Western Civilization 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 n 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, 10 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 eligion, 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 doubt that the survival of their religion was “… the hand of God working in history. ” (Frontline, From Jesus to Christ). An essential step into turning Christianity into a dominant religion was the execution of Jesus, who followers saw as a holy man. His assembly of followers then turn into sort of a Jewish sect who interpret Jesus’ teachings and death as having a significance for a lifetime rather than Just a oment.
Then we have Paul,” who in his teachings has the beginnings of what we might call the breaking out of Christianity [from] Jewish social setting. … ” (Frontline, From Jesus to Christ) All of this doesn’t happen at once but it occurs over decades and well into the 2nd Century. Also Christianity is not the same at any two parts of the world as it is in another and there is now way of telling how different Christians saw each other or how the saw other Jews; but it is understood that “Christianity is becoming less ‘Jewish’ and is turning into something new and different. (Frontline, From Jesus to Christ”) According to Frontline’s From Jesus to Christ, Constantine has Testament part of the church. Constantine becomes a powerful asset to Christianity when he consolidates his power after conquering the West and the Greek East. These cities are composed of mainly Christians. He persecutes other Christians seeking to make a unity. Constantine also dedicates his attention to Jerusalem and he builds “beautiful basilicas and architecturally ambitious projects in the city itself…
And what he does is [to] religiously relocate the center of gravity of the city around the places here Christ had suffered, where he had been buried, or where he [had] been raised. ” (Frontline, From Jesus to Christ”) Bishops use Constantine’s good mood and interest of Christology, the Trinity and Church organization to have bibles copied at the public’s expense. Christians can finally worship openly with their architectures and huge basilicas. The future of the Church depended on unity and protection from enemies. According to the Roman Timeline Handout, the church developed Boards of Presbyters, Deacons and then Bishops.
They all followed certain rules and abided by Apostolic Succession. It seems that Christianity would not have been able to survive its early years without this internal sturdy organization. Essay Question 3 As stated in our Roman Empire Chapter Augustus established a civil service which meant having several department dedicated to certain areas. These departments included the grain supply, the water supply, the building of roads bridges, tax collection and provisioning of armies. Politically speaking Augustus “wanted advice without consent.
A committee of senators and magistrates served as a permanent advisory body. (Roman Empire Chapter) Augustus cut the size of the military down from 50 legions to only 28. This would assist in getting rid of renegade army commanders and lightened the burden of taxes. Socially things were great under Augustus’ leadership;” urban poor enjoyed a more efficient system of free grain distribution and a large increase in games and public entertainment” (Roman Empire Chapter) From this comes the term “bread and circuses”; which included entertainment like gladiator battles, mock sea battles and Circus Maximus.
Referring to the Roman Empire chapter, Augustus also brought forth a period know as the Pax Romana when he defeated Marc Anthony and Cleopatra and brought back peace to the empire. Pax Romana assisted in the flourishing of art within the Empire. Roman poets and writers celebrated and Augustus encouraged them to portray his ruling as a new era of peace and prosperity. Essay Question 4 As explained by our Greece Chapter, Athenians granted Draco (who was made a judge) power to revise the laws in relation to vengeance and homicide. Draco revised their laws and improved them.
Minor offenses would get very harsh penalties such as death for the theft of a fruit. Also as an obligation to citizenship Athenians had to participate in military services, liturgies, politics and religious events. According to the Greece Chapter, Cleisthenes founded democracy in Athens. He granted freedom of speech and equality and that every citizen could belong in the assembly. Under Cleisthenes a lottery which included 20% of Athens (except for women slaves) was held to pick the members of council. The council was made of 100 people who conducted everyday business.
Women were given civil obligations, but couldn’t fight, vote or hold political office. Metics , their children and grandchildren came to Athens for economic opportunities, but couldn’t be granted citizenship; not even by serving service. He also expanded the Athenian fleet and sponsored building programs. Almost all cases where put in the hands of Jurors which could range in the hundreds. Each one of these Jurors was paid for their days work. During Pericles leadership, votes were taken once a year to remove troublesome politicians. Democracy has proven that it works because it succeeded even after the Peloponnesian War.
Athens used funds from the empire to benefit its citizens and allowed everyone to articipate in government, not only those with status. The empire may have ended after the war, but not its democracy. (Greece Chapter) Essay Question 5 According to the Greece Chapter Sparta faced a couple of defeats which challenged them. Determined to never be threatened again Sparta developed a pure militaristic lifestyle. In Sparta all healthy males served as soldiers. To fight for Sparta was the highest devotion. If the Ephorate determined that a child was born weak and handicapped it would be taken by his/her parents and left outside to die.
At the age of 7 a boy would leave his family to train with the military and live in the barracks. “toughness, discipline, self-denial, simplicity and pain endurance were stressed in training” (Greece Chapter) At the age of 20 he became a soldier and still lived in the barracks, but could now marry. He was allowed to visit his wife for conjugal visits. At the age of 30 he became an equal and could now live in his own home. Usually he would also serve in the assembly. If a Spartan male survived long enough he would serve in the military until the age of 60.