Comparative Religion-The Role And Identity Of The Messiah

Required Resources
Read/review the following resources for this activity:

Textbook: Chapter 9
Lesson
Minimum of 1 scholarly source
Initial Post Instructions
For the initial post, respond to one of the following options:

What was the Jewish conception of the Messiah and how does the Christian understanding of the Messiah differ? What were the Jewish people expecting from their Messiah? How did Jesus’ teachings challenge these views?
What are some of the issues facing Christianity in 21st century America? How is American Christianity responding to these challenges (adapting/resisting)?
Make sure you are citing scholarly sources in your response.

Follow-Up Post Instructions
Respond to at least two peers or one peer and the instructor. Respond to a peer who chose an option different from the one you chose. Further the dialogue by providing more information and clarification.

Writing Requirements

Minimum of 3 posts (1 initial & 2 follow-up)
APA format for in-text citations and list of references
Grading
This activity will be graded using the Discussion Grading Rubric. Please review the following link:

Link (webpage): Discussion Guidelines
Weekly Objectives (WO)
WO6.7, 6.8, 6.10, 7.2, 7.3

Resource:

Molloy, M. (2013). Experiencing the world’s religions (6th ed.). New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
CHAPTER 9

FIRST ENCOUNTER

You have come to Egypt to see its great sights: the Nile River, the pyramids of Giza, and the temples of Luxor. In front of your hotel in Cairo, near the Egyptian Museum, you arrange with a taxi driver to take you to the pyramids late one afternoon. The traffic is slow and the horn-blowing incessant. From the window you see a donkey pulling a cart full of metal pipes, a woman carrying a tray of bread on her head, a boy carrying a tray of coffee cups, and an overloaded truck full of watermelons, all competing for space with dusty old cars and shiny black limousines.

Your taxi driver is Gurgis, a middle-aged man with a short gray beard and a kind manner. He drives with the windows open and chats with drivers in other taxis along the way. As you near the pyramids, he says, “If you wait till dusk, you can see the sound-and-light show. Tourists love the green laser lights on the pyramids. I can eat my supper at Giza and take you back afterwards.” This sounds like an experience not to be missed. You agree.

Page 334You’d thought that the pyramids were far outside the city in the lonely desert, but now they are just beyond a Pizza Hut, a bridal shop, and blocks of shops and apartments. Apparently, the city of Cairo swallowed up the desert some time ago.

When the light show is over, it’s hard to believe that in that huge crowd surging out you will find Gurgis. Luckily, he finds you. “Come, hurry,” he says, and whisks you away. On the trip back across the river, you ask about his background.

“I’m a Copt, an Egyptian Christian” he says, “and I’m named after St. George.” To verify what he’s telling you, Gurgis holds up his left arm. In the dim light you see a little blue cross tattooed on the inside of his wrist. Before long, you learn about his birthplace (in Alexandria) and his relatives (in Saskatchewan). He tells you about his religion, Coptic Christianity.

“It is very old. The first bishop was St. Mark, who wrote the gospel. Our patriarchs follow him in a long line of patriarchs. We Copts are only about 10 percent of the population in Egypt, but our Church is strong.” Noting your interest, he tells you about other places you might like to go. He offers to take you to the old Coptic section of Cairo. “It’s along the Nile, not very far from your hotel,” he says by way of encouragement. You agree to meet in front of your hotel on Friday morning.

On Friday you visit three churches. There’s a lot going on because it is Good Friday, and all of the churches, already surprisingly crowded with worshipers, will be filled in a few hours for special services. Inside one church, a priest stands in front of the doors to the sanctuary, apparently explaining something to a crowd of listeners. At the last church you visit, you see a painting outside of Mary and Jesus on a donkey. Gurgis explains that the church marks the spot where the family of Jesus stayed when they visited Egypt. You are doubtful, but in the basement of the church, a large sign confirms what he tells you.

As you walk along the old street, heading out of the Coptic quarter, Gurgis tells you more about Copts. “The original Christian hermits were Copts,” he says with pride. “Our pope was a monk once, and he’s energizing Coptic life. Now he is even sending priests and monks to your country, too. I know there are some in New Jersey.”

Back at the entrance to your hotel, Gurgis makes another offer. Sunday he will be going to a Eucharistic service at St. Mark’s Cathedral. “The service will be very long, but it is beautiful. Would you like to go?”

