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Title: Christianity

  • Basic Beliefs and Early History in Middle East
    and Beyond

  • Worlds largest religion
  • Central Belief
  • Jesus Christ was the son of God, died for the
    sins of all humanity, was resurrected and
    returned to heaven
  • Must believe this in order to go to heaven
  • Different branches and denominations
  • Catholicism
  • Protestantism
  • Eastern Orthodox Christianity

Holy Trinity
  • One God with three parts
  • Father Creator, Master Planner, Holy
  • Son (aka Jesus) Needed as a sacrifice for
    humanitys sin
  • Holy Spirit Active, sent to fulfill God the
    Fathers plans

Foundations in Judaism
  • Jesus and the Apostles were Jews
  • The first Christians began as Jews
  • The story of Creation, the first people, the Ten
    Commandments, stories of judges and kings of
    Israel, and books of prophets are important and

Difference from Judaism
  • Christians believe that Jesus was the Messiah
    foretold by the Old Testament prophets
  • Jews believe that the Messiah has not come
  • Some ethnic Jews do believe that Jesus was the
    Messiah (they are a minority though)

The Bible
  • 66 Books in the Bible
  • Old Testament 39 Books, before Jesus came to
  • New Testament 27 Books, after Jesus came to
    Earth and went back to heaven, letters of advice
    on how to live for early Christians (no Bible was
    organized yet)

Old Testament
  • Creation and first people (Adam, Eve, Noah,
    etc.), Original Sin
  • How God set apart the nation of Israel
  • Exodus and giving of the Law of Moses
  • Conquest of Canaan with Joshua Creating Nation
    of Israel
  • Nation of Israel (Judges then Kings) Jewish
  • Cycle of sinfulness, punishment, repentance
  • Conquest by enemies (Assyrians, Babylonians) and
  • Return to homeland, rebuilding of Jerusalem

New Testament
  • Gospels 4 versions of Jesus life
  • The Book of Acts (Acts of the Apostles)
  • Epistles of Paul and other epistles (Romans,
    Corinthians, Galatians, etc.)
  • Revelation Apocalypse, Second Coming of Christ,
    Armageddon, Judgment, the New Jerusalem

Parts of Jesus Christs Life
  • Incarnation and childhood (birth through 12 years
  • Public Ministry (30 33)
  • Passion (events surrounding his crucifixion)
  • Resurrection and Ascension

The Twelve Apostles (Disciples)
  • Jesus chose 12 close confidants but had many
    other followers
  • Here are the Twelve
  • Peter (orig. Simon) Andrew (brothers)
  • James John (brothers)
  • Philip Bartholomew
  • Matthew Thomas
  • James, son of Alphaeus Thaddeus
  • Simon the Zealot Judas Iscariot

Apostles Confusion Was Jesus the Messiah?
  • He was a great leader, teacher, healer, miracle
    worker but the Messiah?
  • Could he be Moses, Elijah, or someone else
  • Peter the first to recognize him as Messiah
    privilege of being the rock on which Christ
    will build his church (the body of Christian
    believers), holds keys to heaven

Betrayal of Jesus/The Kiss of Judas
  • Part of the Passion
  • Jewish religious leaders did not want to arrest
    Jesus in public
  • Judas goes to them and offers to help them
  • Pharisees give him 30 pieces of silver
  • Judas leads them to the Garden of Gethsemane
    where Jesus liked to bring the Apostles to get
    away from crowds
  • Judas leads a group to arrest him, identifies
    Jesus by greeting him with a kiss
  • Guilt Judas commits suicide

Christian Practices
  • Celebration of Easter
  • Prayer
  • Going to church
  • Bible reading the Word of God
  • Communion
  • Baptism in Water
  • Baptism in the Holy Spirit

  • Anything displeasing to God based on Ten
    Commandments and other commandments given by
    Jesus (building on Ten Commandments
  • Examples?

Ten Commandments
  •  13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to
    be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge
    the flesha rather, serve one another humbly in
    love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in
    keeping this one command Love your neighbor as
    yourself.b 15 If you bite and devour each
    other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each
    other.  16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you
    will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For
    the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
    and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
    They are in conflict with each other, so that you
    are not to do whateverc you want. 18 But if you
    are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

  • 19 The acts of the flesh are obvious sexual
    immorality, impurity and debauchery 20 idolatry
    and witchcraft hatred, discord, jealousy, fits
    of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
    21 and envy drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I
    warn you, as I did before, that those who live
    like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  •  22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,
    peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness,
    faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
    Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who
    belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh
    with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live
    by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the
    Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking
    and envying each other.

