Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘St. Paul’

Spread of Christianity
outline: waves of diaspora create hubs to facilitate spread of new religion, merchants and missionaries, St. Paul-religion mixed with gentile ideas and worship

Christianity spread through the Roman empire. Via Appia made it easier. St. Paul as a Roman citizen( he was from Tarsus in South- Central Anatolia) was free to move freely through the extent of the Empire. The Roman Empire was then comparatively at peace, The wide sovereignty of Rome gave the apostles of Christ access to different nations, many of whom had become civilized under Roman influence.
Since emperor Theodosius I (379-395 AD) the official state religion of the Roman Empire was Christianity. Subsequently, former Roman territories became Christian states which exported their religion to other parts of the world, through colonization and missionaries.
We may need to look back even before the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem in 70 AD. Under the Assyrian and Babylonian empires saw diaspora of Jews and were many hubs of Hebrew faith with local synagogues. Each group carried traditions of their fathers. Early Jewish Christians carried the new religion to these congregation of Jews. These early Christians were merchants and others who had practical reasons for traveling to northern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, Greece, and other places. But in the missionary zeal and sustained effort to spread the gospel of good news none would match Paul. St. Paul was converted from his Hebrew belief and had set himself to be an Apostle for Christ. His success partly owed to the groundwork laid by others before him.

Antioch was a major centre of Hellenistic Greece then part of Syria province. It was here the sect were called Christians for the first time. Bishop Irenaeus of Lyons in the second century believed that Paul and Peter had been the founders the Church of Rome. Despite of persecutions under many Caesars the Christians thrived and during the reign of Constantine the Great Christianity became the state religion. Influence of Greece was already in the cities such as Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, Caesarea, Paphos and Anatolia. These in turn would serve as hubs of proselytism and pagan ideas in course of time will mingle with the new religion*. The earliest bishops of Rome were all Greek-speaking, the most notable of them being Pope Clement I. (* sun worship: prayers are offered while looking toward sunrise in the East” because the Orient represents the birth of light that “dispels the darkness of the night” and because of the orientation of “the ancient temples. Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7, 7, 43, GCS 3, 32. or Origen (c. AD 185-254) whose view was that the East symbolizes the soul looking to the source of light. Origen,67 De oratione 32, GCS 2, 400, 23.)
One of the Church fathers of Catholicism Augustine of Hyppo ( 354-430AD) was converted from Manichaeism that had its origins in the heavily Gnostic area of the Persian Empire.
Manichaean ways of thinking had an influence on the development of some of Augustine’s Christian ideas, such as the nature of good and evil, the idea of Hell, the separation of groups into Elect, Hearers, and Sinners, the hostility to the flesh and sexual activity, and so on. Spread of religion whether along the Silk Road or via Appia followed more or less a similar pattern. Unconsciously the venerable Church father while systemizing Christian philosophy would add his own intellectual coloring to Christian belief-system.
While Church of Rome was established in the West of the empire the converts from the pagan world would bring their own practices and add to the many rites and symbols of the pagan world. This we see even in our times. In Mexico or in India Christianity would be colored by the beliefs of people. These would be a point of controversy during the Reformation period.
benny

Read Full Post »

Roman road system

Via Appia is the crowning achievement among transportation network of the ancient Mediterranean world, extending from Britain to the Tigris-Euphrates river system and from the Danube River to Spain and northern Africa. In all, the Romans built 50,000 miles (80,000 km) of hard-surfaced highway, primarily for military reasons.
The first of the great Roman roads, the Via Appia (Appian Way), begun in 312 bce, originally ran southeast from Rome 162 miles (261 km) to Tarentum (now Taranto) and was later extended to the Adriatic coast at Brundisium (now Brindisi).
Their numerous feeder roads extending far into the Roman provinces led to the proverb “All roads lead to Rome.”

Via Appia today
The Roman roads were notable for their straightness, solid foundations, cambered surfaces facilitating drainage, and use of concrete made from pozzolana (volcanic ash) and lime. Though adapting their technique to materials locally available, the Roman engineers followed basically the same principles in building abroad as they had in Italy..
The Roman road system made possible Roman conquest and administration and later provided highways for the great migrations into the empire and a means for the diffusion of Christianity. (Of this I shall come to by and by.)
In 73 BC, a slave revolt (known as the Third Servile War) under the ex-gladiator of Capua, Spartacus, began against the Romans. Slavery accounted for roughly every third person in Italy.
Spartacus defeated many Roman armies in a conflict that lasted for over two years. While trying to escape from Italy at Brundisium he unwittingly moved his forces into the historic trap in Apulia/Calabria. The Romans were well acquainted with the region. Legions were brought home from abroad and Spartacus was pinned between armies. Many men escaped into the mountains. Only a thousand Romans died. Six thousand of the fleeing slaves were captured by Pompey’s troops and crucified along the Appian Way, from Capua to Rome. Spartacus’ body was not found.
It was Rome’s brutal message to any one who thought of overstepping the limit.
The road that the Romans built like the Silk Road will lose its importance in time. But what it carried across endures long after these physical,geographical realities.
Note:
In 1919 the Spartacists took their inspiration from Spartacus. Spartacus was an idea.
The Spartacist’s had extreme left wing political views. This group split from the SPD (Independent Socialists) in frustration at the SPD’s role within Government. The leaders of the Communist party were Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnecht. The aims of the Spartacist’s were outlined in their Manifesto:
The Spartacist Manifesto 1918
The question today is not democracy or dictatorship… Rather, it means using all instruments of political power to achieve socialism, to expropriate the capitalist class, through and in accordance with the will of the revolutionary majority of the proletariat.
On January 1st, 1919, members of the Spartacist movement rose in an attempted revolution. Initially this move was opposed by both Liebnecht and Luxemburg, the leaders of the movement. The newly formed Weimar Government reacted promptly, and brutally. The army was deployed to bring the revolution to an end, and these were aided by the Frei Corps, a paramilitary group consisting of former servicemen. Order had been restored to the streets of Berlin by the 13th of January. Both Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebnecht were killed whilst in police custody.( http://www.schoolshistory.org.uk-spartacistuprising)
To recap:
Like real people roads also carry their significance. The Silk Road was a highway for exchange of ideas, transfusion of cultures between east and the west. In the concluding post I shall write about via Appia as a facilitator of European history.
(To be concluded)

