The Origins and Spread of Christianity Lesson Plan

The Origins and Spread of Christianity

I.  Rationale:  As the end of the year is crunching down, I need to accomplish teaching two chapters in one day.  Therefore, the day learning about the origins and the spread of Christianity will partially be a lecture, and partially be a discussion.  I don’t want a flat out lecture, so I will verbally feed some facts with the power point presentation pictures, and the students will ask questions leading to discussions as we go along.  I fully anticipate that each class will be different, but the main point is that we cover the basic facts of Christianity.

II.  Lesson Objectives:

  • SWBAT describe key events in the development of Christianity and its spread throughout the Roman Empire, including its origins in Jewish Messianic prophecies, the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as described in the New Testament, and the role of St. Paul the Apostle in spreading Christian beliefs.
  • SWBAT explain why Roman authorities thought Christianity posed a threat to the empire and identify the role of Rome in preserving and transmitting Christianity.

III.  Lesson Assessment:  In-class discussion

IV.  Standards:

6.1. Determine and explain the historical context of key people, cultures, products, events, and ideas over time including the examination of different perspectives from people involved.

6.8. Analyze cause-and-effect relationships, including the importance of individuals, ideas, human interests and beliefs.

V.  Time:  6th Grade Social Studies, 5th & 6th Periods, 45 Minutes, 12:56pm-1:41pm, 1:45pm-2:30pm

VI.  Materials:  Power Point Presentation

VII.  Beginning of the Lesson:

  • Set up the document camera and laptop with the power point.  Turn off the camera before the students come in so that they are not distracted.
  • Tell the students to get out a piece of paper and writing utensil and put everything else away.  They are going to take notes as we have our discussion.  Repeat this three times.

VIII.  Middle of the Lesson:

  • Turn the document camera back on and ask a student to turn off the lights.  Be sure to pause and take questions at least every slide, although some slides may call for extra pauses and discussions.
  • Write some key words on the board, including: messiah, prophet, disciple, parable, blasphemy, crucifixion.
  • Slide 1 (Map): Christianity is a product of the Jewish religion.  It started in a place called Judea by the Romans, the homeland of the Jews.  Christians believe that Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem in Judea, was the son of God.  Jews believe that Jesus was a prophet, and not the son of God.
  • Slide 2 (The Evangelists):  The Christians believe that Jesus is the son of God, the Messiah.  Four of his disciples, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (evangelists), wrote down the gospels to spread the news about Jesus’ life.
  • Slide 3 (Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem):  No one knows exactly when Jesus was born.  The current calendar says that he was born at the start of the Common Era (originally AD – Anno Domini – medieval Latin “In the year of Our Lord”).  However, he was most likely born about 6 BCE.  The gospels say that he was born in Bethlehem.  According to the gospel, the inn was coo crowded, so Mary and Joseph had to stay in a stable, where Jesus was born.  The family returned to Nazareth where he most likely learned carpentry and spent hours studying Jewish law and religious writings.  When he was baptized by John at the age of 30, John identified him as the Messiah that the Jews had been waiting for.
  • Slide 4 (Crowd):  Jesus taught based on traditional Jewish beliefs, emphasizing love and mercy.  He had followers, called disciples.  He usually taught through parables, which are simple stories with moral or religious messages.  Jesus did not preach to revolt against Rome.  “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.”
  • Slide 5 (Crucifixion):  Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 disciples, betrayed Jesus when they were in Jerusalem for Passover.  Jesus had chased traders and money-changers out of the Temple’s outer courtyard, and Judas told the temple priests where to find Jesus.  He had made Jewish and Roman leaders angry.  The Jewish priest accused Jesus of claiming to be the Son of God, which was blasphemy (a crime of saying something deeply insulting to God).  The Roman leaders feared he was a threat to Roman rule, and so they condemned Jesus to a rebel’s death – crucifixion (nailed to a cross).  The gospels say that Jesus rose from the dead and call this the Resurrection, which was their proof that he was the Son of God.
  • Slide 6 (Christian Martyrs):  Romans saw Christians as a threat to Roman order and patriotism because they refused to worship the other Roman gods and admit that the emperor was a god.  Christianity was eventually declared illegal.  Christians were sentenced to die in cruel and painful ways to make a point.  Christians won new admirers by facing death bravely, and it offered people a sense of purpose and hope.  By 300 C.E., there were 5 million Christians in Rome, and by 313 C.E., Constantine gave Christians their freedom.  In 392 C.E., Emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan sacrifices and Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

IX.  End of the Lesson:

  • Ask the students to pack up and check for trash on the floor, sixth period should put chairs up.  Remind them that there will possibly be on quiz on Friday. Repeat this once, as a student to repeat it back, and repeat it again.
  • Dismiss the students when the bell rings.