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Film Reviews

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Some form of religion has always been in the world. The Egyptians were polytheistic, believing in Isis, Amen-Re, and other various gods and goddesses. The Greeks put their faith into Aphrodite and Apollo, with Zeus being the head god, ruler of all.

The first form of monotheism sprang up about 5,800 years ago. Abraham was the founder. The Israelites believed that Jehovah, or God, talked to Abraham and made a covenant with him promising to make his descendents more numerous than the stars. The Israelites believed in communal living and sacrificed animals in God's honor. The communities were linked by faith in the one true God. These communities shared everything.

The first king chosen to rule over and unify the smaller, Jewish communities was King Saul. He made god the central being. David was Israel's second king. He wrote poetry and psalms (songs) to and about God. These songs and poems helped spread the religion. King Solomon, David's son, built a magnificent temple for God. Everything was lavish and gold sparkled everywhere!

Judaism survived as a minority faith in a much larger society of believers because it had a strong determination to. The Hebrews believed that God backed them up in everything they did, including holy wars. God would talk to the prophets and tell them what he wanted. The prophets would preach God's word. They taught that wrong-doing led to destruction.

Unfortunately, Jerusalem was pillaged and burned by the Babylonians, which was foretold by the prophets. They dispersed the Jewish people and exiled them. During this exile "Judaism" was born. "Israelite" was dropped and "Jew" replaced it. Even though the Jewish people were dispersed throughout the land and ruled by many different kinds of people and cultures, they managed to preserve their identity. God was now worshipped individually instead of going to the Temple mount where priests performed sacrifices for them. During the exile, the Jews defined their culture. Certain clothes could be worn and only certain foods could be eaten (no pork because they were seen as "unclean") for they were seen as "pure." It is still known as "Kosher" today.

The Persians allowed the Jews to worship freely and even return to their homeland. Nehemiah took control and restored order and rebuilt Jerusalem. However, many Jews decided not to return home. This also helped to spread the religion.

The Jewish people follow first five books of the Bible called the "Torah" Moses is believed to have written them. These books unified, restored, and preserved the peoples' religion.

Christianity developed after Judaism. Their story begins after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. This group of people believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and is the Son of God.

Jesus had twelve disciples who followed him during his lifetime. Simon and Peter were two of the twelve and some of the disciples claimed to have seen the resurrected lord. At the Pentecostal gathering, "the holy spirit descended upon the disciples" and miraculously they could speak in different languages.

The Christians believed in communal living just like the Hebrews did. They also believed that the rich should sell all of their possessions and give the money to the poor. Even though man was doomed to die due to Adam and Eve and their disobedience in the Garden of Eden, Christians believed that even though your earthly body dies, your spirit can still be with the Heavenly Father if one repented one's sins and was forgiven. Simon, Peter, and James (Jesus' half brother) dedicated their lives to spreading the gospel.

At first Christians still followed the Jewish faith, with the one exception of the belief that Jesus was the Messiah. The Jews believed that the Messiah had yet to come. Eventually, the Christians began to break away from the Jewish habits and form their own.

Christianity was tolerated at first but not for long. The Hebrews saw it as a threat to their religion. The first martyr for the Christian cause was Saint Stephen. He was tried for blasphemy because he challenged the key symbols to Judaism. Stephen was stoned to death for his belief. The disciples were now known as apostles. A man named Saul at first persecuted the Christians but on the way to Damascus he was blinded by a bright light and God said to him "Saul, why do you persecute me?" Saul converted to the same religion he had once persecuted. He changed his name to Paul and became very dedicated to the cause. Paul took the religion out of Israel all the way to Rome. He wrote letters to the different peoples and scriptures to help spread the word. His scriptures and letters were later used as books in the Christian Bible.

At first Christian leaders were faced with who could enter the new religion. Did a person have to first convert to Judaism to eventually become a Christian? It was soon decided that no, a person didn't have to convert to Judaism first but could directly become a Christian. Christianity wasn't a highly tolerated religion. Everywhere Christians were being targeted and accused of being atheists and haters of the human race. When Nero came into power in Rome, a great fire devastated the grand city. The Romans at first blamed Nero but he used the Christians as scapegoats. The Christians were tortured, beheaded, mauled by wild animals (lions and tigers), and forced to fight gladiators in the colosseum. The Romans picked leaders like Paul (beheaded) and Peter (crucified) and had them executed. The persecution went on for one hundred years. The Christians were forced to worship in secret in the catacombs. When Christianity became more Romanized it was tolerated more.

The first Christian churches were run by women in their homes. However when the church was centralized by bishop women lost that power they had had. In 81 AD the Golden Age of Theology began. Christianity began to enter the upper classes and Christianity was the "it" religion. Unfortunately in 303 AD, Nioclesian announced that Apollo was angry at the Christians and the Great Persecution began.

When Constantine became Emperor, he tolerated the religion, even converting into a Christian himself. He changed the day of worship to Sunday and also decided on one Bible and one church. At the Constantine Conference in Nicea bishops and the emperor discussed whether Jesus and the Holy Spirit were the same substance as God or LIKE the same substance of god. After much discussion it was decided that they were the same substance and that they were the holy trinity. It was here that the Nicene Creed was written here and is repeated in churches to this day. Also the New Testament was created made up



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