“To declare Jesus lord and saviour of the world
is to identify oneself as a Christian.”
Christians sometimes expect other religious
traditions to express themselves as statements
of doctrines, and represent them as stubborn
refusals to go along with Christian beliefs about
Key Periods
 1st-2nd century: Independent religion.
Emergence of Gospels, earliest teachers.
 4th century: Constantine. Trinity,
Christology. Council at Nicaea.
 11th c.: Latin and Greek churches go their
own ways “Great Schism”
 16th c.: Protestant reformation, counter
 19th-20th: modernity
 Catholics 1.2 billion
 900,000,000 /
 Eastern Orthodox 228 million
 Protestants 670 million
 “Oriental Orthodox” (miaphysites, monophysites) 82
 Anglican Confession 80 million
 Assyrians, other Eastern Churches (Nestorians)
Another interesting map:
Jesus: Key dates
 Born ca. 6-4 BCE (Eusebius: 8 BCE. Dionysius Exiguus
(first to mark time from the incarnation rather than
from Diocletian, who persecuted Christians and the
basis of our current Era: Annunciation was March, 1
 Ministry begins ca. 30 years of age (26 CE?).
 Synoptic gospels and John differ about length of
ministry and other details.
 Goes to Jerusalem, tried, executed about 33 (29 CE)
 “Jesus
Institute”--with time line, ancient sources etc.
Canonic Gospels
Doctrine of the “fourfold Gospel:” first appeared in the work
of Ireneus of Lyon (d. c. 200), author of Adversus Haereses
(c. 180). Ireneus also supported the role of tradition, and
opposed Gnosticism and Marcionism. It appears from his
language that most Christians of the late 2nd Century did
*not* accord equal standing to the four Gospels we know as
canonic, and in many cases taught others that are now
considered non-canonic.
Mark—Simplest and probably representing the
earliest Gospel—
Mark provides the most basic narrative of ministry and
death of Jesus.
No nativity
Begins with baptism by John the Baptist
12 Apostles
In Jerusalem: Enters to shouts of Hosanna (probably a
reference to Ps. 118)
Week in Jerusalem: celebrate Passover, is betrayed,
arrested, tried executed, cries out “My God, My God…”
before the Sabbath, buried and sealed, Day after the
Sabbath, three women find the stone open and a figure
appears to them to say he is risen.
“Synoptic” refers to material that is very similar in
Mark, Matthew and Luke.
Q: a Source for Matthew and Luke for material not in
There is little in Mark that is not also in the other two
“Synoptic” gospels. Some of these passages unique to
the Gospel of Mark are considered later additions.
Luke and Matthew
 Anticipatory stories and Nativity
 Written for a Greek readership, at least in part.
 There are differences between Luke and Mark’s accounts of the
trial and crucifixion; the centurion says Jesus is innocent—not the
Son of God.
 Luke is interested in signs, portents, and prayers.
 Luke usually considered author of Acts.
 Both Luke and Matthew have the “Lord’s Prayer”
 Also has a Nativity account—nearly total disagreement with Luke
 Written for a Jewish audience, with many citations of OT sources.
 Virgin birth—a passage from Isaiah 7
 Psalm 22: provides a model for the Crucifixion.
Can we reconstruct Jesus’ own
theology? Goals?
 Kingdom of God,
 restructuring society.
 Jesus—a Jew whose teachings are similar to the
Pharisees, despite later Church antagonism to
Pharisees. (teachings about messiah, resurrection,
saving lives on the sabbath, impurity of speech lashon
 Luke—seems to have interpreted the Jesus movement
as pacifist, even though it may have the only
reference to the 1st Jewish revolt (leading to the
destruction of the Temple in 70 CE).
 But Mark 14 and Matthew 26 suggests that the Jesus
movement was armed and resisted arrest.
 “John’s purpose is to present not just the narrative
but its cosmic significance.”
 The book starts: “In the beginning”—to mirror OT—
“was the Word and the Word was with God”
 Compare the use of “God said” ten times, and the
Rabbinic tractate (Avot 5:1) “with ten words the world
was created.”
