Ellen Stuttle Posted August 28, 2013 Author Share Posted August 28, 2013 People of the BookMisquoting Jesus, by Bart D. Ehrman, 2005Introductionpp. 19-20For modern people familiar with any of the major Western religions (Judaism, Christinity, Islam), it may be hard to imagine, but books played virtually no role in the polytheistic religions of the ancient Western world. These religions were almost exclusively concerned with honoring the gods through ritual acts of sacrifice. There were no doctrines to be learned, as explained in books, and almost no ethical principles to be followed, as laid out in books. This is not to say that adherents of the various polytheistic religions had no beliefs about their gods or that they had no ethics, but beliefs and ethics - strange as this sounds to modern ears - played almost no role in religion per se. [....]Judaism was unique in that it stressed its ancestral traditions, customs, and laws, and maintained that these had been recorded in sacred books, which had the status, therefore, of "scripture" for the Jewish people. [....][....] Eventually, some time after Christianity began, a group of these Hebrew books - twenty-two of them altogether - came to be regarded as a sacred canon of scripture, the Jewish Bible of today, accepted by Christians as the first part of the Christian canon, the "Old Testment."These brief facts about Jews and their written texts are important because they set the backdrop for Christianity, which was also, from the very beginning, a "bookish" religion. [...] already, at the start of Christianity, adherents of this new religion, the followers of Jesus, were unusual in the Roman Empire: like the Jews before them, but unlike nearly everyone else, they located sacred authority in sacred books. Christianity at its beginning was a religion of the book.Ellen Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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