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Belief Is Only The Beginning

The first Christians were, like Jesus, Jews resident in Israel who worshiped on occasion in the Temple in Jerusalem and weekly in local synagogues. Temple worship was a ritual involving sacrifice, occasionally including the sacrifice of animals in atonement for sin, offered to Yahweh until Jesus became the final sacrificial offering on Calvary. The New Testament includes many references to Jesus visiting the Temple, the first time as an infant with his parents. The early history of the synagogue is obscure, but it seems to be an institution developed for public Jewish worship during the Babylonian captivity when the Jews did not have access to the Jerusalem Temple for ritual sacrifice. Instead, they developed a daily and weekly service of readings from the Torah or the prophets followed by commentary. This could be carried out in a house if the attendance was small enough, and in many towns of the Diaspora that was the case. In others, more elaborate architectural settings developed, sometimes by converting a house and sometimes by converting a previously public building. The minimum requirements seem to have been a meeting room with adequate seating, a case for the Torah scrolls, and a raised platform for the reader and preacher.

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