 By ten divine sayings the world was created. Could it
not have been created by one? What does this teach
us? In order to emphasize the guilt of the wicked who
destroy the world that was created with ten sayings
and the merit of the righteous who preserve the world
that was created with ten sayings.
 Genesis 1:1
Religions/Genesis Chapter 1.doc
Non canonic Gospels
 mentioned only in passing in our text, but there are
quite a few known.
html Infancy Gospel of Thomas—has story of the clay
birds that also appears in the Qur’an.
 One attempt
to date the various writings.
 Nag Hammadi texts.
 d. c. 65—died in Nero’s persecution of
 Pharisee from Tarsus
 Vision on road to Damascus. Letters.
 I Corinthians: main point is crucifixion and
 Oxtoby: Paul is responsible for a major
theme: Contrast of life in the spirit with life
in the flesh—opening the way for
understanding our physicality negatively.
Marcion d. c. 160
Excommunicated from the Church in 144 CE
 Marcion takes Paul’s contrast between Law and Gospel
to astonishing lengths: in Marcion’s hand, this is a
conflict between the Demiurge, and the God of Love.
Thus—Marcion accepts only ten letters of Paul, and an
edited version of Luke and Acts. He wrote Antitheses
to support his approach.
 The reaction to Marcion determined that there was
indeed a Hebraic background to Christianity which
would not be dropped.
 Ireneus – probably most important response. Still,
what to make of the Old Testament continued to be an
issue. Eusebius, who was at Nicaea, wrote about the
Old Testament as “Preparation for the Gospel.”
“To Know”
 Good vs Evil / Spirit vs Matter
 Gnostics: Against material world
 Doceticism: anti Gnostics
 Mandeans
 Manicheans (Mani: 216-275)
 Nag Hammadi texts
 Antony 251-356
 Simon Stylites 390-459 (Pillar
reached 60 ft high)
 Pachomius 290-346 – 9 monasteries
 Basil 330-379
 Our Father (Paternoster) or Lord’s Prayer
 Eucharist (“Thanksgiving”) Bread and Wine
In synoptic Gospels, Jesus passes around bread and wine, declares
these to be his body and blood and asks disciples to do same
in remembrance of him.
Mass (From the end of the ritual: Ite, missa est) or Holy
Communion or Lord’s Supper. Lit. of Word, of Eucharist.
Guide to the structure of the Mass
 Baptism -- different meanings attached to
Baptism in different denominations.
 “Oath of Allegiance”—[[something like
the ot ha-brit “sign of the covenant”—SW]].
 List of seven emerges in Western
Christianity in 13th century, now known as:
Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance,
Anointing the sick, Ordination, and
Christian Year
Christmas (Emergence of Christmas over Easter, Epiphany and other
holidays, may reflect theological issues).
Epiphany (Magi AND Baptism) 6 January
Candlemas or Feast of Presentation: Feb. 2
Lent: 6 ½ weeks (40 days excluding Sundays)
Palm Sunday. (The palm ceremony probably recollects an event during
Maundy Thursday (mandatum “commandment” to love one another.
Washing of the feet)
Good Friday
Easter. Feast of Resurrection (also of course marked every week!)
Originally asked Jews about Passover to determine date. In 325, adopted
lunar calculations.
Ascension: Thursday, 40 days after Easter.
Pentecost “Whitsunday” or “Feast of the Holy Spirit”
This is a page put together by the Easterbrooks family
with the Catholic liturgical calendar.
Art work and symbols
Jesus not always depicted as he is today—Hermes as
Fish: Iēsous Christos Theou huious sōtēr. “Jesus Christ Son
of God Saviour”
Cross is late symbol—became popular in Constantine’s time.
Churches: Large churches only built with the Imperial
Christian period.
Basilica – added transepts to be shaped like cross.
Circular or octagonal plan(patterned after Temple?)
