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A history of christianity in the world

Jesus Christ, Christ Pantocrator Though the life of Jesus is a matter of academic debate, scholars [2] generally agree on the following basic points: Jesus was born ca. Early Christianity 33 — 325 C. Early Christianity refers to the period when the religion spread in the Greco-Roman world and beyond, from its beginnings as a first century Jewish sect, [10] to the end of the imperial persecution of Christians after the ascension of Constantine the Great in 313 C. It may be divided into two distinct phases: The principal source of information for this period is the Acts of the Apostleswhich gives a history of the Church from the Great Commission 1: However, the accuracy of Acts is also disputed and may conflict with accounts in the Epistles of Paul [12].

The first Christians were essentially all ethnically Jewish or Jewish Proselytes. Jesus preached to the Jewish people and called from them his first disciples, though the earliest documented "group" of appointed evangelizers, called the Seventy Disciples, was not specifically ethnically Jewish.

An early difficulty arose concerning Gentile non-Jewish converts. Some argued that they had to "become Jewish" usually referring to circumcision and adherence to dietary law before becoming Christian.

The decision of Peteras evidenced by conversion of the Centurion Cornelius [13]was that they did not. The matter was further addressed with the Council of Jerusalem. Christian view of the Law for the modern debate. The doctrines of the apostles brought the Early Church into conflict with some Jewish religious authorities, and this eventually led to the martyrdom of Stephen and James the Great and expulsion from the synagogues.

Thus, Christianity acquired an identity distinct from Rabbinic Judaism. The a history of christianity in the world for the beliefs of the apostolic community include the Gospels and New Testament Epistles. The very earliest accounts are contained in these texts, such as early Christian creeds and hymns, as well as accounts of the Passionthe empty tomband Resurrection appearances; often these are dated to within a decade or so of the crucifixion of Jesus, originating within the Jerusalem Church.

The earliest Christian creeds and hymns express belief in the risen Jesus, e. They held the Jewish scriptures to be authoritative and sacred, employing mostly the Septuagint translation as the Old Testament, and added other texts as the New Testament canon developed. Christianity also continued other Judaic practices: Post-Apostolic Church See also: Lawrence before Emperor Valerianus martyred 258 by Fra Angelico The post-apostolic period encompasses the time roughly after the a history of christianity in the world of the apostles when bishops emerged as overseers of urban Christian populations, and continues during the time of persecutions until the legalization of Christian worship during the reign of Constantine the Great.

This involved even death for Christians such as Stephen Acts 7: Larger-scale persecutions followed at the hands of the authorities of the Roman Empirebeginning in the year 64, when, as reported by the Roman historian Tacitusthe Emperor Nero blamed Christians for that year's great Fire of Rome.

According to Church tradition, it was under Nero's persecution that Peter and Paul were each martyred in Rome. Similarly, several of the New Testament writings mention persecutions and stress the importance of endurance through them.

  • He assured the people that all could be saved by experiencing God and opening their hearts to his grace;
  • John XXIII was welcomed with open arms by all of Christianity, for the Pope called not only for an intense spiritual cultivation of the modern world, but also sought Christian unity;
  • The expression became the battle-cry of the crusades.

For 250 years Christians suffered from sporadic persecutions for their refusal to worship the Roman emperor, which Rome considered treasonous and punishable by execution. In spite of these periodic persecutions, the Christian religion continued its spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin.

Ecclesiastical structure By the late first and early second century, a hierarchical and episcopal structure became clearly visible; early bishops of importance were Clement of RomeIgnatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrnaand Irenaeus of Lyons.

This structure was based on the doctrine of Apostolic Succession in which, by the ritual of the laying on of hands, a bishop becomes the spiritual successor of the previous bishop in a line tracing back to the apostles themselves. Each Christian community also had presbytersas was the case with Jewish communities, who were also ordained and assisted the bishop; as Christianity spread, especially in rural areas, the presbyters exercised more responsibilities and took distinctive shape as priests.

Lastly, deacons also performed certain duties, such as tending to the poor and sick. Early Christian writings As Christianity spread, its converts included members from well-educated circles of the Hellenistic world, some of whom became a history of christianity in the world.

They produced two sorts of works: These authors are known as the Church Fathersand study of them is called Patristics. Wall painting from the early catacombs, Rome, fourth century. Christian art emerged relatively late; the first known Christian images appeared from about 200 C. This early rejection of images, although never proclaimed by theologians, leaves us with little archaeological records regarding early Christianity and its development.

The oldest Christian paintings are from the Roman Catacombs, dated to about 200, and the oldest Christian sculptures are from sarcophagi, dating to the beginning of the third century. Indeed, one of the main roles of the bishops in the early Church was to determine the correct interpretations and refute contrarian opinions referred to as heresy.

As there were differing opinions among the bishops, defining orthodoxy would consume the Church through the centuries and still does, hence, "denominations".

History of Christianity

In his book Orthodoxy, Christian Apologist and writer G. Chesterton asserts that there have been substantial disagreements about faith from the time of the New Testament and Jesus. He pointed out that the Apostles all argued against changing the teachings of Christ as did the earliest church fathers including Ignatius of Antioch, IrenaeusJustin Martyr and Polycarp see false prophet, the antichristthe gnostic Nicolaitanes from the Book of Revelations and Man of Sin.

Jesus also refers to false prophets Mark 13: The earliest controversies were generally Christological in nature; that is, they were related to Jesus' eternal divinity or humanity. Docetism held that Jesus' humanity was merely an illusion, thus denying the incarnation. Arianism held that Jesus, while not merely mortal, was not eternally divine and was, therefore, separate from God, the Father. Trinitarianism held that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all strictly one being with three aspects.

