History of Christianity, 1350-today

Dear (Student) Historians of Christianity, 
Thank you for making our course one of the two in the Faculty of Humanities selected by the TAU Teaching Center [http://teachingcenter.tau.ac.il/site/stories.asp] for special praise!

Basic Christianity: Shuster & Shuster

posted Mar 9, 2018, 3:03 AM by Professor Katz

For a really simple version of the History of Christianity, watch this clip from 16:45:

Netanyahu Heaven

posted Jun 11, 2016, 7:31 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Jun 11, 2016, 8:05 AM ]

As you will no doubt recall, the Mormons have been baptizing people, including and especially the dead, since the 1840s, so as to enable everyone to have a share of the universal Heaven.  They even got my departed Grandma.

They've been working hard, and have managed to baptize hundreds of millions of people, including all of the popes, Buddha, Shakespeare, Einstein and Elvis.

But is this good for the Jews?  It never hurts to have a second passport, especially to Heaven.

A quick check at the Mormon website FamilySearch has revealed some very disquieting information.  As we would hope and expect, the Netanyahu family is well represented, either already in Heaven or booked in for the distant future.  Benzion Netanyahu (1910-2012) is there, Benjamin Netanyahu's late father, the distinguished historian.  Benjamin Netanyahu himself has a reservation in Heaven, of course, thanks to his having lived in New York while Israeli ambassador to the United Nations:

Name Benjamin Netanyahu
Residence Date 01 Jun 1985-01 Apr 1998
Residence Place New York, New York, United States
Address 800 2nd Ave
Address Continued New York, New York 10017
Address Date 01 Jun 1985-01 Apr 1998
Record Number 60803676

His second wife, Fleur Cates-Netanyahu, is going to Heaven, perhaps thanks to Bibi.  Brother Iddo Netanyahu is destined for a heavenly seat, as are a number of other family members.

But one person is missing on the passenger list: Sara.  Unless something is done, many years from now Benjamin Netanyahu will be going to Heaven without her, to be re-united with his second wife Fleur.  One constantly hears rumours, no doubt lying lies told by the lying liars of the media, that Mr Netanyahu is forbidden to travel abroad without taking his wife Sara with him.  I think Heaven counts as "chootz l'aretz", in a very real and legally binding sense.

Someone should do something.  God has enough on His plate as it is.    

Eddie Izzard Explains the English Reformation

posted Mar 14, 2016, 2:00 AM by Professor Katz

Soprano Purgatory

posted Jun 3, 2014, 5:11 AM by Professor Katz

Purgatory is a hard concept to grasp, and it's more complicated than it seems.  By the time it filters down to the faithful, Purgatory takes on a life of its own.  See what happens when Christopher has a near-death experience and wakes up believing that he's been to Hell and back.  Paulie explains to him that he's been to Purgatory, a kind of celestial Soprano Alcatraz:

Christians in the Middle East

posted May 24, 2014, 2:35 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated Mar 9, 2018, 3:15 AM ]

'We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians,' declared Pope FrancisOne can see why the pope is so concerned.  It's true that the total number of Christians in the Middle East (i.e. Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq) rose from 1.6M in 1900 to 7.5M in 2010, but the non-Christian population in that period increased ten times.  The upshot is that the proportion of Christians in the Middle East declined from 10% in 1900 to only 5% in 2010.  Not only do Christians tend to have fewer children than Muslims, but they are more likely to emigrate, so those who remain are generally older.
'Christian' is a big group, so here are the details:

Religious Diversity: Not for Everyone

posted May 18, 2014, 2:04 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated May 18, 2014, 2:05 AM ]

We hear a lot about how Israel is supposed to be the 'Jewish state'....but in fact, only about 75% of the Israeli population is Jewish, which is more or less the same proportion of the American population that is white.  One could therefore argue that Israel is Jewish in the same way that the United States is white, even though one usually thinks of the USA as being rather diverse.  A map of global religious diversity produces some additional interesting results:

Googling for God

posted May 18, 2014, 1:45 AM by Professor Katz

As I said in the first lecture, if people go to church at all, they go on Christmas or Easter.  Turns out, people tend to Google the word 'church' during those seasons as well:

Popes Who Became Saints

posted May 18, 2014, 1:39 AM by Professor Katz

It used to be quite rare, but recently has become more common:


Religious Harassment Around the World

posted May 18, 2014, 1:35 AM by Professor Katz

The Five Wounds

posted May 16, 2014, 3:16 AM by Professor Katz   [ updated May 16, 2014, 7:39 AM ]

Zinzendorf and his colleagues at the Herrnhut were very keen on the adoration of the 'Five Wounds'.  According to the Gospel of John (19:34), 'one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water'.  Which side is not indicated, but traditionally it is thought to be on the right.  This was the 'Fifth Wound'.  The story grew in the telling, and the soldier received a name, Longinus, and the spear became a holy relic (now to be found in various places, such as Rome and Vienna) called the 'Holy Lance' or the 'Spear of Destiny'.  In the classic film about the life of Jesus, The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), Longinus was played by the famous Western star John Wayne.

John 20:24-29 also tells the story of 'Doubting Thomas', who refused to believe in the Resurrection of Jesus until he stuck his finger into the 'Fifth Wound':

But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Caravaggio (1571-1610) has a great painting of this awkward moment:

The Cult of the Five Wounds became very important: even the Portuguese flag has five blue shields in the centre representing the Five Wounds (and the five Moorish kings defeated in the twelfth century):

The basis for the cult ultimately comes from the idea of stigmata (stigma = mark), the reproduction of the wounds of Christ on a person's body.  Paul invented the concept in his letter to the Galatians (6:17) when he said, 'I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus'.

St Francis of Assisi (1181/2-1226) was the first person who is said to have spontaneously developed stigmata on his body:

People are still claiming to develop stigmata.  Since St Francis, over 80-per cent of these people have been women, and (not surprisingly) almost all have been Roman Catholics:

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