THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
INTRODUCTION TO WORLD RELIGIONS
RELIGIOUS STUDIES 100 (001)
LECTURE NOTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
REVIEW Q UESTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
KEY TERMS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1 L ECTURE N OTES
The Life and Teachings of Jesus of Nazareth (4 BCE - 30 CE)
Life/Ministry of Jesus of Nazareth
John the Baptist, "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven/God is at hand, about to
come, nearby." Messiah is about to come; the sins of the people are keeping
Messiah from coming; if only the people would repent, Messiah would come.
o "Kingdom," God's Messianic rule, through an Anointed one, a descendent
of David, established, brings freedom from oppression, rule of justice and
o "Baptist"? Purification, cleansing, representative of repentance.
o Jesus, a carpenter, a thirty-year old who is baptized by John: the marking
of a three-year period of his ministry. John "recognizes" that Jesus is the
one we are all waiting for. Jesus acknowledges this, but gets baptized by
John; a dove, a voice from heaven, recognizing Jesus as God's son, an
initiation, a special placing of Jesus.
40 day fast in the wilderness, temptation by the figure of Satan.
o Satan. In the Jewish tradition very early on, spiritual forces at work out
there. Realm of gods, messengers sent by God; dark forces, demons.
Representatives of good and evil, spiritually. Contact with Persians,
solidifies into conception of Arch-enemy of God, equal terms/equal
powers, a battle between the forces of good and evil. Christianity inherits
the cosmic scenario of the battle between God and the infernal power; a
continual, constant struggle.
o Not just the sin of Israel, but also satanic forces keeping Messiah from
coming. This world because it is not under God's rule, Satan has control
over this world, oppression and injustice reigns.
o "I can give you the world..." Satan as the lord, ruler of this world; thus
you don’t want to be of this world, leads to temptation and alignment with
Satan; leads to a type of dualist understanding of this world.
Synagogue. Reads a particular text. Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is
upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the
meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the
captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;”
Chooses 12 disciples
Dedicates himself to a spiritual mission of some kind. Spends the next three years:
(a) preaching/teaching, the kingdom of heaven, the ideal social order, the proper
order of human relations; and (b) healing (also storm stilling, food production),
signs/proof/evidence that the rule of God, the messianic reign, is manifesting in
the figure of Jesus (he is the bringer/in breaker of the kingdom).
2 Teachings of Jesus
Kingdom of God, KoG
o Now present, now manifesting, through Jesus; Jesus is the key to the
unlocking of the kingdom.
o New era, new age in history
A fulfillment of the "law and the prophets." All what the Torah was about is
somehow finding its fulfillment now in this messianic kingdom. A new age of the
"Gospel," good-news of the liberation of God's messianic kingdom.
Represents a new covenant, a fulfillment of God's covenant with Israel.
It will be fully consummated in the future at the last day.
Jesus' teaching predominantly in the form of "parables," teachings through short
allegorical narratives. Potential for ambiguity: those with ears, let them hear...
Represents a new social order: a different vision of what constitutes true justice;
gets into big conflict here with existing establishment, challenging it to its core in
religious, social, political ways.
Jesus closest to the "Pharisees" in his particular hermeneutic of Scripture, defies
Mishnaic conceptions of living. Referred to as a teacher, "Rabbi," though he
didn't act like one: he shouldn’t have hung out with women, or with sinners, or
with non-Jews, or with tax-collectors, or with children.
Criticizes traditions of "Pharisees": heals on the Sabbath; criticizes the rich and
The Sermon on the Mount
Internalizes external commandments: purify your heart; raises standard of ethics
to a higher level; no hatred in your heart, this is the kingdom of God.
Rooted on the idea of love, there is a radical sense of equality among people,
there is an attack on a social hierarchy, in the kingdom of heaven it will all be
reversed, god will insure that the little guy will be raised up, there is a sense of
equality, that men and women will be seen as equal; why this kind of social order
is because of love. All are equal and all therefore are to be equally loved, to love
your enemy, be good to those who abuse you; love the lord your god
Presentation of Jesus' own "rulings" not rooted in prior traditions: his word as
authoritative and "above" the word of God in Torah?
Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount), rooted on the theme of love: essence of the
teaching of the messianic kingdom of God, a radical sense of equality amongst
people, attack of social hierarchy; the ethics of reversal: those who are
high/mighty now will be on the bottom in the end...
Why? Because of love; all are equal, all are to be equally loved.
3 Who was Jesus (Identity)?
Very little regarding who Jesus thought he was: the messianic secret, never any
blatant teaching regarding the person/work of Jesus.
A unique person: he forgave people of their sins...
Terms used more so by Jesus himself...
o "Messiah/Mashiah/Xristos." (Anointed one): a secret, not emphasized
(avoided by Christ himself), but implied in his actions and deeds.
o "Son of Man." A human being, a child of humanity. Strand of this term
being used in a messianic way (Daniel, Ezekiel)
o "Suffering Servant." Not a mighty lord/king, but comes in humble way of
serving humanity, others, embrace humanity. First coming manifestation;
second coming in the future in full glory to act as judge (judging people
according to their deeds; Matt 25).
Used more so by Jesus' followers...
o "Son of God." Jewish people are collectively this; a covenant with God the
Father. Angels also referred to as this. Once in a while in rabbinic
literature, well known holy, saintly folk given this title. "God in the
flesh?" A foreign notion in Jewish thought. In Hellenistic thought/culture
indeed feasible that humans could be divine beings, descendents of the
gods; gods on earth; emperors seen as such. This is how as Christianity
evolves and spreads eventually Jesus' person is understood to be: God in
human flesh; a human mother and a divine father.
o "Lord & Savior." Lord, a title of honor/respect, sir; also a term used in
referenced to deities.
Jesus as a radical, threat to the system; represents a challenge to the established
Messiah: both religious and political connotations. Cannot separate.
Those who want to get rid of Jesus because he poses a threat.
Judas, one of the 12, disillusioned with Jesus' mission of peace and non-violent
opposition of government; betrays Jesus, goes to religious authorities advises
when Jesus might be arrested without mobbing.
"Last supper," the Passover meal, basis for Eucharist meal; "body" and "blood" in
the "bread" and the "wine". Do it in remembrance of sacrifice that Jesus is
making: a new covenant.
To Judas: Go and do what you must do. Sanhedrin court all night...Caiphus: "are
you the Messiah?" "Yes I am," OR “As you say, so it is."
High priests rips garments; a blasphemy response. Jesus is guilty of blasphemy, a
religious crime, deserving of the penalty of death. Jews were not allowed to put
any one to death for a crime. Jews had freedom to exercise legal systems, but not
on issues of capital punishment.
But Romans don’t want to deal with religious issues; Jesus is guilty of high
treason, claiming to be the king of the Jews, changing a religious issue to a
4 Pontius Pilate. Not guilty. Guilt of shedding Jesus' blood falls upon the Jews, a
justification for Christianity's persecution of Jewish folk throughout history.
Crucifixion: a painful, shaming, lengthy, miserable kind of death. All Jews are
buried, no matter what, immediately. Killed quickly by the lance. Partial burial
procedure, cloths and put in a cave temporarily, guarded by soldiers; women
come back to complete burial procedure; body of Jesus is gone; different accounts
Rise of Christianity (The Early Followers of Jesus; Paul)
40 some days (after Easter) where Jesus' followers claim that they encounter a
resurrected Jesus: a physical, non-physical Jesus.
Might be construed as the event that “officially” births a new religion: the
Church is born
When Jesus taught his followers; Jesus had to leave in order to send the "Holy
Spirit" (paraclete) the comforter that would lead them into all truth, guidance, and
understanding (Muslims to create a link to prior traditions claim later that this
paraclete/comforter is Mohammed)
Ascension: go to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost; coincides with Jewish festival of Shavuot, Feast of 1st Fruits; the Holy
Peter and the proclamation of a "new religion." Preaching in bold ways in
Jerusalem. Speaking in other languages, glossalalia, a gifting/manifestation of the
Holy Spirit. Also healing.