Chi/rho : Constantine’s symbol
IHS: from Greek! First three letters of “Iesous”—understood
as In hoc signo vinces
(compare Biblical INRI in three languages).
Imperial Timeline
 Diocletian 284-305
Established Eastern capital in Nicomedia.
Major persecution in 303.
St. George who killed the dragon—a victim of Diocletian
 Constantine (ruled 306-337)
312 Won control of Western empire. (Vision of the
Cross with IHS)
Gave Christians liberty to practice.
Sunday became public holiday (coincided with
sun worship).
Converted on his deathbed
 Julian 361-363 “The Apostate”
 Theodosius 379-395 Made Christianity official religion
Summary of Theological issues
 Transcendent God, incarnate and enters
human condition—early period
 Trinity—mid 3rd-4th century
 It is not an early belief; there is no Gospel
confirmation of it. Matt 28:19, may be a late
 Link between Divine and Human in The Son
(Christology)—5th century
 Atonement for human sin—throughout the
Apostles’ Creed—early, before Trinitarian
Early ideas included “binitarian” ideas of father and son.
Nicene Creed—325, revised 381
Chalcedon 451 “truly God and truly Man… acknowledged
in two natures…inseparably…the property of each
nature preserved…not parted or divided into two
Arius (Libya, c. 250-336): son of God created in time by Father as part of the
creation. “There was an existence when the Son was not.”
Athanasius 296-373 coeternity and coequality of father and
son homoousion (“consubstantial”) vs. homoiousion (similar substance).
This debate continued until 381 in the Empire, but continued with the Franks until
5th century and Visigoths in Spain until 7th.
Christology was the doctrinal issue of the 5th century
Two separate persons, divine and human: Assyrian Church of the
East. (Nestorians)
One person, one nature: Monophysites. Copts, Jacobites,
One person, two natures (“Truly Man and truly God”
Chalcedon 451. Text on pp. 233-234): Greek and Latin churches.
Mary: Mother of God or Mother of Christ? Nestorian position
opposed theotokos “Mother of God.” (we return to this later)
“Filioque” Did the Holy Spirit proceed from the Father “and the Son” ?
This was a major part of the split between Greeks and Latins (1054),
but there are other issues as well
celibate priests, and
the nature and material of the Host.
Eastern Catholic Churches
 Uniate Churches recognize Rome –
starting in Crusades Maronites 1182
but the name comes from 1595,
when the Church of Ukraine allied
with Rome. Today the preferred
nomenclature is “Eastern Catholic.”
 Ukrainian, Byzantine, Greek, etc.
Byzantine/Greek Orthodox Church.
Byzantium captured by the Turks in 1453. Parts of Greece became
independent in 1821. The close association of the Church with the
ruling regime and the national language is reflected in many ways,
including art, and the involvement of the Emperor in the
appointment of the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Figure of Jesus no longer the young shepherd but bearded royal
figure with orb and halo, Christ Pantokrator – translation of “World
Ruler” or “Ruler of the Universe” (compare rex universi, mālik al‘ālamin ‫”ملك العالمين‬King of the Universe” , ‫ ) מלך העולם‬. Icons become
important, and the “Iconoclastic controversy” erupted in the 7th8th centuries.
Worship and Music: Musical developments (and developments in
the notation of scriptures) took place at about the same time in
Judaism Christianity and Islam. Ceremonies, particularly connected
with Easter in Jerusalem. Orthodox Christianity spread
to Serbia, Eastern Europe (as far north as Moravia) and Russia.
Bishop of Rome: called “Pope” from 3rd century. (Coptic patriarch also called “Pope”).
Matthew 16:18: play on words regarding “Kepha” (Petrus= “rock”). You are Peter, and upon this rock I
will build my church”.
Augustine of Hippo 354-430
Background: studied “Neoplatonism,” and Manicheism. Monica—his mother--was committed to Jesus
but not really “a Christian” in the full sense of the word.
