It goes without saying that the appearance of a new religious group by the followers of Jesus Christ, who has been recently crucified, is a highly disturbing issue for the whole Roman Empire. This new formation definitely should not be taken for granted as it presumably has its own philosophy and continues to attract a substantial number of people. With the help from our permanent informers, we will try to gain insight into the peculiarities of this new religion, so-called Christianity, and investigate its main differences from Judaism.
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First of all, it is necessary to notice that the new religion’s reserved character is the main reason for the increasing tension between its followers and the Romans. The traditional Roman imperial religion is characterized by the importance of participation in rituals and “generally public, communal and political” worship to gods (Punt 3). Meanwhile, the followers of Jesus Christ passionately, though falsely believe in his resurrection after death, his further return to people, the one god, and “the afterlife of the physical body” (Finney 101).
Moreover, they emphasize the intimacy of the person’s communication with the god and focus on the psychological state of a believer rather than the accuracy of rituals (Punt 3). The unwillingness of the new religion’s followers to participate in public worshipping Roman gods will inevitably be regarded by our Emperor as a potential threat both for society and the Empire.
However, from a personal perspective, the confrontation between traditional values and a new movement may be lost by the Roman Empire, and the reason for this failure is in the economic state of the country. Although the success of “the gods, goddesses, men, and women of Rome” during the republican centuries is unquestionable, the Empire currently experiences a substantial decline of the system due to political conflicts, instability, and economic disparities (North).
Poverty may be defined as one of the most essential problems of the country, and the difference between the wealthy minority and the destitute majority is unsurpassable. Nevertheless, the poverty of a prevalent number of citizens creates a sense of solidarity and unity that encourages the spread of Christianity and its ideas of mercy, mutual help, and charity.
A new religion definitely has a certain resemblance to already existing Judaism, founded by Moses. However, despite worshipping one god “who created the world out of nothing, who fashioned humankind in his own image,” two religious movements have a range of substantial differences (Peters 1). The crucial dissimilarity between Christianity and Judaism consists of the attitude to Jesus Christ of his followers and Israelites. Jesus Christ’s disciples believe that he is the god’s son and the messiah who sacrificed his life to atone the sins of all people.
At the same time, Judaists suppose that Jesus Christ was an ordinary man and not a messiah, and there was no need for him to sacrifice himself. Moreover, the followers of Moses believe that salvation is the divine forgiveness that may be obtained for a good approach to other people, while Christians see salvation in the unshakable faith in the god.
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The strong personality of Jesus Christ, his ideas that attract a significant number of people not only in Jerusalem but other regions of the Mediterranean as well resulted in the appearance of a new religious group. Unfortunately, the complicated political and economic state of the Roman Empire may negatively affect the spread of this movement that did not disappear even after the death of its leader. We will follow the progress of this situation and keep you informed.
Finney, Mark. Resurrection, Hell and the Afterlife: Body and Soul in Antiquity, Judaism and Early Christianity. Routledge, 2016.
North, John. “The Religious History of the Roman Empire.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. 2017. Web.
Peters, F. E. The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam. Princeton University Press, 2018.
Punt, Jeremy. “Believers or Loyalists? Identity and Social Responsibility of Jesus Communities in the Empire.” In die Skriflig / In Luce Verbi, vol. 51, no. 3, 2017, pp. 1-8.