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Early Christianity
Christianity
is the period of Christianity
Christianity
preceding the First Council of Nicaea in 325. It is typically divided into the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period
Ante-Nicene Period
(from the Apostolic Age
Apostolic Age
until Nicea). The first Christians, as described in the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, were all Jews
Jews
either by birth or conversion, for which the biblical term "proselyte" is used,[1] and referred to by historians as Jewish Christians. The early Gospel
Gospel
message was spread orally, probably in Aramaic,[2] but almost immediately also in Greek.[3] The New Testament's Acts of the Apostles
Apostles
and Epistle to the Galatians record that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem
Jerusalem
and its leaders included Peter, James, the brother of Jesus, and John the Apostle.[4] After the conversion of Paul the Apostle, he claimed the title of "Apostle to the Gentiles". Paul's influence on Christian thinking is said to be more significant than that of any other New Testament author.[5] By the end of the 1st century, Christianity
Christianity
began to be recognized internally and externally as a separate religion from Judaism which itself was refined and developed further in the centuries after the destruction of the Second Temple. Numerous quotations in the New Testament
New Testament
and other Christian writings of the first centuries, indicate that early Christians generally used and revered the Hebrew Bible
Bible
(the Tanakh) as religious text, mostly in the Greek (Septuagint) or Aramaic (Targum) translations.[6] As the New Testament
New Testament
canon developed, the Pauline epistles, the canonical gospels and various other works were also recognized as scripture to be read in church. Paul's letters, especially Romans, established a theology based on Christ rather than on the Mosaic Law, but most Christian denominations today still consider the "moral prescriptions" of the Mosaic Law, such as the Ten Commandments, Great Commandment, and Golden Rule, to be relevant. Early Christians demonstrated a wide range of beliefs and practices, many of which were later denounced as heretical.

Contents

1 History 2 Practices

2.1 Baptism 2.2 Organization 2.3 Sabbath 2.4 Women 2.5 Incest

3 Beliefs

3.1 Christology

3.1.1 Divinity of Christ

3.2 Eschatology

4 Ecclesiology 5 Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
and heterodoxy 6 Religious writing

6.1 Defining scripture 6.2 Fathers of the church

6.2.1 Apostolic Fathers

7 Spread of Christianity 8 See also 9 References

9.1 Citations 9.2 Bibliography

10 External links

History[edit] Main article: History of early Christianity The earliest followers of Jesus
Jesus
composed an apocalyptic, Second Temple Jewish sect, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity. The first part of the period, during the lifetimes of the Twelve Apostles, is called the Apostolic Age. In line with the Great Commission attributed to the resurrected Jesus, the Apostles
Apostles
are said to have dispersed from Jerusalem, and the Christian missionary activity spread Christianity
Christianity
to cities throughout the Hellenistic
Hellenistic
world and even beyond the Roman Empire. The relationship of Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle
and Judaism is still disputed although Paul's influence on Christian thinking is said to be more significant than any other New Testament author.[5] Early Christians suffered under sporadic anti-Christian policies in the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
as the result of local pagan populations putting pressure on the imperial authorities to take action against the Christians in their midst, who were thought to bring misfortune by their refusal to honour the gods.[7]

As the existence of the Christians became more widely known, it became increasingly clear that they were (a) antisocial, in that they did not participate in the normal social life of their communities; (b) sacrilegious, in that they refused to worship the gods; and (c) dangerous, in that the gods did not take kindly to communities that harbored those who failed to offer them cult. By the end of the second century, the Christian apologist (literally, 'defender' of the faith) Tertullian
Tertullian
complained about the widespread perception that Christians were the source of all disasters brought against the human race by the gods. 'They think the Christians the cause of every public disaster, of every affliction with which the people are visited. If the Tiber rises as high as the city walls, if the Nile does not send its waters up over the fields, if the heavens give no rain, if there is an earthquake, if there is famine or pestilence, straightway the cry is, "Away with the Christians to the lion!"[8]