Read Full Post »

Gen 4:3-6 2 Ti 3:16-17

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

How should one read the Scriptures?

With our rational mind of course. We are humans and as such if my understanding can not follow it rationally I am likely to go wrong. is it not? Rasputin the mad monk of Tsarist Russia belonged to a sect that held on literally to the Romans vs.1 Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? He committed sin on the basis of the Pauline verse. He indulged in orgy so God’s grace may abound. He sinned so he may find grace! He made Grace as a medium for cleaning up his lust for flesh. Did it cure him? No he died of it.

Take this verse:

And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell (Matt 18:9)Even though blind cannot one sin?

I cited these extreme examples to show there are areas where literal interpretation or common sense cannot do work properly. In interpreting Bible especially.

As a Christian I believe the Scriptures is God breathed. If I accept the account of Genesis where God breathed into man what am to infer? I have that spirit, is it not? Spirit of man can be understood by man and things of God are better understood and followed through by His spirit. If I try to understand by the spirit of man I do not think the Bible would have held much interest to me. Instead the Book has been a source of great delight to me and many passages have on several occasions served me in the manner these were meant to do: teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness(2Ti 3:17). It has taught me in the past when I was more likely to go wrong and also prevented me at times from following certain course of action. The third aspect of training is what I expect- and it is for my lifetime, so my life may not be drawn off the rails when I least expect it. Samson was confident of his strength but he found he had become like any other when the Philistines came upon him. There are such instances I could learn from. Even so there are great areas I cannot make sense literally or spiritually. I leave these aside since there are enough lessons my life in flesh can learn. So I do not dismiss the book as of no meaning.

The story of Cain and Abel is a story and it can be understood at different levels. The moral of the story is plain as day and it is provided in the vs 7. Considering that Jesus refers to it Mt.23:35 it must have held certain significance to him. Abel is qualified as righteous because he pleased God with his sacrifice. God found favor with his offering while He did not favor that of Cain.Cannot God exercise free will that we often appropriate for ourselves to justify our actions? The consequence of God’s preference outs Cain’s nature. He murdered Abel stealthily.

God is Spirit.It is spirit of foreknowledge that Simon Peter could use when he identified correctly who Jesus was.

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven.(Matt 16:17)

We have that spirit of God and it is what keeps us falling into the hands of the Evil One. The Scriptures being God inspired we grow in His knowledge by correctly handling the Word.

Since the Scriptures is to be understood spiritually let me see what the story of Cain and Abel teaches us. God clothed man with skins since he felt shame in his nakedness. I think this act prefigures the atoning work of Jesus. Abel must have spiritually discerned how to find favor with God.

In trying to understand the Bible I find certain helpful tips. I find St. Paul’s instruction to Timothy very useful. Of this I shall come back by and by.

While studying a text ask yourself:

Does this passage belong in spirit with rest of the Bible? From the selected text of Cain and Abel let me point out the following;

Abel’s offer of fat portions from his flock echoes in the sacrifice of OT priests. God clothing Adam and Eve with skins also bear the truth in the Pauline epistle: without shedding of blood there is no remission or redemption.

Does the passage teach some needful or useful lesson?

Does it rebuke some trait that you have carelessly allowed to remain? Such a trait could be standing in your relationship with God and man.

This means you need to read the Bible in the right spirit and meditate over the passage. After all the main thing is how you may get the best out of your reading. If you handle the word of God correctly, as Paul writes to Timothy you are being trained in righteousness.

Benny

Read Full Post »

Whether our absolute position would establish our souls in heavenly places or we carry them within our beings is a matter that is to be spiritually discerned. Arguing over what is unknowable is waste of time. Let every one decide what his or her soul has to say over this. Given my life’s color drawn from nature and nurture (whether by chance or by design) I believe Holy Spirit is the author of the Scriptures.  Soul of a Christian then is strengthened by spiritual food as my body need its daily calories. My soul is secure even as this body is showing signs of wear and tear. Naturally. What is earthy must leave its footprints on the Earth and what is incorruptible must live on. This spiritual life is a parallel world of which being born again is where we have submitted ourselves to a higher Truth than what we may know by our intellect. It is our hope. Like an anchor it shall hold on no matter how we may negotiate on this side of heaven.
St. Pauls epistle seems to say that we occupy the absolute position by faith.
(God) even when we were dead in sins…hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”(Eph 2:4-6)
benny

Read Full Post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,387 other followers