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Maps: World of the New Testament

Maps and charts giving a background to the New Testament world.
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Slide 1

Landscapes of Palestine 1. The Central Highlands. Jesus is born at Bethlehem in the hill country of Judaea. He is brought up in the hills of Galilee at Nazareth and - as a child - goes up to Jerusalem in the Central Highlands each year for the Passover festival. (Luke 2:4-6, 39 & 41-43)  2. The Jordan Valley. John the Baptist challenges people to change their lifestyle at Bethany in the Jordan Valley. Jesus is baptised in the River Jordan and moves to Capernaum – a fishing port on the Sea of Galilee – where He recruits his first disciples and establishes the main base for his ministry. (John 1:26-36, Matthew 3:13-17 & Mark 1:14-21)  3. The Mediterranean Coastal Plain. After the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph flee across the Mediterranean coastal plain to Egypt to escape the murderous wrath of Herod the Great. During His ministry, Jesus visits the Mediterranean coastal towns of Tyre and Sidon. Later, Peter has a vision beside the Mediterranean Sea at Joppa, and agrees to meet a centurion at the Roman port of Caesarea. (Matthew 2:13-15, Mark 7:24-31 & Acts 10:1-48)  4. The Eastern Plateau. Jesus travels with His disciples to the source of the River Jordan near Caesarea Philippi where He is transformed before their eyes on the summit of Mount Hermon. (Matthew 17:1-8)  Paul climbs the Golan Heights and journeys across the Eastern Plateau towards Damascus, where he sees a blinding light and hears the risen Lord Jesus saying to him, “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3-9) – Slide 1

Slide 2

Cross-section of Palestine. The key events of the New Testament unfold in the context of numerous journeys by Jesus and His followers across four very different landscapes of Palestine. 1. The Central Highlands. Jewish pilgrims who go up to Jerusalem to worship in the Temple (2440ft/744m above sea level) have a steep climb from either the Mediterranean Coast or the Jordan Valley. (Psalm 122:1-4) 2. The Jordan Valley. The Sea of Galilee, Jericho and the Dead Sea (1388ft/423m below sea level) lie on the floor of a steep-sided rift valley that is drained by the River Jordan. (Luke 10:30) 3. The Mediterranean Coastal Plain. Coastal towns including Caesarea and Joppa lie along The Way of the Sea - an ancient route that linked the lands bordering the Tigris and the Euphrates in Iraq to the Nile Valley in Egypt. (2 Kings 23:29) 4. The Eastern Plateau. Rising steeply from the floor of the Jordan Valley, the Eastern Plateau reaches 2602ft/793m above sea level at the summit of Mt Nebo before falling away gently to Amman in Jordan and Damascus in Syria. (Acts 9:1-8) – Slide 2

Slide 3

Palestine at the time of Jesus.    When Jesus was born in 5 or 6BC, Herod the Great had been ruling for nearly thirty-three years (37BC – 4BC) as a friend and ally of Rome, and was given the title ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman senate. Herod was King of Judaea, Samaria, Idumaea, Galilee, Peraea, Ituraea and Trachonitis. (Matthew 2:1) – Slide 3

Slide 4

The Jewish Calendar.  1. The Festival of Unleavened Bread (Passover or Pessah commemorated the Exodus from Egypt in 1447BC. (Exodus 12:1-20) The Jews were to eat unleavened bread as the Israelites didn’t have time to let their bread rise before leaving Egypt. The Last Supper, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus took place during the Passover festival in 30AD. (Matthew 26:17-19)    2. The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost, Harvest or Shavuot) was the main harvest festival celebrating the end of the wheat harvest. (Exodus 34:22) As it was fifty days after Passover, it became known as Pentecost (‘pentekonta’ means ‘fifty’ in Greek). Jesus’s early disciples were filled to overflowing with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost in 30AD. 3. The Festival of Ingathering (Shelters, Tabernacles or Sukkot) celebrated the gathering in of the grapes, figs and olives that had ripened during the dry summer months. Sometimes called the Festival of Tabernacles, Shelters or Booths, this feast also remembered that  Israelites escaping from Egypt lived in tents (tabernacles) or temporary shelters ( sukkah). (Exodus 17:1) Jesus went up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles in October 29AD. (John 7:1-14) 4. Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) - This festival celebrated the end of the agricultural year and the beginning of the Jewish New Year . (Numbers 10:10) Trumpets (‘shofars’ or ram’s horns) were sounded on the first day of each lunar month (Psalm 81:3), and to mark the new agricultural season. 5. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was a time for remembering past sins (wrongdoings) and for making amends. The High Priest took a goat (the ‘scapegoat’) and symbolically heaped the sins of the people upon it before driving it into the desert. (Leviticus 16:5-10 & 20-22) The Letter to the Hebrews contrasts this annual ceremony with the once-for-all forgiveness of sins achieved by Jesus on the cross at Calvary. (Hebrews 9:6-7 & 23-28) 6. Purim commemorated the actions of Queen Esther whose quick thinking saved the Jewish exiles in Babylon and Persia from being massacred in 473 BC. (Esther 3:1-6 & 9:23-32) 7. Lights (Dedication or Hanukkah) commemorated the re-dedication of the Second Temple by Judas Maccabaeus in 165BC after its defilement by King Antiochus Epiphanes. (1 Maccabees 4:52-59) During the re-dedication, a single flask of olive oil miraculously kept the lamps in the Temple alight for the whole eight-day ceremony. Jesus attended the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah) in Jerusalem in the winter of 29AD. (John 10:22-24) – Slide 4

