Blog Post 12 Question 3

The meals described in all of these accounts can be placed into two groups. The passages about the Last Supper all involve a Passover meal. The other two; however, are simply normal meals. Every single meal includes Jesus taking bread, saying a blessing, breaking the bread, and then distributing the bread among the guests of the meal. This fact is a little different between the two groups of meals. In the Feeding of the Five Thousand and the Appearance on the Road to Emmaus Jesus only performs this action. Yet in the Passover meals, Jesus also takes a cup, gives thanks, and then gives it to his guests. To further polarize these accounts, in the Last Suppers in the gospels of Mark and Matthew the bread is broken and then the cup is blessed, yet in Luke’s account these actions are reversed.

The theological implications of some of these choices are obscure, yet it is fairly evident that the gospel writers wanted to stress the importance of the Eucharist and accepting Christ into our lives. The bread represents the body of Christ which is first seen in the Feeding of the Five Thousand and then explicitly made clear in the Last Supper accounts. It is also important to note that people are accepting the body of Christ in both ritual and normal meals. This can be understood that the gospel writers wanted to stress the fact that we can always be accepting Christ into our lives, not just at certain occasions. 

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Blog Post 11 Question 1

Psalm 82 states “I said ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler. Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.” This statement carries a lot of connection to the events that happen in the movie from which this quote is included Of Gods and Men. The first portion of this quote explains that each person is holy and children of God. This is seen throughout the film as the monks develop a sense of purpose personally as well as a sense of spiritual duty to those around them. The monks dutifully remain to assist those they were called to aid, even in the face of danger which is seen in the second half of the passage.  

God can be found in many places throughout the film. However, He is mostly seen in the characters of the film. For instance, despite being of a different religion and at great odds with Christianity, the leader of a terrorist organization sort of befriended the monks of the community. He even provided protection to them after speaking with Christian about the importance of Christmas night and the birth of the “Prince of Peace.”

This film exposes points of conflict among the monks and their religion, the corrupt military, and the radical Islamists. In a sense, this movie is centered on those differences and how certain individuals react to those differences. Some men react violently and negatively when exposed to other religions thinking to protect their own, while others (the monks) work through these differences to help their brothers and sisters in this world. 

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Blog Post 10 Question 3

If I were a bishop in the Council of Nicea, I would probably have many questions concerning this debate. For myself specifically, I would be interested in knowing if there was a more valued opinion held by certain groups or by the religion as a whole. Was one of these viewpoints a major underdog in the debate? Were different opinions held in different regions? Understanding some of the concrete realities of the issue would help to discern through some of the deeper and theological arguments as well.

Furthermore, I would probably be looking mostly to the Scriptures to solve this debate. This was– and still is– one of the greatest resources available to answer theological questions such as this. The letters and interpretations of great thinkers, such as the class readings for this week, would be valuable resources to add clarity to the issue; however, at this time period I would think that these thinkers are merely shedding light on scriptural evidence which they researched themselves. As such, the most compelling argument would be one that supplies solid scriptural evidence that would suggest either side being more prevalently described in the Bible. 

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Blog Post 9 Question 1

The martyrdom of Polycarp mirrors the crucifixion of Jesus in many ways. One of the first similarities is that Polycarp recognizes that he must be sacrificed for his faith, much like Jesus knew that it was his duty to die for the sins of mankind. Not only this, but both Polycarp and Jesus knew more specific details about their deaths. For instance, in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says that he must die in Jerusalem, for no prophet has ever died outside Jerusalem. Similarly, Polycarp understands the manner in which he must die after a vision of his pillow being set of fire, and states “’It is necessary that I be burned alive.’” Not only do both men realize that they must die; however, they both calmly accept their fates as prescribed by God.

At his arrest, Polycarp warmly welcomes the police with a meal and touches them on a deep level; it is apparent that the police do not want to arrest such a kind and Godly man. Then at his trial, Polycarp is empowered to speak and act courageously and happily in the face of death because he was confident in God’s power to grant him everlasting life. Such assurance from Polycarp must have been incredibly inspiring to other Christians who were facing similar fates at the hands of persecution.

