The Romans always demanded complete political submission to their military might, while tolerating the religious practices of Judaism


The Romans always demanded complete political submission to their military might, while tolerating the religious practices of Judaism

  • Some early Christians were caught between two conflicting views of the body. Drawing from their Jewish origins, Christians valued the idea of the resurrection of the body, starting with Jesus. As Christianity spread among Gentiles (non-Jews), the idea of bodies coming back to life like zombies sounded ridiculous and undesirable. Paul’s solution was to say the resurrected body would be see here now a glorified body . It would be tangible, but would not have the aches, pain, lusts, and corruptibility of our present bodies. Christians believe Jesus was already resurrected and all Christians will be resurrected when Jesus returns in the future. Figure 5. Whereas a zombie is the same body raised without a soul, Paul believes the soul will rise again in an incorruptible body.

Christians, on the other hand, were seen as a new cult growing among Gentiles who formerly had worshiped the gods and emperors

Other ideas about the afterlife were not taken up in Judaism and Christianity, but should be mentioned here to round out the discussion.

  • Epicureanism (the philosophy established by the Greek philosopher Epicurus) rejected the idea of an afterlife of any kind. Upon death one ceases to exist, so one is neither happy nor sad to be dead. One should make the most of this life and try to avoid worrying about death.
  • Reincarnation is most fundamental in Hinduism and Buddhism, but shows up in western thought on occasion. Reincarnation says the same soul can go through many cycles of birth and death in different bodies. The soul has little or no memory of previous lives, but good and bad luck in this life can be explained by virtue or vice in previous lives, and future lives can reward or punish behavior in this life. The ultimate goal is to break the cycle of death and rebirth, and enter into spiritual union with the universe (Nirvana or Moksha).

3.1.3. Is religion worth dying for?

For the most part, Jews were challenged by Greek ideas under social pressure (peer pressure, the desire to fit in) and economic pressure (doing business with people who did things differently) rather than physical force. There were some exceptions, however, and Jews sometimes had to choose between preserving their way of life and their actual lives. Those who chose to die rather than compromise their values were considered e an issue under the reign of the foreign king Antiochus Epiphanes, and led to the Maccabean Revolt (167–164 BCE).

However, the line between religion and politics blurred with the idea that Roman emperors should be worshiped as gods. Refusal to worship the emperor looked (to the Romans) like political insubordination, and insistence on worship of the emperor looked (to Jews and Christians) like religious persecution. The Jews were often, not always, tolerated as an ancient religion and people who mostly kept to themselves. They were persecuted more. There were several responses.

  • Some Jewish communities were large enough to form armies and revolt against Roman rule. They believed God and the angels would help them defeat the Roman army. They were wrong. The Romans killed them and now they are dead.
  • The Jews who survived tried to avoid confrontation but when necessary were willing to die rather than abandon what distinguished them as Jews. Other Jews looked up to them and became stronger in their commitment.
  • The Jews who followed Jesus (Christians) were not numerous enough to pose a military challenge to the Romans. They believed that martyrs would have a special reward in the afterlife and would be resurrected when Jesus returns and defeats the Romans. They especially emphasized the non-finality of death and some even sought out martyrdom to prove their faith. Every horrible and painful death became a paign for the new movement that promised liberation from earthly power and fear of death.

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