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Judaism’s Impact on Jewish Art and Early Christianity

The Major Innovations of Judaism and Their Impact on Jewish Art

Judaism is the most ancient monotheistic religious observance. It is viewed as a way of life as well as the religion of Jews. In the context of religion, people who are not Jews can convert to Judaism as a religion. The strictest observers of Judaism are Jews. Most Jews live in the United States and Israel.

Judaism as a religion and a way of life is behind several innovations. Most of them are however in the field of religion. To start with, the Jews have the strong belief that they are the chosen people of God (Grossman, pp. 3-7). Therefore they have taken the initiative to come up with various forms of worship most of which have been taken up by other religions. In some instances, it is believed that God gave the Jews specific instructions on how to worship Him. This may be true but in the wider context, they are viewed as initiatives of the practitioners of Judaism as a religion and a way of life.

The tradition of the Ark of the Covenant which in Judaism represents the ties of engagement between the Jews and God is closely connected to the worship items that also represent various codes of handling God’s work in most Christian denominations such as the Roman Catholic Church. The rosary, the cross, and the altar are some major examples. It is also important to note that the influence of Judaism on the Christian faith as well as the Islamic faith is wide.

The above innovation had a lasting impact on Jewish art. Art in this case refers to genres such as music and painting. In music, the influence of these religious innovations is evident in the songs composed in praise of Yahweh, the God of those who practice Judaism (Grossman, p. 32). The painting work is also full of depictions of holy scenes showing dealings between Yahweh and the Jewish people. The limited nature of Jewish art is attributed to the persecutions that they have gone through in their history that have led to the destruction of paintings and other artworks.

The Major Features of Early Christianity and How They Explain Its Success in Spreading Across the Roman World

Early Christianity was characterized by small numbers of followers. After the ascension of Jesus Christ, the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost during the day of Pentecost after which they began the work of spreading the news of Christ. The message was not received well by everybody and hostility was common. Persecutions were a common phenomenon and it is believed that most of the disciples were killed. Also, early Christianity was spread slowly with the Christian walking long distances and holding meetings in private homes. The most important feature of early Christianity that stands out is the determination of the early Christians. With all the persecutions and the travel difficulties that they encountered, they never gave up. They moved through the early Roman and Greek establishments and spread the message. Those who were killed were considered martyrs and the result is that others got inspired and carried on with the work (Benko, p. 7).

The features of tenacity and devotion among the early Christians explain its spread in the Roman world. Roman leaders such as Emperor Nero had the reputation of persecuting Christians. It is believed that he is the one who ordered the execution of Paul and Peter who were spreading the gospel at the time of death. The persecutions did not deter the small numbers of determined Christians who believed that they had the opportunity of gaining direct access to Jesus after being persecuted for doing peaceful Christian work. This determination is responsible for the spread of Christianity in the Roman world. The Roman citizens were inspired by the devotion that was evident in these early Christians and therefore ended up accepting the religion in large numbers. It was not however immediate. More Roman citizens joined Christianity after several early Christians had been persecuted (Benko, p. 5).

How The Religious Worldview Of Medieval Europe Was Expressed In The Arts

Medieval Europe was a center for religious activity. The medieval times are sometimes referred to as the Middle Ages. During this time, Christianity was the lead religion in Europe. Italy was a central point for the religious activities of the region and the Roman Catholic Church had begun rising to a position of prominence and prestige. With this increasing church power, it was not possible to stop the religious worldview, which was Christianity from influencing the arts (Brodman, p. 23).

Influence in the arts by the medieval European religious worldview can be seen in paintings, music, poetry composition, and writing. People who undertook these artistic activities were heavily influenced by the prevailing religious worldview of the time and therefore ended up expressing Christian ideas in these art forms.

The best art example that brings out the expression of Christianity as a religious worldview of medieval Europe is the painting work that was produced in Europe during the Middle Ages. These paintings depicted scenes of Jesus and his disciples as well as other people who followed Him during His time on earth. Some of the paintings are still in existence today and are powerful displays of religious expression for the period and place in which they were done. The works of famous painters such as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci are believed to have been as a result of the early Christian worldview in Europe that found expression in art. Leonardo da Vinci in particular is highly respected for his drawings of Jesus with his disciples in the last supper as well as drawings of the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus (Kemp & Clark, pp. 2-6).

Elements Of Medieval Culture That Are Found In American Culture Today And Whether This Is Good Or Bad

The influences of medieval culture are evident in nearly all parts of the world today. North America is no exception given the immense borrowing the Founding Fathers of the republic did from Roman and Greek traditions as they were setting the foundation stones of the young republic.

To begin with, medieval architecture is well maintained in the United States. The medieval Roman and Greek architectural culture is visible in the white house as well as the supreme court of the United States. The element of the system of orders as applied in early architecture was so influential and highly admired that the founders of the republic decided to employ it in early American construction (Padovan, pp. 8-11).

Besides the above, the system of government that is in the United States as well as other forms of government in most parts of the world are based on medieval philosophical thinking of ancient philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. The organization of the people under elected leaders who are supposed to be the voice of the people who have elected them has its foundation in medieval philosophical thought (Padovan, p. 12).

Also, the family setup and family values as practiced today have their base in the medieval regulations of family setup whereby a strong patriarchal arrangement took precedence over other forms of family organization. This is however changing with the emergence of the powerful liberal wave that projects empowerment of women and moral relativism. Are these influences good or bad?

It is only fair that something is declared bad if it is harming people. In the case of medieval architecture as well as medieval administrative and government philosophy, the influence has been good since it has served the people well. I am not in a position to declare the family arrangement good or bad since it is a controversial issue.

Works Cited

  1. Benko, Stephen. Pagan Rome and the Early Christians. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.Print.
  2. Brodman, James. Charity and Religion in Medieval Europe. New York: Catholic University of America Press, 2000.Print.
  3. Grossman, Grace. Jewish Art. New York: Beaux Arts Publications, 1998.Print.
  4. Kemp, Martin & Clark, Kenneth. Leonardo da Vinci. (Revised ed.).New York: Penguin Books, 1989.Print.
  5. Padovan, Richard. Proportion: Science, Philosophy, Architecture.(1st ed.).New York: Taylor & Francis, 1999.Print.

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