The importance of the miracles performed by Jesus in his early ministry, according to the book of Mark.

“How important were the miracles in the book’s account of Jesus’ early ministry?” 

In the New Testament, the book of Mark is one of the four gospels in the bible.  The gospel of Mark, is the earliest, and shortest of the four gospels, it provides account of Christ’s early ministry.  The word “gospel” actually means “good news” in the Greek language.  This was an account of the fulfillment Christ brought to the people in his early ministry; good news.

Miracles were very important in Christ’s ministry.  We see in the accounts of Mark, that Christ used miracles to communicate certain ideas.  The miracles performed, not only impacted the people of that era, but also the people who have read and studied the gospel ever since, and all the people who will read them in the future.  These miracles are eternal.

Christ performed these miracles through the power of God, he was not a wizard, but the son of God.  Christ mainly performed miracles of healing (physically and spiritually), this symbolizes not only the power of God, but also the mercy of God, and his will to heal.  Miracles were a reinforcement of the teachings of Christ.

He did not simply perform one solitary miracle.  Christ performed many miracles, and immediately developed a crowd of followers, he performed miracle after miracle and amazed his many followers.  Later on, he ordains 12 disciples, known today as the 12 apostles, who preach the teachings of Christ and perform miracles by healing the sick and exorcising demons from troubled individuals.  Miracles were a central aspect of Christ’s early ministry, they are the basis on which he built his followers.  Christ freed men who were possessed by demons, as well as relieving them of physical injury, but most importantly he performed the miracle of forgiving man’s sins.

The Pharisees, were very skeptical of this behavior, Christ knew this, and he provided logic that answered their questions.  On one occasion, Christ healed a man with an injured hand, on the Sabbath, which was perceived by the officials of the synagogue as work.  The Pharisees accused Christ of breaking the law that commands rest on the Sabbath. He explained to them that healing a man was more important than the law of resting on the Sabbath day.  Christ looked at the issue from a more realistic standpoint; the man was suffering, and he needed that hand to work  the other six days of the week.  Unlike the Pharisees, Christ emphasized the importance of healing the man as a higher priority than keeping the law to rest on the Sabbath.  The law was still important, but under the circumstances, healing was necessary.

Jesus did not perform these miracles in private, rather, he performed them in front of vast crowds of people.  There were many people who witnessed the power he exercised in performing these miracles.  This was emphasized, which persuades the reader that these events actually took place; they were not fantasies.  Miracles were a crucial aspect that reinforce the message of God by demonstrating the power of God.

He explained to them that healing a man was more important than the law of resting on the Sabbath day


Shift of Power from the Merovingians to Carolingians, and the Significance of the Papal-Frankish Alliance.

(1) Discuss the shift in power from the Merovingians to the Carolingians. Why did it occur, and how?

The Franks were the most important of the various groups of Germanic people in western civilization.  Unlike other barbaric civilizations, the Franks did not engage in the beliefs of Ariansim.  After the conversion of their king, Clovis, to Christianity, in the year 496, there is a substantial growth of Christendom among the Frankish people.

The Franks were governed by the Merovingian family through the seventh century, and even into the early eighth century.  However, the Merovingian dynasty had undergone corruption over the years.  There were many problems that developed with the family and their leadership.  Merovingian leaders were not skilled or effective in their administration, they lacked the ambition to accomplish significant conquests.  Chaotic behavior began to arise within the family, they began to fight amongst each other and even slaughter one another.

The Frankish church was  in desperate need of reform.  The Frankish people, under influence of the Merovingian family, had brought corrupt practices into the church.  With all of these accumulating issues at hand with the Merovingian family, the administrations were being handled by the Carolingian family.

The Carolingian family held the office of mayor in the palace, they exercised power in the kingdom of the Franks.  Pepin the Short, a member of the Carolingian family, sees the need to legitimize his reign.  Pepin confronts Pope Zachary I, and describes the situation.  He asks the pope if it is good that, the men with the title have no power, and the men with the power have no title, Pope Zachary concludes that this is not a good situation.  In 751, the pope blesses a change of dynasty, from the Merovingian family to the Carolingian family.
(2) What was the significance of the Papal-Frankish Alliance? What were two factors that helped make the alliance possible?  

The papacy (referring to the office of pope), was seeking an ally and protector.  The Byzantines who had protected the papacy in the past, grew unreliable.  The Byzantines engaged in multiple heresies, and even harassed the popes at times.  The papacy could not easily break away due the military threat the the Lombards.  In the fall of 753, Pope Stephen the II, becomes the first pope to cross the alps, he does this in an attempt to negotiate with Aistulf, the leader of the Lombards, if that quest failed, he planned to address the Frankish leader, Pepin.

