Pentecost, signaled the beginning of the public ministry of the Church. Catholics hold that Saint Peter was Rome’s first bishop and the consecrator of Linus as its next bishop, thus starting the unbroken line which includes the current pontiff, Pope Francis. That is, the Catholic Church maintains the apostolic succession of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope – the successor to Saint Peter.
In the account of the Confession of Peter found in the Gospel of Matthew, Christ designates Peter as the “rock” upon which Christ’s church will be built. While some scholars do state Peter was the first Bishop of Rome, others say that the institution of the papacy is not dependent on the idea that Peter was Bishop of Rome or even on his ever having been in Rome. Many scholars hold that a church structure of plural presbyters/bishops persisted in Rome until the mid-2nd century, when the structure of a single bishop and plural presbyters was adopted, and that later writers retrospectively applied the term “bishop of Rome” to the most prominent members of the clergy in the earlier period and also to Peter himself. On this basis, Oscar Cullmann and Henry Chadwick question whether there was a formal link between Peter and the modern papacy, and Raymond E. Brown says that, while it is anachronistic to speak of Peter in terms of local bishop of Rome, Christians of that period would have looked on Peter as having “roles that would contribute in an essential way to the development of the role of the papacy in the subsequent church”. These roles, Brown says, “contributed enormously to seeing the bishop of Rome, the bishop of the city where Peter died, and where Paul witnessed to the truth of Christ, as the successor of Peter in care for the church universal”.
Conditions in the Roman Empire facilitated the spread of new ideas. The empire’s well-defined network of roads and waterways allowed easier travel, while the Pax Romana made it safe to travel from one region to another. The government had encouraged inhabitants, especially those in urban areas, to learn Greek, and the common language allowed ideas to be more easily expressed and understood. Jesus’ apostles gained converts in Jewish communities around the Mediterranean Sea, and over 40 Christian communities had been established by 100. Although most of these were in the Roman Empire, notable Christian communities were also established in Armenia, Iran and along the Indian Malabar Coast. The new religion was most successful in urban areas, spreading first among slaves and people of low social standing, and then among aristocratic women.
At first, Christians continued to worship alongside Jewish believers, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity, but within twenty years of Jesus’ death, Sunday was being regarded as the primary day As preachers such as Paul of Tarsus began converting Gentiles, Christianity began growing away from Jewish practices to establish itself as a separate religion, though the issue of Paul of Tarsus and Judaism is still debated today. To resolve doctrinal differences among the competing factions within the Church, in or around the year 50, the apostles convened the first Church council, the Council of Jerusalem. This council affirmed that Gentiles could become Christians without adopting all of the Mosaic Law. Growing tensions soon led to a starker separation that was virtually complete by the time Christians refused to join in the Bar Kokhba Jewish revolt of 132, however some groups of Christians returned.
CHRISTIANITY AS POLITICS IN BRITAIN:
The early history of Christianity in Britain is highly obscure. Medieval legends concerning the conversion of the island under King Lucius or from a mission by St Philip or Joseph of Arimathea have been discredited; they seem to have been pious forgeries introduced in attempts to establish independence or seniority in the ecclesiastical hierarchy formalized following the Norman conquest of England and Wales. The first archaeological evidence and credible records showing a community large enough to maintain churches and bishops dates to the 3rd and 4th centuries, but it started from a small base: the British delegation to the 353 Council of Rimini had to beg for financial assistance from its fellows in order to return home. The Romano-British population seem to have been mostly Christian by the Sub-Roman period, although the Great Conspiracy in the 360s and increased raiding around the time of the Roman withdrawal from Britain saw many enslaved. The Saxon invasions of Britain destroyed most of the formal church as they progressed, replacing it with a form of Germanic polytheism. There seems to have been a lull traditionally attributed to the Battle of Badon but, following the arrival of Justinian’s Plague around 547, the expansion resumed. By the time Cornwall was subjugated by Wessex at Hingston Down in 838, however, it was largely left to its native people and practices.
Portrait labelled Avgvstinvs from the mid -8th-century Saint Petersburg Bede, though perhaps intended as Gregory the Great.
Christianity was largely reintroduced to Britain by the Gregorian Mission, c. 600. Establishing his archdiocese at Canterbury, St Augustine failed to establish his authority over the Welsh church at Chester but his mission—with help from Scottish missionaries such as SS Aidan and Cuthbert—proved successful in Kent and then Northumbria: the two provinces of the English church continue to be led from the cathedrals of Canterbury and York (est. 735). Owing to the importance of the Scottish missions, Northumbria initially followed the native church in its calculation of Easter and tonsure but then aligned itself with Canterbury and Rome at the 664 Synod of Whitby. Early English Christian documents surviving from this time include the 7th-century illuminated Lindisfarne Gospels and the historical accounts written by the Venerable Bede. The Irish and Scots adopted the Roman practices over the 7th & 8th centuries; around 768, “Archbishop” Elfodd of “Gwynedd” finally convinced the Welsh to follow, although it was not until after the reign of Bernard that the bishop of St Davids was finally compelled to submit to the authority of Canterbury and the English Church.
