Theories, People, Places, And Events Surrounding The New Testament

Theories, People, Places, And Events Surrounding The New Testament
The New Testament, a compilation of ancient texts dating from the birth of Jesus Christ to an unknown Second Coming of Christ, is a very important document to the archaeological history of the world, as well as the history of man on Earth. However, one would wonder how and why it was written, what influenced it, who were the people involved in it, what events surround it, and so on. Essentially, what truly influence the New Testament to stand at its current status quo? The attempt is made here to expostulate on that and attempt to provide an answer or answers to those pressing questions.
First, there were theories put in place to help establish why Christianity was such a flourishing religion at this time. There are three theories that help put a finger on why Christianity rose as it did. One such theory is the community-identity theory. This theory supposes that the Jewish community, which had been stripped of its main identity through centuries of persecution, had to recover a certain identity. This way, the Jewish community found its identity in the teachings and preachings of a man named Jesus Christ. Thus the community found an identity, followed by the spread of the ideas and teachings, leading to the birth of a new religion. Another theory is the sect-church theory. This is a very likely theory, as well as a very organized and neatly set theory. This theory expostulates that a small number of Jews broke off from the traditional ways and means of the Jewish faith and formed a group that focused on the teachings and preachings of Jesus Christ. This group slowly gained members over time, leading to the appointment of priests and prelates, eventually leading this group to perform duties much like the other churches of the time. This led that small sect of Judaism to form a new church called Christianity. A third and socially impacting theory arose; its main thesis was that religion was an integrator of society. In this theory, it was explained that society hungered for a ?happy medium? between the need for social order and the longing to secure personal desires. Religion guaranteed that the dividends of social order was the receiving and fulfillment of personal desires, and that the two would work in harmony. Christianity stepped up and filled that void when no other religion worked as the integrator.

Next, there were many people, places, and events that affected the world at the time of the New Testament?s authorship. One major event was the birth of Alexander, song of King Phillip of Macedon, in 356 bce. Alexander was instructed and tutored by the great Greek philosopher Aristotle, who bred in Alexander the basics of Greek culture. These basics included architecture, emphasis on learning, literature, and language. This also included the philosophies of Greek culture, which numbered three: Platonism, Stoicism, and Epicureanism. Platonism was a philosophy started by Aristotle?s teacher, Plato, which supposed that the reality seen here on Earth is a mere copy of a true reality existing in another realm. Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus), and his letters in the New Testament, was affected by this philosophy when he spoke of Jesus going to a real temple in heaven, among many places. Also, Stoicism was alive and well. Stoicism focused on the ideal that the universe has a soul and that this universal soul is in everything on Earth, from man to tree to plant to even rocks. This soul was also pulling the Earth to a Utopian future, a perfect future filled with supplication of desires. This also affected writers like Paul and John the Revelator, who supposed an eternal time of peace and rest with heaven on Earth. The third philosophy was Epicureanism. This philosophy was despised by much of the world at the end of bce period, as it said that even if God did in fact exist (which it may not at all), it did not care about its people and that people lived in irrational fear of a non-caring God. Therefore, people must live for the moment. This turned quickly into a self-serving philosophy, with the people becoming almost hedonistic. Suddenly, Phillip was assassinated in 323 bce, catapulting Alexander onto the throne as King of Macedon. This gave him means of conquering the world, which led to the spread of Greek culture over the Eastern world.

Alexander began by conquering Asia Minor, attempting to conquer Persia, conquering Egypt (establishing Alexandria as a great learning center for the world at that time), and finally conquering Persia in a last and decisive battle in 331 bce. Throughout his conquest, he spread the Greek culture, blending it with other cultures, and officially ?hellenizing? the world as he knew it. However, with his death in 323 bce, his empire lay in jeopardy, with his only commandment for rule being that the best man be chosen to rule. This caused upheaval amongst his generals, who all insisted that each were the best men suited for the job. Thus, his empire was split up into 20 parts, given to each of the 20 generals who insisted a piece of the pie. Two major generals were Ptolemy and Seleucid. Ptolemy was given control of Egypt and the ?holy land? around the Red Sea. Seleucid was given control of Persia, north of the Holy Land. Ptolemy ruled the Holy Land, a highly trafficked area for merchants traveling to sell their goods. The Seleucid rulers wanted that land. After much fighting between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids, the Seleucids won control of that area. This is where things get interesting.

A Seleucid ruler, Antiochus IV, looked to strip the Jewish of their religious freedoms. He ordered that they were to remove the Torah from their homes (the Torah being central to the Jewish faith), the could not observe religious holidays, and they could only worship his gods. To top the whole situation off, Antiochus IV placed a large statue of Zeus in the Jerusalem temple. This pushed the Jews over the edge. The community, led by the Macabean family, stormed Antiochus with the First Jewish Revolt, pushing him to resign his command and the Jewish became independent. The Macabeans then ruled the Jews, which should have been good, as they were themselves Jewish. However, they were very oppressive rulers, stingy with money and demanding of the people. The Jewish then did not oppose the coming of the Roman army, and they soon were taken over by Roman rule. The Romans quickly began oppressing the Jews, leading to the Second Jewish Revolt. This Revolt ended with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jewish people. After this, the Sadducees, who held the power in the temple, lost all power. Their power transferred to the Pharisee group, who help power in the synagogues around the area.

Two other groups essential to this time frame were the Essenes and the Zealots. The Essenes tended to withdraw from society. They did not marry and the only children that would have been part of their society would have been adopted children. They also took it upon themselves to copy, by hand, the existing Bible and its documents. Theoretically, Jesus, John the Baptist, and Paul were Essenes for a short time. Also, the Zealots existed, and they received their name from the zeal they possessed to overthrow Roman rule. They would assassinate Roman rulers and create and ever-present danger to the Romans. An interesting story has them fleeing to Masada fortress after the destruction of Jerusalem, slowly killing each other and their families, and leaving the Roman army to find two women and five children to tell the story of their deaths. However, the Essenes are the more important of the two in this case.

One of the most important archaeological discoveries of the modern era was the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. These were probably Essene manuscripts of the Old Testament writings, as well as descriptions of the time at hand. These were discovered by a young Bedouin shepherd throwing rocks into caves searching for a lost sheep. He heard a rock break open pottery, and inside the pottery lay the scrolls. These have importance to the New Testament as they describe the environment in New Testament days.

Thus, these preceding theories, people, places, dates, times, and events helped to greatly shape the New Testament. They provided they who, what, where, when, why, and how to the situations and placed some pieces of the puzzle together. As mentioned earlier, the New Testament is a vital piece of work to the history of mankind. However, there is no way of knowing if the New Testament as is happens to be the complete New Testament. Possibly, the world will never know.

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