Christianity is centered upon the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as chronicled in the Gospels, and the texts of the New Testament which develop theological themes centered upon him. Believed born around 4 BC, Jesus is said to have begun his ministry around 30 AD, during the time of Tiberius Caesar. After performing great miracles he is said to have been crucified by the Romans under direction from the Jewish religious authorities.
Given the title of Jesus Christ, he has become an important figure of salvation, his death a sacrifice to atone for all human sin since the time of Adam, the first man, as chronicled in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament.
His hebrew name is originally “Yeshoshua”, Jesus being a Greek form of the word. The Latin rendering would be Joshua. The title of Christ itself comes from the Greek word for “annointed”, which is a reference to the tradition of Old Testament prophets being annointed in a ritualistic manner. In the New Testament it is used implicitly as the title of the Jewish Messiah.
The whole tradition is believed to have existed at first only in oral form, with various writings slowly coming into existence over the next hundred years after the death of Jesus. There is a great amount of debate among Biblical scholars as to which came first. The Gospels are often cited as having being composed from around 50 AD. However, the first time they appear in the form as we know now does not occur until around the middle of the second century AD.
The Epistles of Saul of Tarsus (Saint Paul) are less contentious, with general agreement of their origin being in in the 50’s and 60’s AD. They are most likely the first textual material of the accepted Christian canon. This is important as St. Paul effectively is the origin for all Christian theology.
A relatively large number of Christian texts claiming informed origin soon became read about the Roman Empire, some of which are obvious and poor fakes, whereas others present interesting philosophical angles. It took the will of the Roman Emperor Constantine to bring together various Christian Bishops in 325 AD, at the Council of Nicaea, to decide upon an authorised Christian canon for an alerady greatly diversified religion. Despite the strong will of persons such as Arius, it was Athanasius whose viewpoint essentially became dominant in deciding what core of the New Testament was accepted. By 397 AD, with the addition of Revelations at the Council of Chalcedon, the authoritive version of the Bible that we have today was complete.
According to the Gospel of Luke in chapter 10, Jesus is challenged to state which he believes are the most important commandments of God. The King James Version translates the reply as thus: “And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy god with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.”