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Development of Christianity


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Title: Development of Christianity

Development of Christianity
  • Gnostic Gospels and Holidays, too!

The Gnostic Gospels
  • Part 1

The Gnostic Gospels
  • Gnostic of or relating to knowledge
  • Not discovered at a single time, but rather as a
    series of finds
  • The Nag Hammadi Library - discovered accidentally
    by two farmers in December 1945
  • Named for the area in Egypt where it had been
    hidden for centuries

Why hidden?
  • Irenaeus, one of the first great Christian
  • Emphasized the traditional elements in the Church
  • The authority of bishops (he was one), Scripture,
    and tradition
  • Vocally against Gnosticism
  • A serious threat to the Church
  • Reliance on oral tradition and the varied
    emphases on the values of Christianity
  • The only way for Christians to retain unity was
    to humbly accept one doctrinal authority
  • Gnostics said that they possessed a secret oral
    tradition from Jesus himself
  • Irenaeus maintained that the bishops provided
    the only safe guide to the interpretation of

Nag Hammadi Library
  • Over 40 Codices classified by 6 Categories
  • Writings of creative and redemptive mythology
  • On the Origins of the World, The Apocalypse of
  • Observations and commentaries on diverse
    Gnostic themes
  • The Gospel of Truth, The Testimony of Truth 
  • Liturgical and initiatory texts
  • The Prayer of Thanksgiving, The Prayer of the
    Apostle Paul
  • Writings dealing primarily with the feminine 
  • The Thunder, Perfect Mind, The Sophia of Jesus
  • Writings pertaining to the lives and experiences
    of some of the apostles
  • The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles, The
    Apocalypse of Peter
  • Scriptures which contain sayings of Jesus as well
    as descriptions of incidents in His life
  • The Gospel of Philip, The Gospel of Thomas

Gospel of Judas
  • Leaders like Tertullian were accusing people who
    avoided martyrdom by fleeing of being faithless
  • Judas seems to be angry at church leaders for
    encouraging Christians to accept martyrdom as
    Gods will
  • Judas tone is angry he portrays Jesus mocking
    his disciples

Gospel of Thomas
  • Where Matt, Mark, and Luke say that Jesus warned
    about the coming of the end of time, John and
    Thomas say that Jesus directed his disciples
    instead toward the beginning of time (the
    creation account) and identify Jesus as the
    divine light that came into being in the

The Gospel of Mary Magdala
  • Presents a radical interpretation of Jesus'
    teachings as a path to inner spiritual knowledge
  • It exposes the erroneous view that Mary of
    Magdala was a prostitute for what it is - a piece
    of theological fiction
  • It presents an argument for the legitimacy of
    women's leadership
  • It asks us to rethink the basis for church

Important Historical Figures
  • Part 2

Christianity Spreads 46-62 AD
  • Paul's (Saul) missionary journeys spread
    Christianity significantly
  • His speech to the Greeks on Mars Hill

Christianity in Rome
  • To the Romans, Christians were a strange and
    subversive group, meeting in catacombs, sewers
    and dark alleys, done only for their own safety,
    but perpetuating the idea that the religion was
    odd, shameful and secretive.

Christians as Scapegoats
  • 64 AD
  • A fire ravaged Rome, and the subsequent building
    of Emperor Nero's golden palace on the destroyed
    property, was wildly unpopular in Rome.
  • Many thought Nero started the fire
  • Nero blamed Christians, playing on people's fears
    that their intention was the complete destruction
    of the Roman world as they waited for the
    judgment day.

First Pope St. Peter
  • Jesus gave a new name to Simon, saying, You are
    Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church
    and I will give you the keys of the kingdom of
  • In these words Catholic Church recognizes the
    creation of the papacy (recognition of a Pope).
  • Peter was active as the head of the Church in
    different locations. The last was Rome.
  • Peter was martyred (at the time of Neros fire)
    on June 29, year 67, head downward on his own
    request, as he considered it unworthy of him to
    die as Christ did
  • Peter was buried on Vatican hill, where St.
    Peter's now stands.

Christians Organize Themselves
  • 150-450 AD
  • The People
  • Congregations formed Jewish and other converts
  • Evangelical Involved in the world
  • Deacon Local leader, teacher
  • Bishop Elected by city, selected priests
  • Leaders Originally 4 Tetrarchs (joint rulers)
  • Antioch (Syria)
  • Alexandria (Egypt)
  • Jerusalem
  • Rome
  • After Constantine conquered Byzantium and created
    Constantinople, this and Rome were the East and
    West Centers

The Wandering Christian
  • Wandering holy men monks and hermits
  • Models of martyrdom who battled against wealth,
    sexuality, appetite, and temptations.
  • Lives of self-denial brought them closer to
  • Martyrs graves became holy sites, and relics
    (bones, teeth, clothes, etc.) were housed under

