The Crucifixion - Notes

Notes

— The Annunciation (See also the Holy Spirit) According to the Gospel of Luke, 1:26 ff, the archangel Gabriel was sent to Nazareth in Galilee, to the Virgin Mary, and announced to her that she had found favour with God and would bear a son, Jesus. She asked how that would be, since she was pledged to be married to Joseph, she was pledged to remain a virgin until then. The angel replied that she would conceive through the Holy Spirit. Mary consented, saying, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let it happen unto me according to your word." (Luke 1:38)

— Baptism (See also Original Sin)

It is the rite of admission into the Christian church of all sects. In the Gospels, Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist "for the forgiveness of sins." (Mark 1:4). In the rite of baptism, water is poured or sprinkled on the head of an infant or a newly converted Christian. Some sects immerse the whole body of the faithful in a river, ocean or lake. Jesus does not seem to do or speak about baptism during his ministry However, after the Resurrection, he instructs:

19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

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—The Bible

Basically the Bible consists of the sacred writings of the Jews (The Old Testament) and those of the Christians (The New Testament). For Christianity, much of the Old Testament is considered relevant, particularly the chapter and verses that are thought to be prophesies of the coming of Jesus and his mission on earth, and the story of Creation (Genesis) and giving of the Torah, which contained the Law, especially the Ten Commandments. When Jesus spoke, he was .speaking words of his own, he was speaking words of common wisdom, or he was referring to or explaining verses from the Hebrew Bible, that is, The Old Testament. Specifically, he referred to the five books of Moses, to the Torah, or the book of the Psalms. Along with his own original teachings, these will have been the stuff out of which Jesus created much of his teaching and his preaching.

Since the story of Jesus is told entirely in The New Testament of the Bible, it is very important that we understand that book. Of course, at the time of Jesus' ministry, there was only The Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible. Although the New Testament's history is very complex and is not entirely clear, it seems to have been written and formed by 200 CE. The division into the OT/NT as it is known today dates from the 4th century CE.

According to Jewish tradition, what the Christians came to call The Old Testament was given by God. The first five books are called The Torah by the Jews. The Torah is divided into five books, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. Each book is then further divided into chapter and verse. This organisation of book-chapter-verse was continued and carried over to the writing of the New Testament as we find it today. References to the Bible in this essay has been made according to this organization.

Genesis, the first book, tells the story of the Creation of the Universe and the World, including the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (see note on The Fall), as well as God's revealing himself to humanity. For the Jews, the most important portions of the Torah are the laws that God gave Moses on Mt. Sinai. These laws are the backbone of the morality and ethics of Western Civilization. The Torah, in Exodus, includes the Ten Commandments. God commanded that his laws be kept, and it is by these laws that the Orthodox Jew still strictly guides his life today. To put it another way, during the lifetime of a deeply believing Jew, his/her duty to God is to keep the laws of the Torah. Furthermore, in order to keep God's law,

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it is necessary to study the law so that each one is understood. As the circumstances of time and place change throughout history, the laws of the Torah, which were written for desert tribes perhaps about 1200 BCE have to be applied to each current situation as it comes up in the life of Jewish society. In order to record all of these changes, a process of commentary on the Torah has been going on for over 3,000 years. These commentaries were codified separately and are called the Mishna and Talmud. These are also revered and studied by Orthodox Jews.

One of the laws of the Torah further declares,

...when all Israel comes

to be seen at the presence of YHWH your God

at the place that he chooses, (= the synagogue)

you are to proclaim this Instruction (= The Torah)

in front of all Israel, in their ears. (= Read the Torah aloud)

Deuteronomy 31:11

This is true even today. Throughout the year in the synagogue, the Torah is divided into 54 sections and read in a loud clear voice in front of the congregation. When the reading of the entire Torah is finished, there is joyous celebration by the congregation"" and the cycle begins again.

Both the Torah and commentaries such as the Talmud were part of the holy texts that existed throughout Jewish history even before Jesus' time. However, the present terms Bible and Old/New Testament are Christian. The traditional Hebrew name, Tanach, is used by the Jews for all the books of The Old Testament.

Jesus being Jewish, regularly worshipped in Jewish communal worship at a synagogue. He read and preached from the Jewish sacred texts, that is, from the Torah, and other sacred writings. But it is the Torah in particular that is of the greatest importance to the mission of Jesus. In the Gospels, as in the quote just below, he refers to it as the Law.

"Think not that I have come to abolish the Law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For

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* congregation: a group of people regularly attending worship in a church, mosque or synagogue.

