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Studying for a test? Prepare with these 17 lessons on 600 BCE - 600 CE Second-Wave Civilizations.
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- [Instructor] We're now going to talk about the beginnings of one of the most important religions in human history. And, even today, the largest religion on Earth. And that, of course, is Christianity. And the central figure in Christianity is Jesus Christ. And the term Christ is given to him. It is Greek for savior, for messiah. Because his early followers view him as the prophesized messiah, savior, for the Jewish people. And his followers today view him as the savior, the messiah, for all humankind. So, you have over two billion Christians who view him central to their faith. Who view him as their god. But, above and beyond that, you also have over a billion Muslims who view him as a significant prophet. Now, just to get some context on the life and times of Jesus, most of the accounts we have of him come from the first four books of the New Testament of the Bible called the Gospel of Matthew, Gospel of Mark, Gospel of Luke, Gospel of John. Sometimes it's the Gospel According to Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. And the term gospel today often refers to the idea of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. So, you could view it as the life and teaching of Jesus Christ according to Matthew, according to Mark, according to Luke, according to John. But it really comes from old English for good news. And there is a related term, evangel. You might have heard of evangelical or evangelize. Also referring to good news. Now, the reason why it was considered good news is his message.... We're gonna have some examples of it in a few minutes. Really talks about this idea that the poor have the kingdom of heaven waiting for them. That there's this forgiving God that you can have a close connection with. And for a lot of people... Remember, this was in the time of the Roman Empire. Most people were downtrodden. There was slavery. People who were poor. And this idea that even the poor could go to the kingdom of heaven and, in some ways, have better access to it than the rich and the powerful was good news to a lot of people. Now, it's worth noting that these gospels were written several decades after, depending on what you view, the death and/or ascension of Jesus Christ according to Christian belief. As you can see, Jesus was born slightly before the year one. Most historians put his birth at around four to six BCE, Before the Common Era. And they put his death around 30 to 33 CE, in the Common Era. You could also use the original terms, Before Christ and Anno Dominei, In the Year of Our Lord. Our modern calendar system really uses the original view of the birth of Jesus as where we start Anno Dominei versus Before Christ or the Common Era versus Before the Common Era. Now, it's interesting that it turns out that Jesus was likely born slightly before. Slightly before the original view on the birth of Christ. Now, his birth would have been right around the time... Or it would have been under the reign of Emperor Augustus, as we talk about in other videos. And his death would have been under the reign of Emperor Tiberius. And these Gospels of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John. These are written during really hard times for the Jewish people and for the early Christians. You have the Jewish Rebellion where the Second Temple is destroyed by Rome. You have the significant Christian persecution, especially by folks like Emperor Nero where he blames the fire in Rome on Christians and he just, essentially, just kills them for fun. Really just to purge them, to persecute them. And, just to understand where all of this takes place, the life and times of Jesus takes place, it is in the Roman Empire. We're on the eastern edge of it at the eastern Mediterranean right over here. This would be modern day Israel and Palestine for the most part. This is a zoomed in version. And Jesus is born in Bethlehem. And this is a scene. I'm gonna show you a lot of paintings. As you can imagine, he's a figure that has inspired a lot of paintings. This is a figure of the three magi visiting and giving their gifts to the infant Jesus. Magi, famously the Zoroastrian priests, coming from Persia to visit Jesus, according to biblical accounts. And he is raised in Nazareth. And that's why he's oftentimes referred to as Jesus of Nazareth. And the gospels don't talk a lot about his early life. They start to talk a lot about his life once he hits his late 20's or early 30's. And the first really significant account after his famous birth to the virgin Mary. His purported father, Joseph, was Mary's husband, but the Holy Ghost or God was the actual father, making this a virgin birth. But, after that, the first significant event is really his baptism by John the Baptist. John the Baptist was another preacher, prophetic figure of that time. A significant one. He had a lot of followers. And he as baptizing people in the Jordan River, right in that region. This is the Jordan River right over here. And this is a depiction of the famous baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. And, famously, John the Baptist said, "No, you should be baptizing me." But then after Jesus said, "No, no, you baptize me." And, after, Jesus was baptized. Famously the sun shines on Jesus and God speaks that "This is my son." According to, once again, biblical accounts. And John the Baptist, shortly after that, gets arrested by King Herod of Galilee. Remember, Galilee is the home region of Jesus where he will eventually do most of his preaching. And, after that, Jesus starts to really go full into effect in his ministry. And, while he's doing that, he's performing all of these miracles. He's healing people, turning water into wine, walking on water, bringing people back from the dead. And this is, of course, according to biblical accounts. You can decide if you believe these or not. And he does most of that in Galilee. And, eventually, he makes his way down to Jerusalem to meet his fate. He tells, according to the Gospels, his followers, his disciples.... And there's 12 in particular that are called out, but he has many, many more than that. That "Look, I am going to meet my fate there, but I'm doing it willingly." But, more than his miracles, it's interesting to look at some of what he preached. And this might give you a little bit of a sense why many people would have called this good news. So, this is from the Gospel of Matthew that I'm gonna quote right over here. And this first part comes from his Sermon of the Mount. He goes to the top of a mountain and he gives this sermon. "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." "Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth." "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy." "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God." So, all of that, if you're a peasant, if you're someone with not a lot, you're downtrodden, hard life. You're like, "Look, blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." you could view this as good news. "Ye have heard that it was said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I say unto you, resist