Persecution was on the rise in Anatolia
Anatolia
towards the end of the first century,[9] and in 111, emperor Trajan
Trajan
issued regulations about the conduct of trials of Christians under the Roman governor of the area.[10] The first action taken against Christians by the order of an emperor occurred half a century earlier under Nero
Nero
after the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD.[7] During the Ante-Nicene Period
Ante-Nicene Period
following the Apostolic Age, a great diversity of views emerged simultaneously with strong unifying characteristics lacking in the apostolic period. Part of the unifying trend was an increasingly harsh anti-Judaism and rejection of Judaizers. Early Christianity
Christianity
gradually grew apart from Judaism during the first two centuries and established itself as a predominantly gentile religion in the Roman Empire. According to Will Durant, the Christian Church
Christian Church
prevailed over paganism because it offered a much more attractive doctrine and because the church leaders addressed human needs better than their rivals.[11] Practices[edit] From the writings of early Christians, historians have tried to piece together an understanding of various early Christian practices including worship services, customs and observances. Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
(100–165) described these practices. Baptism[edit] Main article: Baptism
Baptism
in early Christianity Early Christian beliefs regarding baptism probably predate the New Testament writings. It seems certain that numerous Jewish sects and certainly Jesus's disciples practised baptism, which became integral to nearly every manifestation of the religion of the Jews. John the Baptist had baptized many people, before baptisms took place in the name of Jesus
Jesus
Christ. Many of the interpretations that would later become Orthodox Christian beliefs concerning baptism can be traced to apostles such as Paul, who likened baptism to being buried with Christ in his death (Romans 6:3–4; Colossians 2:12). On the basis of this description, it was supposed by some modern theologians that the early Christians practised baptism by submersion (Matthew 3:13–17). This interpretation is debated between those Christian denominations who advocate immersion baptism exclusively and those who practice baptism by affusion or aspersion as well as by immersion. Yet the Didache, one of the earliest Christian writings on liturgical practices, mentions that baptism may occur by pouring water on the head three times using the trinitarian formula (i.e., in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). The Orthodox Church continues this practice, submerging the baptized and then pouring water on the head in that formula. Infant baptism
Infant baptism
was widely practised at least by the 3rd century,[12] but it is disputed whether it was in the first centuries of Christianity. Some believe that the Church in the apostolic period practised infant baptism, arguing that the mention of the baptism of households in the Acts of the Apostles
Apostles
would have included children within the household.[13] Others believe that infants were excluded from the baptism of households, citing verses of the Bible
Bible
that describe the baptized households as believing, which infants are incapable of doing.[13] In the 2nd century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons, may have referred to it.[5][14][15] Additionally, Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
wrote about baptism in First Apology (written in the mid-2nd century), describing it as a choice and contrasting it with the lack of choice one has in one's physical birth.[16] However, Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
also seems to imply elsewhere that believers were "disciples from childhood", indicating, perhaps, their baptism. The Bishop Polycarp, himself a disciple of the Apostle John, stated at his martyrdom (168 AD) that he had been in the "service of Christ" for eighty-six years. Other recorded dates from Polycarp's life make it likely that eighty-six years was his age from birth as well. Joachim Jeremias concludes the following from these facts: "This shows at any rate that his parents were already Christians, or at least were converted quite soon after his birth. If his parents were pagans at his birth, he would have been baptized with the 'house' at their conversion. But even if his parents were Christians, the words 'service of Christ for eighty-six years' support a baptism soon after his birth rather than one as a child of 'mature years'... for which there is no evidence at all." The so-called Apostolic Tradition
Apostolic Tradition
says to "Baptize first the children, and if they can speak for themselves let them do so. Otherwise, let their parents or other relatives speak for them." If it was written by Hippolytus of Rome, Apostolic Tradition
Apostolic Tradition
could be dated about 215 AD, but recent scholars believe it to be material from separate sources ranging from the middle second to the fourth century,[17][18] being gathered and compiled on about 375–400 AD. The 3rd century evidence is clearer, with both Origen
Origen
(calling infant baptism "according to the usage of the Church")[19] and Cyprian
Cyprian
advocating the practice. Tertullian
Tertullian
acknowledges the practice (and that sponsors would speak on behalf of the children), but, holding an unusual view of marriage, argues against it, on the grounds that baptism should be postponed until after marriage.[20] Interpretation of the baptismal practices of the early church is important to groups such as Baptists, Anabaptists, and the Churches of Christ who believe that infant baptism was a development that occurred during the late 2nd to early 3rd centuries. The early Christian writings mentioned above, which date from the 2nd and 3rd century indicate that Christians as early as the 2nd century did maintain such a practice.[21] Organization[edit]

Monogramme of Christ (the Chi Rho) on a plaque of a sarcophagus, 4th-century AD, marble, Musei Vaticani, on display in a temporary exhibition at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

