Christianity: An Introduction by Philip Kennedy

By Philip Kennedy

The Christian religion has the allegiance of 1 3rd of the human race. It has succeeded in influencing civilization to this type of measure that we now take its lifestyles virtually without any consideration. but it could actually all were so diverse. Christianity begun with the phrases and deeds of an vague village carpenter's son who died a shameful criminal's demise by the hands of the Roman occupiers of his state: itself a mere outpost of the robust ruling Empire. The feverish land of biblical Palestine, awash with apocalyptic expectancies of deliverance from its international overlords, was once rarely in need of seers and prophets who claimed to be despatched visions from God. but the fans of this guy proposal he was once assorted: so varied, in reality, that a few years after his demise and asserted resurrection they scandalously insisted not just that he was once despatched through God, yet that he "was" God. How a provincial sect, with its likely outrageous principles, grew to become first the sanctioned faith of the Roman Empire after which, over the process 2000 years, the creed of billions of individuals, is the inconceivable tale that this e-book tells. it's a tale of freethinkers, friars, fans, and firebrands; and of the lay humans (not simply the clerical or the strong) who've made up the nice mass of Christians over the centuries. Many introductions to Christianity are written by means of Christians, for Christians. This based textbook, in contrast, indicates that the historical past of the faith, whereas usually excellent, isn't one in every of unimpeded development, yet anything nonetheless extra striking, incorrect and human.

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The Near East Jesus spent his life in the hinterland of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. He and his friends were conquered people. They spent all of their existence under the heel of the Roman Empire. Jesus lived under two emperors: Octavian, who took the name ‘Augustus’, and Tiberius. He was born under the first, and killed during the reign of the second. His ancestors over many generations had endured the 01_Christianity_001-040 3/2/11 15:47 Page 5 Jesus and the Mediterranean World 5 hardship of political subjugation, stymied by a succession of imperial dynasties that had conquered their lands.

In his life and actions he combined imperfection and perceived perfection. The interplay between these two factors explains the allure of many historical figures. Giotto, for instance, was remembered as a peasant boy who could draw a perfect circle. Despite limitations in his material resources he enjoyed the sublime skill of artistry. The same interplay is found in Jesus – limitation/excellence; simplicity/profundity; and humility/greatness. Transposed into a theological register, Jesus came to be worshipped as human and divine.

Was Jesus the founder of Christianity or had he never heard of it? Who was Jesus anyway? Might he have been the Son of the Most High God, as the ancient text of Mark’s Gospel would have its readers believe, or a failed, executed religious enthusiast? Is Protestantism a perversion of Christianity or its reformed rejuvenescence? Do Christians believe in three Gods or one? Does contemporary Catholicism, the largest of all Christian groups, need a papacy? Are there Christians in Mongolia? Is Christianity truer than all other religions?

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