Upon meeting with Aistulf, the pope is unsuccessful in the negotiation, so he continues with his plan to meet Pepin.  The pope meets with Pepin, in 754.  Pepin was especially respectful and hospitable to the pope.  They meet again several times throughout 754, and build a strong relationship.  Pepin agrees to maintain the papacy’s rights, and also agrees to restore the land that was taken by the Lombard people.  The pope performs a ceremony which declares Pepin to be the king.  Pepin then goes after the Lombards, and he is ultimately successful in this conquest, land is restored to the papacy, and this becomes the origin of the papal states.  The Franks and the Papacy had built an alliance and there were multiple factors leading up to the success of this alliance.

The rise of the Carolingian family was a factor that played a role in making the alliance between the Franks and the Papacy successful.  The Carolingian family had ambitions that the Merovingian family did not have, and without the change of dynasties, the Frankish/Papal alliance would not have been successful.

Another important factor was the situation between the papacy and the Byzantine protectors.  The Byzantine “protectors” were more of a threat to the papacy than they were protectors.  Without this situation as it was, the papacy would not have actively sought out an alliance with the Franks.

The Frankish/Papal alliance was an important alliance for both parties.

How the Calvin cycle indirectly depends on light.

Photosynthesis is the process through which plants (and some other organisms), covert light energy from the sun into chemical energy that can be utilized by other organisms.  In order to carry out this complex process, cells are equip with specialized cells.  There is a cell wall made of cellulose, within, there are membrane closed organelles, and in addition, there is another specialized organelle called a chloroplast.  The chloroplast is the feature of the plant cell  that allows the plant to carry out photosynthesis.

In photosynthesis, there are two major stages, the first being light-dependent reactions and the other being the Calvin cycle, both take place within the chloroplast.  The light dependent reactions occur before the Calvin cycle takes place.  While the Calvin cycle is not actually part of the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis, the Calvin cycle does indirectly depend on light.

The light-dependent reactions, as stated above, occur prior to the Calvin cycle.  The Calvin cycle actually requires the use of the products from the light dependent reactions.  Products include ATP (adenosine triphosphate), NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate-oxidase), and also o2 that is released into the atmosphere.  There are energy and material requirements of the Calvin cycle, which rely on light-dependent reactions as their suppliers.

There are 3 phases of the Calvin cycle: carbon fixation, reduction, regeneration of co2 acceptor.  With all three phases, there is an overall “cost” of the Calvin cycle.  The Calvin cycle needs outside resources, these resources are produced by the light-dependent reactions.  These “costs” of resources include, 3 co2, 9 ATP, and 6 NADPH.  Co2 comes from the atmosphere, however, without light-dependent reactions, the Calvin cycle has no way to obtain the required ATP and NADPH.

The Calvin cycle is indirectly dependent on light because without the light-dependent reactions, and their products, the Calvin cycle cannot take place.

The significance of Rome in the history of western civilization, and the significance of St. Augustine in Christian history.

1) Why was Rome significant in the history of Western civilization?

Rome was significant in multiple different aspects of the history of western civilization.  Roman literature, drama, law, art, architecture were all very influential throughout history.

One of the most significant impacts of the Romans, was that they took interest in Greek culture and made efforts to preserve it.  Without this preservation, the modern world would be unable to have any insight into Greek civilization.  Roman culture actually mirrors Greek culture in multiple aspects.  Early Roman religion is very similar to that of Greek religion.

Rome was the first civilization that enforced the idea of natural law, which is now enforced in western civilization.  This was the idea of a single standard of justice that every individual is subject to.  Prior to this, the judicial system was confusing and chaotic; this idea of natural solved the problem and made the laws well known.

Multiple Roman architectural and engineering vices are similar to what we see today.  Roads, bridges, aqueducts, dams, as well as buildings, are very similar to what we see in the modern world.  Rome had the finest quality, and workmanship, that have held up for centuries.

Roman literature was very influential.  The uses of rhetoric by Roman figures are foundational in the world of rhetoric.  The Latin language, itself, had an impact.  Many languages are derived from Latin, and more than half of the English language actually comes from the Latin language of the Romans.
2) What was the significance of St. Augustine in Christian history?

St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) was an early Christian theologian and philosopher.  His writings and teaching significantly impacted Christian history.  He was not always a devout Christian, he was born to a Christian mother, but he was far from being considered a Christian in his early years.  He was a smart man, and he sought fulfillment and explanation.  He encountered many philosophical and theological controversies.  He invested a lot of thought, and eventually came to believe that Christianity was the truth.