Christian groups and congregations first organized themselves loosely. In Paul's time, although certain decisions by Elders and Apostles
Apostles
were binding, as in the Council of Jerusalem,[22] there were no precisely delineated functions yet for bishops, elders, and deacons.[23] A Church hierarchy, however, seems to have developed by the late 1st century and early 2nd century[23] (see Pastoral Epistles, c. 90–140[23]). These structures were certainly formalized well before the end of the Early Christian period, which concluded with the legalization of Christianity
Christianity
by Constantine's Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
in 313 and the holding of the First Council of Nicea
First Council of Nicea
in 325, when the title of Metropolitan bishop
Metropolitan bishop
first appears. In the post-Apostolic church, bishops emerged as overseers of urban Christian populations, and a hierarchy of clergy gradually took on the form of episkopoi (overseers), presbyteroi (elders),[24] and diakonoi (ministerial servants). This hierarchy emerged slowly and at different times for different locations. Clement, a 1st-century bishop of Rome, refers to the leaders of the Corinthian church in his epistle to Corinthians as bishops and presbyters interchangeably. The New Testament writers also use the terms "overseer" and "elder" interchangeably and as synonyms.[25] The Didache
Didache
(dated by most scholars to the early 2nd century),[26] speaks of "appointing for yourself bishops and deacons". Disputes regarding the proper titles and roles of church leaders would later become one of the major causes of schism within the Christian Church.[citation needed] Such disputes include the roles of bishops and presbyters. Churches such as the Catholic and Orthodox use the word "priest" of all the baptized, but apply it in a more specific sense ("ministerial priesthood")[27] to bishops and presbyters[28] and sometimes, somewhat loosely, treat "presbyter" and "priest" as synonyms,[29] applying both terms to clergy subordinate to bishops. In congregational churches, the title "priest" is rejected, keeping only "presbyter" or "elder". Some congregational churches do not include a role of bishop in their organizational polity. Post-apostolic bishops of importance include Polycarp
Polycarp
of Smyrna, Ignatius of Antioch
Ignatius of Antioch
and Clement of Rome. These men reportedly knew and studied under the apostles personally and are therefore called Apostolic Fathers. Each Christian community also had presbyters, as was the case with Jewish communities, who were also ordained and assisted the bishop; as Christianity
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. In the 2nd century, an episcopal structure becomes more visible, and in that century this structure was supported by teaching on apostolic succession, where a bishop becomes the spiritual successor of the previous bishop in a line tracing back to the apostles themselves. By the end of the early Christian period, the church within the Roman Empire had hundreds of bishops, some of them (Rome, Alexandria, Antioch, "other provinces") holding some form of jurisdiction over others.[30] Jerusalem
Jerusalem
was the first church and an important church center up to 135.[31] The First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea
recognized and confirmed the tradition by which Jerusalem
Jerusalem
continued to be given "special honour", but did not assign to it even metropolitan authority within its own province, still less the extraprovincial jurisdiction exercised by Rome and the other sees mentioned above.[32] Constantinople
Constantinople
came into prominence only after the early Christian period, being founded officially in 330, five years after the First Council of Nicaea, though the much smaller original city of Byzantium was an early center of Christianity
Christianity
largely due to its proximity to Anatolia. Sabbath[edit] See also: Sabbath in Christianity According to Bauckham, the post-apostolic church contained diverse practices as regards the Sabbath.[33] It is classically understood that Jews
Jews
have tradition to observe Saturday as the Sabbath, due to Yahweh resting on the seventh day after creation. It is contested that worship on Sundays, as is now mostly common in the Christian movement, only shifted from Saturday because of Emperor Constantine. However, it seems clear that most of the Early Church did not consider observation of the Sabbath to be required or of imminent importance to Christians and in fact worshiped on Sunday. Ignatius of Antioch, who lived from around 30–108 AD, mentions this in Chapter 9 of his "Epistle to the Magnesians" which is dated to around 101 AD. Justin Martyr, a disciple who lived between 110–165 AD, wrote about this extensively in his "Dialogue With Trypho the Jew." Another mention of this by Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
is in his "Apologies" work Section 1:67 dated to around 140–150 AD. Below is a portion of the text: “And on the day which is called Sunday there is an assembly in the same place of all who live in cities or in country districts; and the records of the apostles, or the writings of the prophets, are read as long as we have time… Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the day on which God, when he changed the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus
Jesus
Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (Justin Martyr, written 140 AD, from “Apologies” 1:67) Women[edit] Main article: Women in Christianity
Christianity
§ Women in the New Testament Church The attitude of the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
towards women paralleled rules in Jewish law regarding a woman's role in worship, although the early church allowed women to participate in worship—something that was not allowed in the Synagogue (where women were restricted to the outer court). The Deutero-Pauline
Deutero-Pauline
First Epistle to Timothy
First Epistle to Timothy
teaches that women should remain quiet during public worship and were not to instruct men or assume authority over them.[34] The Epistle to the Ephesians, which is also Deutero-Pauline, calls upon women to submit to the authority of their husbands.[35] Elizabeth A. Clark says that the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
regarded women both as "God's good gift to men" and as "the curse of the world", both as "weak in both mind and character" and as people who "displayed dauntless courage, undertook prodigious feats of scholarship".[36] The New Testament
New Testament
provides several examples of female leaders, including Phoebe (a deaconess, a Christian designated to serve with under the bishops and presbyters of the church in a variety of ways, in Corinth),[37] Priscilla (an early missionary and wife of Aquila)[38] and Lydia (who hosted a house church in the Asian city of Thyatira).[39][40] While it's quite clear these women were not ordained clerics,[41][42] these women were very influential, and they are still venerated today. Incest[edit] The Christian practise of incest was widely reported by contemporary pagan and Christian authors. Pliny wrote of clandestine debauchery including not only ritual incest but also the sacrifice of their young. Marcus Cornelius Fronto described the feasts of Christians as abominations, and gave details of how their babies were killed, dismembered and eaten. Fronto related that "On a special day they gather in a feast with all their children, sisters, mothers—all sexes and ages", and after feasting and drinking, "copulate in random unions, all being equally guilty of incest, some by deed but everyone by complicity". Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and Epiphanius, were equally concerned about such practises. Epiphanius described a sect known as the Phibionites, who

unite with each other [sister and brother] in the passion of fornication .... The woman and the man take the fluid of the emission of the man into their hands, they stand, tum toward heaven, their hands besmeared by uncleanness, and pray (saying) "We offer to thee this gift, the body of Christ," and then they eat it, their own ugliness, and say: "This is the body of Christ and this is the Passover for the sake of which our bodies suffer and are forced to confess the suffering of Christ." Similarly also with the woman when she happens to be in the flowing of the blood, they gather the blood of menstruation of her uncleanness and eat it together and say, "This is the blood of Christ."

