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A Christian pronunciation (help·info) is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament. "Christian" derives from the Koine Greek word Christ, a translation of the Biblical Hebrew term Messiah.
Central to the Christian faith is the gospel, the teaching that humans have hope for salvation through the message and works of Jesus, and particularly his atoning death on the cross. Christians also believe Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible. Most Christians believe in the doctrine of the Trinity ("tri-unity"), a description of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which retains the monotheistic belief of Christianity's Abrahamic heritage through an ineffable confluence. This includes the vast majority of the churches in Christianity. A minority of Christian churches are Nontrinitarians.
The term "Christian" is also used adjectivally to describe anything associated with Christianity, or in a proverbial sense "all that is noble, and good, and Christ-like." It is also used as a label to identify people who associate with the cultural aspects of Christianity, irrespective of personal religious beliefs or practices.
The Greek word Χριστιανός (christianos)—meaning "follower of Christ"—comes from Χριστός (christos)—meaning "anointed one"—with an adjectival ending borrowed from Latin to denote adhering to, or even belonging to, as in slave ownership. In the Greek Septuagint, christos was used to translate the Hebrew מָשִׁיחַ (Mašíaḥ, messiah), meaning "[one who is] anointed." In other European languages, equivalent words to 'Christian' are likewise derived from the Greek, such as 'Chrétien' in French and 'Cristiano' in Spanish.
The first recorded use of the term (or its cognates in other languages) is in the New Testament, in , which states "...in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians." The second mention of the term follows in , where Herod Agrippa II replies to Paul the Apostle, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" The third and final New Testament reference to the term is in , which exhorts believers, "...if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."
Another term for Christians which appears in the New Testament is "Nazarenes" which is used by the Jewish lawyer Tertullus in Acts 24. Tertullian (Against Marcion 4:8) records that "the Jews call us Nazarenes," while around 331 AD Eusebius records that Christ was called a Nazoraean from the name Nazareth, and that in earlier centuries "Christians," were once called "Nazarenes." The Hebrew equivalent of "Nazarenes", Notzrim, occurs in the Babylonian Talmud, and is still the modern Israeli Hebrew term for Christian.
All three original New Testament usages verses reflect a derisive element in the term Christian to refer to followers of Christ who did not acknowledge the emperor of Rome. The town Antioch, which is said to have given them the name Christian, had a reputation for coming up with such nicknames. However Peter's apparent endorsement of the term, led to it being preferred over "Nazarenes" and the term Christianoi from 1 Peter becomes the standard term in the Early Church Fathers from Ignatius and Polycarp onwards.
The earliest occurrences of the term in non-Christian literature include Josephus, referring to "the tribe of Christians, so named from him;" Pliny the Younger in correspondence with Trajan; and Tacitus, writing near the end of the 1st century. In the Annals he relates that "by vulgar appellation [they were] commonly called Christians" and identifies Christians as Nero's scapegoats for the Great Fire of Rome.
A wide range of beliefs and practices is found across the world among those who call themselves Christian. There is usually a consensus among many denominations about what defines a Christian, but disagreement does exist among some sects and denominations on a common definition of "Christianity." Philosopher Michael Martin, in his book The Case Against Christianity, evaluated three historical Christian creeds (the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed) to establish a set of basic assumptions which include belief in theism, the historicity of Jesus, the Incarnation, salvation through faith in Jesus, and Jesus as an ethical role model.
As the identification of the Messiah with Jesus is not accepted within Judaism, the Talmudic term for Christians in Hebrew is Notzrim ("Nazarenes"), originally derived from the fact that Jesus came from the village of Nazareth in Israel. However, Messianic Jews are referred to in modern Hebrew as יהודים משיחיים (Yehudim Meshihi'im).
In Arabic-speaking cultures, two words are commonly used for Christians: Nasrani (نصراني), plural "Nasara" (نصارى) is generally understood to be derived from Nazareth through the Syriac (Aramaic); Masihi (مسيحي) means followers of the Messiah.
Where there is a distinction, Nasrani refers to people from a Christian culture and Masihi means those with a religious faith in Jesus. In some countries Nasrani tends to be used generically for non-Muslim white people. Another Arabic word sometimes used for Christians, particularly in a political context, is Salibi; this refers to Crusaders and has negative connotations.
Nasrani or Nasranee may also refer to the Syrian Malabar Nasrani people, a Christian ethno-religious group from Kerala, India, are a mixed race people of Chaldean, Malayali Brahmin, Syriac, Jewish and other Malayali Hindu Castes in decreasing percentage of ethnic ancestry.
In the Indian subcontinent Christians also call themselves "Isaai" (Hindi: ईसाई, Urdu: عیسائی), and are also known by this term to Hindus and others in south Asia. This is related to the name they call Jesus, "Isa Masih".
The Chinese word is 基督徒 (pinyin: jīdū tú), literally "Christ follower." In Japan, the term Kirishitan (吉利支丹, 切支丹, キリシタン?), from Portuguese cristão, referred to Roman Catholic Christians in the 16th and 17th centuries before the religion was banned by the Tokugawa Shogunate. Today, they are referred to by the English-derived term Kurisuchan.
As of the early 21st century, Christianity has around 2.1 billion adherents. The faith represents about a quarter to a third of the world's population and is the largest religion in the world, with approximately 38,000 Christian denominations. Christians have composed about 33 percent of the world's population for around 100 years. The largest Christian denomination is the Roman Catholic Church, with 1.17 billion adherents, representing half of all Christians.
