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Summarize the ways in which Jesus’ ministry reflected the values in 1st century Judaism. Then discuss the ways in which Jesus’ teaching marked a radical departure from the religious thought of 1st century Judaism. Provide at least three examples from the gospels of Matthew and Mark to illustrate your observation

Jesus ministry was in many ways rooted in the values of the 1st Century Judaism either as a negation of those values, a reformation or outright support (Crossan, pp. 101-108). A close inspection of the values esteemed by the ancient Judaism religion reveals how these values played out in the values esteemed by the ministry of Jesus. Judaism is regarded as a world religion inspite of never having transcended above its national origins (Crossan, pp. 101-108). The 1st Century Judaism represented piety and polity with a code of seven values that corresponding with the basic number of Judaism’s reality construction, seven. These were the centrality of modern Israel, the Hebrew language as the irreplaceable language of expression, devotion to the Klal Yisrael ideal, a defining role of played by the Torah in shaping Judaism, the mandated study of the Torah, governance by Halakha and finally belief in one person of God.

Jesus never negated the principles preached by the Torah, only that the new doctrine included a salvation by grace. Observance of the Torah laws as written by Moses had failed to bring righteousness (Anderson, pp. 217-226). As such, Jesus embodied the final atonement sacrifice that could justify sin and forever cleanse the sinner before God. While in 1stcentury Judaism animal sacrifices were used to seek atonement, Jesus ministry was to end the sacrifices and extend the mercy and grace of God in forgiving sin. Jesus thus was the lamb of sacrifice that sin would forever be cleansed by, not based on works and self-righteousness, but based on God’s grace through the faith of a believer (Anderson, pp. 217-226).

On the other hand, Jesus begun by negating some core values of 1st century Judaism in revoking the belief that Israel was the only nation that would receive God’s mercy and redemption. While Israel remained a central pillar to the new religion charted by Jesus as a chosen people, salvation was given out freely to the gentiles as well and to any willing soul. As recorded in Mathew 7: 22, “I say unto you, that many will come from the East and the West and will take their places at the feast of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…” In this text, Jesus denotes that Gods mercy will extend beyond Israel (Borg, pp. 74-81).

Secondly, as regards the Judaism value of one person of God, the new teachings of Jesus brought in two new deities in the person of God, Hid son and the Holy Spirit. The acceptance of Jesus as God is the major difference between Judaism and mainstream Christianity even today (Borg, pp. 74-81). In Mathew 16: 20, Jesus exalts Simon Peter for knowing the He, Jesus, was “Christ, the Son of the Living God.”  The third example Jesus refuted the supremacy of the Torah and instead introduced the worship by spirit. Worshiping God by following the laws set out in eth Torah (by works) was inadequate to attain salvation. In Jesus ministry, salvation was by grace, by faith and by the spirit. In Mathew 15:8, Jesus rebukes a crowd by saying, “…worship me in vain since their teachings are but rules taught by men.” This was a fundamental value in Judaism which Jesus negated (Crossan, pp. 101-108).

Discuss the major differences between the Christian worldview and that of Classical Humanism. Use at least two ancient sources to illustrate classical humanistic worldview and examples from Augustine’s The City of God to illustrate the Christian worldview

Christian worldview places its final reality is an infinite, objective and personal God who is truly there whether humans think He is or not. To this view, God is not subject to human reasoning and does not exist just because humans think He does (More. Pp. 28-57). The conception of God in this view is as the Creator of everything else. Most important though, the Christian God has a personal edge in Him such that not everything is constant and equal to Him. He bears a character, one that agrees with some things and conflicts with others. This view introduces elements of good and bad based on how the elements relate with the character of God. This character is mostly marked with absolutes, wrong or right.

To the humanist side, God is a reality, thought of as a material a body of energy that exists forever in some unknown form and which has its configuration by virtue of pure chance. This view conceives God as impersonal and neutral to all value systems a man adopts, without distinction of right or wrong. To this view, value systems, morality, basis of law and human behaviors have no relationship with God since He has no business in the affairs of men.

Saint Augustine (A.D. 354-430), the bishop of Hippo, North Africa, was the single most important theoretician of the Christian worldview during the Late Roman Empire. The African born priest was appointed Hippo bishop in 395 after devoting his life to following Christ’s teachings. He wrote The City of God at the end of 5th century as the Greco-Roman world-view disintegrated and the Roman Empire was on the verge of collapse. As such, Augustine in The City of God only addressed the crisis of the day (Roman Empire) as Plato’s Republic addressed Athenian crisis (More. Pp. 28-57).

His main philosophy and which is the basic principles of Christian world view was that some elect were predestined for heaven and others for hell and there was nothing a man could do to alter his predestination. Secondly, Augustine’s believe was in the doom of worlds cities and all efforts of man altogether. The only perfection and eternity were only achievable in heaven and the cities of heaven and everything else under the sun was doomed to fail (More. Pp. 28-57). As such, Christians should place their hopes and faith in the coming city when heaven is reveled and not bother about the contemporary crises of the world in which they were but sojourns.

In what ways were the Byzantine and Islamic civilization both deeply influenced by Creco-Roman and Judeo-Christians traditions.

Both the Byzantine and Islamic civilizations were offshoots of the fallen Judeo-Christian and Creco-Roman traditions. Byzantine has been called by some experts as the second Rome, arising form the fall of Rome with the Roman Empire. The great city of Byzantine was at the crossroads of Asia and Europe and its eventually vast empire developed out of the surviving remnants of the Roman Empire and its culture (Gustavson 284-291).

