RELG 207 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Synoptic Gospels, Roman Citizenship, John Part

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The Study of World Religions Christianity
Jesus Christ
He is the bearer of the Gospel
Gospel - good news
Written down by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Canon recognized not before the V
Word per word (Paolo Livieri)
Yesterday we ended on the Speech of the Synagogue, declaring he was the chosen one and
declaring what is to be: that being the Messiah. Going back to the notion of the Messianic secret,
this is why Jesus withheld everything until the end of his life in order not to mix the new notion of
Messiah vs the old notion of the Messiah (that being a political leader of the Jews).
We spoke about the Gospel. It literally translates to 'Good News'. In the Bible, we have four
Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The Canon (tradition) recognized these four books of the
Gospel from the 3rd century AD to the 5th century AD.
o These four can be divided into two groups: (1) Matthew (apostle), Mark (companion of
Peter) and Luke (companion of Paul); (2) John (apostle). This is because they contain
different things.
The Bible
The Christian Bible comprises:
1) The Old Testament
2) The New Testament
-The Old Testament comprises: Hebrew Bible (TeNaKh)
New Testament comprises: Four Gospels, Acts of Apostles, Epistles, and Apocalypse
Word per word (Paolo Livieri)
The four Gospels are not the only content of the New Testament, however. Recall the Old
Testament refers to the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament includes the four gospels, acts of the
apostles, epistles, and the apocalypse of John.
The Acts of the Apostles are attributed to Luke, who was a companion of Paul. Most of the Epistyles
are attributed to Paul. Thus these two sections are meant to illustrate a particular vision of Christ
and doctrine of Christianity. We will see what that means.
Usually, we say the Gospel of Mark is considered the most accurate (at least among the first three).
The Gospel of John focuses on the identity of Jesus Christ (which is different), and thus the Gospel of
John is considered to be the more philosophical one. He focuses on the intersection between the
philosophical and non-philosophical cultures of before Christianity and after Christianity.
The identity of Jesus Christ is recognized as the Logos before the creation. Jesus Christ is God, but he
is not a divine presence in the sense of something that is separate from God. He has the substance
of God. Tracing the identity of Jesus Christ as something that happened before creation means the
figure has an eternal meaning. John thus says the historicity of Jesus Christ is not simply something
historical, but rather rooted in eternity.
We are justified in saying historicity and eternity are connected thanks to Jesus Christ.
Four Gospels
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
Part of the New Testament, which is part of the Christian Bible
Matthew, Mark (usually considered the most accurate), Luke are the synoptic Gospels +
Gospel of John
The message of the coming of the Reign of God: peace and justice on earth
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The four Gospels were composed between 70 and 100 CE
At the end of the second day after Jesus death he rose from the grave defeating death and
healing humanity from sin
From then on the good news (Gospel) was spread throughout Palestine and even the
Roman Empire
o The Four Symbols (depicted on the slide) are a man, to remember the nature/humanity of
Christ, a lion to remember the kingship of Christ, the ox to remember the sacrifice of Christ,
and an eagle to remember the vision of Christ.
o All four Gospels were written between 70 AD and 100 AD (they were merely recognized in
those centuries later).
The crucifixion is not the end of the story. If anything, it's beginning. Defeating death essentially
means to have defeated the general notion of sin. At the end of the second day after Jesus' death
he rose from the grave defeating death and healing humanity from sin.
o This doesn't mean that sinners no longer exist. It just means that Jesus Christ has saved
sinners. People still sin, but they still need to be saved by accepting Jesus Christ as your lord
and saviour. What this essentially means is that Jesus Christ opened up the possibility to be
saved, but has not saved everyone in general.
After the death of Jesus Christ, we witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the spiritual body
(no longer the earthly body). From then on the "good news" was spread throughout Palestine and
even as far as the ends of the Roman Empire. However, there was a dispute at the beginning of
Christianity between Paul and Peter.
o Peter met Jesus Christ before his death. He is meant to be the first Bishop in the sense of
the first tradition. He was meant to be the first religious guide in Rome, but at the beginning
the Romans persecuted Christians and we will see why because they actually didn't respect
the divine cult of the Emperor. During the persecution, Peter got scared and went to escape
Rome, but on his way he actually met the "Risen Jesus," who was doing the complete
opposite: he was going to Rome (some depictions show him with a Cross), to meet once
again with his crucifixion. When Peter saw this, he asked Jesus where was going, to which
Jesus replied that he was going to Rome to be crucified for the second time. At that
moment Peter realized his mission, so he went back to Rome and was crucified but he
didn't want to be crucified like Jesus so he was crucified upside down.
o According to Peter, one should first convert to Judaism in order to become a Christian. He
felt the believer should partake on the same path Jesus Christ himself took. He is deeply
rooted in the Judaic tradition (and the composition of the Bible reflects that, as 3/4 of the
pages consists of the Old Testament). Paul was the first to say that this wasn't necessary
because this was the message of Jesus Christ: salvation is for everyone, not just Jews.
Paul was a Jew and a Roman citizen. He was appointed to be a persecutor of the early disciples of
Jesus and early Christians. He never met Jesus Christ when he was alive, but he met the "Risen
Jesus" on the way to Damascus (as he was on the way to persecute the Christians). Jesus asked:
why are you persecuting me? It was a sort of mystical experience for Paul and he thus converted
to Christianity. He became at this point the Apostle of John (the apostle in the Bible is always a
reference to Paul). The "Risen Christ" was effectively the entity that converted Paul. He created a
precedence to be converted by the Risen Christ, and thus wanted to set the precedent for all of
Christianity to convert freely.
o With Paul's authority, he created the basis for the theology of Christianity, to which we can
list three elements according to Epistles:
(1) The importance of resurrection for the balance of power and love.
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