In his Apology, Tertullian
Tertullian
describes murder, cannibalism, treason, sacrilege (atheism), and incest. It is impossible to judge how common such practises were. Early Christian writers would take care to emphasise that they considered that congregations guilty of these practises falsely claimed to be Christian.[43] Beliefs[edit]

A scene showing Christ Pantocrator
Christ Pantocrator
from a Roman mosaic
Roman mosaic
in the church of Santa Pudenziana
Santa Pudenziana
in Rome, c. 410 AD

Early Christian beliefs were based on the apostolic preaching (kerygma), considered to be preserved in tradition and in New Testament scripture, for parts of which scholars have posited dates as late as the third century, although it was then attributed to the Apostles
Apostles
themselves and their contemporaries, such as Mark and Luke. Christology[edit] Divinity of Christ[edit] Main articles: Christology
Christology
and Divinity of Christ Most Christians identified Jesus
Jesus
as divine from a very early period, although holding a variety of competing views as to what exactly this implied.[44] Early Christian views tended to see Jesus
Jesus
as a unique agent of God;[45] by the Council of Nicaea in 325 he was identified as God in the fullest sense, being 'of the same substance, essence or being'. Some of the texts that would later be canonized as the New Testament several times imply or indirectly refer to the divine character to Jesus, though there is scholarly debate as to whether or not they call him God[46] Within 15–20 years of the death of Jesus, Paul, who authored the largest early expositions of Christian theology, refers to Jesus
Jesus
as the resurrected "Son of God", the savior who would return from heaven and save his faithful, dead and living, from the imminent destruction of the world. The Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
describe him as the "Son of God", though the phrase "Son of Man" (always placed in the mouth of Jesus
Jesus
himself) is more frequently used in the Gospel
Gospel
of Mark; born of the Virgin Mary by the agency of the Holy Spirit, and who will return to judge the nations. The Gospel of John
Gospel of John
identifies Jesus
Jesus
as the human incarnation of the divine Word or "Logos" (see Jesus
Jesus
the Logos) and True Vine. It is believed that the Book of Revelation depicts Jesus
Jesus
as "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (22:13), and applies similar terms to "the Lord God": "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty'" (1:8). The term "Logos" was used in Greek philosophy (see Heraclitus) and in Hellenistic
Hellenistic
Jewish religious writing (see Philo Judaeus
Philo Judaeus
of Alexandria) to mean the ultimate ordering principle of the universe. Those who rejected the identification of Jesus
Jesus
with the Logos, rejecting also the Gospel
Gospel
of John, were called Alogi
Alogi
(see also Monarchianism).[47][48] Adoptionists, such as the Ebionites, considered him as at first an ordinary man, born to Joseph and Mary, who later became the Son of God at his baptism, his transfiguration, or his resurrection.[citation needed] Eschatology[edit] See also: Christian eschatology Ecclesiology[edit] Rodney Stark estimates that the number of Christians grew by approximately 40% a decade during the first and second centuries.[49] This phenomenal growth rate forced Christian communities to evolve in order to adapt to their changes in the nature of their communities as well as their relationship with their political and socioeconomic environment. As the number of Christians grew, the Christian communities became larger, more numerous and farther apart geographically. The passage of time also moved some Christians farther from the original teachings of the apostles giving rise to teachings that were considered heterodox and sowing controversy and divisiveness within churches and between churches.[50] Roger Haight
Roger Haight
posits the development of ecclesiology in the form of "Early Catholicism" as one response to the problem of church unity. Thus, the solution to division arising from heterodox teaching was the development of "tighter and more standardized structures of ministry. One of these structures is the tri-partite form of church leadership consisting of bishops, elders and deacons that Ignatius of Antioch urged churches to adopt, writing that "You cannot have a church without these." Over the course of the second century, this organizational structure became universal and continues to be used in the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches as well as in some Protestant denominations.[51] Despite its mention of bishops, there is no clear evidence in the New Testament that supports the concepts of dioceses and monepiscopacy (i.e. the rule that all the churches in a geographic area should be ruled by a single bishop). Ronald Y. K. Fung claimed that scholars point to evidence that Christian communities such as Rome had many bishops and that the concept of monepiscopacy was still emerging when Ignatius was urging his tri-partite structure on other churches.[52] Robert Williams posits that the "origin and earliest development of episcopacy and monepiscopacy and the ecclesiastical concept of (apostolic) succession were associated with crisis situations in the early church."[53] Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
and heterodoxy[edit] Main article: Diversity in early Christian theology The proto-orthodox church had a dichotomy for teachings; they were either orthodox or heterodox. Orthodox teachings were those that had the authentic lineage of Holy Tradition. All other teachings were viewed as deviant streams of thought and were possibly heretical. An important discussion in the past century among scholars of early Christianity
Christianity
is to what extent it is still appropriate to speak of "orthodoxy" and "heresy". Higher criticism
Higher criticism
drastically altered the previous perception that heresy was a very rare exception to the orthodoxy. Some orthodox scholars argue against the increasing focus on heterodoxy. A movement away from presuming the correctness or dominance of the orthodoxy is seen as understandable, in light of modern approaches. However, these orthodox scholars feel that instead of an even and neutral approach to historical analysis that the heterodox sects are given an assumption of superiority over the orthodox movement.[54] Religious writing[edit] See also: List of early Christian writers and List of early Christian texts of disputed authorship Early Christians wrote many religious works, some of which were later canonized as the New Testament
New Testament
of today. Defining scripture[edit] Main article: Development of the Christian Biblical canon Debates about scripture were underway in the mid-2nd century, concurrent with a drastic increase of new scriptures, both Jewish and Christian. Debates regarding practice and belief gradually became reliant on the use of scripture other than what Melito
Melito
referred to as the Old Testament, as the New Testament
New Testament
canon developed. Similarly, in the 3rd century a shift away from direct revelation as a source of authority occurred, most notably against the Montanists. "Scripture" still had a broad meaning and usually referred to the Septuagint
Septuagint
among Greek speakers or the Targums
Targums
among Aramaic speakers or the Vetus Latina translations in Carthage. Beyond the Torah
Torah
(the Law) and some of the earliest prophetic works (the Prophets), there was not agreement on the canon, but this was not debated much at first. By the mid-2nd century, tensions arose with the split of early Christianity and Judaism, which some theorize led eventually to the determination of a Jewish canon by the emerging rabbinic movement,[55] though, even as of today, there is no scholarly consensus as to when the Jewish canon was set. For example, some scholars argue that the Jewish canon was fixed earlier, by the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
dynasty (140–137 BC).[56] A problem for scholars is that there is a lack of direct evidence on when Christians began accepting their own scriptures alongside the Septuagint. Well into the 2nd century Christians held onto a strong preference for oral tradition as clearly demonstrated by writers of the time, such as Papias.[55] Koine Greek
Koine Greek
spread all over the Empire, even up the Rhone valley
Rhone valley
of Gaul; Roman satirists complained that even Rome had become a Greek city. Thus the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Septuagint) was the dominant translation (even the Peshitta
Peshitta
appears to be influenced[57]). Later Jerome
Jerome
would express his preference for adhering strictly to the Hebrew text and canon, but his view held little currency even in his own day. It was not until the Protestant Reformation
Reformation
that substantial numbers of Christians began to reject those books of the Septuagint
Septuagint
which are not found in the Jewish Masoretic Text, referring to them as biblical apocrypha. In addition, some New Testament
New Testament
books were also disputed, known as the Antilegomena. Fathers of the church[edit] Main article: Church Fathers Since the end of the 4th century, the title "Fathers of the Church" has been used to refer to a more or less clearly defined group of ecclesiastical writers who are appealed to as authorities on doctrinal matters. Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
of doctrine, holiness of life, approval by the Church and antiquity are traditionally considered conditions for classification as a Father of the Church, but modern writers sometimes include Tertullian, Origen
Origen
and a few others.[58] Apostolic Fathers[edit]

