- Jill Harries
- and Gillian Clark
ExtractChristianity began as a Jewish sect and evolved at a time when both *Jews and Christians were affected by later Hellenism (see hellenism, hellenization). Following the conquests of *Alexander (3) the Great, some Jews found Hellenistic culture congenial, while others adhered to traditional and exclusive religious values. When *Judaea came under direct Roman control soon after the death of *Herod (1) the Great in 4 bce, cultural and religious controversies were further exacerbated by the ineptitude of some Roman governors. Jesus therefore, and his followers, lived in a divided province.The ‘historical Jesus’ is known through the four Gospels, which are as sources problematic. Written not in *Aramaic but in Greek, the four ‘Lives’ of Jesus were written some time after his death (and, in the view of his followers, resurrection) and represent the divergent preoccupations and agendas of their authors. The Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke (to give their probable chronological order) differ from John in such matters as the geographical scope of Jesus’ ministry, which John expands from Galilee to include *Judaea and Samaria as well; John also is more influenced by Greek philosophical thought.