26 d) Review of major belief systems –
Catholics & early sects
Was originally a Jewish reform movement which grew under the influence of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth (son of Joseph) and later by Saint Paul. It was considered a Jewish sect for about the first 100 years.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Christianity “Early Christianity is the period of Christianity preceding the First Council of Nicaea in 325. It is typically divided into the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period (from the Apostolic Age until Nicea). The first Christians, as described in the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, were all Jewish, either by birth, or conversion for which the biblical term proselyte is used, and referred to by historians as the Jewish Christians. The early Gospel message was spread orally; probably in Aramaic, but almost immediately also in Greek. The New Testament’s Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians record that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included Peter, James, and John. Paul of Tarsus, after his conversion to Christianity, claimed the title of “Apostle to the Gentiles”. Paul’s influence on Christian thinking is said to be more significant than any other New Testament authors. By the end of the 1st century, Christianity began to be recognized internally and externally as a separate religion from Judaism which itself was refined and developed further in the centuries after the destruction of the Second Jerusalem Temple.
Numerous quotations in the New Testament and other Christian writings of the 1st centuries, indicate that early Christians generally used and revered the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh) as Scripture, mostly in the Greek (Septuagint) or Aramaic (Targum) translations.
As the New Testament canon developed, the Letters of Paul, the canonical gospels and various other works were also recognized as scripture to be read in church. Paul’s letters, especially Romans, established a theology based on Christ rather than on the Mosaic Law, but most Christian denominations today still consider the “moral prescriptions” of the Mosaic Law, such as the Ten Commandments, Great Commandment, and Golden Rule, to be relevant. Early Christians demonstrated a wide range of beliefs and practices, many of which were later denounced as heretical.” Most prominent among these were the Gnostics or “knowers”. In the early church where were well over 100 documents that were referred to as Gospels or the Good News. The culling out of these to arrive at the four that appear in the current New Testament commenced in approximately 185 AD: Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel
“Of the many gospels written in antiquity, only four gospels came to be accepted as part of the New Testament, or canonical. An insistence upon there being a canon of four gospels, and no others, was a central theme of Irenaeus of Lyons, c. 185. In his central work, Adversus Haereses Irenaeus denounced various early Christian groups that used only one gospel, such as Marcionism which used only Marcion’s version of Luke, or the Ebionites, who seem to have used an Aramaic version of Matthew as well as groups that embraced the texts of newer writings, such as the Valentinians . Irenaeus declared that the four he espoused were the four “Pillars of the Church”: “it is not possible that there can be either more or fewer than four” he stated, presenting as logic the analogy of the four corners of the earth and the four winds. His image, taken from Ezekiel 1, or Revelation 4:6–10, of God’s throne borne by four creatures with four faces—”the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle”—equivalent to the “four-formed” gospel, is the origin of the conventional symbols of the Evangelists: lion, bull, eagle, man. Irenaeus was ultimately successful in declaring that the four gospels collectively, and exclusively these four, contained the truth. He also supported reading each gospel in light of the others.”
The remainder of the New Testament narrative was determined during the council of Nicaea in 325 AD under the influence of Emperor Constantine. It is indeed interesting that the “Church” was seemingly kidnapped by the Romans once they understood both the political and economic opportunities. It is equally amazing that they have overcome the many examples of immorality and corruption that have infected the “faith” over the past two millennia. These include, but by no means are limited to: Source: http://www.christian-history.org/western-great-schism.html
“The Western Great Schism began on September 20, 1378 with the election of Clement VII in Avignon, France. He was the second pope elected by the same college of cardinals in six months, and for the first time in history there were two “legitimate” claimants to be head of the church in Rome.”
The inquisition which involved torture and in some cases execution of belief system heretics and which was not abolished by the Church until the 19th Century! More recently are the revelations of sexual abuse of minors by priests (which was kept under wraps for millennia).
stay tuned next week for more on this subjetc