Christianity is the period of
Christianity preceding the First
Council of Nicaea in 325. It is typically divided into the Apostolic
Age and the
Ante-Nicene Period (from the
Apostolic Age until Nicea).
The first Christians, as described in the first chapters of the Acts
of the Apostles, were all
Jews either by birth or conversion, for
which the biblical term "proselyte" is used, and referred to by
historians as Jewish Christians. The early
Gospel message was spread
orally, probably in Aramaic, but almost immediately also in
Greek. The New Testament's Acts of the
Apostles and Epistle to the
Galatians record that the first Christian community was centered in
Jerusalem and its leaders included Peter, James, the brother of Jesus,
and John the Apostle.
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. By the end of the 1st century,
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 and other Christian writings
of the first centuries, indicate that early Christians generally used
and revered the Hebrew
Bible (the Tanakh) as religious text, mostly in
the Greek (Septuagint) or Aramaic (Targum) translations.
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.
3.1.1 Divinity of Christ
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
10 External links
Main article: History of early Christianity
The earliest followers of
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 are said to have
dispersed from Jerusalem, and the Christian missionary activity spread
Christianity to cities throughout the
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
Early Christians suffered under sporadic anti-Christian policies in
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.
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 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!"
Persecution was on the rise in
Anatolia towards the end of the first
century, and in 111, emperor
Trajan issued regulations about the
conduct of trials of Christians under the Roman governor of the
area. The first action taken against Christians by the order of an
emperor occurred half a century earlier under
Nero after the Great
Fire of Rome in 64 AD.
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
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 prevailed over paganism
because it offered a much more attractive doctrine and because the
church leaders addressed human needs better than their rivals.
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 (100–165) described these practices.
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
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
Infant baptism was widely practised at least by the 3rd century,
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 would have included children
within the household. Others believe that infants were excluded
from the baptism of households, citing verses of the
describe the baptized households as believing, which infants are
incapable of doing. In the 2nd century, Irenaeus, bishop of Lyons,
may have referred to it. Additionally,
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. However,
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
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 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, being
gathered and compiled on about 375–400 AD. The 3rd century evidence
is clearer, with both
Origen (calling infant baptism "according to the
usage of the Church") and
Cyprian advocating the practice.
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.
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
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
binding, as in the Council of Jerusalem, there were no precisely
delineated functions yet for bishops, elders, and deacons. A
Church hierarchy, however, seems to have developed by the late 1st
century and early 2nd century (see Pastoral Epistles, c.
90–140). These structures were certainly formalized well before
the end of the Early Christian period, which concluded with the
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
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), 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. The
Didache (dated by most
scholars to the early 2nd century), 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. 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") to bishops and presbyters and
sometimes, somewhat loosely, treat "presbyter" and "priest" as
synonyms, 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 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 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
Jerusalem was the first church and an important church center up to
First Council of Nicaea
First Council of Nicaea recognized and confirmed the
tradition by which
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.
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 largely due to its proximity to
See also: Sabbath in Christianity
According to Bauckham, the post-apostolic church contained diverse
practices as regards the Sabbath.
It is classically understood that
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 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 Christ our Savior
on the same day rose from the dead.” (Justin Martyr, written 140 AD,
from “Apologies” 1:67)
Main article: Women in
Christianity § Women in the New Testament
The attitude of the
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
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. The Epistle to the
Ephesians, which is also Deutero-Pauline, calls upon women to submit
to the authority of their husbands.
Elizabeth A. Clark says that the
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".
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), Priscilla (an early missionary and wife of
Aquila) and Lydia (who hosted a house church in the Asian city of
Thyatira). While it's quite clear these women were not
ordained clerics, these women were very influential, and they
are still venerated today.
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
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 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.
A scene showing
Christ Pantocrator from a
Roman mosaic in the church
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 themselves and their contemporaries, such as Mark and Luke.
Divinity of Christ
Christology and Divinity of Christ
Most Christians identified
Jesus as divine from a very early period,
although holding a variety of competing views as to what exactly this
implied. Early Christian views tended to see
Jesus as a unique
agent of God; by the Council of Nicaea in 325 he was identified as
God in the fullest sense, being 'of the same substance, essence or
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 Within 15–20 years of the death of Jesus, Paul, who
authored the largest early expositions of Christian theology, refers
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 describe him as the
"Son of God", though the phrase "Son of Man" (always placed in the
Jesus himself) is more frequently used in the
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
the human incarnation of the divine Word or "Logos" (see
Logos) and True Vine. It is believed that the Book of Revelation
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 Jewish religious writing (see
Philo Judaeus of Alexandria)
to mean the ultimate ordering principle of the universe. Those who
rejected the identification of
Jesus with the Logos, rejecting also
Gospel of John, were called
Alogi (see also
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
See also: Christian eschatology
Rodney Stark estimates that the number of Christians grew by
approximately 40% a decade during the first and second centuries.
