The Relation between Adoption and Inheritance in Paul’s thoughts, according to the Epistles.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul wrote a series of Epistles to various peoples, to teach them the word of God.  He uses language that is effective in persuading his audience of the idea of Christianity.  Paul structured his messages in a way that they could be understood.  They were understood in that time, and have become critical literary tools in understanding the early formation of Christianity.

Paul displays a unique relationship between adoption and inheritance and argues this relationship in his Epistles.  His opinion is essentially this: adoption of Christianity; adoption by God, leads to inheritance of the kingdom of God.

Because of the original sin of Adam, men are not automatic heirs to the kingdom of God.  All of mankind are sinners, and Paul categorized himself in this group.  Because of the sins men commit, they are not worthy of inheritance.  Christ, however, enabled mankind to be adopted by God, so that they may be worthy of inheritance.  Death came through sin; death was overcome by Christ.

Paul states that he was once a grave sinner, and he calls himself the chief of the sinners.  Pail once persecuted the Christians; he was a sinner, as are all of mankind.  His eyes were opened by God, and by the grace of God, he adopted the faith, and thus was adopted by God.  He was redeemed and then recruited to do they work of God.  Like Paul, men must be redeemed from their sins, and this happens through a process of adoption, and then they are worthy to be heirs.  Different branches of Christianity believe multiple variations of how an individual participates in this adoption.  Regardless, from Paul’s perspective, as he writes in his Epistles, adoption must take place in order for inheritance to be possible.

Because of the sins of Adam, men are disinherited.  Adoption is the way do undo this disinheritance.  Christ, through his passion, paid the ransom for our sins so that we may be allowed to be adopted children of God.  However, individuals are still given the choice in whether or not they will earn their inheritance.  Christ paid the debt through his passion, but the individual must still obey and live the word of God to earn inheritance.

Everyone is guilty, those who remain guilty, undergo the wrath of God.  The only way out for the guilty (aka everyone) is adoption.  No one has an excuse, and there is no one that can be righteous without God.  Paul motivated his audience by informing them that they must take action, and adopt Christianity, so that they may become adopted children of God, and this is something they must do on their own behalf.

This inheritance is not only available to the Jews, but to the Gentiles and to all peoples throughout the world.  Paul preached of a universal inheritance.  All peoples of the world are able to become heirs to the kingdom of God, but they must do this through means adoption.

In conclusion, the relationship between adoption and inheritance in Paul’s thoughts, is that adoption leads to inheritance.  Christ enabled us to be adopted children of God, through his passion.  Men and women are able to adopt Christianity and become heirs to the kingdom of God.

Chordates, and how they are different from Vertebrates.

What is a chordate? How are vertebrates different from chordates?

A chordate is a member of the animal kingdom, and categorized in the phylum Chordata.  Chordates have several characteristics that define them, and set them apart from all other animals.  Some of these traits are only present during embryonic development, but nonetheless, they do serve a crucial purpose within the organism.

Chordates have a notocord, which is essentially a long, flexible rod placed within the organism between dorsal nerve cord and the digestive tract.  The notochord serves many purposes, as it is built out of stiff, fibrous tissues.  Aquatic animals push muscle against this to help them swim, for example.

Chordates also have a dorsal nerve cord, which is a hollow nerve cord.  This dorsal nerve cord, in a human, becomes the spinal cord and brain after the process of embryonic development.

Another characteristic of chordates is the pharyngeal cleft.  The pharynx is the head/neck region of the animal right behind the mouth.  The pharyngeal cleft is a cleft, or pouch like structure in the pharynx region.  The form the pharyngeal cleft takes, and the function it carries out, depends on whether the animal is terrestrial or aquatic.

Chordates also have a muscular tail.  This tail may only be visible during embryonic development, but it is an essential trait during embryonic development.  Depending on the species, it may shrink if the species no longer depends on it.  The muscular tail extends beyond the digestive tract, and for aquatic chordates especially, this tail is important to propel the animal.

How are chordates different from vertebrates?  The vertebrate definition is a craniate with a backbone.  What is a craniate?  Craniates are all the members of the phylum chordata that have a head.  A head contains a brain at the front end of the dorsal nerve chord, as well as the common sensory organs such as nose, eyes, ears, mouth.  There are actually many invertebrates that have a head, however, a craniate is exclusively a chordate with a head.

To conclude, a vertebrate is a chordate, if, and only if, the chordate is a craniate with a backbone.  A chordate must possess a head and backbone in order for it to be a vertebrate.

 

(Biology, Lesson 100 essay.)

 

Soil is much more than just “dirt” that holds up the plant.