City of God
Pelagian controversy: Pelagius 354-c 420/440. Man can become perfect through his own actions-denied Original Sin. (Mormons: Joseph Smith’s 13 principles include "We believe that men will
be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.)"
St. Benedict (480-550) composed the rule which is fundamental to Western monastic life.
Orders Cluniacs
Pope Gregory I “The Great” r. 590-604: Gregorian Chant
Gregory XIII 1582: reformed the Calendar to make Easter calculations keep in line with rulings of
the Nicene council.
Church vs. State: issues in the
relation between Pope and Princes.
 Charlemagne / Holy Roman Empire
 Eastern Empire, Ottomans
 Henry III (1039-1056)—Deposed
 Gregory VII said Pope could depose
Emperors (1075)
 “Babylonian Captivity” and “Great
Schism” 1309-1377; 1378-1414
Islamic conquest 637
Church of the Holy Sepulchre burned 1010
Split between Rome and Constantinople 1054
Seljuq capture of Jerusalem 1071
Note that the dispute about temporal and spiritual power
was raging in this period.
Pope Urban II called for the Crusade in 1095
Capture of Jerusalem 1099
Saladin recaptures Jerusalem 1187 (Richard the Lion Heart 118999)
Constantinople sacked by fourth crusade 1204
2nd Latin Kingdom under Frederick II of Hohenstaufen 1228-1244
Last Crusader stronghold (Acre and Athlit) ended in 1291
By the end of the Crusader period, the Ottomans had
begun their incursions into SE Europe; Muslims continued to trade
with Europe when appropriate; in the 20th century, some Muslims
began to look at the Crusades as the archetype of Western
Crusader Map
“Principal feminine point of access to the Trinity and a as
model of sorrow enduring love in her own right.”
Annunciation 25 March, Purification (after childbirth) 2 February,
Dormition / Assumption 15 August
Theotokos raised in 5th century Nestorian controversy.
Debate over her sinlessness: 8 December feast of the
Immaculate Conception. Dominicans were against, Franciscans
promoted it.
Assumption of Mary: did she rise to heaven and does she reign
alongside her son? Did she do it with or without death?
“Mother of the Church” [[Compare with vision of Rachel crying
over her children in Jeremiah –SW]] Oxtoby compares to Isis.
Rosary: 5 sequences of ten beads; One Our Father and ten Hail
Visions of Mary Lourdes 1858—Juan Diego in Mexico
Protestants: typically had reservations about Mother of God.
Orthodox lacks some of the Latin dogma
1854 Pius IX Immaculate Conception defined as dogma
1950 Pius XII Assumption of Mary defined as dogma
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
 Summa Theologiae: Five arguments for Divine
Existence. First three are cosmological, 4 is
ontological, 5 is teleogical.
 Change or motion is evidence of a Prime Mover
 Pattern of Cause and effect points to First Cause
 Things can exist or not, but their must be a being that
exists out of necessity, a Necessary Existent
 Things have grades of goodness, truth, and nobility;
must be a Supreme Good.
 Plan observable in the universe is evidence of a
Divine Planner.
 1879: Pope Leo XIII made Thomism the official
doctrine of the Church
Protestant Reformation
Political background: Latin Christianity was a
European phenomenon; there were Greek
Orthodox and other churches elsewhere. Ottomans
captured much of the European and Asian Greek
Orthodox world; 1st battle of Kosovo in 1389, fall
of Constantinople in 1453.
But in the West, Spain pushed out the Muslims from
Granada in 1492, and the voyages of discovery
especially by Spain and Portugal broadened
Christianity’s horizons. Printing press invented in
Mainz 1456.
Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)
John Wyclif (1329-1384)
Martin Luther 1483-1546
Competing sales of indulgences touched off the controversy. Prince
Frederick of Wittenberg (1486-1525) was angered because
competing relics cut into his revenue. Luther maintained that the
money was better left in the pockets of the people, that if the Pope
could release people from Inferno he should free all its denizens, and
the “treasury of scripture” outweighs the “merits of the saints.”