He wrote a lot of documents, including his own autobiography that impacted Christianity and also western civilization.  He explained things to help Christians further understand their beliefs, and he explained to pagans who did not understand the concept of Christianity.  Without his contributions, there may have been more Christian persecutions, and Christians themselves may not have found the teachings and understandings that St. Augustine concluded.

What was Horace’s concept of personal ethical cause and effect?

Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-8 BC, known in English as Horace, was a Roman poet during the time of Augustus.  He aspired to deliver his idea to the individual, in a way that it would stick mentally with the individual.  Horace’s basic concept of ethical cause and effect poses that the individual should remain in the golden mean.  He or she should expect no more, and no less than the healthy medium.

In his odes, Horace ultimately provides that the only major thing in life, is death.  Death comes to everyone.  With this inescapable end, all men will be equal during and after their last breath, and thus they are equal throughout their lives.  The amount of wealth an individual possesses will not mean anything after that person is deceased.  A person can work really hard to obtain riches, however, ultimately, this doesn’t change their position.  However, he points out that a person does not want to find himself in poverty, because this will lead to material suffering.  What is the solution? Live in the healthy medium; the golden mean.

Horace discusses this Stoic idea, and his reasoning behind it.  There is not a substantial need to overwork yourself to obtain excessive riches, however, you must avoid poverty.  In a nutshell, Horace says to live a balanced life, don’t allow less, and don’t do any more.  You should make an effort, but don’t go too far out of your way.

Another reason he provides for living in the “golden mean,” is simply that of avoiding disappointment.  If you make significant plans for yourself, you are enlarging the possibility of disappointment.  Why? Horace says the fates have plan for every individual.  The plans the fates have may or may not coordinate with those of the individual.  If individuals position themselves in a middle class type of lifestyle, that is adjustable, then they will not encounter major disappointment.

Horace provides the example of the ant.  She consumes what she gathers, and lays up only when she needs to.  He says that people should follow this example.  He poses the question, what is the point in having piles of gold? You cannot take your wealth with you when you die, it will be taken by friends and family, and your effort will be forgotten.  Throughout his writing, he points to the golden mean, not too hot, not too cold; just right.  In his first satire, he explains that individuals should not equate wealth with who they are; it does not define them.  Rather, they should seek a balanced lifestyle, in which they can imitate the life of the ant.

Death is certain, no one can escape it, but living in the golden mean as Horace says to do, according to Horace, will provide satisfaction.  Horace describes what we call today, the middle-class lifestyle.  You do not have to depend on other people, and other people do not have to depend on you.  This medium will give individuals a balance.  Ultimately, the middle-class will be equal to the wealthy, because both WILL encounter death.

Lesson 75 writing assignment.

1) In what ways did Christianity represent a departure from the ideals and practices of ancient Greece and Rome? 

Christianity presents a very different perspective than the ideals and practices of ancient Greece and Rome.  Christianity changed civilization, and ultimately put an end to multiple corrupted aspects of the culture.

Christians value the virtue of humility.  Prior to Christianity, the Greeks and Romans did not value humility, in fact, they resented it.  Ancient Greeks and Romans did not view humility as a virtue. When humility was practiced, the practitioner was perceived by classic cultures as a weak individual.  Christians changed this perspective, and practiced humility as a virtue.  After the impact of the Christians, humility was perceived as a strength, not a weakness.

Christians also changed the ancient ideas of charitable work.  Prior to Christianity, charity was only done with the idea that the person would return the favor.  Ancient Greeks and Romans would participate in acts of charity only to achieve fame; or something in return.  Christians, however, practiced charity as a routine part of their daily life.  They developed systematic charitable institutions for orphans, homeless people, and widows.  They never expected anything in return, it was never an inconvenience for them, and it was just part of their lives.  Christian people also influenced the removal of the corrupted system of gladiatorial contests from Roman culture.  These are just a few of the examples of  how Christianity departed from the classic cultures.
2) Discuss the relationship between Rome and the Visigoths. 

In the 4th century, Rome encountered invasion attempts from multiple different Germanic tribes who wanted to be a part of Roman culture.  One of those Germanic tribes, were the Visigoths.  The emperor Valens, of the eastern region of Rome allows the Visigoths to enter the empire in 376.  However, the Visigoths rebel, Valens takes up arms against them, unfortunately, he is defeated at Adrianople in 378.