“Soil is just dirt to hold the plant up.”  — This is a statement that I, and many other individuals can easily disagree with.  However, it seems that a majority of the population agrees with this statement. It is actually fairly easy to adopt the idea of soil being just dirt, intended only to support the plant, but soil is much more than that.

It is easy to overlook soil, and how crucial it is to all levels of life, because it’s not something we notice on a day-to-day basis.  Plants, bodies of water, animals, etc., perform events crucial to the environment that we can, for the most part, see and feel.  The soil, however, is essentially just the dirt under our feet.  If an individual does not want to go into the details of the complexity of soil,  it is easy to adopt the opinion of it being simply dust underfoot.

Soil has so much complexity, that someone could dedicate their entire life to studying it through pedology, or edaphology, and still only cover a small portion of study.

Why is soil so important?  Aside from water, what do animals and humans need for survival? Nutrition. Some of their nutrition comes from other animals, but those animals have to eat something.  Plants support the entire animal kingdom,either by primary or secondary consumption.

What feeds the plants? Plants utilize energy from the sun to perform photosynthesis, and this is their main nutrient, but there are nutrients in the soil that act as supplements for the plant, and affect the production of the plant. Like people, plants benefit from supplements in their nutrition.

There are several biotic and abiotic factors that affect the characteristic of the soil and will determine the plants ability to grow.  Soil supports plants, that’s a mutual opinion, but soil does more than just that.

There are many layers of soil that perform important functions, however the most important of these is the layer of top soil.  The top soil is the layer from which plants absorb minerals and receive benefits from other living organisms.

The soil in an ecosystem is important, it affects plant growth, which then significantly affects the population of other animals and organisms. Soil also supports many organisms such as earthworms, that need the soil environment to survive.  Soil does not just support plants, it supports the entire ecosystem.

  

Why were the Sadducees and the apostles unable to find a way to reconcile their rival opinions?

In the book of Acts, there was a conflict between the Sadducees and the apostles.  This conflict was repeated throughout the book of Acts, and they were ultimately unable to reconcile their rival opinions.  Why?

The Sadducees practiced and taught the Mosaic law, while the apostles were preaching the new ways of Christianity.  The apostles were introducing new ways, and reforming old Mosaic law, and this was a threat to the teachings of the Sadducees and priests.

The Sadducees, and other religious officials, were doing everything in their power to prevent the message of Christianity from being spread.  They attempted to arrest and threaten the apostles, so that they could quiet the bearers of the message.  This included the Martyrdom of St. Stephen, and the imprisonment of the disciples; this was a threat to the apostles.

The Sadducees were the group of Jews in charge of maintaining the temple.  The Sadducees appointed new priests, and managed multiple political and religious affairs.  However, as stated in the previous paragraph, they expressed major opposition toward the message spread by the apostles.  They opposed the shift of attention that was happening, from Mosaic law, toward the teachings of Christ spread by apostles.

This issue was not something that could just be taken in council and reconciled, because of the nature of the apostles’ message. The Sadducees and priests believed in ancient Mosaic law, and they were not open to any kind of change or reform.  The apostles, on the other hand, preached in the name of Jesus, who the religious officials had crucified.  It was the religious officials who had persecuted Christ, and prophets before his time.  St. Stephen challenged them with this before they stoned him to death.

The Sadducees had arrested the apostles, twice, and both times, they warned them to stop preaching in the name of Christ. They continued to preach in the name of Christ, and continued to heal and perform miracles.  The apostles were engaging in a transition away from Mosaic law, and religious officials could not come to accept this.

Ultimately, Christian leaders pursued in preaching the message, and Christianity survived this conflict.  However, the religious leaders, primarily the Sadducees, and the apostles were unable to reconcile this conflict.  The Christian leaders, in my opinion, had valid reason to avoid the Sadducees and other religious leaders at all costs.

The religious leaders were the ones persecuting the Christians.  It wasn’t that these people weren’t allowed to join Christianity, Saul, who was a persecutor of Christians was converted and became a very influential Christian leader.  The Sadducees, opposed the teaching and forbade it in the region.  The apostles would not conform to this restriction given to them by the Sadducees.

From the point of view of the Sadducees, they believed in the teachings of the Mosaic laws, and they were not open to the new messages that contradicted, or “updated” their life-long beliefs.  They would not reconcile with the people who spread the message that they believed, was in a sense, contradicting their ancient tradition.

 

Islam from the Koran, and The Procopius portrayal of Justinian.

1) What do you learn about Islam from the Koran selections you read?