Slide 5

John the Baptist’s journeys.  1. John is born in 6BC in the village of En Kerem near Jerusalem, where Zechariah serves as a priest in the Temple.  (Luke 1:5-25) John grows up and goes to live in the desert of Judaea. (Luke 1:57-80) He begins his ministry at Bethany beyond the Jordan in 26AD. (Luke 3:1-18)      2. John teaches that people must stop doing wrong to be forgiven by God. He baptises them in the River Jordan, to show that their wrongdoings have been ‘washed away’. (Mark 1:1-8) When John baptises Jesus, a voice from heaven says, “You are my Son, whom I love.” (Mark 1:9-11)The following summer, John baptises at Aenon, near Salim. (John 3:22-36) 3. John is imprisoned by Herod Antipas in his fortress at Machaerus in 27AD because John told him that his marriage to Herodias, his half-brother Herod Philip I's estranged wife, was wrong. (Mark 6:17-20). John is beheaded on Herod’s birthday in 28AD at the request of his step-daughter, urged on by her mother, Herodias. (Mark 6:21-29). – Slide 5

Slide 6

The seven churches of Asia  1. John, a prominent member of the church in Ephesus, is exiled to the island of Patmos during the persecution of Christians by Emperor Domitian in c.89AD. An angel appears to John and tells him to send a message from Jesus Christ to the seven churches in the Roman province of Asia. (Revelation 1:1-11) John sends a messenger to Ephesus. In his message to the ‘mother church’, Jesus tells the believers that, despite their hard work and perseverance, they have lost their initial enthusiasm and love of the Lord. (Revelation 2:1-7) 2. The messenger moves on to Smyrna and Pergamum. In his message to the church at Smyrna, Jesus tells the believers not to fear persecution by the Jews of the city. (Revelation 2:8-11) The believers at Pergamum are praised for remaining faithful in the city where Satan has his throne. They are warned not to eat food offered to idols and to avoid sexual immorality. (Revelation 2:12-17) 3. At Thyatira, some of the believers are criticised for practising pagan rituals involving sexual immorality, and for eating food which has been offered as a sacrifice to idols. (Revelation 2:18-29) The church at Sardis is told it’s living on its past reputation and is in danger of dying. The believers must wake up! In a city famed for making woollen cloth, Jesus says that some, however, have remained faithful and have not ‘soiled their clothes’. (Revelation 3:1-6) 4. The believers at Philadelphia have maintained their faith, despite persecution from local Jews, and they are encouraged to keep going until they receive the ‘crown of victory’ at the end of the race of life. (Revelation 3:7-13) John says the believers at Laodicea are ‘lukewarm’ in their enthusiasm for the gospel. (The Roman baths at Laodicea received geothermally heated water from the hot springs at nearby Hierapolis. By the time the water reached Laodicea it was only lukewarm.) They need ‘ointment for their eyes’ (a reference to the eye salve prepared in Laodicea from local stone) as their wealth and materialism has blinded them to the need for a living faith. (Revelation 3:14-22) – Slide 6

Slide 7

The books of the New Testament.    Details of the life of Jesus are found in the books of The New Testament - a collection (or library) of 27 books. These books fall into 4 categories: 1.  Four Gospels tell the 'Good News' about Jesus's life from His birth in 5 or 6BC until His death and resurrection from the dead in 30AD. 2.   The 'Acts of the Apostles' recounts the deeds of Jesus's apostles (his close followers) from Jesus's resurrection in 30AD until Paul's trial before the Roman Emperor Nero in c.67AD. This includes accounts of the journeys of Philip and Peter within Palestine, and three of Paul's extensive missionary journeys across the Eastern Mediterranean. 3.   Twenty-one Letters written by the early disciples (followers) of Jesus between c.35AD and c.88AD explain Jesus's teachings to new believers. 13 of these letters were written by the apostle Paul. 4.   The 'Revelation of John', written in c.90AD, is about Jesus and the 'End Times'. – Slide 7