Those who left the Roman Empire on its deathbed sought somewhere else that was more promising. Most went to Byzantine. The city and its empire ended up preserving the Greco-Roman culture that had been imported with the mass migrations from the falling Roma Empire. From the other end, the Asian merchants and elites interacted with the city of Byzantine and transmitted the hybrid culture and economics to their largely Islamic regions. Ultimately, when Rome lay in the barbarian hands at its deathbed, all its glory was transferred to Byzantine. The emergent city would gradually become the focus of redefined Christianity and a center of the commerce for the world (Gustavson 284-291).

Not only did the Byzantine civilization safeguard the best of Roman Empire, it also inspired the Islamic civilization with the same inheritance. When Constantinople transferred his base to Byzantine, the city became a gateway or civilization to the Western Europe regions and Asia, both sides gaining an opportunity to refashion their lives in the post Roman Empire years (Gustavson 284-291). Without a question, the civilization of both Western Europe and the Islamic world were by-products of the definitive will of the Byzantine Empire and its culture, to survive despite the failure of the Creco-Roman and Judeo-Christians traditions.

Explain the economical, political and social troubles that afflicted Western Europe during the Late Middle Ages, beginning in the 14th century. Be sure to include the reason for the decline of the prestige, power and authority of the papacy during this period.

The beginning of the Middle Ages had seen renewed growth and commercial activity in Western Europe. Most of the commercial towns in Western England flourished in this age. The numerous city-states of the northern Italy had risen to influence and great wealth. However, after the end of the High Middle ages, (around 1250) there was a demographic stagnation and populations finally reached the limit that the prominent medieval agriculture of the time could support (Durant 114-131). Growth slowed gradually until it stopped. By the end of middle ages, European populations had shrunk and most cities or rural estates completely abandoned. The age had great diseases among the masses, widespread political disorder, and poor climate. The Classical Mediterranean civilizations were at that time eclipsing Europe, which embraced small and localized hybrid societies. These societies combined the Roman, Germanic, Christian and Celtic barbarian cultures quite library. By the 12th Century, population in Western Europe had reached lowest level making Europe a rural and relatively backward region.

The major problems of the middle ages included the Hundred Years War starting from 1337 and ending on 1453. The most complex of all European wars, it was fought between England and France. Eventually, the English lost the war. The second and perhaps the worst of the problems during the late Middle Ages was the Black Death. Also called the Bubonic Plague, the Black Death plague emerged in Europe at around 1347. The plague was transmitted by rats and fleas mainly because of the poor sanitation and hygiene practices of the time. It swept across Western Europe and killed a third of the entire population by 1351. Most of those infected by the bacteria died within two days of infection. It was the worst plague to ever hit Europe since the 535 Justinian plague (Gustavson 227-232).

The third problem in Western Europe throughout the late Middle Ages was the great famine that lasted from 1316 to1321. Years of persistent cold and overly wet weather had caused all the crops to fail each season. The continent was thus experiencing a great food shortage even as the plague hit.

The beginning of church problems was when people saw that church’s prayers could not cure a plague victim. Even church leaders were not immune to the Black Death. Consequently, the general populace lost their faith in the Christian church and accepted the doctrines of new and localized religious movements that had previously been successfully suppressed by the church. This was the genesis of the greater reformation later on (Lawrence 142-152). There were more and more challenges to the spiritual authority of the church during the late Middle Ages. The church could no longer provide stability and social order like it had done during the medieval world. But when people lost their faith in the Christian church, its ability to reassure salvation was questioned. Ultimately, the church lost its exclusive hold over the populace.

The late Middle Ages church was corruption of the church leaders. Vast corruption had wrecked the church such that the masses begun doubting and even question its authority. The clergy were excessively wealthy, most had mistresses and hosts of illegitimate children despite the Church’s decree to celibacy. More importantly, people began questioning the church’s indulgences in sale of forgiveness, blessings and influence. The problems of nepotism, simony (sale of church positions), pluralism (holding multiple offices) and the extreme luxury by the clergy in cathedrals prompted a revolution in the minds of most faithfuls (Hunt 93).

Lawrence (2001) documents that the final nail to the coffin, which saw a decline in the authority; prestige and power of the papacy was the great schism in 1378 (142-152). The church was plagued by three distinct factions, each of which ended up electing their own pope. For 39 years, the church had a Roman Pope (Urban VI), a French pope (Clement VII) and a Conciliarists pope. The threefold papacy split finally made the institution of the pope weak, disharmonious and questionable until 1418 when a new pope was elected to bring the Great schism to an end. All these problems brought a great decay to the image of the church and destroyed its moral authority and prestige.

Works Cited

Anderson, William. Jewish Education Around the Time of the New Testament (100 bce-100 ce). Glasglow: University of Glasglow Press. 1997” 217-226.

Borg, Marcus. Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith. San Francisco: Harper 1997: 74-81.

Crossan, Dominic. Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. San Francisco: Harper 1995: 101-108.

Durant, William. The Story of Civilization. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1950: 114-131.

Gustavson, Carl.  A Preface to History. London: McGraw-Hill, 1955: 227 – 232, 284-291.

Heschel, Abraham. God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism. New York: Appalel. 1956: 274.

Hunt, Lynn, et al. The Making of the West: People and Cultures. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2001: 93.

Lawrence, C. Medieval Monasticism: Forms of Religious Life in Western Europe in the Middle Ages. London: Longman, 2001: 143-152.

More, Ryan. The Birth of Europe as a Eurasian Phenomenon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997: 28-57.

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