Christianity as a religion is born...followers put in a package the meaning of Jesus'
death, crucifixion and resurrection; interpreted in a way that is a "fulfillment" of
"Thousands of converts." Growing, spreading, the birth of the Christian Church.
Gamaliel I: what to do about this particular movement? If it is of God, we won’t
be able to stop it; if it is not of God, it will die out. One of his pupils is...
Saul of Tarsus; "Pharisee of Pharisees"; despised Christian movement and intent
on bringing this movement to an end; attempts to bring them down; a persecutor
of this movement; imprisons, stones, beats, etc.
Conversion St. Paul the Apostle; an encounter with Christ.
Paul, a religious/theology "expert," goes through the Jewish tradition, makes
connections to "old covenant," makes theologically meaningful the events of
Jesus' life; what does this mean? How is it a fulfillment of scripture, tradition?
Real hardcore theologian, defining events. He asked and answered questions, he
became the brainchild and created a lot of theology that is central to Christianity.
Becomes a great missionary; spreads "new" religion, continuation and fulfillment
of Judaism; though established Judaism rejects it, and hence it becomes a "new"
5 Develops earliest Christian rituals: baptism, Eucharist (bread and wine; symbol of
Travels from city to city; writes letters to his missional "communities," explains
doctrine, theology, ethics, what beliefs should consist of...
Apostle: sent by God, with a mission/purpose of taking the message to the world.
What about all the "old" Jewish laws? What about non-Jews (Gentiles) who are
converting, embrace the whole Jewish tradition?
Paul vs. “Jewish” Christians
James (the brother of Jesus), centered at Jerusalem, overseeing the Church in
Jerusalem, committed to keeping with old Jewish laws (still continue on keeping
the whole Jewish law), and believes in Jesus as the bringer of salvation of some
Paul: don't have to follow "old" laws, now under "grace" total forgiveness and
freedom in having to "perform" in these laws.
Peter? A visionary experience allowing Peter to "abandon" the "old" Jewish laws.
Allowed Christianity to “break away” from Judaism by not being encumbered by
"old" Jewish laws...allows for great spread to the Gentile world.
From Persecution(s) to State Sponsorship
Nero, first of Roman emperors to begin persecution of Christian movement (64
CE); before this, the Jews had freedom of religion under Roman authority, official
sanction, exempt from worship of Roman gods, etc.
Once Rome realizes that Jews condemn Christians as a heresy and separate from,
Rome decides to persecute Christians as separate from Judaism, and hence in
breach of Roman religious laws.
Rome catches on fire, scapegoat is the Christians, launches persecution; Paul put
to death. Peter: crucified upside-down; running the Church at Rome, the "father"
of the Church in Rome.
Waves of persecution inaugurated by Roman authorities. At times very intense,
sometimes not very intense. To convert to new movement could involve potential
Movement grows; by 313 CE, about 10% of Roman empire is Christian, being
received in the non-Jewish world, assimilates into Roman understanding of the
world, receptivity amongst Gentiles in various ways, rise among upper-class
6 Constantine (312 CE), Roman Empire split into E and W
o In the year 312, Roman Emperor Constantine was about to go into battle
with another Emperor to see who would gain supremacy over the entire
o The night before, he has a vision of a Christian cross saying that he shall
conquer by this sign, so he has the sign painted on the shields and armor of
the soldiers; this led to his conversion to Christianity;
Christianity = the Civil Religion of the Roman Empire
o He then starts to provide support for this religion
o Emperor Constantine's Edict of Milan (313) makes Christianity
FIRST a tolerated religion and then, in effect,
THEN the civil religion of the Roman Empire
Constantine set precedents for very close ties between state and
o In terms of political legitimation, there are new requirements of internal
unity for Christianity
o An issue that had developed was that Christianity had been spreading but
there was an issue in ensuring that Christians were all believing the same
thing and the right thing
o The Imperial Religion ought not to be divided. One Rome = One Christian
Faith (cast out diversions = heresies)
o There are also new possibilities of counter-reactions from resistant centers
Unity of Faith
Achieving a unity of faith, theologically. What is it that Christians should believe?