Slide 8

The authors of the New Testament.    The story of Jesus is told by four different authors. The first four books of the New Testament are called ‘gospels’ because they contain the ‘good news’ about Jesus’s life, death and resurrection. The four authors – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – had different audiences in mind when they wrote, so the accounts differ quite markedly in approach. 1. Mark’s Gospel, the shortest of the four, is thought to be the first one to have been written because Luke and Matthew appear to borrow much of their information from Mark’s account. As Mark goes out of his way to explain Jewish customs (e.g. Mark 7:3-4 & 15:42), he was probably addressing an audience that included Gentiles, and may well have written his ‘Good News’ for the believers in Rome. 2. Luke was a Gentile (non-Jewish) doctor, who was a close companion of Paul. He is the only non-Jewish writer whose work is found in the Bible. Luke wrote his gospel for a Gentile audience, having been asked for an account of Jesus’s life and teachings by a Roman friend he calls ‘Theophilus’ (‘lover of God’) (Luke 1:1-4). Luke stresses that Jesus was the saviour of all mankind, whatever their background, their gender or their nationality. He wrote a second book for ‘Theophilus’ about the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:1-2). 3. Matthew’s Gospel is believed to have been written by Levi, a Jew from Galilee who collected taxes for the Romans, and whose Greek name was Matthew (Matthew 9:9-13 & Mark 2:13-17). Matthew’s account was written for Jewish readers. Its particular emphasis was to persuade its readers that Jesus really was the Messiah or Christ – the ‘anointed one’ promised by the Old Testament prophets.  4. John’s Gospel is quite different from the other three gospels. It was written to denounce and to disprove a heretical (false) teaching known by scholars as ‘Gnosticism’. Gnostics taught that Jesus was human, but was not divine. John set out to show that Jesus was both human and divine – still a fundamental belief of Christians today. – Slide 8

Slide 9

Paul’s letters.  The order in which Paul's letters appear in the New Testament is NOT the order in which they were written (see the slide). Reading Paul’s thirteen letters in chronological order helps us to understand why they were written, and provides us with a correctly sequenced story of the development of the early Christian church. Paul dictated his letters to an amanuensis (a scribe) who attempted to copy his words verbatim (using his exact words). The scribe would have been a Christian colleague such as Tertius (who scribed Paul’s Letter to the Romans – see Romans 16.22), Silas (who also scribed for Peter – see 1 Peter 5:12) or Timothy (see 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2 Corinthians 1:19, Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:1 & Philemon 1:1). – Slide 9

Slide 10

Herod the Great’s family tree.  1. Herod the Great had been ruling Palestine for over thirty years before the birth of Jesus in 5 or 6 BC. He was the first foreigner to become king of the Jewish nation, his father being from Idumaea (Edom) and his mother from the Nabataean Kingdom of Arabia Petra. He ruled for thirty-three years (37BC – 4BC) as a friend and ally of Rome and was given the title ‘King of the Jews’ by the Roman senate. After Jesus’s birth, Herod ordered a massacre of all the infants in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:1-23). When Herod died in 4BC he left his kingdom to three of his sons. 2. Herod Antipas became ruler (‘tetrarch’) of Galilee and Peraea (4BC – 39AD). He ruled from his capital at Tiberias on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. He divorced his first wife in order to marry Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Herod Philip.  He imprisoned and beheaded John the Baptist in 28AD for criticising this marriage (Mark 6:14-28 & Luke 3:19-20), and Pilate sent Jesus to him for judgement in 30AD. (Luke 23:7-12) 3. Archelaus reigned (as ‘ethnarch’) in Judaea, Samaria and Idumaea (Edom) taking the place of his father Herod from 4BC to 6AD. (Matthew 2:22) This prompted Mary and Joseph to move to Nazareth, in Galilee - outside his jurisdiction. Archelaus was deposed by the Romans in 6AD, and Judaea (together with Samaria and Idumaea) became a Roman province administered by a procurator - who resided in the Roman capital at Caesarea. Pontius Pilate, the fifth procurator appointed in 26AD, condemned Jesus to death in 30AD. (Matthew 27:11-26) 4. Philip (Herod Philip II) ruled as tetrarch of Ituraea and Trachonitis to the north east of the Sea of Galilee from 4BC to 34AD. (Luke 3:1) His capital, Caesarea Philippi was the site of Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the ‘Messiah’ or ‘Christ’ in the summer of 29AD. (Matthew 16:13-16)  5. Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great, became king of Ituraea and Trachonitis in 37AD, following the death of Philip (Herod Philip II), his uncle. In 41AD, the Romans extended his kingdom to include Judaea and Samaria. On his death in 44AD (Acts 12:20-23), Judaea and Samaria once more came under direct Roman rule under the procurator, Felix. Shortly before his death, Herod Agrippa executed the apostle James (the brother of John), and arrested Peter, who had a miraculous escape. (Acts 12:1-19) 6. Herod Agrippa II (who was only a child when his father Herod Agrippa I died in 44AD) became King of Ituraea and Trachonitis in 53AD. He ruled for over forty years. In 59AD, he interviewed Paul about his religious beliefs. (Acts 26:1-32) – Slide 10

Slide 11

Slide 11
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Maps and charts giving a background to the New Testament world. (Bible overview) in PowerPoint 4:3 standard ratio4:3 ratio
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