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truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished."

(Matt. 5:17-18)

— The Covenant

The founding fathers of Judaism are Abraham, his son, Isaac and his son, Jacob. In Genesis, God reveals himself to Abraham and commands him:

Go forth from your native land and from your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation. (Genesis 12:1,2)

Before the covenant of the Torah at Mt. Sinai, God makes an earlier covenant: The ritual of circumcision performed even today on the eighth day after birth to all male infants by the Jewish people, is this covenant. God commands Abraham:

"...you and your offspring throughout the ages shall keep My covenant. Such shall he the covenant between Me and you and your offspring, ...every male among you shall he circumcised. ...and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you"

 (Genesis 17: 9-11).

The covenant is understood as a two-way relationship: Abraham and his descendants are to keep faith only in God and no other gods, and He is to watch over them. Thus was the monotheism of Judaism, Christianity and Islam said to have been created.

The Three, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are the Patriarchs of Judaism, the religion from which Jesus springs. For Jews even today, the Patriarchs are remembered in prayer three times a day: "Blessed are You, Lord our God, and God of our fathers. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob."

— Crucifixion

Crucifixion was a common method of execution used by the Romans to punish slaves and foreigners. Hung from a crossbar fixed to an upright peg, the naked victim was hung as a public spectacle until dead. No vital organs were damaged, and death was slow agony. Prior to crucifixion, the victim was scourged and made to carry the

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crossbar to the execution site. The crucifixion of Jesus followed this order of events after the pronouncement of sentence. The leader of the four-man execution squad led the procession bearing a sign detailing the reason for the execution. The victim's outstretched arms were affixed to the cross-bar by either nails or ropes. This was then raised and secured to the perpendicular pole (which in some areas may have been left in place permanently, both for convenience and as a warning). A small board or peg may have been provided as sort of a seat to bear some of the weight of the condemned. This only prolonged the agony of the victim. The conventional misconception is that the spikes were driven through the hands. The Romans had discovered much earlier that the skin would just tear away and the person would fall from the cross. So the spikes were certainly driven through the wrist area, between the bones there.

The feet were then secured in a manner forcing the knees into a bent position. Contrary to popular paintings and other representations of the Crucifixion, crosses were not high; the feet were probably only a few inches above the ground. The sign describing the accusation was secured to the cross. Death occurred through both suffocation and exposure.

— Easter

This is the holiest of Christian holy days. It celebrates the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. So-called Good Friday is the day of the Crucifixion, while Easter Sunday immediately follows and celebrates the Resurrection. In very early Christianity, this holiday coincided with the Jewish Passover, but Christianity soon disassociated itself from the Jewish calendar. Presently, the date of Easter is determined by a lunar calculation, which makes it occur in late March or early April.

— The Eucharist (see also The Last Supper)

The final meal of Jesus with his disciples before his death. In the three Synoptic Gospels, the Last Supper is described as a Passover meal. At this meal, Jesus takes bread and wine as his body and blood and later directed that the meal be repeated in memory of his coming sacrifice.

15 And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you I shall not eat

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it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yours elves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

(Luke 22: 15-20)

The celebration of the Eucharist was accordingly regarded as an essential part of worship in the early church and has remained a central observance of the Christian church ever since. For example, the Mass, with the Eucharist is performed daily by priests of the Roman Catholic Church. According to the belief of the Roman Catholic Church, the bread of the Mass becomes the actual body of Jesus, while the wine becomes the actual blood of the Saviour. The priest after his training is ordained, upon which he has the mystical power to bring about this transubstantiation the transformation of the wine and bread of the Mass to the actual blood and body of Jesus, the Saviour. Thus, during the Mass, Jesus is actually, physically present as is believed by the Roman Catholic faithful.

—The Fall: see Original Sin

— Hebrews or Israelites

In the Old Testament, the term 'Jewish' is not used. Rather, Hebrew or Israelite is used when referring to what are today called Jews.

— Holy Spirit

In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is God. The Christians believe in a mystery called the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit. There are three persons in one God. Humans cannot understand this nature of God, but must simply accept it on faith. It is the Holy Spirit that conceived Jesus in the womb of Mary at the Annunciation.

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The Last Supper: see also The Eucharist

The meal shared by Jesus and his disciples on the eve of his Passion at which he instituted the Holy Eucharist. The Last Supper has been immortalized by the famous painting of Leonardo da Vinci. In the painting, we see the Disciples sitting at a table with Jesus in the centre. And perhaps this is the image that the world generally has of this gathering.