Constantine establishes the “first” Ecumenical Church council (325) at Nicea;
gathering of Church officials and leaders. Attempt to decide: What constitutes
orthodoxy, right belief?
Heresy becomes illegal; to have a different opinion to what was decided at the
Councils was illegal, forced into exile, imprisoned. Heresy is a crime against the
state. No freedom of thought.
392 CE, becomes officially the state religion of Rome; the old Roman religion of
worshipping gods, "paganism," etc, becomes outlawed. Full citizenship only
granted to Christians. All other religions outlawed, except Judaism.
While the history of the Jewish people is important to Judaism; in Christianity is
the BELIEF and that everyone believes the rights thing (unity of faith)
What, then, ought we believe? Institution of Creeds (distilled results of the
Councils) used as statements of faith that they would recite and so all will know
what it is that they ought to believe
7 More importantly, how do we achieve universal uniformity of belief/practice?
o Control of Leadership
o Canonization of Scripture
o Doctrine determined by Councils
Control of Leadership (Structure)
Apostolic Succession of the Episcopate (Bishopric)
Whose allowed to be a leader, tight control; qualification "apostolic succession of
the episcopate/bishopric"; bishop has inherited this position by appointment who
was originally appointed by one of the original apostles of Christ; an unbroken
line back to Christ who had transmitted what Christ had taught. Bishop of Rome,
goes back to appointment of Peter.
Matt 16: upon this rock I will build my Church; Peter receives the keys to the
kingdom of heaven, bound on earth and heaven.
A genealogy/lineage of leadership each derived from one of the Twelve Apostles
Peter, special, bishop of Rome, the authority to be head over the whole church,
has in a unique way, authority given by Christ to be the head of the Church, the
Other Bishoprics/Sees: Alexandria/Antioch/Jerusalem (come under the rule of
Islam) and Constantinople
All five Sees were equal but Rome said that they are the first and called
Division between Rome and Const. intensifies over time. Rome, first among
equals, the pope. Power split between East and West.
The Great Schism (1054 CE). Pushing authority of patriarch of Rome over
Constantinople. Mutual excommunication between the East/West
Patriarchs oversee archbishops; archbishops oversee provinces (several dioceses);
bishops oversee dioceses (several parishes); priests oversee parishes.
Eastern Orthodoxy: West misinterprets Matt 16; anyone who makes a similar
confession of faith like Peter, to them will be given spiritual authority (“keys to
the kingdom of heaven”)
8 Canonization of Scripture
Only acknowledge these books as inspired and authoritative for the Christian faith…
TaNaK, Christians refer to this as "Old Testament"; add to this the collection
called the "New Testament" = the Christian Bible.
Gospels: Matt, Mark, Luke, and John.
o Cover the life and teaching of Jesus. Mark/Matt/Luke, the Synoptic
Gospels (Matt and Luke word for word borrowing of Markan material =
huge overlapping identical sections).
o Document hypothesis...Mark with Matt/Luke and Q.
o John stands on its own as a unique text
Acts of the Apostles. Story of what the Apostles did after Jesus’ ascension.
Written by 'Luke,' the same author as the gospel-writer, an MD in the Roman
empire, co-traveler with Paul
21 Letters: 2/3 "Pauline" epistles; some by John and Peter and others.
Revelation: written by John as well, living on an island in exile receives
revelations, apocalyptic, prophetic; difficult to understand, visions of judgment,
future destruction, Satan (anti-Christ), 666, etc.
