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Three World Traditions

The common origins and divergent histories of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity

Shawn Hunt

on 28 August 2014

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Transcript of Three World Traditions

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Abraham and his wife Sarah settled in Canaan - around present day Palestinian city of Hebron.
One Father, Many Nations
About 13.4 million Jews [.2% of the world population]
Approximately 2.2 billion Christians [30% of the world population]
Prelude to Islam
The Common Origins of
Islam, Judaism, and Christianity

Abram's father Tarah worshiped the Gods of the region - the key word being "Gods," as in plural. Seemingly everyone, everywhere believed in many Gods.
Abram was born in Ur and raised in Haran, and a lot of people have a lot of opinions about where exactly those places were...
According to some traditions, Abram's great X6 grandfather was Shem, the son of Noah.
Shem, (again according to some traditions) was also named "Melchizedek."
It is believed that Abram lived with Shem and Noah for a time to escape from his father who often wanted to sacrifice him to his gods.
While living with them, Abram would have learned much more about mono-theistic beliefs and the God described in the early pages of the Old Testament.
The God Abram learned about differed greatly from those worshiped in the region:
He was the only God
He expected moral behavior from His people
He was Himself, just, righteous, and loving and therefore worthy of worship (not just because He was powerful).
According to the traditions of the Abrahamic religions, when Terah died, God spoke to Abram and told him that:
Abram was to get out of Haran and leave the pagan gods behind.
He would provide Abram with a promised land
Abram would become the father of many nations
God's covenant with His people would go, through Abram's posterity, to the whole world.

