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Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with about 2.4 billion followers.
Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the logos incarnated—who ministered, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news", in the Bible (scripture). Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.
Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their followers spread around the Levant, Europe, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, despite initial persecution. It soon attracted gentile God-fearers, which led to a departure from Jewish customs, and, after the Fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 which ended the Temple-based Judaism, Christianity slowly separated from Judaism. Emperor Constantine the Great decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan (313), later convening the Council of Nicaea (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the State church of the Roman Empire (380). The early history of Christianity's united church before major schisms is sometimes referred to as the "Great Church". The Church of the East split after the Council of Ephesus (431) and Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology, while the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the bishop of Rome. Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the Latin Catholic Church in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and papal primacy. Christianity played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly in Europe from late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work.
The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (230 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (62 million/Orthodoxy combined at 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Despite a decline in adherence in the West, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with about 70% of the population identifying as Christian. Christianity is growing in Africa and Asia, the world's most populous continents. Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world, especially in the Middle-East, North Africa, East Asia, and South Asia.
The Shroud of Turin
(or Turin Shroud
) is an ancient linen
cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have been physically traumatized in a manner consistent with crucifixion
. The image can not be seen on the shroud with the naked eye and for several centuries the shroud had been displayed without it. The image was first observed in 1898 on the reverse photographic plate when amateur photographer Secondo Pia
was unexpectedly allowed to photograph it.
The shroud is presently kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. The Roman Catholic Church has approved this image in association with the devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus. Some believe it is the cloth that covered Jesus when he was placed in his tomb and that his image was somehow recorded as a photographic negative on its fibers, at or near the time of his proclaimed resurrection. Skeptics contend the shroud is a medieval hoax or forgery — or even a devotional work of artistic verisimilitude. It is the subject of intense debate among some scientists, believers, historians and writers, regarding where, when and how the shroud and its images were created.
Arguments and evidence cited for the shroud's being something other than a medieval forgery include textile and material analysis pointing to a 1st-century origin; the unusual properties of the image itself which some claim could not have been produced by any image forming technique known before the 19th century; objective indications that the 1988 radiocarbon dating was invalid due to improper testing technique; a 2005 study proving that the sample used in the 1988 radiocarbon dating came from a medieval patch and not the original Shroud; and repeated peer-reviewed analyses of the image mode which contradict McCrone's assertions. Also, pollen from many places the shroud was said to have gone through are found, such as pollen from plants that exist only in certain areas near Jerusalem.
(c. 1100 – 1169) (sometimes Nigel Poor
or Nigel of Ely
) was an Anglo-Norman bishop of Ely
. He came from an ecclesiastical family; his uncle Roger of Salisbury
was a bishop and government minister for King Henry I
, and other relatives also held offices in the English Church and government. Nigel owed his advancement to his uncle, as did Nigel's probable brother Alexander
, who like Nigel was advanced to episcopal status. Nigel was educated on the continent before becoming a royal administrator. He served as Treasurer of England
under King Henry I of England
, before being appointed to the see
, or bishopric, of Ely in 1133. Following the accession of Henry I's successor, King Stephen
, Nigel remained as treasurer only briefly before his family was ousted from political office by the new king. Nigel rebelled and deserted to Stephen's rival Matilda
, but eventually reconciled with Stephen. On the king's death, Nigel was returned to the treasurership by the new king, Henry II
. Nigel's second tenure as treasurer saw him return the administration to the practices of Henry I. Most historians, then and now, have felt that Nigel's administrative abilities were excellent; he is considered to have been more talented as an administrator than as a religious figure.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), a temple is a building dedicated to be a House of the Lord, and they are considered by church members to be the most sacred structures on earth. Upon completion, temples are usually open to the public for a short period of time (an "Open House"). During the Open House, the church conducts tours of the temple with missionaries and members from the local area serving as tour guides, and all rooms of the temple are open to the public. Mormon temples are used for their baptism for the dead, washing and anointing (or "initiatory" ordinances), the endowment, and Mormon marriages. The temple is then dedicated as a "House of the Lord", after which only members who are deemed worthy are permitted entrance (tithing is paid in full). Thus, they are not churches (meetinghouses) but rather places to do Mormon practices. The church is a prolific builder of temples as they hold a key place in LDS theology.
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