Many groups held dualistic beliefs, maintaining that reality was composed of two radically opposing parts: Others held that both the material and spiritual worlds were created by God and were therefore both good, and that this was represented in the unified divine and human natures of Christ.

Since most Christians today subscribe to the doctrines established by the Nicene Creedmodern Christian theologians tend to regard the early debates as a unified orthodox position against a minority of heretics. Other scholars, drawing upon, among other things, distinctions between Jewish ChristiansPauline Christians, and other groups such as Gnostics and Marcionites, argue that early Christianity was fragmented, with contemporaneous competing orthodoxies.

New Testament manuscript useful in discerning the early Christian canon. The Biblical canon is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and thus constituting the Christian Bible. Though the Early Church used the Old Testament according to the canon of the Septuagint LXXthe apostles did not otherwise leave a defined set of new scriptures ; instead the New Testament developed over time.

A history of christianity in the world writings attributed to the apostles circulated among the earliest Christian communities. The Pauline epistles were circulating in collected form by the end of the first century C. In the early second century, Justin Martyr mentions the "memoirs of the apostles," which Christians called "gospels" and which were regarded as on par with the Old Testament.

Likewise by 200 C. These councils were under the authority of St. Augustinewho regarded the canon as already closed. When these bishops and councils spoke on the matter, however, they were not defining something new, but instead "were ratifying what had already become the mind of the Church.

Christianity in the period of Late Antiquity begins with the ascension of Constantine to the Emperorship of Rome in the early fourth century, and continues until the advent of the Middle Ages.

The terminus of this period is variable because a history of christianity in the world transformation to the sub-Roman period was gradual and occurred at different times in different areas. It may generally be dated as lasting to the late sixth century and the reconquests of Justinianthough a more traditional date is 476, the year that Romulus Augustus, traditionally considered the last western emperor, was deposed.

Christianity legalized Galerius issued an edict permitting the practice of the Christian religion under his rule in April of 311. Constantine would become the first Christian emperor.

By 391, under the reign of Theodosius IChristianity had become the state religion. Constantine I, the first emperor to embrace Christianity, was also the first emperor to openly promote the newly legalized religion. There is scholarly controversy, however, as to whether Constantine adopted his mother's humble Christianity in his youth, or whether he adopted it gradually over the course of his life.

  • He was ordained a priest in 391, and became Bishop of Hippo in 395;
  • When his hour came near, he headed toward Jerusalem Luke 9:

Under this banner they were victorious. The Roman coins minted up to eight years subsequent to the battle still bore the images of Roman gods.

Nonetheless, the accession of Constantine was a turning point for the Christian Church. After his victory, Constantine supported the Church financially, built various basilicasgranted privileges e. Constantinople ; the city employed overtly Christian architecture, contained churches within the city walls unlike "old" Romeand had no pagan temples. In accordance with the prevailing customs, Constantine was baptized on his deathbed. Constantine also played an active role in the leadership of the Church.

In 313, he issued the Edict of Milan, legalizing Christian worship. In 316, he acted as a judge in a North African dispute concerning the Donatist controversy. More significantly, in 325 he summoned the Council of Nicaeaeffectively the first Ecumenical Council unless the Council of Jerusalem is so classifiedto deal with the Arian controversy.

The Council would become more famous for their issue of the Nicene Creedwhich, among other things, professed a belief in One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church, the start of Christendom.

  • Peter of the See of Rome, etc;
  • This of course attacks the Redemption of man by Christ!
  • The arrest in Montgomery, Alabama of Rosa Parks, who was detained on December 1, 1955 for refusing to move to the back of the bus for a white person, sparked the drive for civil rights.

The reign of Constantine established a precedent for the position of the Christian Emperor in the Church. Emperors considered themselves responsible to God for the spiritual health of their subjects, and thus they had a duty of maintain orthodoxy. This precedent would continue until certain emperors of the fifth and six centuries sought to alter doctrine by imperial edict without recourse to councils, though Constantine's precedent generally remained the norm.

His successor in the East, Constantius II, kept Arian bishops at his court and installed them in various sees, expelling the orthodox bishops.


Constantius's successor, Julianknown in the Christian world as Julian the Apostate, was a philosopher who upon becoming emperor renounced Christianity and embraced a Neo-platonic and mystical form of paganismshocking the Christian establishment.

Intent on re-establishing the prestige of the old pagan beliefs, he modified them to resemble Christian traditions such as the episcopal structure and public charity hitherto unknown in Roman paganism.

Julian eliminated most of the privileges and prestige previously afforded to the Christian Church as the official state religion. His reforms attempted to create a form of religious heterogeneity by, among other things, reopening pagan temples, accepting Christian bishops previously exiled as heretics, promoting Judaismand returning Church lands to their original owners. However, Julian's short reign ended when he died while campaigning in the East. Christianity came to dominance during the reign of Julian's successors, Jovian, Valentinian I, and Valens.

Diocesan structure After legalization, the Church adopted the same organizational boundaries as the Empire: The bishop's location was his "seat," or "see"; among the sees, five held special eminence: RomeConstantinopleJerusalemAntioch, and Alexandria.

The prestige of these sees depended in part on their apostolic founders, from whom the bishops were thus considered spiritual successors, e. Mark as founder of the See of Alexandria, St.

Peter of the See of Rome, etc.