This essay will show that when the founding process of Christianity took place the events leading up to the new movement were spread over a time span of approximately 500 years and involved a number of crucial shifts such as the religion itself, the surrounding culture, and the political climate.
Following the exile of the Jews into Babylon in 538 BCE after Persia conquered them, Cyrus came to power and released the Jews to return to Palestine and rebuild the temple. It was a time of renewal and reform and in 400 BCE a resurgence of Judaism took place with prophets recalling people to the lifestyle. Here in Palestine the Jews of Judaism began to follow the rituals of Torah, “Way”, Temple and Priesthood.
However, a shift had taken place and not all Jews were prepared to leave where they were living and return to start afresh again in Palestine. Therefore, while those in the Diaspora fostered the emergence of Pharisaic Judaism, with the teaching of the Talmud, accompanied by debate taking place in the synagogues. In 333 BCE. Alexander the Great carried out his conquest of Ancient Near East opening up Greek Empire with the spread of Language, Culture and Arts.
Synagogue and Scribes emerge for the Diaspora Jews and Torah “Way” changes to “Teaching” discussion & debate. In 63 BCE Roman Conquest took place with severe persecution for the Jews erupting with some revolts.
In this turmoil a messianic hope was revived amongst the Jews. A division between two sects of Judaism the Pharisees and the Saducees had developed. Within this climate of dispersion and diversity, persecution and division, Hellenism’s influences, involved such as then Hellenising influence of Language, Culture and Arts, the distance and the alienating changes that would naturally occur between the Palestinian Jews and the Jews who did not return, the stagnant bureaucracy of Rabbinical Judaism all caused the people to be dissatisfied enough to break away from it.
Within this melting pot a new movement sprang up. Its founder was a prophetic type figure calling the leaders to reform. His message was not a new one. His was the same message as the prophets of old, that of God’s love for his people, calling them to return to the essence of their religion, “to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with their God” (Micah). He was put to death by the consensus of those he opposed.
The “crisis of continuance” was met. New leaders arose and the threefold “interrelated phenomena of belief, event, and activity” carried the movement forward. The gathered community shared the belief in the resurrection of the dead. The event of ‘Pentecost’ as recorded in the Book of Acts falls into the even category where those gathered received “spiritual empowerment”. The “Activity-phenomena”, of these three saw acts of healing, teaching, and preaching. The outcome was conversions and the new religious movement flourished (p 60, Pratt, Formation of the early Church in Study Guile RELS 112).
In sum, Rabbinical Judaism was in a time of change. Centrifugal forces caused by Hellinism and Rome was producing pressure from without. Centripetal forces within the movement came from changes in the fundamentals of their religion, between Temple and Synagogue, Torah and Talmud, – “Way” and “Teach” – Priest and Rabbi. The division between the Pharisees and Sadducees would also have had its influence in opening up a breach, thus making way for a new movement such as Christianity to succeed.