The Christian cultural stream has its source in the traditions of of ancient Israel whose cultural stream eventually gave rise to three broad traditions – rabbinical Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Each claimed the patriarchs and Israelite prophets as part of their own tradition.
Even the pre-Christian Jewish stream was already much more multi-cultural in origin than the Holy Scriptures tend to imply. From the 6th century BCE onwards, it was influenced by Persian Zoroastrianism and Greek Hellenism. Much of these two lives on incognito in the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic streams.
Influence of Zoroastrianism
From the influence of the Zoroastrian tradition have come such ideas as:
- the Last Judgment (preceded by a general resurrection)
- an after-life with rewards and punishments
- the concept of a personal Devil
- the writing of our life story in a heavenly book of life
- the naming of angels with specific functions
Birth of Christianity
The influence of Jesus of Nazareth had the effect of adding such a fresh burst of vitality to the Jewish cultural stream that it caused part of it to break away and form a new stream, which we now commonly refer to as the Christian tradition. Christianity took with it the Jewish Scriptures, the monotheistic God, and the institution of the synagogue.
At the beginning of the Christian era, the Jewish tradition had no intention of giving birth to the Christian stream. The new Jewish sect known as “the Christians” was regarded as a heretical movement even though its key figure, Jesus of Nazareth, and his chief interpreter, Paul, were both solidly Jewish. In addition, a number of early Christians didn’t see their movement as the abandonment of the Jewish tradition, but as its fulfillment.
Christianity without God