Jesus being Jewish, kept Passover both as a child and an adult as can be seen by several references in the Gospels, which make it clear that the Last Supper was a Passover meal. The actuality of Jewish custom whereby the entire family celebrates together contradicts da Vinci's painting.

(a) Passover seder: The celebration or seder, which involves the sharing of a full meal, was held whilst reclining together around a low table in fellowship. Reclining is a mark of a freeman at a great feast. Indeed, even today, when the Jewish child asks the traditional questions at the Passover seder, one of them is "Why do we recline and not sit on this night?". If, as it seems, the Last Supper was a Passover meal then it is very unlikely to have looked anything like medieval paintings since they would not have been seated around a table. Another surprise to Christians is that wives and children may well have been there too, not just male disciples, since it is inconceivable that the wives and children were at home celebrating alone without the men. Passover is a feast that celebrates redemption of whole households and a nation, not individuals. This would of course have depended upon how many of Jesus' disciples' families had come to Jerusalem for the festival.

(b) (un) leavened bread: The bread of Europe and America is made with yeast which is a leavening agent that makes the bread become full of gas so that it swells and rises. This natural process takes several hours. In comparison, the chapatti of India uses no leavening, so it is one kind of flat, unleavened bread. When the Jewish people had to flee from Egypt, they had no time to make their bread with leavening, so to commemorate this fact, even today at the time of Passover, the Jewish people will absolutely refuse to eat anything but an unleavened bread, called matzo. During the flight from Egypt, God commanded the Jewish people to eat only unleavened bread. And thereafter to commemorate the flight into freedom, every orthodox Jewish family must eat only matzo for seven days. This unleavened bread represents the readiness to leap into freedom

 
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and away from slavery. With this In mind, it is the strict duty of the Jewish family to clean all leavening from the house just before the one week Passover celebration begins. This is a custom that is well over 3000 years old, and of course, at the Last Supper, a Passover meal, Jesus and his disciples ate only unleavened bread. It is this unleavened bread which became the bread of the Eucharist.

— Messiah or Christ

Christ is a Greek word and means Messiah. It was applied to Jesus even in the New Testament to show the faith of the early Christians in the unique meaning of his death and subsequent resurrection. That is, Jesus was the Messiah; he was Jesus Christ.

The Jewish belief that the coming of the Messiah still lies in the future is one of the major differences between the faith of Jews and Christians. The Christians believe that the Messiah came 2000 years ago in the person of Jesus. Although faith in the Messiah had been entirely Jewish, and still is to this day, the Christians claimed Jesus as the Messiah (Jesus Christ), but gave an entirely different meaning and belief to this word.

(a) Jewish: The rabbis taught that with the coming of the messiah, the anointed descendant of the great King David of the Old Testament, the climax of human history would be achieved and God's kingdom would be established here on Earth. Messianic speculation on when would the Messiah appear in humanity's midst thus became a constant feature of Jewish culture. Although presently, this belief is not universal throughout Judaism, the Orthodox still maintain that a Messiah, a descendant from King David, will come and reign in Jerusalem.

It is important here to note that in the Jewish belief, there is no mention of heaven, hell or even of an afterlife. God's Kingdom reigned over by the Messiah will be established here on Earth.

(b) Christian: Christianity insists that Jesus is the anointed* descendant of King David. Through this and other signs from prophets of the Old Testament, Christianity declares Jesus to be the Messiah. In Greek, the word 'messiah' is 'christ' or the anointed one, so according to the faith of Christianity, Jesus becomes Jesus Christ. In the Gospels, Jesus refers to himself as 'the son of man' which is not a supernatural figure such as a messiah. Yet, Christianity claims

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* anoint: to apply oil to as a sign of holiness in a sacred rite (ceremony).

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that through the miraculous deeds and teachings of his public ministry, he demonstrated the power of God to change life through himself. The basic Christian dogma that God manifested Himself in the flesh as Jesus who then carried the burden of humanity's sins and thus redeemed humanity by the Crucifixion is finally officially expressed in the 4th century in the Nicene Creed. Thus Jesus Christ is the Saviour of humanity. Such an interpretation of 'messiah' remains unacceptable to both Judaism and Islam.