not him that is evil. But whosoever smiteth thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." Even in modern times, this is not an easy way... This is not an easy way to live. Someone who's doing something to you, don't try to seek revenge. And this is a very different tone than a lot of what you might get in the Old Testament. "Ye have heard that it was said, thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thine enemy, but I say unto you love your enemies and pray for them that persecute you." Once again, not an easy thing to do. Even in modern terms, you can view this as a very forward, very advanced way of thinking about the world. He also, beyond this idea of embracing even your enemies and not seeking revenge and that the poor have access to this kingdom of heaven, he really also liked to take it to the hypocrites, especially those who viewed themselves as the bearers of the religion. In particular, he picks on the Pharisees, which was a sect of Jews at the time who viewed themselves very ritualistic. Remember, Jesus, himself, is a Jewish preacher. He's a Jewish teacher. He is viewed as a rabbi himself. "And when ye pray, ye shall not be as the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the street that they may be seen of men." So, these hypocrites, they pray just so other people can see how religious they are. "Verily, I say unto you, they have received their reward." They've already gotten the credit from people for praying. "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber and, having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father, who seeth in secret shall recompense thee." So, don't make a big deal about your prayer. Do it in private and then have this personal connection with God. Now, it's worth noting that, even though he preached a lot about the kingdom of heaven for the poor, prayer is a private thing, that you shouldn't try to seek revenge, you should be very conciliatory to your enemies, he did take a strong stance on what he was preaching. He did say, "Look, you gotta be with me if you want to enter into this kingdom of heaven." He took some strong stances. This isn't gonna be an easy thing and this is gonna cause a lot of tension. This is one quote that you could view that way. Once again, from the Gospel of Matthew, "Think not that I came to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father and the daughter against her mother." I would interpret this as saying this is gonna cause a lot of divisiveness. "And the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father and mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that doth not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." So, he takes a pretty strong stance. "Look, you really need to follow me. But, if you follow me, there's some very good things that are waiting for you." But, eventually, he does make his way... He tells his... There's other.... These miracles he's performing. This is the famous Transfiguration of Christ where he makes it apparent to his followers. He kind of becomes luminescent and he becomes apparent to his followers, his disciples, that he truly is the son of God. And then, he makes his way... This is the year, depending on whether you think it's 30, 31, 32, 33 CE. He makes his way to Jerusalem to meet his fate. He's already prophesized to his followers that this is gonna be a tough fate. That he's gonna die there. And this is a very important week in Christianity. It's referred to as Passion Week. And the term passion has a different connotation. It really means the suffering of Christ. This is the week that he suffers. This is the week that he gets crucified and then resurrected. So, he goes to Jerusalem on Sunday. This is around the time of Passover. Very important religious period for the Jewish people. And he comes to Jerusalem near Passover. That Sunday that he comes is now celebrated as Palm Sunday. This is imagery of it where he's coming and some people are greeting him to Jerusalem as kind of a king. They're laying down these palms before his path. Then, this is the famous where he goes to the main temple at Jerusalem and he cleanses it of the moneychangers. He's like, "Hey, by doing these money transactions here, you are defiling the temple." Then, on Thursday of that week, he has the famous Last Supper. Some people believe this is the Passover seder. Most historians don't think it is. But he's meeting with his 12 disciples. And he's saying, "One of you's going to betray me." And it's Judas Iscariot who does. And he goes to the religious court and he says, "Hey, I have this guy who you guys don't like." Remember, this whole time that Jesus is doing his ministry, he's sticking it... In a lot of ways, he's calling out these Pharisees and these religious officials as hypocrites. He's getting all of these followers. A lot of these traditionalists are saying, "This guy's blaspheming. He's saying he's the son of God. He's saying all of these things. He's doing these miracles on the Sabbath, when you're not supposed to be doing anything." And so, Judas Iscariot goes to the Sanhedrin and says, "Hey, I have this guy. Come and get him." And they get Jesus and this is the famous trial of Jesus by the Sanhedrin. And they say, "Hey, you've been saying all these things. We think you're blaspheming." And Jesus stays silent for the most part. So, they deem him guilty and they hand him over to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate. And they say, "Hey, look, this guy's trying to create an insurrection against Rome." Which the Romans take very seriously. And, in the Bible, they have him seeming somewhat reluctantly saying, "Oh, okay, do we really need to do this?" But then he says, "Alright, if that's the way you all want it." And so, the Romans crucify Jesus. And this is what is now viewed as Good Friday, The crucifixion of Jesus. And then, on Sunday, and this was predicted by Jesus to his followers, he is resurrected. He leaves the tomb where he was. And this is a very important week. You have Palm Sunday. You have Good Friday. And then, you have the resurrection. And then, another very, very important event to Christians is 40 days after the resurrection. So, after 40 days... Over that 40 days after the resurrection, he's seen by his followers. He's seen by many people. He continues to preach. And then, you have the ascension where he goes to the kingdom of heaven. Now, I'm gonna leave you with a quote by a famous Christian historian. And it's a fascinating one. And it's very clear, because we just talked about the crucifixion and you see a cross at every church. "Christianity is the only major religion to have as its central event the humiliation of its God." That's Doctor Bruce Shelley. And whether you believe in Christianity or you don't believe. Whether you're an atheist. Whether you believe in the miracles or you don't. It's worth pointing out that Christianity has grown from this religion that started around this preacher in Galilee and Judea and now has over two billion adherents. And what was it about this religion and its central event being the humiliation of its God that made it so appealing to many, especially in that early Roman Empire, both to Jews and to non-Jews, to Gentiles, and has made it such a significant religion?