In 395, the leader of the Visigoths and his troops attack and pillage Italy, this requires Roman legions to abandon Britain, and return to defend their own land.  Britain then falls to the other barbaric Germanic tribes.  In 410, the Visigoths enter the actual city of Rome, they stay there for 3 days, then go on to take over Gaul, then Spain, and remain there until they are invaded by Muslims.

The Roman relationship with the Visigoths was very tense.  They were a barbaric tribe that pillaged Roman society.  They respected the Romans and they wanted to absorb the culture, however, they went about that in the wrong way.

What was Ovid’s view of the gods’ ethical performance?

Whether he actually believed it or not, Ovid made clear in the metamorphoses, his view of the gods’ ethical performance.  He, in detail, described the systematic ethical process of the gods, and how they inflicted positive or negative sanctions accordingly.

Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid (43 BC-AD 17) was a Roman poet active around the reign of Augustus.  In the year 8 AD, Augustus banished Ovid to the black sea region.  In 8 AD, Ovid wrote a series of poems which he called the metamorphoses.  In this series of poems he provide multiple examples that demonstrate his view of the gods’ ethical performance.

There is a basic theme, that is displayed in several different examples.  The ethical system of the gods is centered around pride.  Pride is the key factor for the gods when making ethical decisions.  The gods were prideful beings, and if an individual challenges a god’s pride, they will suffer extreme negative consequences.  However, if an individual respects gods’ pride, and is especially obedient to the will of particular gods, he will receive extreme positive sanctions.

In book 6, there is the story of “Rustics changed to frogs.”  Latona, a goddess, gave birth to two gods, and she suffered from extreme thirst.  She approached a pool, in which she would drink from.  However, upon entering the pool, she was told by the men there that she could not drink.  They, knowing she was a goddess, saw themselves as above the divine nature.  They felt prideful of themselves because they could prevent a divine being from satisfying her thirst.  After being constantly rejected, Latona prays.  The men surrounding the pool were then transformed into frogs.  These men would no longer have a relationship with the gods, and they could no longer impact the world.  The men were reduced to a simple object of nature.

The issue is pride.  When men get the sense that they are more powerful, or more wise than the gods; when they get too prideful, the gods in turn punish this.  There are multiple examples of this same ethical system, with different gods and slightly different situations.  If a man sees himself as equal to a divine figure, the given divine figure will reduce his position to an object of nature.  For instance, the men who were transformed to frogs could no longer have any influence in history.  They lost their position as men, by challenging the gods.

Ovid also demonstrates that it was possible for man to achieve divine nature.  For instance the goddess Venus, asked Jupiter for permission to let Aeneas become a god.  Jupiter gave her permission and she takes him to the river Numicius to cleanse him of his mortality.  This poses that within man there is a divine nature.  Mars asked Jupiter to turn Romulus into a god, and Jupiter complies to this request.  Ovid conveys in his poetry that it is possible for mankind to achieve divine nature.  To do this, individual must not speak out of turn, and must comply with the will of the gods.

Ovid’s view of the gods’ ethical performance regarding the imposition of negative sanctions was that the god’s pride could not be challenged.  If  the pride of the gods’ was challenged, at all, the challenger would be reduced to an object in nature.


The monks’ contribution to European society, and the attitude of Christian writers on toward ancient Greek philosophy.

1) What kinds of contributions did the monks make to European society?  Monasticism takes root early on in church history.   It gave individuals the opportunity to separate themselves from the material world so they can practice their spiritual life more intensely.  Monasticism can be practiced in two different ways; monks can be eremitic, or cenobitic.  Eremitic monasticism is the life of a hermit, and absolute isolation from the world.  Cenobitic monasticism is living in isolation from the world, but in a community brotherhood or, for women who became nuns, a sisterhood.  Cenobitic monks made a more significant impact, because people were more able to learn from them.  Monks lived spiritual lives of fulfillment, but they also made tremendous impacts on European society.

One of the most important things the monks did, was establish respect for the manual laborer.  Manual labor was looked down on, and considered to be the lowest position, however, the monks changed this.  The monks did everything to maintain their lives.  Their work ethic was extremely efficient.  They taught themselves and other young men different trades, and established respect from society on manual labor.  They also revolutionized both agriculture, and technology, in many different ways.  They preserved a lot of important historical manuscripts, that, without their transcriptions, we would never have today.  The monks, while they may not be credited for it, made a significant contribution to European society.

2) What was the attitude of most Christian writers toward the philosophers of ancient Greece?  The philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many more ancient Greek philosophers were the first historically recorded thinkers to really challenge common thought, and ultimately attempt to uncover the truth.  It is important to take into consideration that these men had nothing to base their studies on, they were simply seeking the unknown truth.  What may seem surprising to some people, is that most Christian writers many years later, respected and used the work of these ancient philosophers.

