1) Please explain what historical facts about Jesus are admitted even by the most skeptical historians. What historical sources do we have for the life of Jesus?
-All qualified historians, even the most skeptical, admit several facts about Jesus
-That he is a real historical figure, who lived at the beginning of the first century AD
-That he was a traveling preacher, who told parables and preached about the Kingdom of God
-That he was put to death by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate
-Jesus disciples sincerely believed he had risen from the dead and appeared to them
-Jesus’ close relative, James, who initially was an unbeliever, was converted to Christianity after claiming to have a vision of the risen Jesus
-Paul, who had initially persecuted and killed Christians, had a sudden dramatic conversion to Christianity after claiming to have seen a vision of the risen Jesus
-A great majority of qualified historians also say that Jesus’ tomb was empty on the third day
-This is even the most skeptical historians, but there’s no good reason to be hyper-skeptical. Even on this bare minimum of facts, we have enough information to accept Christianity
-We have several important historical sources for the life of Jesus
-St. Paul’s letters
-The Gospel of Matthew
-The Gospel of Mark
-The Gospel of Luke
-The Gospel of John
-Acts of the Apostles
-The Antiquities of the Jews by the historian Flavius Josephus
-The letter of Mara bar Serapion
2) Please explain the difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees.
-Believed that God would bring a time of restoration when Israel would defeat her enemies and rule the world, and all the dead would rise back to life
-Thought that the way to bring on this restoration was having all of Israel observe the Torah (Jewish Law) zealously and scrupulously
-Believed in the afterlife, the resurrection of the body, and held that all the Old Testament was inspired by God, and also used oral tradition
-Upper class and very powerful Jews
-They were priests who were in charge of the Temple
-They didn’t believe in the afterlife or the resurrection of the Body. They held that only the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) was inspired by God.
3) What did many first century Jews mean by the phrase “Kingdom of God?” How did Jesus change the meaning?
-How many Jews understood the Kingdom of God
-God himself is king
-God drives out and defeats Israel’s enemies
-God purifies the Temple, so that God’s people can offer pure worship
-God would do this through the Messiah (Christ), who would be a great political and military leader
-How Jesus changed this
-Jesus said that God was a God of surprises
-Jesus said that the kingdom of God wouldn’t come through great political and military success, but through the triumph of love, of non-violence, of life. He said Israel’s real enemy wasn’t the pagans, but the power of death itself and of the devil
4) Give an overview of the life of Jesus
The Joyful Mysteries
- The Annunciation-Mary learns that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.
- The Visitation-Mary visits Elizabeth, who tells her that she will always be remembered.
- The Nativity-Jesus is born in a stable in Bethlehem.
- The Presentation-Mary and Joseph take the infant Jesus to the Temple to present him to God.
- The Finding of Jesus in the Temple-Jesus is found in the Temple discussing his faith with the teachers.
The Mysteries of Light
- The Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan-God proclaims that Jesus is his beloved Son.
- The Wedding Feast at Cana-At Mary’s request, Jesus performs his first miracle.
- The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God-Jesus calls all to conversion and service to the Kingdom.
- The Transfiguration of Jesus-Jesus is revealed in glory to Peter, James, and John.
- The Institution of the Eucharist-Jesus offers his Body and Blood at the Last Supper.