Abram's name was changed to Abraham at this time.
"Exalted father"
"Father of a multitude"
Because Sarah was unable to have children, she gave Abram her handmaid, Hagar, so he could have children and fulfill God's promises. Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.
Miraculously, Sarah also conceived and gave birth to Isaac.
Perhaps out of jealousy and perhaps out of fear for her son's safety, Sarah insists that Abraham send Ishmael and Hagar away.
Abraham is promised that Hagar and Ishmael will be provided for and that Ishmael will himself become the father of a great nation.
Water is miraculously provided to save the life of Ishmael.
Ishmael takes a wife from Egypt and settles in Paran (the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula according to some but the site of present-day Mecca according to Islamic Tradition)
Credit to: "Religions of the World"
By Spencer J. Palmer, Roger Keller,
Dong Sull Choi, and James A Toronto
1.57 Billion Muslims [23% of the world population]
Sacred Texts are the Qur'an and the Sunna.
The Qu'ran is not considered to be a translation of ancient texts or the writings of Muhammed, but is rather believed to be the literal words of Allah.
Because the Qu'ran is the literal word of Allah, it is intended to be read in the original language.
Homes are decorated with passages from the Qu'ran and there are often in Muslim communities performances of passages being recited.
The Sunna is a library of six multivolume collections.
The word Sunna (or Sunnah) means "the path of water" or "the well worn path" implying the way or path a life should take.
The Sunna is a collection of the words and the practices of Muhammed. Indicating what he taught and what he approved.
Arabian Peninsula, 500-600 C.E.
Byzantine and Persian Empires had been fighting so much they were weak.
Arabians were polytheistic but many were looking for something more. A time of religious searching.
Jews weren't seeking converts
Joining Christians was like joining Byzantine empire - not cool.
When many were fasting, praying, and searching, Muhammad was born.
Muhammad & The Birth of Islam
Muhammad was born in 570 CE
He was orphaned in early childhood and raised by his grandfather and then by his uncle.
He went from "rags to riches" and became a very successful man of business but never forgot the trials of his childhood.
In his adult life, Muhammad practiced "tahannuth" which was the act of going into a retreat to meditate and and worship. While doing so he experienced "The Night of Power" when the angel Gabriel appeared to him and commanded him to proclaim and testify.
Muhammad continued to receive revelations from 610-632.
His followers were persecuted and tortured for the message of monotheism. They fled to Ethiopia.
"The Night Journey and Ascension"
Muhammad is spiritually transported to Jerusalem
He meets Abraham, Moses, Jesus, others
He is taught and then ascends to the presence of Allah
Establishes not only significant teachings, but also importance of the location.
The Spread of Islam
After the death of Muhammad, there was a division in Islam over who should be the caliph or successor.
Sunnis believed it should be the one closest to the Prophet and who followed the path most perfectly.
Shi'ites believed it should be hereditary
Other sects exist, but these two represent the largest divisions within Islam.
Under mostly Sunni rule, Muslim armies swept across the region with little or no resistance from the Byzantine or Persian empires.
Some joined out of fear, some for social and economic reasons, and some because they believed the teachings.
The Muslim world became a center of educational, scientific, and cultural development.
Medical textbooks written that would be used for centuries
Early calculations of the Earth's circumference and axis.
They gave us Algebra...
and syrup!
The Five Pillars of Islam are:
The recitation of the Islamic creed
Daily prayers (multiple times daily)
Almsgiving - voluntary donations
Fasting during Ramadan
The pilgrimage to Mecca.
Islam teaches that Jews and Christians are "The People of the Book" - brothers in their faith tradition.
Sacred texts include the Torah and the Talmud
Although Judaism lacks a central, general authority that would determine the official doctrine of the faith, the basic beliefs of Judaism include:
The Torah
The first five Books of the Old Testament.
God's word as revealed to the Prophet Moses.
Believed by some to have been created before the world and used as a blueprint for the Creation.
The Talmud
Considered 2nd only to the Torah
Contains the code of Jewish law and the opinions of the Rabbis on a broad range of topics.
6200 pages long
That God, or Yahweh, is the Creator.
That the Torah is the word of God
That God rewards those who keep His commandments as contained in the law.
Jewish Traditions
Bondage, Moses, & The Exodus
The descendents of Israel move to Egypt as guests of Pharaoh to escape a famine, but are later placed in bondage.
After 400 years of slavery, Moses, a Hebrew child raised in Pharaoh's court, and now a capital fugitive, is called by Yahweh to return to Egypt and free the Israelites.
After Pharaoh's refusal to free the slaves, Yahweh, through Moses, sends plagues - each showing His power over Egypt's gods.
Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and back to the Land of Canaan.
En route, Yahweh establishes His law through Moses to teach the people who He is and what He expects of them.
The Conquest of Canaan
Under the leadership of Joshua, the combined armies of the 12 Israelite tribes drove out nearly all those who had occupied the Land of Canaan during the centuries that Israel was in Egyptian bondage.
The Diaspora and the Lost 10 Tribes
A united Israelite kingdom of Israel is established under the kings Saul, David, and then Solomon.
The kingdom splits after Solomon's rule (around 920 BCE), with 10 tribes forming the kingdom of Israel to the north, and Judah and Benjamin forming the kingdom of Judah to the south.
Over the course of about 300 years, the kingdom of Israel is decimated by the Assyrians, then the Babylonians, then the Persians. The 10 Tribes of Israel are carried away captive and scattered.
While in bondage, the Jews were without a temple. The synagogue became the new place to worship and study. This lead to Rabbis taking a larger role in the faith and priests taking a lesser role. The Pharisees became - to a large extent - the custodians of the law of Moses.
By the beginning of the Common Era, these laws had become very detailed with hundreds of commandments, rituals, and traditions.
What was their purpose?
By some estimates, there are as many as 41,000 Christian sects.
The Sacred text of Christians is the Holy Bible.
The Holy Bible
Comprised of two parts:
The Old Testament (Adam through the Diaspora]
The New Testament (Life of Jesus Christ through the Apostolic Era)
Contains revelations seen as the literal word of God, wisdom literature written by inspired men, and historical accounts of God's dealings with and in behalf of His people.
Basic beliefs are that:
God is the creator of the universe
Jesus Christ was the prophesied Messiah
Salvation (returning to live with God) is possible not through the law alone, but through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.
Prelude to Christianity
At the time of the birth of Jesus, Judaism was greatly divided:
Pharisees, Saducees, Essenes, Zealots
While they enjoyed a certain amount of freedom and autonomy, the Jews lived under Roman rule... and hated it.
They looked forward to a prophesied Messiah who would free them from bondage.
The Birth of Jesus
and the Rise of Christianity
The angel Gabriel appeared to a young virgin, Mary and told her she would give birth to the Son of God.
Jesus was born in lowly circumstances and spent his childhood in Egypt to escape efforts by the Jewish client king, Herod to kill any children who could possibly be the Messiah.
Jesus begins his ministry at age 30 after communing with God during a 40 day fast.
He declares publicly in the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, that he is in fact, the Messiah.
Jesus Declares He Is The Messiah
The Spread of Christianity
Jesus' ministry lasted three years before Jewish leaders persuaded the Roman governor to put Jesus to death.
Jesus' death did not put an end to Christianity however as many witnesses claimed to have seen the resurrected Jesus, giving credence to his claim of divinity.
More people joined the Christians in the first few months after Jesus' death than had joined during his three year mission.
On the day of Pentecost alone, approximately 3,000 were baptized.
As Christians grew in number and in influence, persecution from Rome increased.
Eventually Roman leadership determined that it would be more to their advantage politically to embrace Christianity than to persecute it. Under Emperor Constantine in 313 Christianity was given greater freedoms and official status.
Protestant Reformation
Christianity continued to grow and develop throughout Europe as both a religion and as a political power.
As this evolution occurred some felt that the Church's teachings and practices had strayed from the original beliefs of the faith.
In the early 1500's individuals like Martin Luther began to bring these teachings and practices into question.
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