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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 and an incarnation of God the Son, 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 began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their followers spread around Syria, 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 converted to Christianity before his death (337), and was baptized by bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia; Constantine 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. Similarly, 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 the primacy of the bishop of Rome. 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.

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. The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (260 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (86 million/both together 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism). 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.

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RSV Bible.jpg
The Revised Standard Version (RSV) is an English translation of the Bible that was popular in the mid-20th century and posed the first serious challenge to the King James Version (KJV) owing to its aim to be both a readable and literally accurate modern English translation of the Bible.

The RSV is a comprehensive revision of the King James Version of 1611, the English Revised Version of 1881-1885, and the American Standard Version of 1901, with the ASV text being the most consulted. It sought not only to clearly bring the Bible to the English-speaking church, but to "preserve all that is best in the English Bible as it has been known and used through the centuries."

The copyright to the ASV was acquired by the International Council of Religious Education in 1928, and this Council renewed the ASV copyright the next year. In 1935, a two-year study began to decide the question of a new revision, and in 1937, it was decided that a revision would be done and a panel of 32 scholars was put together for that task. The decision, however, was delayed by the Great Depression. Funding for the revision was assured in 1936 by a deal that was made with Thomas Nelson & Sons. The deal gave Thomas Nelson & Sons the exclusive rights to print the RSV for ten years. The translators were to be paid by advance royalties.

Selected scripture

Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law
I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Selected biography

Ely Cathedral, where Nigel may be buried
Nigel (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.

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A rendering of the Last Supper made from salt, Wieliczka salt mine, Poland
Credit: User:Akumiszcza

A rendering of the Last Supper made from salt, Wieliczka salt mine, Poland

Did you know...

....that ecclesiastical Latin remains the official language of the Roman Catholic Church and is thus also the official language of Vatican City?
....that although raised as a Christian, C. S. Lewis spent most of his youth being an atheist until discussions with close friends such as J. R. R. Tolkien gradually persuaded him to reconvert?
...that The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come, a Christian allegorical novel written in 1675 by John Bunyan while imprisoned in England, is regarded as one of the greatest classics of literature and has been widely translated into more than 100 languages other than its original English text?
...that the Amish are a denomination of Anabaptists, found primarily in the United States and Canada, who do not vote, join the military, pay or draw Social Security, or accept any form of assistance from the government?

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