Posts Tagged ‘Jews’

Paul the Apostle

English: St. Paul by El Greco, c. 1608-1614. O...

English: St. Paul by El Greco, c. 1608-1614. Originally taken from artchive.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Paul the Apostle, original name Saul of Tarsus, was an apostle (though not one of the Twelve Apostles) who taught the Gospel of Christ to the first-century world. He is generally considered one of the most important apostolic figures of The Apostolic Age. In the mid-30s to mid-50s, he founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Paul used his status as both a Jew and a Roman citizen to advantage in his ministry to both Jewish and Roman audiences.

Fourteen of the twenty-seven books in the New Testament have traditionally been attributed to Paul, and approximately half of the Acts of the Apostles deals with Paul’s life and works. Seven of the epistles are undisputed by scholars as being authentic, with varying degrees of argument about the remainder. The Pauline authorship of Hebrews, already doubted in the 2nd and 3rd centuries but almost unquestioningly accepted from the 5th to the 16th centuries, is now almost universally rejected by scholars. The other six are believed by some scholars to have come from followers writing in his name, using material from Paul’s surviving letters and letters written by him that no longer survive. Other scholars argue that the idea of a pseudonymous author for the disputed epistles raises many problems.

Today, his epistles continue to be deeply rooted in the theology, worship, and pastoral life in the Roman and Protestant traditions of the West, as well as the Orthodox traditions of the East. Among the many other apostles and missionaries involved in the spread of the Christian faith, his influence on Christian thought and practice has been characterized as being as “profound as it is pervasive.” Augustine of Hippo developed Paul’s idea that salvation is based on faith and not “works of the law.” Martin Luther’s interpretation of Paul’s writings heavily influenced Luther’s doctrine of sola fide.

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The Nativity of St. John the Baptist

English: Nativity of John Baptist, 15 c, Hermi...

English: Nativity of John Baptist, 15 c, Hermitage/ Рождество Иоанна Предтечи (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the Jewish historian Josephus (who wrote after 70 AD), John the Baptist was a Jewish preacher in the time of Pontius Pilate (AD 26-26). He called the people to repentance and to a renewal of their covenant with God. Luke begins his Gospel by describing an aged, devout, childless couple, the priest Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. As Zechariah is serving in the Temple, he sees the angel Gabriel, who tells him that he and his wife will have a son who will be a great prophet, and will go before the Lord “like Elijah.” Zechariah went home, and his wife conceived. About six months later, Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary, a kinswoman of Elizabeth, and told her that she was about to bear a son, who would be called the Most High, a king whose kingdom would never end. Thus Elizabeth gave birth to John, and Mary gave birth six months later to Jesus.

The Holy Name

The_Circumcision,oilpainting by Luca Signorelli.

The_Circumcision,oilpainting by Luca Signorelli. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On January 1, we celebrate the Circumcision of Christ. Since we are more squeamish than our ancestors, modern calendars often list it as the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, but the other emphasis is the older. Every Jewish boy was circumcised (and formally named) on the eighth day of his life, and so, one week after Christmas, we celebrate the occasion when Our Lord first shed His blood for us. It is a fit close for a week of martyrs, and reminds us that to suffer for Christ is to suffer with Him.

James Kiefer