Monday, January 9, 2017

The Growth of Christianity in Ancient Rome

The Growth of Christianity in Ancient Rome
In A.D. 392, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under the rule of the Roman emperor Theodosius (thee • uh • DOH • shuhs). From this time on, the number of Christians steadily grew.

Writings by Christians played an important role in the growth of the new religion. Many of the letters that Paul wrote to members of the communities he founded were saved and shared with other Christians.

Other Christian writings were grouped to form the Gospels, which describe Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. The word gospel means "good news." The Gospels are made up of four books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These and other Christian writings were combined to form the New Testament. This part of the Christian Bible tells about the life and teachings of Jesus and about his followers. The first part of the Bible, the Old Testament, contains the books of the Hebrew Bible.

As Christianity grew, it became more organized. Each group chose a single leader called a bishop. Some people believe Peter served as an early bishop. Over time, the role of the bishop of Rome grew into the position of pope, the leader of all the bishops. Today the pope is the head of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope oversees the Catholic Church from the smallest country in the world Vatican City, in Rome.

After the Edict of Milan, Roman emperors and society supported and even encouraged the growth of Christianity. Emperors helped Christians build churches and supported their work.

Since Christianity's early days, there have been many divisions. The first of these was when the Christian Church split into the Roman Catholic Church in the west and the Eastern Orthodox Church in the east. Another important split came with the beginning of Protestantism in the 1500s. At the same time, the religion has seen tremendous growth. Today almost 2 billion people around the world follow the religion of Christianity.

How did the support of Roman emperors affect Christianity?

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