Finally, when the fire is set to martyr Polycarp, the flames surround him cannot kill him. Polycarp’s body becomes “like bread baking or like gold and silver being refined in a furnace.” God is sending down his spirit to Polycarp for his whole-hearted devotion to Christ and is protecting him. When the executioner finally stabs Polycarp, the entire crowd becomes penitent for their actions; much like what was seen in the Gospel of Luke when the centurion claimed “’Certainly this man was innocent.’” Both of their deaths inspired a sense of repentance in those that killed them, calling to light another similarity between the martyrdom of Polycarp and the crucifixion of Jesus. 

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Blog Post 8, Question 1

Considering the fact that the Didache translated to “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” it can be inferred that the leadership of the church at this time was based off of those lessons which the apostles passed down throughout the years. The excerpt also mentions appointing deacons and bishops who are “a credit to the Lord, men who are gentle, generous, faithful, and well tried.” The excerpt also states that “you must not, therefore, despise them, for along with the prophets and teachers they enjoy a place of honor among you.” This obviously places these spiritual leaders in higher positions in the church, which led to a hierarchal ordering of leaders within the church. From a historical perspective, this would have been very effective in organizing a rapidly growing church that was spreading out geographically.

The largest problems that seemed to be troubling the church was that of its size. This was most notable in the large number of “false prophets” who were roaming about and claiming to be with the church for financial gain. Due to the breadth of the church at this point, this activity could not be monitored effectively. As such, the Didache outlined some restrictions for dealing with prophets, mainly that they should not be allowed to remain in any town for more than a day or two, and that they should never accept any money. These strategies were, perhaps, limited to the spread of the literature. Locations that received many false prophets and never saw the Didache would have had no idea of the deception that they encountered. Eventually, advancements in communication and a generally more organized church system would correct these issues in later centuries. 

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Blog Post #7 Question 3

When the disciples first encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus, they did not realize that it was him, for “their eyes were prevented from recognizing him” (Luke 24:16). At first, the disciples seemed almost dumbfounded at this man because he had no knowledge of the events that had just occurred in Jerusalem, namely, Jesus’ crucifixion. After the disciples told the story to Jesus and had mentioned that his body was no longer in the tomb, Jesus replied “’Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer there things and enter into his glory?’” (Luke 24:25-26). After this, Jesus broke bread for the disciples with a blessing, and they finally realized that it was Jesus that they had been speaking to. Immediately after this realization; however, Jesus vanished.

This fact that even Jesus’ own disciples could not recognize him highlights the fact that Jesus was estranged by his fellow men yet held highly by God. Early followers of Jesus might have include that, even though it took time for the disciples to realize, Jesus still caused them to claim “’Were not our hearts burning [within us] while he spoke to us?” (Luke 24:32). Although Jesus was, indeed, the Rejected Prophet, his words still held to power of God and a holy influence which affected those he preached to. This message would have been very important to early Christians, and even Christians today who still learn from the words of Jesus. 

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Blog Post 6: Question 1

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is described as the Suffering Son of God who is destined to enter death for our sins, thereby fulfilling his duty as the messiah. While the apostles themselves were not depicted as truly knowing and understanding this messianic duty during the Gospel, it is clear that the author knew exactly what Jesus had to go through. For instance, the author includes many different details about how Jesus is ridiculed and beaten by the guards and other Jews. Even the context of the specific words used to describe events in this Gospel, such as “The Agony in the Garden,” really portrays the sense of punishment and suffering that the author is trying to convey.

Jesus himself is surprisingly content with his looming death, even though the apostles do not truly believe that such an event will occur. When a woman anoints Jesus with the expensive oil in Bethany, the apostles cry out in anger while Jesus calmly responds “’Let her alone. Why do you make trouble for her? She has done a good thing for me. The poor you will always have with you … But you will not always have me” (Mark, 14: 6-7). Jesus retains this attitude until the very end of his crucifixion when he exclaims “’My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15: 34). It was very interesting that Jesus would say this and change his tone after staying true to his messianic duty for so long, and I believe that this is done to truly describe Jesus as the Suffering Son of God. Although he understood his duty and was more than willing to carry it out four our good, the amount of suffering that Jesus endured forced him to proclaim those words after his crucifixion, marking a shift in his portrayal for but a moment in Mark’s Gospel.     

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