St. Clement I was an Apostolic Father.

See also: Apostolic Fathers The earliest Christian writings (other than those collected in the New Testament) are a group of letters credited to the Apostolic Fathers. These include the Epistle of Barnabas, the Shepherd of Hermas
Shepherd of Hermas
and the Epistles of Clement, as well as the Didache. Taken as a whole, the collection is notable for its literary simplicity, religious zeal and lack of Hellenistic
Hellenistic
philosophy or rhetoric. Fathers such as Ignatius of Antioch (died 98 to 117) advocated the authority of the apostolic episcopacy (bishops).[59] Spread of Christianity[edit]

  Spread of Christianity
Christianity
to AD 325   Spread of Christianity
Christianity
to AD 600

Main article: Early centers of Christianity Early Christianity
Christianity
spread from city to city throughout the Hellenized Roman Empire
Roman Empire
and beyond into East Africa
East Africa
and South Asia. The Christian Apostles, said to have dispersed from Jerusalem, traveled extensively and established communities in major cities and regions throughout the Empire. Apostles
Apostles
(see Apostolic see) and other Christian soldiers, merchants, and preachers founded early church communities in northern Africa, Asia Minor, Armenia, Caucasian Albania, Arabia, Greece, and other places.[60][61][62][63] Over forty existed by the year 100,[61][62] many in Asia Minor, such as the seven churches of Asia. By the end of the 1st century, Christianity
Christianity
had spread to Greece and Italy, even India. By 201 AD or earlier, under King Abgar the Great, Osroene
Osroene
became the first Christian state.[64][65] In 301 AD, the Kingdom of Armenia became the second state to declare Christianity
Christianity
as its official religion, following the conversion of the Royal House of the Arsacids in Armenia. The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest national church. Despite sometimes intense persecutions, the Christian religion continued its spread throughout the Mediterranean Basin.[66] Various theories attempt to explain how Christianity
Christianity
managed to spread so successfully prior to the Edict of Milan
Edict of Milan
(313). Some Christians saw the success as simply the natural consequence of the truth of the religion and of the direct intervention of God. However, similar explanations are claimed for the spread of, for instance, Islam and Buddhism. In The Rise of Christianity, Rodney Stark argues that Christianity
Christianity
triumphed over paganism chiefly because it improved the lives of its adherents in various ways.[67] Another factor, more recently pointed out, was the way in which Christianity
Christianity
combined its promise of a general resurrection of the dead with the traditional Greek belief that true immortality depended on the survival of the body, with Christianity
Christianity
adding practical explanations of how this was going to actually happen at the end of the world.[68] Mosheim (1693–1755) saw the rapid progression of Christianity
Christianity
as due to two factors: translations of the New Testament
New Testament
and the Apologies composed in defence of Christianity.[69] Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
(1737–1794), in his classic The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776–1789), discusses the topic in considerable detail in his famous Chapter Fifteen, summarizing the historical causes of the early success of Christianity
Christianity
as follows: "(1) The inflexible, and, if we may use the expression, the intolerant zeal of the Christians, derived, it is true, from the Jewish religion, but purified from the narrow and unsocial spirit which, instead of inviting, had deterred the Gentiles from embracing the law of Moses. (2) The doctrine of a future life, improved by every additional circumstance which could give weight and efficacy to that important truth. (3) The miraculous powers ascribed to the primitive church. (4) The pure and austere morals of the Christians. (5) The union and discipline of the Christian republic, which gradually formed an independent and increasing state in the heart of the Roman empire."[70] See also[edit]

Catholicism Church Fathers Christianity
Christianity
in the 1st century Christianity
Christianity
in the 2nd century Christianity
Christianity
in the 3rd century Christian Torah-submission Constantine I
Constantine I
and Christianity Constantinian shift Early Christian art
Christian art
and architecture Great Church History of early Christianity History of late ancient Christianity Orthodox Christianity Papal primacy Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire Restorationism Society for the Study of Early Christianity State church of the Roman Empire Timeline of Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
in Greece (33-717)

References[edit] Citations[edit]

