History of Christianity

    The History of Jesus


    • Jesus of Nazareth- people thought he was the Messiah- a great leader the ancient Jews predicted would come to restore the greatness of Israel.
    • Jesus’ life and teachings form the basis of a religion called Christianity.
    • Bible- the holy book that tells us what we know about Christianity- 2 parts
      • Old Testament- Hebrew Torah
      • New Testament- an account of the life and teachings of Jesus and the early history of Christianity.
        • Parables


    • Jesus was born in Bethlehem

    o       Mary- Jesus’ mother- married to a carpenter named Joseph

    o       Christians believe G-d, not Joseph was Jesus’ father.

    • Jesus studied the laws and teachings of Judaism- 30 years old- began to travel and teach.

    o       New Testament- stories of his teachings and actions

    • His teachings challenged the political and religious leaders
    o       Arrested Jesus while he was in Jerusalem- he was there for a Passover Seder.
    "The Last Supper" painted by Leonardo Di Vinci

    o       He was tried and executed

    o       The Romans had Jesus killed by crucifixion- in which a person was nailed to a cross.

    o       Crucifixion comes from the Latin word for “cross”.

    • The Pieta- Created by Michelangelo, located in Saint Peters Basilica in Rome.

    o       Mary holding her son Jesus after he was crucified.


    The Resurrection


    ·        According to the Christian belief, Jesus rose from the dead and vanished from his tomb three days after he was crucified.

    o       Christians refer to Jesus’s rise from the dead as the Resurrection

    ·        Christians further believe that after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to some groups of his followers

    o       Disciples- Jesus’s followers

    o       Jesus stayed with these disciples for the next 40 days, teaching them and giving those instructions on how to pass on his teachings. Then Jesus rose up to heaven

    ·        Early Christians believed that the Resurrection was a sign that Jesus was the Messiah and the son of G_d.

    ·        People began to call his Jesus Christ, from the Greek word for Messiah, Christos.

    o       It is from this word that the words Christian and Christianity developed.


    Jesus’s Acts of Teaching

    ·        Jesus traveled spreading his message among the Jewish people.


    ·        Many people became followers after they saw him perform miracles.

    o       An event that cannot normally be performed by a human

    o       Convinced he was the son of G_d

    §        Once fed an entire crowd worth just a few loaves of bread and a few fish.


    ·        Jesus taught his followers through parables, or stories that teach lessons about how people should live.

    o       Similar to fables, but they usually teach religious lessons

    ·        Explained complicated ideas in ways that most people could understand.

    o       Similar to the commentaries in Judaism.

    Jesus’s Message

    ·        Much of Jesus’s message was rooted in older Jewish traditions- emphasized in the Torah

    o       Love G_d and love other people

    o       He told people that they should even love their enemies

    o       Jesus taught that people who were saved from sin would enter the Kingdom of G_d when they died.

    Jesus’s Followers

    ·        After the Resurrection, the Bible says, Jesus’s followers traveled telling about Jesus and his teachings.

    o       12 Disciples (followers)- 12 people were chosen to pass on Jesus’s teachings

    §         Apostles- the 12 chosen men who Jesus chose to receive special teachings and a man named Paul.

    ·        Peter became the leader- taught about Jesus in the Jewish communities.

    §         The Gospels

    ·        The written accounts of Jesus’s life and teachings

    ·        4 Gospels- found in the New Testament

    ·        Written by men such as: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John

    ·        Historians and religious scholars depend on these stories for information about Jesus’s life and teachings.


    §        Paul

    ·        Born Jewish- thought Jesus’s ideas were a threat to Judaism

    ·        One day, he saw a blinding light and heard the voice of Jesus calling out to him.

    o       Soon after this event, Paul became a Christian

    ·        Paul spread the Christian beliefs and ideals more than anyone else

    o       Many people think of him as another Apostle

    ·        In Paul’s letters, he mentioned the idea of the Trinity.

    o       A central idea that G_d is made up of 3 persons

    §         G_d the father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit.

    ·        Paul was killed by the Romans for spreading Christianity.

    ·        Roman officials arrested and killed Christians who refused to worship the gods of Rome.

    §         After Paul died, he was named a saint, a person known and admired for his or her holiness.



    ·        The Spread of Christianity-The distributed copies of the Gospels and other writings spread Christianity in the Roman communities.


    o       Persecution- unfair treatment because of religious beliefs

    §         The Roman leaders became concerned about the growth of Christianity

    §         Officials arrested and killed Christians who refused to worship the gods of Rome

    ·        Peter and Paul were killed for spreading the teachings of Christianity

    §         The emperors banned Christianity.

    ·        Christians often met in secret to avoid persecution.

    ·        To mark their gathering places, they sometimes used the symbol of a fish.

    o       Growth of the Church and acceptance of Christianity

    §         Church had to meet in secret; it did not have any single leader to govern it.

    §         Bishops, or local Christian leaders, led the Christian community.

    §         Looked for bishops of large cities for guidance.

    §         The most honored of all the empire’s bishops was the bishop of Rome, or the pope.

    ·        As the pope’s influence grew, Christianity spread through Rome

    ·        Many people came to see him as the head of the Christian Church

    §         The event that changed things for Christians in Rome was when the emperor Constantine himself, became Christian.

    §         As emperor, he removed bans against the practice of




    Christian/Catholic holidays/holy days

    1.        Christmas- Honors Jesus’ s birth and is celebrated December 25.  Although Christians don’t know on what date Jesus was born, Christians have placed Christmas in December

    a.       Midnight mass- Religious observances of Christmas center around special worship services, which are characterized by the extensive use of candlelight and are often held at midnight. In Bethlehem, Midnight Mass is celebrated at the place of Jesus' birth in the ancient Church of the Nativity. Another popular semi-religious observance is singing Christmas carols, both in church and door-to-door in one's neighborhood

    b.       Presents

    c.       Christmas tree, Angels, wreaths

    d.       Nativity Scene- a depiction of Christ’s birth







    2.       Easter- A celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.

    a.       Eggs- Symbol of a new life.

    b.      Bonnets, The Easter Bunny