Basic Statement of Christian Theology/Doctrine
(as articulated principally in the West)
Saved? From what? The Fall of Humanity. Garden of Eden, origin of
sin/death/suffering, lost the right to immortality. Sin = guilt/condemnation by
God. Death is the penalty of sin (loss of immortality) Also, alienation from God.
Salvation consists of:
o Forgiveness of sin and removal of all guilt and condemnation
o Receiving eternal life, gaining immortality
o Reconciliation with God, sons/children of God (parental metaphor),
adoption into son-ship restored, reconnection
Brought about and effected through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. So
that the crucifixion (substitutionary atonement, a legal/juridical definition) pays
the penalty/price. Christ, without sin, acting as a substitute for humanity, atoned
for the sins of humanity, by willingly dying...
Resurrection involves the undoing the power of death; new life in a new
relationship with God, reconciliation and reception of eternal life.
Why was Jesus able to bring this about? Because of who he was...
Who was Jesus? Not just an ordinary human being could bring this about. He had
to be both divine and human in order to effect this salvation...this duality of nature
(divinity and humanity) is what is theologically hammered out in the Church
9 The (Seven) Church ‘Ecumenical’ Councils
(First four deal precisely with Christology)
325 CE, Nicea. Jesus' human nature decided. Gnostics: only had the appearance
of humanity (an illusion; Docetism). Officially condemned at this council: Jesus is
entirely human in every way, though without sin. Also condemns Arianism. Jesus
was a super-being, second in power to God, not equal with God, created by God,
a supernatural angelic being. A type of god, but not God essentially. NO! JC of
the very same substance of divinity, in no way different from God at all ( 2
natures in 1 person = 2 what’s in 1 who)
381 CE, Constantinople
o Nestorianism - human body, divine soul/mind; condemned.
o God/human in all aspects of person; the whole of human life
external/internal God and humanity. What is not assumed is not healed;
what wasn't taken on cannot be saved.
o God was literally crucified and put to death? Yes, God himself was put to
death; cannot separate the human and divine nature, even as far as unto
death. Two natures so united in Christ that these could not be separated.
451 CE, Chalcedon
o Christ, a hybrid? Not really quite like us; half human, half divine?
o No! Two natures of Christ: without confusion, without division.
o Cannot be separated, they are in union; but union does not effect a third
o Fully God in substance and nature; fully human in substance and nature.
How do we understand the Godhead?
o The doctrine of the Trinity, three-in-one (3 persons in 1 divine nature,
one being = 3 who's in 1 what). Three persons who coexist as one divine
being, divinity. Distinction within the Godhead of three persons: God the
Father, the Son, and the Spirit. One divine being has within it plurality,
relationality. If God is love, love automatically implies relationship.
o God the Father, running the universe; the Son, crucified/resurrected; the
Spirit, the God-consciousness among the people.
o Jesus preexisted before the Incarnation (born of a virgin; conceived and
born without sin). Descended, took on human form, ascended into heaven.
Later Theological Developments (re: Christ being conceived and born without sin)
Augustine: Doctrine of Original Sin. When Adam/eve disobeyed God and
committed first act of sin, a genetic transformation, sin is inherited through
conception, linking/association of sexual intercourse and sin. You cannot help
but sin; sin has such a power over your nature, incapacitates your ability to do
good (works). Not until the saving grace of God can break power of sin over
being, empowers one to not sin.
10 Heresy, Orthodoxy and (a fuller description of) the Seven “Ecumenical” Councils
Nicea (325 CE)
o Heresy: Arius denied the divinity of Christ
Council declared Arius' teaching a heresy, unacceptable to the
Decreed that Christ is God
He is of the same essence "homoousios" with God the Father
Constantinople (381 CE)
o Heresy: Macedonius maintained that the Holy Spirit
was not a person (hypostasis)
was simply a power (dynamic) of God.
