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Introduction

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.

Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their followers spread around Syria, the Levant, Europe, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, despite initial persecution. It soon attracted gentile God-fearers, which led to a departure from Jewish customs, and, after the Fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 which ended the Temple-based Judaism, Christianity as a religion began.

Emperor Constantine the Great converted to Christianity (312) and decriminalized it in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan (313), later convening the Council of Nicaea (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the State church of the Roman Empire (380). The early history of Christianity's united church before major schisms is sometimes referred to as the "Great Church". The Church of the East split after the Council of Ephesus (431) and Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology, while the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the bishop of Rome. Similarly, Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Latin Catholic Church in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and the primacy of the bishop of Rome. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work.

Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million/both together 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the logos incarnated—who ministred, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news", in the Bible (scripture). Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.

Selected article

Icon of the Transfiguration (15th century, Novgorod)
The Transfiguration of Jesus is an event reported by the Synoptic Gospels in which Jesus was transfigured upon a mountain (Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:1-8, Luke 9:28-36). Jesus becomes radiant, speaks with Moses and Elijah, and is called "Son" by God. The transfiguration put Jesus on par with the two preeminent figures of Judaism: Moses and Elijah. It also supports His identity as the Son of God. In keeping with the Messianic secret, Jesus tells the witnesses not to tell others what they saw.

In general, the events in Jesus's life that are said to have taken place in secret, such as the transfiguration, are given less weight by scholars of the historical Jesus than public events.

The original Greek term in the Gospels is metamorphothe, describing Jesus as having undergone metamorphosis.

The Synoptic Gospels, 2 Peter and the Gospel of John briefly allude to the event in their writings (2Peter 1:16-18, John 1:14). Peter describes himself as an eyewitness "of his sovereign majesty." Neither account identifies the "high mountain" of the scene by name. The earliest identification of the mountain as Tabor is in the 5th century Transitus Beatae Mariae Virginis. In the apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews, Jesus tells how his mother lifted him up by the hair and lifted him to Mount Tabor, which led Origen to identify the Holy Spirit as the Mother of Jesus.

Symbolic readings take Moses and Elijah to represent the Law and the Prophets respectively, and their recognition of and conversation with Jesus symbolize how Jesus fulfils "the law and the prophets" (Matthew 5:17-19, see also Expounding of the Law).

In the narrative, after the cloud dissipates, Elijah and Moses disappear, and Jesus and the three Apostles head down the mountain, Jesus telling his Apostles to keep the event a secret until the "Son of Man" had risen from the dead. The Apostles are described as questioning among themselves as to what Jesus meant by "risen from the dead" (Mark 9:9-10) The Apostles are also described as questioning Jesus about Elijah, and he as responding "...Elijah comes first, and restores all things ... but ... Elijah has come indeed ..." (Mark 9:12-13). It was commonly believed that Elijah would reappear before the coming of the Messiah, as predicted in the Book of Malachi (Malachi 4), and the three Apostles are described as interpreting Jesus' statement as a reference to John the Baptist.

Selected scripture

Healing the man blind from birth
And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

Selected biography

Portrait of Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism. When he was twenty-four, Smith published the Book of Mormon; by the time of his death fourteen years later, he had attracted tens of thousands of followers and founded a religion and religious culture that continues to the present. Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, but by 1817, he had moved with his family to western New York, a site of intense religious revivalism during the Second Great Awakening. According to Smith, he experienced a series of visions, including one in which he saw "two personages" (presumably God the Father and Jesus Christ) and others in which an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates inscribed with a Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization. In 1830, Smith published what he said was an English translation of these plates, the Book of Mormon. The same year he organized the Church of Christ, calling it a restoration of the early Christian church. Members of the church were later called "Latter Day Saints", or "Mormons". Smith published many revelations and other texts that his followers regard as scripture. His teachings include unique views about the nature of God, cosmology, family structures, political organization, and religious collectivism. His followers regard him as a prophet comparable to Moses and Elijah, and he is considered the founder of several religious denominations, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ.

Selected image

Salt Lake Temple
Credit: User:Entheta

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), a temple is a building dedicated to be a House of the Lord, and they are considered by church members to be the most sacred structures on earth. Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time (an "Open House"). During the Open House, the church conducts tours of the temple with missionaries and members from the local area serving as tour guides, and all rooms of the temple are open to the public. Mormon temples are used for their baptism for the dead, washing and anointing (or "initiatory" ordinances), the endowment, and Mormon marriages. The temple is then dedicated as a "House of the Lord", after which only members who are deemed worthy are permitted entrance (tithing is paid in full). Thus, they are not churches (meetinghouses) but rather places to do Mormon practices. The church is a prolific builder of temples as they hold a key place in LDS theology.

Did you know...

...that there are approximately 2.5 billion Christians worldwide?
...that the Bible was the greatest passion of Sir Isaac Newton, who said, "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."?
...that the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is credited with miraculously saving the Polish monastery of Jasna Góra (English: Bright Hill) from a Swedish 17th century invasion, known as the Deluge?

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