(c) Nicene Creed: In 325 CE, the Emperor Constantine called the Council of Nicea to decide and establish the nature of Christ and his mission to humanity. From the earliest times after the Crucifixion, its meaning and the nature of Jesus as the Christ were disputed vigorously among the early Christians. In trying to establish itself, the early Church had to present itself with a single creed or there would be several churches, each claiming to know both Christ's true nature and the way to salvation (see below) that he promised. The Nicene Creed was established by this famous Council and has become the foundation statement of faith of all Christian sects up to today. In fact, in modern times, it has been proposed as a basis for Christian unity.

Nicene Creed:

We believe in one God, the Father, the almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one Being with the Father: Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father: He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son). With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy, catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one

 
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baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

— Original Sin or The Fall; Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden

The concept of Original Sin is essential to Christian theology. Without belief in Original Sin there would be no need for crucifixion, salvation or atonement to take place. In the Garden of Eden (Paradise), where the Creation took place, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Good and Evil. In spite of God's commandment, they ate the fruit, thus becoming aware of good vs. evil. This disobedience of Adam and Eve against God's command is the Fall. According to Christianity, it was such a great sin that it created a permanent state of separation that has been passed down from Adam and Eve to all their descendants, that is, humanity. Because Jesus was crucified, the Cross has assumed the central significance for Christians. It symbolizes reconciliation with God through faith in Christ (1 Cor. 1:18-25), whose life, death, and Resurrection are proof of God's forgiveness of human sin, that is, the Original Sin of Adam.

This Original Sin is 'washed' away by Baptism (see Note). After baptism, Salvation, through Jesus' sacrifice of the crucifixion takes effect, and the baptized person enters the Christian church of the saved.

Passover (See also Appendix: Moses and above, Last Supper)

Even to this day, one of the most important celebrations in the Judaic religious calendar is Passover. It basically commemorates the Exodus or the release of the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt.

Moses then leads the former slaves into the desert of Sinai. Shortly after the escape from Egypt, he receives the Torah, the Law, which includes the Ten Commandments directly from God, by which God makes a covenant between Himself and His chosen people, which is still today one of the foundations of the Jewish faith.

— Pharisees

From about 500 BCE, the Jewish people were often forced out of Palestine and made to settle throughout the Middle East. These scattered settlements away from the Promised Land and Jerusalem -was called the Diaspora. The commandments of the Torah insisted on

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many customs and rites that only the Jewish people followed. For example there was circumcision, dietary laws, never worshipping idols and so on. Intermarriage with gentiles was strictly forbidden. These customs and rituals were carried to the Diaspora and practiced in Jewish settlements there. By 300 BCE, the culture of the Middle East was Greek and idolatrous*. While some Jews were influenced by Hellenistic culture and were assimilated and their Jewishness was lost or changed, many Jews reacted to the threat of assimilation by becoming fervently devoted to the Mosaic Law and living very religious lives. From this reaction, there developed a sect of Judaism. These orthodox Jews were called Pharisees, meaning those who separated themselves from the gentiles, and from the Hellenising forces and tendencies which constantly faced and threatened Judaism in the Diaspora.

By the time of Jesus, the Pharisees had become the strictest defenders of the Jewish religion and the Law. But while Jesus wished not to abolish the Law, he ardently sought the Jews to follow it with a consciousness deeper than merely the letter of the Law. In many passages of the Gospels, Christ strongly warns the multitude against the Pharisees.

23 1 Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, hut not what they do; for they preach, hut do not practice.

(Matt 23: 1-3)

Jesus is saying that the Pharisees understand only the letter of the Law and not its spirit. So in the Gospels, the Pharisees are presented very negatively. However, in spite of Jesus' strong warnings and attacks on the Pharisees in the New Testament, the Pharisees historically have played the chief role in preserving the Jewish people over the 2000 years after the Romans scattered the Jewish nation into the Diaspora after 70 CE. While always waiting and praying for the time that the Jewish nation could return to the Promised Land (now Israel), the Pharisees became the rabbis of the scattered Jewish communities and taught that it was the duty of all true Jews to give whole-hearted devotion to the Law, as well as to keeping the many

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* idolatrous: worship of a physical object, e.g. a statue, taken as a god.

 
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Jewish observances at both the home and the synagogue.

— Pontius Pilate

Although it is only found in Matthew, the scene of Pontius Pilate washing his hands of the guilt of the wrongful condemning of Jesus, whom he feels innocent, is a famous part of the Passion story. Some historians believe that in order to maintain good relations with their Roman rulers, the early Christians when writing the Gospels, chose to not blame the Romans for the death of Jesus, but rather the Jews. Since there is no other historical source of these events but the New Testament, the point has become controversial in modern times. On the other hand, laying the blame on the Jews for Jesus' crucifixion in the Gospels became a major cause of the terrible anti-Semitism suffered by the Jewish people throughout European history.

