A religion founded on the life and teachings of Jesus. Christianity is based on the belief that Jesus of Nazareth was the anticipated Jewish Messiah, the Anointed One. In Greek, Messiah is Christ. The Christian interpretation is that in Jesus, the One God was incarnated and worked to achieve salvation for humanity. While other religions include the idea of incarnation, none stress it so strongly as a central doctrine. Christianity is also different in stressing orthodoxy (right belief and attitude) over orthopraxy (right action and behavior). Most major religions stress doing the right things to produce the right mindset and belief. Christianity stresses that right action without right belief is empty and it is the inner belief that matters most. Christians believe that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He was a Jew from a small village called Nazareth in the Galilee region. He was a teacher and healer with at least a small following. Because of the messianic interpretation of his work, he was crucified (dying for the sins of mankind in the process thus saving humanity) in Jerusalem for treason in the early 30s CE on the order of the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.
Jesus’ last words were to forgive those who had killed him and a quote of Psalm 22, which begins as a cry of abandonment and ends with the vindication of the believer. With Sabbath coming, the plan was to break the men’s legs in the afternoon so they would die quickly, but by about 3:00 pm Jesus was already dead. A stab in the side with a spear was used as confirmation. A member of the Sanhedrin named Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus so it could be buried according to Jewish law. Pilate agreed. This was unusual as most criminals crucified were denied proper burial. With Sabbath coming, the women hurried to get the body laid out in the tomb provided by Joseph. The plan was to finish the process on Sunday. The Gospels state a guard was posted at the tomb to keep the disciples away. The followers of Jesus reported that when the women arrived at the tomb on Sunday, it was empty. Not believing them, John and Peter confirmed it. The community related that soon Jesus appeared to them in the flesh. The point being God had raised him from the dead to vindicate his message. Paul the apostle is often called the founder of Christianity. Because of Paul, the Church becomes a universal one, not just a subsect of Judaism. Paul lays the theological foundation for Christianity, including its most critical doctrines. Paul’s letters to the churches he served formed the nucleus of the New Testament.