was therefore inferior to the Father and the Son
Council condemned Macedonius' teaching
Defined the doctrine of the Holy Trinity
Decreed that there was one God in three persons (hypostases):
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Ephesus (431 CE)
o Heresy: Nestorius taught
that the Mary gave birth to a man, Jesus Christ, not God
the Logos only dwelled in Christ, as in a Temple
Christ was only Theophoros: Bearer of God; consequently, Virgin
Mary should be called Christotokos, Mother of Christ and not
Theotokos, Mother of God
Council denounced Nestorius' teaching
Jesus Christ is one person, not two separate people
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Logos), is complete God
and complete man, with a rational soul and body
The Virgin Mary is Theotokos; she gave birth to God who became
Chalcedon (451 CE)
o Heresy: Eutychys taught that
Christ's less perfect human nature dissolved itself into His more
perfect divine nature.
Thus, Christ had only one nature, the Divine.
Monophysitism (mono", one according to "physis" or "nature")
overemphasized the divine nature of Christ, at the expense of the
Council condemned Monophysitism, the teaching of Eutychys
Christ has two complete natures: the divine and the human
The two natures function without confusion, are not divided nor
separate and at no time did they undergo any change
11 Constantinople II (553 CE)
o Council was called to put an end to the Nestorian and the Eutychian
o Council confirmed Church's teaching regarding the two natures of Christ
(human and divine)
Constantinople III (680 CE)
o Heresy: "Monothelitism"
Although Christ did have two natures (divine and human), he
nevertheless, acted as God only
His divine nature made all the decisions and His human nature
only carried and acted them out.
Hence, the name "Monothelitism"("mono" one according to
"thelesis" or “will”)
Christ had two natures with two activities
As God, he worked miracles, rising from the dead and ascending
As Man, he performed ordinary acts of daily life
Each nature performed its tasks without being confused, or
working against each other
The two natures were united in the one Divine Person Jesus Christ
Nicea II (787 CE)
o Icon Controversy
Centered on the use of icons in the Church and the controversy
between the iconoclasts and iconophiles.
The Iconoclasts were suspicious of religious art; demanded that the
Church rid itself of such art and that it be destroyed or broken.
The iconophiles believed that icons served to preserve the doctrinal
teachings of the Church; considered icons to be man's dynamic
way of expressing the divine through art and beauty
Affirmed icons as genuine expressions of the Christian Faith
Summary of Seven Ecumenical Councils
Council Year Opposed Favored
Nicea I 325 Arius Divinity of Christ
Constantinople I 381 Macedonius Trinity: One God, Three Persons
Ephesus 431 Nestorius Jesus is One Person; Mary is Theotokos
Chalcedon 451 Eutychus Jesus had Two Natures: God & Man
Constantinople II 553 Nestorius/Eutychus Two Natures of Christ
Constantinople III 680 Monothelitism True Humanity of Jesus' Will
Nicea II 787 Iconoclasts Iconophiles
12 Roman Catholicism
• Holy Spirit proceeds from God the Father. Roman Catholicism (the West) adds
“…and the Son” (known as the Filioque clause)
• East rejects this addition to the creed; hold that Holy Spirit proceeds from the
Pope is the person who represents Christ on earth (Vicar of Christ); has full
spiritual authority on the matters of faith
Associated with this is the Papal Infallibility: when the pope would officially
decree certain doctrines (dogma), it is held that he is without error
The saving grace of Christ, salvation itself, cannot be accessed by an individual
on their own, it has to be through the church and its rituals
There can be no salvation outside of the church (further developments in Vatican
There were 7 sacraments that were instituted; a sacrament is a religious ritual that
was instituted by Christ
o Baptism. Symbolizes a commitment to repent: keep away from sin and to
be cleansed of all sin
Augustine is one of the key thinkers concerning this sacrament
Baptism was no longer a symbol but literally had the effect of
washing you of your sin
Augustine developed the doctrine of original sin; meaning that
every human being is born from an inherently sinful nature and
you cannot help yourself but sin
Concern is that a baby dies during childbirth they may be doomed
because they are already sinners and may not go to heaven
Church then thinks of a place called limbo
You want Baptism to take place as soon as possible