— Sabbath

The seventh day of the week, on which observing Christians and Jews, even to this day, abstain from all work. According to Genesis of the Old Testament

1:31. Now God saw all that he had made, and behold, It was exceedingly good! There was setting, there was dawning: the sixth day. 2:1. Thus were finished the heavens and the earth, with all of their array. 2:2. God had finished, on the seventh day, his work that he had made, and then he ceased, on the seventh day, from all his work that he had made. 2:3. God gave the seventh day his blessing, and he made it holy, for on it he ceased from all his work, that by creating. God had made.

(Genesis 1:31; 2:1-3)

When God gave the Ten Commandments to the Jewish people through Moses, he included the Third Commandment

20:8. Remember the Sabbath, to hallow it. 9. For six days you are to serve and are to make all your work, 10. hut the seventh day is Sabbath for thy Lord, God: you are not to make any kind of work...

(Exodus 20 : 8-10)

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The early Christians were mostly Jews and at first maintained many Jewish practices of worship, including the Sabbath. But as more and more gentiles converted to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, the importance of the Jewish Sabbath became less and less. By the fourth century CE, the church service of the Last Supper (the Eucharist) was held on Sunday mornings and Jewish Sabbath observances disappeared from Christianity.

— Salvation

In Christianity, the basic meaning is that the human soul is reconciled with God through the death of Jesus Christ. The human is saved from sins committed during a lifetime, as well as from the Original Sin. Baptism saves the soul of an infant or a new church member by washing away the Original Sin, and so avoids damnation or being sent to Hell for eternity. That is, upon dying the human soul is judged by God to either be saved or damned to be in heaven or hell for eternity This judgement is brought about in several ways: a) By dying on the cross, Jesus as God in human form atoned for the sins of humanity, including the Original Sin. b) To be saved, one must have faith in the sacrifice of the Crucifixion. That is, one cannot obtain salvation by good works alone. Faith in the sacrifice by Jesus as Christ is also essential, c) to endeavour throughout life to remain sinless.

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but be who does not believe will be condemned.

(Mark 16:16)

— Satan

According to Christianity, the devil is the opponent of the Kingdom of God and deceiver of humans, leading those weak in faith to a sinful life. The result is the soul of a sinner having to spend all of eternity in Hell, a place of great suffering. This conflict between God and Satan to capture the souls of humans is a strong Christian belief. Satan is presented as an angel that disobeyed God, was cast out, and chose to be the enemy of God and man. In the New Testament, Satan is portrayed as an evil, rebellious demon who is the enemy of God and mankind.

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 Seven Last Words on the Cross

Not all seven sayings can be found in any one account of Jesus' crucifixion. The sayings are a harmonizing of texts from each of the four canonical gospels. In the gospels of Matthew and Mark, Jesus shouts the fourth phrase only, and cries out wordlessly before dying. In Luke's Gospel, the first, second and seventh sayings occur. The third, fifth and sixth sayings can only be found in John's Gospel.

1. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).

2. Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise (Luke 23:43).

3. Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26 f.).

4. Eli Eli lema sabachthani? (Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34).

5. I thirst (John 19:28).

6. It is finished John ( 19:30).

7. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46).

— The Temple and Ark of the Covenant

The Temple in Jerusalem was the central place of Jewish worship in ancient times, and included animal sacrifice. It was primarily built to house the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was a cabinet that contained the original tablets on which the Torah was inscribed. The tablets have been lost to history. There were two temples in Jewish history. The first was built by King Solomon, but was destroyed by Babylon in 586 BCE. The second Temple, which was that which Jesus knew, was built and finished in the first century BCE. However, The Temple was destroyed permanently in 70 CE by the Romans after a revolt by the Hebrews against Roman rule.

A remnant of the Second Temple remains in Jerusalem and is known as the "Western Wall". It is believed to have been part of the enclosure of the sacred precincts of the Second Temple.

*

 
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GLOSSARY

Many words have two or more meanings. The meaning given here is the meaning in the context of the text.

abide: to always dwell in a place or in one's heart/mind.

alms: money or goods given to the poor or needy.

anoint: to apply oil to as a sign of holiness in a sacred rite (ceremony).

Apostles: the twelve followers (disciples) of Jesus during his ministry.

atone: the reunion of man and God by the life, and the sacrificial crucifixion of Jesus.

blasphemy: an act or words which insult God or a holy place.

bushel: a measure of about eight gallons often in the shape of a basket used by farmers.

canon(ical): the officially accepted holy writings or scriptures: the canonical Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

cast lots: to gamble for money, and so on by choosing straws, etc.