 1517
95 Theses
 1521
“Diet of Worms”
 1545-1563 Council of Trent
Faith vs. Works. Paul: Works are Jewish commandments; Luther:
confession and penance; acts of the Pope and the institutional
Church. Scripture (as understood by Luther) becomes the authority.
“sola scriptura” (five solas:
 Translation of NT 1522 OT 1534.
Married life; took priesthood off the pedestal it had had since the time of
Constantine. No intercession was necessary.
Luther disagreed with other reformers about such things as baptism and
Eucharist; in addition to scriptural authority, married clergy, and
justification by faith alone, a fragmented Church was also a legacy of
this period which has continued to the present.
Main churches of the 16th
century reformation
Reformed (Calivinist)
Anabaptists (Baptism of believers, not infants)
Unitarian: Martin Cellarius (1499-1564) pupil of
Reuchlin (1522) (merged with Universalists in 1961!)
Puritans: Oxtoby calls it a “movement” rather than a
Luther, Reuchlin and the Jews, Christian Hebraism and
Kabbalah—topics which ought to be discussed as well
Ezra Stiles-note Hebrew lettering on books in library,
Tetragrammaton on sphere at upper left.
17th century
18th Century
Methodists: John Wesley (1703-91)
Revival. Great Awakening 1740-3. Jonathan Edwards
 Holiness Churches: “feeling intensely the … gift of
holiness.” Church of the Nazarene, Church of God.
Holy Rollers; glossollalia (Speaking in tongues)
Worship among Protestants
Avoid Catholic/Orthodox symbols and ideas: avoid sign of the Cross. Clergy
represent the community and teach or lead (pastor or minister), rather than
officiate and dispense miracles. Eucharist: becomes symbolic rather than
real, or the presence of the body and blood is together with the bread and
wine. Differences in how dispensed: line up in Catholic, but distributed in
many Protestant congregations. Catholic uses unleavened wafers and wine
(Greek Orthodox use leavened wafers). Many Protestant churches use grape
juice and sometimes other items for bread.
Frequency of Eucharist: Protestant movements both led to a more frequent
sharing of Eucharist by the general congregation and other modifications.
Lectionary revision: some churches had a lectionary for reading OT and NT
in consecutive order; typically changed to highlights on Sundays.
Creeds and Worship texts: Seen as a mark of the Holy Spirit acting through
the church, but Apostle’s Creed and Nicene Creed retained popularity.
Art and Music: Changed setup of churches—minister faced congregation;
removed images, including Jesus on Cross and images of Mary.
Hymns: Oxtoby mentions a few, including Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is
Our God.” And “Amazing Grace” –words from 1779.
“The God of Abraham Praise” A
brief history of a hymn.
Originally, the 13 principles of Maimonides. 13 principles and
Geniza.doc (this has some further information about Maimonides,
Reworked to a Christian framework by T. Olivers. (This website has
the familiar melody for this hymn and the Jewish “Yigdal”). The
history is recounted in this website: . The
text is herem with a
fuller version here: . I suspect
Olivers may have written 13 stanzas as in Maimonides’ principles
and the original Yigdal but I have not found a cyberversion with
more than 12.
Hymn redone, with words translated by Max Landsberg (Reform
Jewish) and Newton Mann (Unitarian) in Rochester NY
New American Denominations
Disciples of Christ
Sevent Day Adventists: In 1831, William Miller (17821849) preached that 2,300 days in Daniel 8:14 meant 2300
years and expected the 2nd coming in 1843. This did not
materialize, but they revised their predictions and
eventually became unspecific. Ellen Gould Harmon White
(1826-1915) became the confirming spiritual authority of
the movement.
Jehovah’s Witnesses: Charles Taze Russel (1852-1916):
Jesus is created and reject Trinity; reject secular authority;
Zion’s Watch Tower; Meet in Kingdom Halls; door to door
missionary activity.
Christian Science:
Creation and Evolution
Contextualizing the Bible
Vatican II
Martin Luther King
Faith of Others

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