Canterbury Cathedral, rebuilt in the Romanesque style in the 1070s, in the Gothic style following a fire in 1174, and in the Perpendicular style following an earthquake in 1382.
By the 11th century, the Normans had overrun England and begun the annexation of Wales. St Osmund, bishop of Salisbury, codified the Sarum Rite and, by the time of his successor, Roger, a system of endowed prebends had been developed that left ecclesiastical positions independent of the bishop. Tolerance of commendatory benefices permitted the well-connected to hold multiple offices simply for their spiritual and temporal revenues, subcontracting the position’s duties to lower clerics or simply treating them as sinecures. The importance of such revenues prompted the Investiture Crisis, which erupted in Britain over the fight occasioned by King John’s refusal to accept Pope Innocent III’s nominee as archbishop of Canterbury. England was placed under interdict in 1208 and John excommunicated the following year; he enjoyed the seizure of the church’s revenues but finally relented owing to domestic and foreign rivals strengthened by papacy.
CHRISTIANITY CAME TO AFRICA AS A BUSINESS:
Two types of missionaries came to Africa. The first missionaries gave Africans the true gospel of love equality for all, Africans inclusive. When the first missionaries left the shores of Africa, another missionary group came from Britain, which disrupted and destabilized the first believe and turned Africans into slaves, it automatically empowered and licensed the white man over the black man.
What role did the Church play in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade? What exactly does the Bible say about slavery? Is Christianity a “slave religion?” Why so many Black people love the Church and the Bible?
According to Jomo Kenyatta the founding father and first president of Kenya, “When the missionaries arrived, the Africans had the land and the missionaries had the Bible. They taught us how to pray with our eyes closed. When we opened them, they had the land and we had the Bible.”
That was the beginning of the European colonization of Africa. As I said in my other post, the trans-Atlantic slave trade was introduced by the coming of the Europeans and the Europeans came with the Bible the same way the Arab raiders and traders from the Middle East and North Africa introduced Islam through the Trans-Saharan slave trade. So yes the church did play a major role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade. In fact, the Church was the backbone of the slave trade. In other words, most of the slave traders and slave ship captains were very “good” Christians. For example, Sir John Hawkins, the first slave-ship captain to bring African slaves to the Americas, was a religious gentleman who insisted that his crew “serve God daily” and “love another”. His ship, ironically called “The good ship Jesus,” left the shores of his native England for Africa in October 1562.
The Church, especially the Anglican and the Catholic Church, had plantations with slaves working on them. For example, the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) – the world’s oldest Anglican mission agency, owned several acres of slave plantations. It has been documented that the 800 acre Codrington slave plantation in Barbados, was owned and operated by the United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (USPG) during the 18th and 19th centuries.
One may ask, why would the Church condone such barbaric acts as slavery? Well, the answer lies in the Bible the same way the answer for extremist-Islamic terrorism in the world today lies in the Koran. Yes, slavery is normal in the Bible and it is perfectly okay. There are several chapters and verses supporting slavery in both the old and new testaments of the Bible. Exodus 21 of the old testament of the Bible for example, gives clear instructions on how to treat a slave. Both Deuteronomy 20:10-14 and Leviticus 25:44-46 also give clear instructions on who should be slaves, how and where to buy slaves, etc. Some Christians argue those chapters and verses are in the old testament and therefore don’t count but that is a big lie because there are several chapters and verses supporting slavery even in the New testament of the Bible. For example, the book of Ephesians 6:5 of the New Testament clearly states “Slaves, Obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ”. Not just that, 1 Timothy 6:1 of the New Testament also clearly states “Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed”. I can go on and on. Slavery existed during the time of Jesus and continued after Jesus. Slavery got abolished nearly 2000 years after the death of Jesus. Jesus had every chance to speak against slavery but the question is; did he do it? And if Jesus did speak against slavery then why did his followers twist his words? If Jesus did speak against slavery then why does the New Testament of the Bible support slavery? And if the Bible got twisted along the way then does it make much sense for us to put our trust in it? Now back to the question, Is Christianity a slave religion? Well, I am not that great with the Bible so I will leave that to the experts to answer.
Reverend Richard Furman, President of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, 1823 said, “The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the holy scriptures, both by precepts and by example”. In a letter to the Emancipator in 1839, the Reverend Thomas Witherspoon of the Presbyterian Church of Alabama in the USA wrote, “I draw my warrant from the scriptures of the old and new testaments to hold the slave in bondage.” “The extracts from Holy Writ unequivocally assert the right of property in slaves” Rev. E.D. Simms, Professor, Randolph-Macon College. I can go on and on. So as we can see, the Church and the early Christians saw nothing wrong with slavery and fully engaged themselves. Most Churches and Cathedrals owned several acres of slave plantations and owned several slaves. Even when slavery was abolished, most Churches had to be compensated for setting their slaves free. Yes one of the ironies of the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act was that, it was slave owners, not the slaves, who were compensated at the emancipation of slaves. The Anglican Church received 8,823 pound sterling in compensation for its loss of over 400 slaves. The Bishop of Exeter, along with three of his colleagues received some 13,000 pounds in compensation for over 660 slaves. All these have been documented and I can go on and on.
Why so many Black people love the Church and the Bible? Well, that is a question I cannot answer all alone.