A number of Christian writers pointed out that these philosophers were seeking the truth.  As Minucius Felix says, God can be known from reason, Greeks came to this knowledge.  The theories of the philosophers pointed to the existence of the omnipotent God.  The common attitude of Christian philosophers toward the ancient Greek philosophers was mostly positive.  They respected the Greek thinkers that came hundreds of years before them.  They did not regard the teachings of Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates, to be heresies, but rather the beginnings of trying to understand God.

The challenges of Taxonomy. Is Taxonomy necessary?

Taxonomy is the science of naming and classifying living organisms.  Systematics are the use of data to determine the relationships between different species.  Systematics guide the process of taxonomy, which classify all the living organisms. This is a complex process due to the fact that there are so many living organisms in the world’s overall biomass.

In early taxonomy, there were two kingdoms in which organisms were classified: plants, and animals.  However, there were organisms that possessed characteristics of both plants and animals.  This kingdom of two, was later expanded to include protists, (organisms that possessed the characteristics of animals and plants).  However, this did not include a category for every living organism.  Thus 5 animal kingdoms were developed: plants, animals, fungi, protists, and monera.

Monera, which the single celled prokaryotic classification,posed an issue.  Prokaryotic cells are more similar to eukaryotic cells, than to other prokaryotic cells.  For this and other reasons, monera has become obsolete.

These kingdoms are divided into three domains: bacteria, archaic, and Eukaryota.  (Monera possesses characteristics of more than one domain; another reason why it is obsolete.)

This system has flaws and errors, but at this point, it is the only method scientists have been able to use, somewhat effectively.  A biologist’s classification should not necessarily be taken as an absolute inviolable truth, because there are still many errors in the system.  A biologist’s classification should be considered and also analyzed, with an open-critical mind.

For now, this system is both necessary and important.  Systematics and taxonomy have flaws, but they are an essential means of organization.  This system makes the work of a biologist easier, when researching, or discovering a new species.  Perhaps a better method, with more accuracy will eventually be developed, but for now, biologist’s rely on systematics and taxonomy.

Was there any basis for an optimistic view of Rome in Livy and Ovid?

Livy, or Titus Livius Patavinus (59 BC-17 AD), was  a Roman historian.  Among his works, he wrote a series of accounts on the history of Rome, which survey a period of about 700 years.  Unfortunately, most of these books did not survive.  Livy acknowledges the weaknesses in historical writing, and explains that it is the work of a poet and not the work of historian.  Without account on ancient events, the historian is required to either leave out detail, or fill in the blanks with what might have happened.  Livy’s writings on the history of early Rome provide us with insight, but we cannot rely on them literally.

Ovid, or Publius Ovidius Naso (43 BC-17/18 AD), was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus.  Ovid was banished to the black sea region by Augustus in 8 AD, around the same time in 8 AD, he wrote the metamorphoses. The metamorphoses tell the story from the creation, through to the death of Julius Caesar (44 BC).  The central  theme of the metamorphoses, is the change of the gods, and thus the world they were worshiped by.  Both of these writers start with the story of creation and provide background, and use this background when they later describe the events that brought  Rome to be an important part of western civilization

Livy and Ovid both provided accounts of the origins of Rome.  These two accounts are distinct, however, similarities are drawn between the two.  It is the same basic story of creation that we are given by the Greek writer Hesiod in Theogony.  They are slightly different, but it’s the same general story line.  Following the story of creation, the stories follow different paths, but they both include the idea of the corruption of mankind.  The metamorphoses and Livy’s series of books, each displayed different ways of dealing with this corruption of mankind, it was not the same series of historical events.  However, they both resulted in establishing hope for the city of Rome.

Livy wrote about the twin brothers Romulus and Remus, Romulus killed Remus, and he reforms and goes on to develop Rome.  He gives the Roman people a set of laws.  He gives the city hope, and he builds it up.  Some of his methods lacked a system of ethical balance, but he was believed to have led the early Romans and build their civilization.  Ovid, in comparison, writes about an event that reflects the story of Noah and the flood.  The corruption of mankind was so vast that Jupiter sent a flood to wipe mankind from the face of the earth.  There were two survivors,  Deuclion and Pyrra, who repopulated the earth, by tossing stones over their shoulders that turned into human beings.

The basis for an optimistic view, in both stories, is hope.  Hope that the corruption will be demolished.  These people had motivation to build a city, and they did.  Hope for relief is a powerful motivation in the mind of man.