Importance of Constantine
  • St. Helena
  • Constantines mother
  • May not have always been Christian
  • If not, she converted
  • Credited with finding the cross on which Jesus
    was crucified during her lengthy pilgrimage to
    Palestine from 327-328 AD
  • Other Contributions
  • 327 AD Constantinople becomes the capital to
    replace pagan Rome.
  • Funds building of churches
  • Makes Sunday a public holiday
  • Exempts clergy from taxes

313 AD Edict of Milan
  • Legalized Christianity
  • Probably for political gain

  • Jerusalem
  • Created the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on what
    was supposedly the site of the crucifixion

325 AD The First Council of Nicea
  • 300 bishops called by Constantine
  • Addresses the role of the Father, Son, Holy Ghost
  • To contradict Arius of Alexandria's teaching that
    Christ was subordinate to God

Nicene Creed
  • The Nicene Creed is the most widely accepted and
    used statement of the Christian Faith.
  • Said every Sunday as part of the Liturgy.
  • Common Ground to East Orthodox, Roman Catholics,
    Anglicans, Lutherans, Calvinists, and many other
    Christian groups.

337 AD
  • Constantine was baptized while on his deathbed
  • The sins he committed?
  • Unexplained execution of his eldest son and his
    second wife in 326.

Emperor Theodosius
  • 380 AD makes Christianity the official religion
    of the Roman Empire
  • 382 AD Stripped pagan temples of statues and
    made pagan Roman state worship treason
  • Developed church courts

Emperor Justinian
  • 527- 565 AD Justinian ruled from Ravenna and
  • Building program included the Hagia Sophia

Charles the Great/Charlemagne
  • 742? 814AD - crowned emperor of the Roman
    Empire in Saint Peter's basilica on Dec. 25, 800,
    by Pope Leo II.
  • First in the west since 6th century, seen as
    rebellion in the eyes of Byzantine court but
    revived Roman empire in the west
  • Implemented literacy and education to reform
    existing texts and halt their terrible
  • Gregorian Chant made mandatory in 810

Eastern/Western Split
  • The Great Schism - 1054
  • Creation of Orthodoxy
  • Pope Leo IX sent emissaries to excommunicate the
    eastern patriarch for refusing to accept changes
    in the language of the Nicene Creed

West vs. East
  • Roman Catholicism
  • Eastern Orthodoxy
  • Western Focus Roman Pope
  • Church order Pope, Cardinal, Arch-Bishop,
    Bishop, Priest, Deacon, Monk, Nun
  • Church law and legal interpretation of Christian
  • Personal discipline and purification
  • Emphasis on correct action in ritual
  • Trinity dwells in every Christian soul
  • Prayer and penance can dispose the soul to
    receive infusions of grace, but not wholly in
    this life
  • Eastern Focus
  • Mystical goal of Christian life
  • Know god
  • Unity with the divine
  • Unity with Christ
  • Prayer and penance on earth experience
    ecstatically the glories of God's indwelling
  • Eventually, they divided into national branches
    Greek, Russian, Serbian, Armenian, Syrian, etc.
  • Stayed unified in traditions and are not
  • No Pope leadership rests on the conscience of
    the church

The Crusades
  • 1095-1291 first seven crusades
  • Main goal To restore access for Christians to
    the holy places in and around Jerusalem (under
    Muslim control)
  • Pope Urban II (1088-1099) assisted Emperor Alexus
    of Constantinople in launching the first crusade
    against the Muslims
  • "Deus vult" (God wills it)
  • The battle cry of the Crusaders.
  • Red cross
  • The official sign of the pilgrims.
  • Crusades were failures they made no permanent
    conquests of the holy land and merely fostered
    harsh intolerance between Muslims and Christians.
  • The papacy gained the most from the Crusades
    its authority and that of the European kings was

The Inquisition
  • 1231 Gregory IX instituted the Inquisition
    (holy office) to fight Heretics
  • 1256 Papal Bull permitted Inquisitors
    (Dominicans and Franciscans) to use torture

Martin Luther
  • Catholic monk turned Father of Protestantism
  • Oct 31, 1517 All Saints Day Eve
  • Luther posted The Ninety-Five Theses on church
    door at Wittenburg
  • Excommunicated in 1520
  • Translated the Bible into the language of the
  • Every person in charge of his/her relationship
    with God without the mediation of a Priest
  • Questioned meanings of rituals
  • Good deeds dont get you into heaven
  • Eucharist is consubstantiation, not
  • Various interpretations of the Bible

John Calvin - Calvinism
  • 1536 - Calvin published The Institutes of
    Christian Religion
  • Belief in absolute sovereignty and omnipotence of
    God and total weakness of humanity
  • No free will in humans because that detracts from
    the sovereignty of God
  • Men and woman can't work toward salvation because
    God, in his infinite wisdom, predestined who
    would be saved and damned.