The Koran is the collection of speeches given by Muhammad, the founder of Islam.  It is believed by Muslims that Muhammad is not the author of the Koran, but the author was God, Allah, who directly gave the word to Muhammad.  The Koran is divided into chapters, or surahs, the selections provided in the lesson were from surah 1, and surah 47.

In the selections of surah 1,  it is stated that Allah is the sovereign being.  It is straight to the point, it immediately communicates to the reader that Allah is God, who possesses absolute sovereignty.

In surah 47, the author poses that one must believe in, and worship Allah, to attain life.  One that does do the will of Allah, will receive freedom from their sins, and from my understanding, his followers will receive eternal life.  It states that in battle, if a Muslim is confronted with someone who does not believe, the Muslims have the right to kill the non-believers.  It is also stated that those who kill in the name of Allah will essentially be pardoned.  Allah is protector of his followers, and those who do not follow him, do not have protection.

Overall, the message I take from these selections of the Koran, is that Muslims are general peaceful people–mainly among themselves.  They are permitted by Allah to kill people who do not believe in their religion.  The only instances in which they are not peaceful, is when confronted, in a battle atmosphere, with non-believers, or civilizations of non-believers.
2) What kind of person emerges from the Procopius portrayal of Justinian?

Procopius was a Greek-Byzantine historian, who wrote a portrayal of the most well-known Byzantine emperor Justinian (r.527-565).   This is the most accurate account of Justinian that we have today.

He begins by describing the physical characteristics of Justinian, not a bad looking guy.  Then, goes on to describe Justinian’s personality, in which he made him sound like an easy-to-manipulate, dishonest man; a moron.  He describes Justinian as someone that would be difficult to be friends with, he was two-faced, he was deceitful, and he lied.  He was described as too ignorant to fully hear out accusations, and too quick to punish.  This description does not exactly portray him as someone who would be a good, or even decent emperor, however, he did make significant impact.

Upon gaining the office of emperor, he turned a lot of things around.  He changed law codes, he removed old political offices and introduced new ones.  He did however, have good ambitions, and he wanted to recapture and unify Africa, Italy, Spain, Gaul and Britain with a single religion, orthodox Christianity.  He had some successes in this, but he did not achieve all of his goals.

The kind of person that emerges from the Procopius portrayal of Justinian, is somewhat of a crude individual, however, also an individual with goals and ambitions to help serve his people.

 

 

According to Mark’s gospel, what was main issue dividing Jesus from the leaders of Israel?

There are four gospels in the New Testament, the shortest of the four, is the gospel of Mark.  In the gospel of Mark, the main issue dividing Christ from the Leaders of Israel,  was a form of envious fear; fear on behalf of the leaders.  The leaders of Israel possessed significant fear of the power and authority Christ had.  Christ rejected the commandments of men, but rather honored and reinforced the commandments of God.  Christ was one of the few individuals, this early in time, that successfully challenged, and threatened the power of the Israelite leaders, and this inspired both envy and fear among them.

Christ had authority over many things of which the leaders of Israel did not have power over. For instance, he had authority over sicknesses, diseases, and demons, he had authority over nature, he possessed the ability to walk on water, etc.  Christ had authority over things that humankind could not possibly imagine having authority over.  This made the Israelite officials fearful.

Because of Christ’s authority, he attracted large crowds of people, many of which who traveled great distance to see him.  The population began to recognize Christ as their leader, rather than the Israelite leaders.  The idea of the leaders losing their authority was a very daunting thought to them.

Christ had the ability to distribute this power, given to him by God the Father, to his disciples.  They were then sent out to perform miracles in Christ’s name, and spread his message.  In the mind of the leaders in the synagogue, Christ was expanding his authority, which rapidly became more of a threat to their own authority.  One of Christ’s main reasons for sending out his disciples was so that his message could be spread to the people in as many regions as possible.  The Israelite leaders saw the teaching’s of Christ as a threat to their society, rather than what it actually was; a purification of their society.

The accusations against him were made mainly because the Israelite leaders felt threatened by his authority.  Christ was undermining their law, with the law of God, and they could see that he was making a substantial impact on the population.  There were multiple efforts to turn him in, but many of them lacked validity.  Even Pontius Pilate could see no offense that was enough to condemn him to persecution for.  In Mark 15:10, the author writes, referring to Pilate, “For he knew that it was out of envy that the chief priests had handed him over.”

He called thousands of people to repentance and renewed the mosaic laws which they had practiced for ages, specifically the law of divorce.  Again, this inspires fear in the leaders of Israel.  Christ had the authority to renew laws given by Moses, only the Son of God could have power like this, and that contributed to the fear and envy amongst the officials.

