1. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam and believe that Heaven and Hell exist, but each of these faiths view these places in a different way. Muslims are told often in the Quran that God is merciful and that he knows their hearts. They attempt to live out the Five Pillars of Islam so that they will be assured a place in heaven. In our assigned text of the Quran believers are told “God has promised those that have faith and do good works forgiveness and a rich reward. As for those who disbelieve and deny our revelations, they are the heirs of Hell’ (1014). We see from this passage that salvation in the Muslim faith is based on good works. Hell is reserved for those who deny God.
Jews at Jesus’s time were split on the issue of Heaven and Hell. Some, such as the Sadducees did not believe there was an afterlife. Others believed in Heaven and Hell, and depended on sacrifices for atonement and following the law of the Old Testament. This was their hope of reaching heaven.
Followers of Christ believe that no one can reach the perfection which the Old Testament law requires. They believe that God is merciful and came to earth in the form of a man to be the final atonement sacrifice. Christians, therefore, believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and that Hell is for those who reject his atoning sacrifice. Christians, unlike Muslims, believe that Heaven cannot be earned by good deeds, but is available for those who choose to follow Christ.
2. The Greeks were familiar with narratives about humans attempting to appease angry gods. They therefore would have been able to understand the need for grievances to be made right before God. They also would have been familiar with both human and animal sacrifices for atonement. They could have possibly seen Jesus’s death as a sacrifice for atonement.
Greek mythology is full of stories of children who are half god being born to humans. In such stories the god comes down and impregnates the women, allowing their child to be divine. This was the case in Achilles’s birth. Greeks would have been familiar, therefore, with stories similar to that of Jesus’s birth and would have more likely accepted it.
3. I disagree that Jesus claims a redeemed sinner is more precious than one who never sinned. In the assigned text there is a passage, which I assume this discussion question is referring to in which Jesus states “I tell you that thus there will be joy in heaven over one sinner who repents rather than over ninety nine righteous ones who have no need of repentance’(pg. 894). In this passage he says that there will be more “joy’ not that the redeemed is more “precious’, and I think the difference is worth noting. It is as if you had three children, two who loved you and never rebelled, and one who disowned you. Were the child who disowned you to ask for forgiveness, you would be filled with joy. They would not suddenly become more “precious’ to you. This fact is also demonstrated in the parable Jesus tells about the two sons. The father in the story said to the un-rebellious son “My child you are always with me and all that is mine is yours; but we had to make merry and rejoice because your brother was a dead man and came to life’.
In the Iliad the gods did not seek repentance from mortals, but instead sought revenge for wrongs humans committed against them. The gods also picked favorites among the humans and would use their divine powers to assist them. If a person believes that Jesus truly did see a redeemed sinner as more precious, then an argument could be made that he is similar to the gods of the Iliad in this point; they both have “favorites’. The gods of the Iliad did not show mercy on humans but instead would allow fate to overtake them.