“Wonderful,” you say. “But let’s sit near the door.”

“Fine,” he says. “There is more air there.”

On Sunday you and Gurgis drive to an immense domed church behind a gate. Large men in dark-blue suits, looking like bodyguards, stand along the walkway into the church. Inside, a huge purple curtain hangs in front of the main sanctuary doors. It has a winged lion sewn onto it. “That represents St. Mark,” Gurgis whispers. At the left of the sanctuary is a thronelike wooden chair. “That is the pope’s chair, the throne of St. Mark.”

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Deeper Insights

THE CHRISTIAN SYSTEM OF CHRONOLOGY: BC AND AD

T

he influence of Christianity is apparent in the European dating system, which has now generally been adopted worldwide. The Roman Empire dated events from the foundation of Rome (753 bce), but a Christian monk, Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Little; c. 470–c. 540 ce) devised a new system that made the birth of Jesus the central event of history. Thus we have “bc,” meaning “before Christ,” and “ad,” Latin for “in the year of the Lord,” anno Domini. The date selected as the year of Jesus’s birth may have been incorrect, and scholars now think that Jesus was born about 4 bce. (The historical facts given in Matt. 2:1 and Luke 2:2 about the year of Jesus’s birth are not compatible.) Also, the new dating system began not with the year zero but with the year one because there is no zero in Roman numerals. Because of the Christian orientation of this dating system, many books (including this one) now use a slightly altered abbreviation: “bce,” meaning “before the Common Era,” and “ce,” meaning “Common Era.”

The Eucharistic service begins, with incense and singing. There is no organ, but the choir uses small drums and cymbals. It is the Lord’s Supper, but in a form you’ve never seen before. At times you can only hear the priests, because the sanctuary doors are periodically closed and you can no longer see the altar. The service ends with communion. Through it all, the people—men on the left side, women on the right—are amazingly devout.

Back in your hotel, you think about what you have seen and heard. You know that the Lord’s Supper has something to do with the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. But what about the incense and the cymbals? How did the rituals originate? And how did monks and hermits come about in Christianity? You had heard of a pope in Rome, but never one in Egypt. How did this other pope originate? What thoughts, you wonder, would Jesus have if he were with you today? And finally, what will be the future of this Egyptian Church—and, in this changing world, of Christianity itself?

Shenouda III, the late Coptic patriarch of Alexandria, here celebrates a feast at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo.

THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF JESUS Page 336

Christianity, which grew out of Judaism, has had a major influence on the history of the world. Before we discuss its growth and influence, we must look at the life of Jesus, who is considered its originator, and at the early scriptural books that speak of his life.

Before Jesus’s birth, the land of Israel had been taken over repeatedly by stronger neighbors. During Jesus’s time, Israel was called Palestine by the Romans and was part of the Roman Empire—but not willingly. The region was full of unrest, a boiling pot of religious and political factions and movements. As we discussed in Chapter 8 , patriots who later became known as the Zealots wanted to expel the Romans. The Sadducees, a group of priests in Jerusalem, accepted the Roman occupation as inevitable, yet they kept up the Jewish temple rituals. Members of a semimonastic movement, the Essenes, lived an austere life in the desert and provinces; for the most part, they deliberately lived away from Jerusalem, which they thought was corrupt. The Pharisees, a lay movement of devout Jews, preoccupied themselves with meticulously keeping the Jewish law.

Many Jews in Jesus’s day thought that they were living in the “end times.” They expected a period of turbulence and suffering and a final great battle, when God would destroy all the enemies of pious Jews. God, they believed, would then inaugurate a new age of justice and love. Some expected a new Garden of Eden, where the good people who remained after the Judgment would eat year-round from fruit trees and women would no longer suffer in childbirth. Most Jews shared the hope that the Romans would be expelled, that evildoers would be punished, and that God’s envoy, the Messiah , would appear. The common expectation among the Jews of Jesus’s day was that the Messiah would be a king or a military leader who was descended from King David. (The name Messiah means “anointed” and refers to the ceremony of anointing a new king with olive oil.) Many held that the Messiah had been foretold in some of their sacred books—such as Isaiah, Micah, and Daniel—and they expected him to rule the new world.

Into this complicated land Jesus was born about two thousand…