Fundamental to any understanding of Christianity, both as it exists today and as it did at the time of its conception, is the recognition that Christianity was founded on Judaism. The Jewish Torah, or as it has come to be referred to by Christian-the Old Testament, is a text held sacred by both Jesus and Christians.
The division between these two theologies is due in part to their differing understanding of the Torah: the Jesus consider the book to be whole and complete on its own; the Christians consider the text to be unfinished, and thus made complete with their addition of the New Testament (hence, the referral to the Torah as the Old Testament).
The conception of Christianity and the New Testament came about as a response to the works and teachings of Jesus Christ. In this essay I shall explore how various understandings of Jesus came about after his personal story came to an end, and how these various understandings came to influence various Christian traditions.
As I noted previously, recognition of Judaism as the foundation of Christianity is crucial to any understanding of Jesus. That being said, it is obvious that Jesus' works and teachings-his role in the scheme of things- would not have received the recognition they did if they were not considered to have been relevant in his own time. Thus, seeking to understand Jesus and his relationships to God, early Christians had to look to the Old Testament (i.e. Torah) as a means of substantiating their understanding of Jesus.
There are within the Old Testament an number of prophets who spoke of a messiah within the Kingdom of Heaven. Key among themselves was John the Baptist who, although thought by some to be the messiah himself, denied such claim and instead spoke of someone...