Messianic Expectations and the Birth of Christianity: Investigating the role of messianic expectations within Judaism during the time of Jesus and how the formation of Christianity was influenced by the belief that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies, contributing to its rapid spread.

Messianic Expectations and the Birth of Christianity

1. Introduction

1.1. Background and Significance

1.2. Purpose and Scope of the Study

2. Messianic Expectations in Second Temple Judaism

2.1. Historical and Cultural Context

2.2. Key Messianic Prophecies in Jewish Scriptures

3. The Life and Ministry of Jesus

3.1. Historical Context of Jesus’ Time

3.2. Jesus’ Teachings and Actions in Relation to Messianic Expectations

4. Formation and Spread of Christianity

4.1. Early Christian Communities

4.2. The Apostles’ Interpretation of Jesus as the Messiah

5. Comparison of Messianic Expectations in Judaism and Christianity

6. Impact of Messianic Beliefs on the Growth of Christianity

6.1. Conversion of Jewish and Gentile Populations

7. Opposition and Persecution of Early Christians

7.1. Jewish and Roman Responses to Christian Claims

8. Conclusion

8.1. Summary of Findings

8.2. Implications for Understanding the Origins of Christianity

Messianic Expectations and the Birth of Christianity

1. Introduction

Meaningful discussions of the two eschatological savior figures require the use of adjectives to modify “Messiah” or “Christ.” They might be interpreted differently, even as synonyms, or in relation to Judaism, Christianity, or even Astrotheology. In studying the two religious movements, we must continue to include, as primary sources, religious factors other than only those of a strictly religious nature and intercohortal events, if we are to obtain a multidisciplinary, scientific representation of both the causes and the effects of political disruption.

Messianic expectation, the expectation of an eschatological savior figure, is a phenomenon of significance in both Judaism and Christianity. Messianic expectation is commonly associated with the period of Jesus of Nazareth, but is also attested during earlier periods. The birth of Christianity was connected with a phenomenon of religious expectancy among Jews, along with various resulting radical social, religious, and political movements. Messianic expectation included not only the pressures upon the Jewish social structure, but also mystical concepts and insights from both Philo and other astrologists, from the visions of both Daniel and Zechariah, and the exegeses on them. The random scriptural references in more rural cycles of teachings of Jesus are different from those of the earlier single missionizing success – that of John the Baptist, although the basic heresy of the religio-political expectations remains the same.

1.1. Background and Significance

Practitioners in complementary professions like law and tax collection were frequent members of Jewish associations, but all these communities had a common feature in their attachment to their vision of the covenant of Israel with the God of Israel. What makes Jesus and his followers different, special? They had been impressed and attracted by John the Baptist who had preached and acted a radical repentance at the approach of the divine reign and invited all into the water to purify themselves and be consecrated for the coming of a greater one. A remnant, survivors of the fire of judgment, the real Israel, would nevertheless live, and pure, golden age, a paradisiacal era for the small reformed people, was drawing near. Their leader’s status as prophet and messianic precursor matched the image which the Baptist disciples had formed, as this renewal and revival as that re-formation, restoration to the original shape.

This study argues that messianic expectations played a critical role in the birth of Christianity. Christian sources leave us in no doubt that the earliest disciples of Jesus were followers of the Baptist and expected that his appearance presaged the immediate arrival of the kingdom of God. Although not trained scribes or professional religious leaders, Jesus’ disciples soon became conscious of their role as bearers and preservers of the tradition, and between thirty and sixty years after his death passed on to those appointed by the young churches the remembered words and deeds of their master. Jesus is the most recent whose death in some way reflects messianic implications, and whose conviction that the kingdom of God was at hand could bring the end time.

1.2. Purpose and Scope of the Study

It is hoped that a better understanding of the messianic allegiances of the first disciples may be gained by studying the manner in which individuals within the nascent movement expounded the messages of both the Baptist and Jesus. By placing together traditions that are linked to the period of the Baptist’s ministry with traditions that either do or do not take cognizance of Jesus and his disciples, a meaningful comparison of the perspectives of various strands of early Christian thought can be made. Such a study may also serve to create more refined criteria for the authentic historical Jesus by helping to illustrate the manner in which some disciples continued, even after Jesus’ ascension, to engage in dialogues which continued to shape traditions connected to eschatological expectancy in apocalyptic Judaism.

Considering the uniqueness and complexity of early Christian messianic expectation, as well as the lack of consensus on the subject within New Testament scholarship, my primary intention in this study is to establish the nature, extent, and scope of the messianic expectations of Jesus’ immediate followers. My objective is not so much to document what Jesus may have taught his disciples about his messianic role, but to set forth the nature of the eschatological allegiances and expectations entertained by his Galilean and Jerusalem followers in the period immediately following his death. It is my belief that correcting an imbalance in the scholarly and popular perspectives of what the messianic hopes and expectations of the earliest Christian movement were will serve to throw further light on both why Christianity arose as it did and where it was destined to go.