^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Proselyte: "The English term "proselyte" occurs only in the New Testament
New Testament
where it signifies a convert to the Jewish religion (Matthew 23:15; Acts 2:11; 6:5; etc.), though the same Greek word is commonly used in the Septuagint
Septuagint
to designate a foreigner living in Palestine. Thus the term seems to have passed from an original local and chiefly political sense, in which it was used as early as 300 BC, to a technical and religious meaning in the Judaism of the New Testament
New Testament
epoch." ^ Ehrman 2012, pp. 87–90. ^ Jaeger, Werner (1961). Early Christianity
Christianity
and Greek Paideia. Harvard University Press. pp. 6, 108–09. ISBN 9780674220522. Retrieved 26 February 2015.  ^ Galatians 2:9, Acts 1:13; See Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles
Apostles
for details ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
Christian Church
ed. F.L. Lucas (Oxford) entry on Paul ^ Stuart 2014. ^ a b Croix 1963, pp. 105–52. ^ Ehrman 2008, pp. 313–14. ^ Ehrman 2006, p. 318. ^ Cook 2011, pp. 138ff. ^ Durant 2011. ^ Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article Infant Baptism ^ a b Richard Wagner, Christianity
Christianity
for Dummies (John Wiley & Sons 2011 ISBN 978-1-11806901-1) ^ "He (Jesus) came to save all through means of Himself—all, I say, who through Him are born again to God and children, infants, and boys, and youths, and old men" (Adversus Haereses, ii, 22, 4) ^ Paul King Jewett, Infant Baptism
Baptism
and the Covenant of Grace, (Eerdmans 1978), p. 127. ^ "Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe; he who leads to the laver the person that is to be washed calling him by this name alone.""The First Apology, Chapter 61". New Advent. Retrieved 14 December 2013.  ^ Bradshaw, Paul F. (2002). The Search for the Origins of Christian Worship. Oxford University Press. pp. 78–80. ISBN 978-0-19-521732-2.  ^ Bradshaw, Paul; Johnson, Maxwell E.; Philips, L. Edwards (2002). The Apostolic Tradition: A Commentary. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. ISBN 978-0-8006-6046-8.  ^ Homilies on Leviticus 8.3.11; Commentary on Romans 5.9; and Homily on Luke 14.5 ^ "The delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. For why is it necessary ... that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? ... For no less cause must the unwedded also be deferred—in whom the ground of temptation is prepared, alike in such as never were wedded by means of their maturity, and in the widowed by means of their freedom—until they either marry, or else be more fully strengthened for continence" (On Baptism
Baptism
18). ^ "The Didache, representing practice perhaps as early as the beginning of the second century, probably in Syria, also assumes immersion to be normal, but it allows that if sufficient water for immersion is not at hand, water may be poured three times over the head. The latter must have been a frequent arrangement, for it corresponds with most early artistic depictions of baptism, in Roman catacombs and on sarcophagi of the third century and later. The earliest identifiable Christian meeting house known to us, at Dura Europos on the Euphrates, contained a baptismal basin too shallow for immersion. Obviously local practice varied, and practicality will often have trumped whatever desire leaders may have felt to make action mime metaphor" (Margaret Mary Mitchell, Frances Margaret Young, K. Scott Bowie, Cambridge History of Christianity, Vol. 1, Origins to Constantine (Cambridge University Press 2006 ISBN 978-0-521-81239-9), pp. 160–61). ^ Apostolic Presbyterianism
Presbyterianism
– by William Cunningham and Reg Barrow ^ a b c Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. ^ presbyter. CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 6 October 2012. ^ Philip Carrington, The Early Christian Church
Christian Church
(2 vol. 1957) online edition vol 1; online edition vol 2 ^ Metzger, Bruce. The canon of the New Testament. 1997 ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1120 ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1554 ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1562–1568 ^ Canon VI of the First Council of Nicea, which closes the period under consideration in this article, reads: "Let the ancient customs in Egypt, Libya and Pentapolis prevail, that the Bishop of Alexandria have jurisdiction in all these, since the like is customary for the Bishop of Rome also. Likewise in Antioch and the other provinces, let the Churches retain their privileges. And this is to be universally understood, that if any one be made bishop without the consent of the Metropolitan, the great Synod has declared that such a man ought not to be a bishop ..." As can be seen, the title of "Patriarch", later applied to some of these bishops, was not used by the Council: "Nobody can maintain that the bishops of Antioch and Alexandria were called patriarchs then, or that the jurisdiction they had then was co-extensive with what they had afterward, when they were so called" (ffoulkes, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, quoted in Volume XIV of Philip Schaff's The Seven Ecumenical Councils). ^ See, for example, Council of Jerusalem