Twenty countries with the most Christians Country Christians % Christian United States (details) 176,400,000 78.4% Brazil (details) 174,700,000 90.4% Mexico (details) 105,095,000 94.5% Russia (details) 99,775,000 70.3% Philippines (details) 90,530,000 92.4% Nigeria (details) 76,281,000 48.2% Congo, Democratic Republic of (details) 68,558,000 95.6% China, People's Republic of (details) 66,959,000 5.0% Italy (details) 55,070,000 91.1% Ethiopia (details) 54,978,000 64.5% Germany (details) 49,400,000 59.9% United Kingdom (details) 44,522,000 71.8% Colombia (details) 44,502,000 97.6% Ukraine (details) 41,973,000 91.5% South Africa (details) 39,843,000 79.7% Argentina (details) 37,561,000 92.7% Poland (details) 36,526,000 95.7% Spain (details) 35,568,000 77.2% France (details) 35,014,000 53.5% Kenya (details) 34,774,000 85.1%
- Christian Church
- Conversion to Christianity
- Cultural Christian
- Lists of Christians
- Rice Christian, referring to people who profess Christianity for material benefits
- Bickerman, Elias J. (April, 1949). "The Name of Christians". The Harvard Theological Review 42 (2): 109–124. JSTOR 1507955. also available in Bickerman, Elias J. (1986). Studies in Jewish and Christian history. ISBN 9004043950. http://books.google.com/?id=gqQfAAAAIAAJ. (from which page numbers are cited)
- Wuest, Kenneth Samuel (1973). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament. 1. ISBN 9780802822802. http://books.google.com/books?id=ZHhK3AKkc9EC.
- ^ Bickerman (1949) p. 145, The Christians got their appelation from "Christus," that is, "the Anointed," the Messiah.
- ^ "BBC — Religion & Ethics — Christianity at a glance", BBC
- ^ Schaff, Philip. "V. St. Paul and the Conversion of the Gentiles (Note 496)". History of the Christian Church. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc1.txt.
- ^ Dawkins: I'm a cultural Christian. BBC News. 10 December 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7136682.stm
- ^ Christ at Etymology Online
- ^ Bickerman, 1949 p. 147, All these Greek terms, formed with the Latin suffix -ianus, exactly as the Latin words of the same derivation, express the idea that the men or things referred to, belong to the person to whose name the suffix is added.
p. 145, In Latin this suffix produced proper names of the type Marcianus and, on the other hand, derivatives from the name of a person, which referred to his belongings, like fundus Narcissianus, or, by extension, to his adherents, Ciceroniani.
- ^ Messiah at Etymology Online
- ^ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies: Volume 65, Issue 1 University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies - 2002 "... around 331, Eusebius says of the place name Nazareth that 'from this name the Christ was called a Nazoraean, and in ancient times we, who are now called Christians, were once called Nazarenes';6 thus he attributes this designation ..."
- ^ #Wuest-1973 p. 19. The word is used three times in the New Testament, and each time as a term of reproach or derision. Here in Antioch, the name Christianos was coined to distinguish the worshippers of the Christ from the Kaisarianos, the worshippers of Caesar.
- ^ #Wuest-1973 p. 19. The city of Antioch in Syria had a reputation for coining nicknames.
- ^ Christine Trevett Christian women and the time of the Apostolic Fathers 2006 "'Christians' (christianoi) was a term first coined in Syrian Antioch (Acts 11: 26) and which appeared next in Christian sources in Ignatius, Eph 11.2; Rom 3.2; Pol 7.3. Cf. too Did 12.4; MPol 3.1; 10.1; 12.1-2; EpDiog 1.1; 4.6; 5.1;"
- ^ Josephus. "Antiquities of the Jews - XVIII, 3:3". http://www.ccel.org/j/josephus/works/ant-18.htm.
- ^ Tacitus, Cornelius; Murphy, Arthur (1836). The works of Cornelius Tacitus: with an essay on his life and genius, notes, supplements, &c. Thomas Wardle. p. 287. http://books.google.com/?id=E0vy1dAhgj0C.
- ^ Bruce, Frederick Fyvie (1988). The Book of the Acts. Eerdmans. p. 228. ISBN 0802825052.
- ^ Martin, Michael (1993). The Case Against Christianity. Temple University Press. p. 12. ISBN 1566390818.
- ^ Nazarene at Etymology Online
- ^ a b Khaled Ahmed, Pakistan Daily Times.
- ^ a b Society for Internet Research, The Hamas Charter, note 62 (erroneously, "salidi").
- ^ a b Jeffrey Tayler, Trekking through the Moroccan Sahara.
- ^ Akbar S. Ahmed, Islam, Globalization, and Postmodernity, p 110.
- ^ "Catholic priest in saffron robe called 'Isai Baba'". The Indian Express. December 24, 2008. http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Catholic-priest-in-saffron-robe-called---Isai-Baba--/402458/.
- ^ 33.2% of 6.7 billion world population (under "People") "World". CIA world facts. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html.
- ^ "The List: The World's Fastest-Growing Religions". foreignpolicy.com. 2007-03. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3835. Retrieved 2010-01-04.
- ^ "Major Religions Ranked by Size". Adherents.com. http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- ^ Hinnells, The Routledge Companion to the Study of Religion, p. 441.
- ^ Pontifical Yearbook 2010, Catholic News Agency. Accessed September 22, 2011.
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