Henry VIII
  • Declared himself head of the church of England in
  • Resulted in a separated church The Church of
  • Personal motives wanted to be able to divorce
    his first wife!

  • Part 3

Christmas Why December 25th?
  • Probably chosen to oppose the feast of the
    Natalis Solis Invicti (nativity of the
    unconquerable sun)
  • December 25th, the birthday of the Sun-god
    (Mithras) at the winter solstice
  • Light (Christ) at the darkest time of the year -

First Christmas?
  • Earliest mention of the observance on Dec. 25th
    is in the Philocalian Calendar, representing
    Roman practice of the year 336.
  • 435 AD - the first "Christ mass" was officiated
    by Pope Sixtus III

Christmas Tree
  • The druids
  • decorated their trees with symbols of prosperity
    -- a fruitful harvest, coins for wealth and
    various charms such as those for love or
  • Scandinavian Pagans
  • first to bring their decorated trees indoors as
    this provided a warm and welcoming environment
    for the native fairy folk
  • The Saxons
  • first to place lights on the their trees in the
    form of candles.
  • Ancient Romans
  • decorated their homes with greens at the Festival
    of Saturnalia, their New Year, and exchanged
    evergreen branches with friends as a sign of good

Mistletoe and Holly
  • Two hundred years before the birth of Christ, the
    Druids used mistletoe to celebrate the coming of
    winter. They believed the plant had special
    healing powers
  • Scandinavians also thought of mistletoe as a
    plant of peace and harmony. They associated
    mistletoe with their goddess of love, Frigga.

Santa Claus
  • St. Nicholas was born in Turkey in the 4th
  • He was very pious from an early age, devoting his
    life to Christianity. He became widely known for
    his generosity for the poor.
  • But the Romans held him in contempt. He was
    imprisoned and tortured.
  • Constantine allowed Nicholas to go free and made
    him a delegate to the council of Nicea.
  • He is especially noted for his love of children
    and for his generosity.

Candy Cane
  • In the late 1800's a candy maker in Indiana
    wanted to express the meaning of Christmas
  • The color white symbolizes the purity and sinless
    nature of Jesus.
  • Next, he added three small stripes to symbolize
    the pain inflicted upon Jesus before His death on
    the cross.
  • He added a bold stripe to represent the blood
    Jesus shed for mankind.
  • When looked at with the crook on top, it looks
    like a shepherd's staff
  • If you turn it upside down, it becomes the
    letter J

Preparation for Christian Holy Week
  • Beginning with Lent, which precedes Easter by 40
  • Represents 40 days in desert
  • Renunciation of temptation or dedication to
    something positive in remembrance of Jesus
  • Also, taking on something to parallel what Christ
    took on

Fat Tuesday
  • The day before Lent
  • In French, Mardi Gras
  • Shrove Tuesday
  • In Latin America, called Carnival (carne
    flesh, so farewell to the flesh)
  • Celebration before renunciation
  • Paczki day (pronounced pun-shke)

Ash Wednesday
  • Remember, man, thou art dust and to dust thou
    shall return (Genesis 319)
  • Relates to Jesus sacrifice on behalf of mans
  • Priests mark the heads of the faithful with a
    cross of ashes
  • Fasting (as Christ did)

Holy Week Begins
Palm Sunday
  • Celebrates the beginning of the week of the
    Passion (holy week)
  • When Jesus entered Jerusalem and walked on palm

Maundy Thursday
  • Represents the last supper
  • From Latin mandatum meaning new commandment
  • represents the commandment Jesus gave the
    disciples regarding communion
  • Washing of feet

Good FridayIronic titleFollowing the stations
of the cross3 hours on the cross
  • The Stations are usually a series of 14 pictures
    or sculptures depicting the following scenes
  • Jesus is condemned to death
  • Jesus receives the cross
  • The first fall
  • Jesus meets His mother
  • Simon carries the cross
  • Veronica wipes Jesus' face with her veil
  • The second fall
  • Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem
  • The third fall
  • Jesus is stripped of His garments
  • Crucifixion Jesus is nailed to the cross
  • Jesus dies on the cross
  • Jesus' body removed from the cross (Pieta)
  • Jesus is laid in the tomb

Easter Sunday
  • Celebrates Resurrection
  • Christian symbols lamb (sacrifice)
  • Egg (tomb with rock from which Jesus emerged) and
    coloring eggs conversion to Christianity
  • Lily purity, one of Marys flowers

Pagan origins of symbols
  • Eggs, bunnies, pastel colors (symbols of
    reproduction, birth)
  • Eastre pagan goddess of the earth and spring,
    from an egg that dropped from the sky into the
  • Easter rising sun in the east, celebration of
    spring and the vernal equinox