Council of Jerusalem
and Early centers of Christianity#Jerusalem. ^ "Since there prevails a custom and ancient tradition to the effect that the bishop of Aelia is to be honoured, let him be granted everything consequent upon this honour, saving the dignity proper to the metropolitan" (Canon 7). ^ R. J. Bauckham (1982). D. A. Carson, ed. "Sabbath and Sunday in the Post-Apostolic church". From Sabbath to Lord's Day. Zondervan: 252–98  ^ "1 Timothy 2 NIV". BibleGateway. Retrieved 7 October 2012.  ^ "Ephesians 5 NIV". Retrieved 7 October 2012.  ^ Elizabeth Ann Clark (1983). Women in the Early Church. Liturgical Press. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-8146-5332-6.  ^ "Romans 16:1–2 (New International Version)". Retrieved 17 February 2013.  ^ "Romans 16:3–5 (New International Version)". Retrieved 17 February 2013.  ^ "Acts 16:40 (New International Version)". Retrieved 17 February 2013.  ^ "Acts 16:14–15 (New International Version)". Retrieved 17 February 2013.  ^ "Did the Early Church have Deaconesses?". Catholic Answers. YouTube. Retrieved: 31 March 2014. ^ "Did the Apostles
Apostles
Establish the Office of Deaconess?". The Christian Post. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2014.  ^ R. Joseph Hoffmann (1987). On the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians. Oxford University Press. p. 16–19. ISBN 978-0-19-504151-4.  ^ Larry Hurtado, Lord Jesus
Jesus
Christ: Devotion to Jesus
Jesus
in Earliest Christianity, (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 650. ^ Larry Hurtado, Lord Jesus
Jesus
Christ: Devotion to Jesus
Jesus
in Earliest Christianity, (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 204. ^ Brown, Raymond E. (1965). "Does the New Testament
New Testament
call Jesus
Jesus
God?" (PDF). Theological Studies. 26: 545–73.  ^ " Alogi
Alogi
or Alogoi", Early Church.org.uk. ^ "Alogi", Francis P. Havey, The Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia
Volume I, 1907. ^ Stark, Rodney (9 May 1997). The Rise of Christianity. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-067701-5. Retrieved 28 October 2012.  ^ Haight, Roger D. (16 September 2004). Christian Community in History Volume 1: Historical Ecclesiology. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-0-8264-1630-8. Retrieved 26 October 2012. The churches were becoming ever more distant from their origins in space and time. They were growing and with growth came new or false teachings, the sources of controversy and division.  ^ Haight, Roger D. (16 September 2004). Christian Community in History Volume 1: Historical Ecclesiology. Continuum International Publishing Group. pp. 83–84. ISBN 978-0-8264-1630-8. Retrieved 26 October 2012.  ^ Ronald Y.K. Fung as cited in John Piper; Wayne Grudem (8 August 2006). Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism. Crossway. p. 254. ISBN 978-1-4335-1918-5. Retrieved 28 October 2012.  ^ Williams, Robert Lee (2005). Bishop Lists: Formation of Apostolic Succession of Bishops
Bishops
in Ecclesiastical Crises. Gorgias Press LLC. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-59333-194-8. Retrieved 28 October 2012.  ^ Esler (2004). pp. 893–94. ^ a b White (2004). pp. 446–47. ^ Philip R. Davies, in The Canon Debate, p. 50: "With many other scholars, I conclude that the fixing of a canonical list was almost certainly the achievement of the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
dynasty." ^ Swete's Introduction to the Old Testament
Old Testament
in Greek, p. 112 ^ Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article "Fathers of the Church" ^ Ephesians 5–6, Magnesians 2, 6–7, 13, Trallians 2–3, Smyrnaeans 8–9 ^ Vidmar, The Catholic Church
Catholic Church
Through the Ages (2005), pp. 19–20 ^ a b Hitchcock, Geography of Religion (2004), p. 281, quote: "By the year 100, more than 40 Christian communities existed in cities around the Mediterranean, including two in North Africa, at Alexandria and Cyrene, and several in Italy." ^ a b Bokenkotter, A Concise History of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
(2004), p. 18, quote: "The story of how this tiny community of believers spread to many cities of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
within less than a century is indeed a remarkable chapter in the history of humanity." ^ Franzen 29 ^ Cheetham, Samuel (1905). A History of the Christian Church
Christian Church
During the First Six Centuries. Macmillan and Co. p. 58. ^ Lockyer, Herbert (1988). All the Apostles
Apostles
of the Bible. Zondervan. p. 260. ISBN 0310280117. ^ Michael Whitby, et al. eds. Christian Persecution, Martyrdom and Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
(2006) online edition ^ Rodney Stark. The Rise of Christianity. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1996. ^ Dag Øistein Endsjø. Greek Resurrection Beliefs and the Success of Christianity. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2009. ^ Moishem, Johann Lorenz von, The Ecclesiastical History of the Second and Third Centuries : Illustrated from the Writings of Tertullian, F. & J. Rivington, London, 1845, p. 106 ^ Gibbon, Edward, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter Fifteen. in 6 volumes at the Internet Archive.