There were several different issues that divided Jesus from the leaders of Israel, but the main one is the envious fear possessed by the Israelite leaders.

The Carolingian Renaissance and The Spread of Christianity in England

1) What was the Carolingian Renaissance, and why was it significant?

The Carolingians were a family that ruled the Franks beginning in 751, in the region that is now modern-day France.  Lead by the Carolingians, the Franks accepted orthodox Christianity which built the foundation of a trustworthy alliance between the church and the Franks.  The Carolingians; in particular, Charlemagne, wanted to do something significant, something that would give them a memorable position in European history.  This motivation bore the Carolingian renaissance.

The word “renaissance” actually means a revival, or restoration of a culture.  The aim of the Carolingian renaissance was to restore the culture of Rome, but with a Christian emphasis.  The Frankish government would now carry out tasks, that in previous cultures, the emperor had been responsible.  As a result of this renaissance, there was an outpour of cultural improvement, including aspects of Christianity, literature, art, and the judicial system.

The Carolingian renaissance was significant because it revived the culture of ancient Rome, with an emphasis on Christianity.  It revived many of the characteristics of Roman culture and put them in a position to be preserved and passed down through history.
2) Describe the process by which Christianity was spread in England.

In the early 400’s, Roman troops who were defending Britain, had to be withdrawn to defend their own land against barbaric invasion.  This left the Celts weak, so they hired mercenaries to help them defend their land, among these were the Anglo-Saxons.  The Anglo-Saxons took advantage of this deal by driving the natives to small territory, and keeping lands for themselves.  Due to the Anglo-Saxons taking advantage of them, and being brutal towards them, the Celtic people had no motivation to spread Christianity to these people.  It had to be done by someone else because these people were not willing.

Pope Gregory the Great develops an interest to convert England before he even became pope.  After becoming pope, he arranges missionaries to convert England.  He was assisted by St. Augustine of Canterbury.  Pope Gregory sent 40 monks, lead by Augustine, to King Ethelbert of Kent, who was actually married to a Frankish Catholic.  Augustine spoke to the king about Christ, and the king allows them to spread their message.

Gregory the Great instructed the missionaries and gave them ways to present the message gradually.  And as a result, there were substantial conversions amongst the Anglo-Saxon people.  King Ethelbert, himself, actually converted in 597.

There was still conflict between the Anglo-Saxons and the Celts.  The death of Ethelbert triggered a reaction against Christianity, and this reduced the cooperation of Augustine’s companions, in fact, they wanted to flee.  The Celtic people would not have anything to do with the Anglo-Saxons.  It was a mess.  The Irish monks had to step in, which created more confusion because their way of practicing the Faith was different and unique, which posed more conflict.

In 626, Edwin became king and converts to Catholicism, as a result of marrying a Catholic.  At the defeat of Edwin, the whole idea of missionary work was a disaster.  Then, in 634, Oswald, nephew of Edwin, comes to power.  He had been converted by Irish monks, not the Benedictines sent from Rome.  The confusion between the two groups of Christians, was cleared in the Synod of Whitby in 664, where the Irish-Benedictine interaction bore the  Northumbrian renaissance, and the issues were settled.

 

Factors that Delay Reproduction of a Plant and How They are Actually Helpful to the Plant Species.

A perfectly healthy seed may not germinate for a long time; months, or possibly even years.  There are multiple factors that determine the timing of germiantion.  Through the beginning of the life cycle of a plant; the period between pollination to germination, there are several factors that essentially slow down, or delay the reproduction process of a plant.  Most of these factors, that slow or delay the process, are actually helpful to the plant species.

How do these delaying factors actually help the seed?  Seed germination requirements essentially help the seed grow under ideal conditions.  The seed does not usually germinate until the conditions meet the requirements.

One of the biggest factors that delays seed germination is season.  There are different plant species that can thrive in the different seasons throughout the year, however, one given plant species that thrives in spring may not be able to survive through winter. This factor slows the germination of a seed, and if the seed somehow germinates anyway, the chance of survival is low.  The limitations of the seasons are ultimately beneficial to the plant species.

Another significant germination-delaying factor is food/water supply.  If there is not enough nutrition in the environment, the plant will struggle, and may not survive, thus this is an important limiting factor.  Germination should not happen if there is not a stable food supply.  If there is lack of water in the environment, like nutrition, the plant has a low risk of survival.  However, unlike nutrition, too much water can also be harmful to the plant species and can effect the timing of germination.

These are a small few of the many factors that delay or slow down the germination of a seed, there are many more factors that play an equally important role.

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.