February 18, 2010
Essay Question 1
According to our lecture notes and Frontline’s “From Jesus to Christ” there exist similarities between Christianity and Mithraism, the Essenes, Pharisees and Sadducees. For example in comparison with the Mithraism, Christianity also believes that Jesus (Messiah) was born from a virgin mother and that shepherds attended his birth. Both Mithraism and Christianity believed that there was a hell and a heaven and that good versus evil existed. These two religions worship on Sundays, celebrate with bread and wine, believe in resurrection and conduct baptisms. From the same sources I gather that Pharisees and Christianity had some similarities as well. Pharisees also believed that the dead resurrected and that the Messiah, who was a man, would bring world peace. Also like Christianity that wicked would be punished and the righteous would be rewarded. According to our lecture notes I understand that Sadducees and Christians have less in common than the previous two. The only similarities include that the Messiah was a man and that the religion was centered near temples. From our lecture notes, it is indicated that Essenes was a little stricter in what they believed. However, they still share similarities with Christianity. For example, they practice celibacy much like the Christians do. One important similarity with Christianity is that the Messiah was a teacher who dies a martyr.
Essay Question 2
According to Frontline “From Jesus to Christ” readings Christianity began as “a small group from the backwaters of the Roman Empire and after two, three centuries go by, lo and behold that same group and its descendants have somehow taken over the Roman Empire and have become the official religion, in fact the only tolerated religion, of the Roman Empire by the end of the 4th century.” (Frontline, From Jesus to Christ). Historians are dedicated to understand how this happened, but Christians have no...