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.
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
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.
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
Orthodoxy and heterodoxy
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 is to what extent it is still appropriate to speak of
"orthodoxy" and "heresy".
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
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 of today.
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 referred to as
the Old Testament, as the
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
Greek speakers or the
Targums among Aramaic speakers or the Vetus
Latina translations in Carthage. Beyond the
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, 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 dynasty (140–137 BC).
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.
Koine Greek spread all over the Empire, even up the
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 appears to
be influenced). Later
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 that substantial numbers of Christians began to reject
those books of the
Septuagint which are not found in the Jewish
Masoretic Text, referring to them as biblical apocrypha. In addition,
New Testament books were also disputed, known as the
Fathers of the church
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
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
Origen and a few others.
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
Hellenistic philosophy or rhetoric. Fathers such as Ignatius
of Antioch (died 98 to 117) advocated the authority of the apostolic
Spread of Christianity
Christianity to AD 325
Christianity to AD 600
Main article: Early centers of Christianity
Christianity spread from city to city throughout the Hellenized
Roman Empire and beyond into
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
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. Over forty existed by the year
100, many in Asia Minor, such as the seven churches of Asia.
By the end of the 1st century,
Christianity had spread to Greece and
Italy, even India.
By 201 AD or earlier, under King Abgar the Great,
Osroene became the
first Christian state.
In 301 AD, the Kingdom of Armenia became the second state to declare
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.
Various theories attempt to explain how
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 triumphed over paganism chiefly because it improved the
lives of its adherents in various ways. Another factor, more
recently pointed out, was the way in which
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
Christianity adding practical explanations of how this was
going to actually happen at the end of the world. Mosheim
(1693–1755) saw the rapid progression of
Christianity as due to two
factors: translations of the
New Testament and the Apologies composed
in defence of Christianity.
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
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."
Christianity in the 1st century
Christianity in the 2nd century
Christianity in the 3rd century
Constantine I and Christianity
Christian art and architecture
History of early Christianity
History of late ancient Christianity
Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire
Society for the Study of Early Christianity
State church of the Roman Empire
Orthodoxy in Greece (33-717)
^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Proselyte: "The English term "proselyte"
occurs only in the
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 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
New Testament epoch."
^ Ehrman 2012, pp. 87–90.
^ Jaeger, Werner (1961). Early
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
Apostles for details
^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of the
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 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 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.
^ 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
^ "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).
Presbyterianism – by William Cunningham and Reg Barrow
^ a b c Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto:
^ presbyter. CollinsDictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary –
Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
^ Philip Carrington, The Early
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
^ "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:
^ "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
^ "Romans 16:3–5 (New International Version)". Retrieved 17 February
^ "Acts 16:40 (New International Version)". Retrieved 17 February
^ "Acts 16:14–15 (New International Version)". Retrieved 17 February
^ "Did the Early Church have Deaconesses?". Catholic Answers. YouTube.
Retrieved: 31 March 2014.
^ "Did the
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.
^ Larry Hurtado, Lord
Jesus Christ: Devotion to
Jesus in Earliest
Christianity, (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 650.
^ Larry Hurtado, Lord
Jesus Christ: Devotion to
Jesus in Earliest
Christianity, (Eerdmans, 2005), p. 204.
^ Brown, Raymond E. (1965). "Does the
New Testament call
(PDF). Theological Studies. 26: 545–73.
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
^ 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
Bishops in Ecclesiastical Crises. Gorgias Press LLC.
p. 6. ISBN 978-1-59333-194-8. Retrieved 28 October
^ 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
^ Swete's Introduction to the
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,
^ Vidmar, The
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 (2004), p.
18, quote: "The story of how this tiny community of believers spread
to many cities of the
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 During
the First Six Centuries. Macmillan and Co. p. 58.
^ Lockyer, Herbert (1988). All the
Apostles of the Bible. Zondervan.
p. 260. ISBN 0310280117.
^ Michael Whitby, et al. eds. Christian Persecution, Martyrdom and
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.
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Durant, Will (2011). Caesar and Christ: The Story of Civilization.
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New Testament and Why. A&C Black.
Ehrman, Bart D. (2008). A Brief Introduction to the New Testament.
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Ehrman, Bart D. (2012). Did
Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for
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