CE: Common Era: used by non-Christians or secular persons instead of the Christian AD (in the year of our Lord). census: (in ancient Rome) a registration of the population and property evaluation for purposes of taxation For this reason, Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem.

circumcision: cutting off the foreskin of the penis as demanded by God of all Jewish and Muslim males. Although not practiced by Christians, the circumcision of the infant Jesus is celebrated in January in the Church calendar.

conception: under normal circumstances, the making of a new human being by the fertilizing of the egg (ovum) by a sperm, and implantation of the fertilized egg in the womb, where it will grow until birth.

congregation: a group of people regularly attending worship in a church, mosque or synagogue. covet: to wish, or crave for something, esp. the property of another person.

creed: an official or widely accepted statement or system of beliefs of a

religion.

cubit: an ancient measure of length.

denarii: the money of the time of Jesus.

devout: a very religious person who observes his religious practices very carefully.

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diaspora: Jewish settlements or Jewish people living outside of Palestine. disciple: a personal follower of Jesus (including his twelve Apostles) during his earthly life.

dogma: a religious or political doctrine (s) accepted as true without proof or explanation.

fast: to not eat all or certain foods or meals, esp. as a religious observance.

fallow: to leave land unseeded after being ploughed and harrowed to regain fertility for a crop. ;.

gentile: non-Jewish person (see also heathen). grace: the divine assistance and power given to man by God;  harlota prostitute.

hallowed: some thing, place or words taken to be sacred or holy.

heathen: a people or nation that does not recognize the God of the Bible or Quran.

heretical (heresy): unorthodox opinions or dogma strongly unacceptable by a religion.

hewn: wood or stone cut or shaped by being struck powerfully.

hyssop: a Biblical plant, used for sprinkling in the ritual practices of the Hebrews.

iota: very small amount.

idolatrous: worship of a physical object, e.g. a statue, taken as a god.

immaculate: morally pure; free from sin or spiritual corruption.

leaven: an ingredient like yeast or baking powder that causes dough, etc. to fill with bubbles of gas and thus lightens the resulting bread or cake.

See: unleavened bread.

liable: legally obliged and so responsible for the results of one's acts. Mammon: riches and greed in the form of a false god and regarded as a source of evil and corruption.

manger: a box in a stable, barn, etc., from which horses or cattle feed.

manifestation: the actual demonstration or appearance of an idea, principle or teaching that makes it clear.  member: a part of the body such as an arm or leg. ministry: various acts and deeds to promote one's religion, such as teaching.

missionary: a religious person who travels to and lives with non-believers and tries to convert them to his/her religion, for example, Christian or Islamic missionaries.

ostentation: using one's wealth in a showy way for all to see;' pastoral: simple country life; relating to shepherds, their work and way of life.

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plague: a disease that quickly spreads to many of the people of a region.

plight: a condition of extreme hardship or danger. pogrom: an organized attack, often murderous, against a Jewish population.

prodigal: wasteful, uncontrolled spending. rabbi: a Jew trained for professional religious leadership of a Jewish congregation.

ravenous: ferocious and greedy.

redeem: (by Jesus as Saviour or Redeemer) to free (men) from sin by his death on the Cross.

reverence: spiritually respecting God or what is holy. scathing: severe criticism. scourge: to whip severely.

scriptures: specific writings regarded as sacred by a religious group, e.g. Holy Bible. '

self-righteous: someone convinced that only he is right while intolerant of other views.

squander: to spend money wastefully.

staff: a stick with some special use such as for walking or to show authority

succinct(ly): short, accurate statement (s) or explanation that is clear and to the point.

swear: to call on God to witness your promise.

synagogue: the place of worship and gathering of a Jewish congregation.

tithe: A tenth part of produce, personal income, or profits, contributed for the support of the church.

thy: an old-fashioned word meaning 'your'; belonging to or associated in some way with 'you',

trespasses: an old fashioned word meaning sins or crimes.

unleavened bread: See leaven and Notes.

* * *

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Notes

Other titles

 in the Illumination, Heroism and Harmony Series

Parvati's Tapasya

Nala and Damayanti

The Siege of Troy

Alexander the Great

Homer and the Iliad — Sri Aurobindo and Ilion

Catherine the Great

Uniting Men —Jean Monnet

Gods and the World

Joan of Arc

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Notes

Notes
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