Bibliography[edit]

Berard, Wayne Daniel. When Christians Were Jews
Jews
(That Is, Now). Cowley Publications (2006). ISBN 1-56101-280-7. Boatwright, Mary Taliaferro & Gargola, Daniel J & Talbert, Richard John Alexander. The Romans: From Village to Empire. Oxford University Press (2004). ISBN 0-19-511875-8. Bourgel, Jonathan (2010). "The Jewish Christians' Move from Jerusalem as a Pragmatic Choice". In Jaffé, Dan. Kaiphas: der Hohepriester jenes Jahres : Geschichte und Deutung. BRILL. ISBN 90-04-18410-4. ; https://www.academia.edu/4909339/THE_JEWISH_CHRISTIANS_MOVE_FROM_JERUSALEM_AS_A_PRAGMATIC_CHOICE Cook, John Granger (2011). Roman Attitudes Toward the Christians: From Claudius to Hadrian. Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3-16-150954-4.  Croix, G. E. M. de Sainte (1963). "Why Were The Early Christians Persecuted?". Past and Present. 26 (1): 6–38. doi:10.1093/past/26.1.6.  Dauphin, C. "De l'Église de la circoncision à l'Église de la gentilité – sur une nouvelle voie hors de l'impasse". Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. Liber Annuus XLIII (1993). Dunn, James (1992). Jews
Jews
and Christians. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8028-4498-9.  Durant, Will (2011). Caesar and Christ: The Story of Civilization. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4516-4760-0.  Ehrman, Bart D. (2006). Whose Word is It?: The Story Behind Who Changed The New Testament
New Testament
and Why. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-8264-9129-9.  Ehrman, Bart D. (2008). A Brief Introduction to the New Testament. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-536934-2.  Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did Jesus
Jesus
Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus
Jesus
of Nazareth. HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-208994-6.  Esler, Philip F. The Early Christian World. Routledge (2004). ISBN 0-415-33312-1. Fee, Gordon; Stuart, Douglas (2014). How to Read the Bible
Bible
for All Its Worth: Fourth Edition. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-51783-2.  Harris, Stephen L. Understanding the Bible. Mayfield (1985). ISBN 0-87484-696-X. Henderson, John B. (1998). The Construction of Orthodoxy
Orthodoxy
and Heresy: Neo-Confucian, Islamic, Jewish, and Early Christian Patterns. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.  Hinson, E. Glenn The Early Church: Origins to the Dawn of the Middle Ages. Abingdon Press (1996). ISBN 0-687-00603-1. Hunt, Emily Jane. Christianity
Christianity
in the Second Century: The Case of Tatian. Routledge (2003). ISBN 0-415-30405-9. Jacomb-Hood, Anthony. Rediscovering the New Testament
New Testament
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Christianity
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Jerusalem
– Leiden (1988). Richardson, Cyril Charles. Early Christian Fathers. Westminster John Knox Press (1953). ISBN 0-664-22747-3. Stark, Rodney.The Rise of Christianity. Harper Collins Pbk. Ed edition 1997. ISBN 0-06-067701-5 Stambaugh, John E. & Balch, David L. The New Testament
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Jews
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