  • Seek forgiveness from God through the blood of
    Jesus Christ
  • Do not judge others, judge yourself

Essential Belief
  • Nicaea Creed
  • Jesus Christ is the son of God, born of the
    Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, was crucified
    and buried and rose again on the third day and
    ascended to be at the right hand of the father
  • He will come again to judge the living and the

Focus on Heaven
  • Salvation by faith in Jesus Christ
  • Not a blank check to sin Think of God as
    literal father and friend Would you keep
    hurting/insulting your father or friend?
  • Obeying commandments
  • Love God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength
    (first four commandments)
  • Love neighbor as you love yourself
  • These sum up Ten Commandments

Differences among Christians
  • Different denominations have different views
  • Salvation by faith alone (Protestant) vs.
    Salvation and Good Works (Catholic) faith
    without works is dead it does say this in the
  • Women as priests/ministers
  • Biblical interpretation Literal (fundamentalist)
    vs. open/metaphorical
  • Views towards the Sabbath, gays, abortion/birth
    control, drinking, enjoyment of pop culture

Why is it significant to understand Christianity
in History of Middle East?
  • Jerusalem is holy to Christians site of Jesus
    crucifixion and resurrection
  • Christians believe that Armageddon, the final
    battle between good and evil, will occur in
  • Control of Holy Land influences Crusades, which
    greatly damages relations with Muslims

Constantine the Great (272 337 CE)
  • First Christian Roman Emperor
  • Mother Helena was Christian
  • Claimed to see a vision of cross of light in sky
    before a battle with inscription In this sign
    you will conquer.
  • Legalizes Christianity Christians were being
  • Promotes Christianity as major religion

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Significance of Byzantine Empire
  • Moves capital to Byzantium and calls it New Rome
    residents call it Constantinople
  • Byzantine Empire Eastern Roman Empire western
    Europe falls to barbarian invasions but east
  • Byzantine Empire had control over the Holy Land
    (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Mount Sinai)
  • Byzantine Empire follows Orthodox Christianity
    established as the state (official) religion by
    Constantines successors

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Map of Byzantine Trade Routes
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Was Constantine a true Christian?
  • Textbook calls him a nominal Christian
  • Had rivals killed so that he could consolidate
  • Colossal image of himself resembling the Roman
    god Jupiter in a basilica in Rome
  • Baptized on his death bed (although not uncommon
    for early Christians
  • If he really wanted to accept Christianity,
    wouldnt he have behaved following Christs

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Council of Nicaea
  • Meeting called by Constantine (about 300 bishops
    present from all over the Roman Empire)
  • Answers questions and builds consensus on who
    Christ was this becomes the Orthodox view
  • Christians, who had different views, were labeled
    heretics and persecuted as if they were rebelling
    against the empire

Icon of Constantine and the Church Fathers
  • They are holding a slightly modified form of the
    Nicene Creed (Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed of

Christian Dissident Groups
  • Arians believed that Jesus was divinely sired
    and inspired, but was not on the level of God
    (arose in Alexandria priest called Arius)
  • Nestorians through that Christ was two people
    one divine, one human (When the church of Ephesus
    condemned them, they fled to Persia) arose in
  • Monophysites opposite view of Nestorians and
    Arians Jesus was only one being and was only
    divine (not human) - arose

Heretics, Christian Arabs, and Muslims
  • Because the Orthodox view of Christianity
    persecuted Christians with different view points,
    how would that hurt the Byzantine (Eastern Roman)
  • Christianized Arabs felt greater loyalty to their
    culture over the Byzantine Church.
  • Heretics became enemies of the Byzantine Empire
    and fought alongside Muslim armies in the 7th and
    8th centuries.

Official View of Church
  • Council of Nicaea determined the proper view of
  • Created a common prayer (Nicene Creed)
  • Decided what books/writings would make up the
    Bible (Why did they choose some books over
  • Jesus Christ was 100 man and 100 God contained
    in the body of one man

America, Christianity, and Middle East
  • America, while having freedom of religion, is
    heavily influenced by Christianity many
    lawmakers identify themselves as Christians.
  • Christians, because of ignorance on Islam, side
    with Israel because of Judaisms connection to
  • America often favors Israel (sharing of
    technology, military and financial aid) an
    important ally in the Middle East

Radical Christian Hope for End of World and
Christs Last Judgment
  • Belief that conflict in Middle East will hasten
    the day of Christs return
  • Finally, they will be able to see Jesus and live
    in heaven
  • Better to side with Israel then Islamic nations
  • Demonstrates misunderstanding of what Islam is
    really about