Monday, June 26, 2017

the Rise of Christianity in Ancient Rome

The rise of Christianity.
One of the world’s major religions in this time, Christianity, originated during the Roman Empire in the Roman-controlled territory of Judaea. It was founded by a Jewish teacher known as Jesus of Nazareth. Roman histories say very little about Jesus. Our knowledge of Jesus comes mainly from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John the first four books' of the New Testament of the Christian Bible.

According to these accounts, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, grew up in Nazareth, worked for a time as a carpenter, and began preaching as an adult. The teachings of Jesus have become one of the greatest influences on the Western world. He accepted the Hebrew Ten Commandments as guides to right living, but he gave them added meaning. He summarized the Ten Commandments in two great rules: people must love God above all else, and they must love others as they love themselves.

Both the conservative Jewish hierarchy in Jerusalem and the Roman authorities felt threatened by Jesus’ message. Eventually the Romans put Jesus to death by crucifixion, a common form of execution for criminals in the Roman world. According to the Gospels, however, Jesus arose from the dead, remained on Earth another 40 days, and then ascended into heaven. His followers believed that his resurrection and ascension proved that Jesus was the Messiah, the savior of mankind sent by God, and they called him Jesus Christ after the Greek word for Messiah Christos. His followers began to preach that through the death of Jesus Christ, the son of God who had died for the sins of the human race, all people could achieve redemption.

Believing that the day of God’s final judgment was close at hand, Jesus’ disciples set out to spread his message. At first they worked mainly in the Jewish communities of Palestine. Eventually, however, the Christian message was spread into the Greek and Roman world by a new convert, a Jew named Saul of Tarsus who took the name Paul after becoming a Christian. It was Paul who emphasized that Christianity was for everyone, not just Jews. He journeyed throughout the eastern Mediterranean establishing Christian churches and encouraging them through his Epistles, or letters which still form an important part of the New Testament. According to tradition, he was eventually put to death while visiting Rome. His message continued, however, and within 400 years, Christianity had spread to all parts of the huge Roman Empire. The true success of the church was marked when the emperor Constantine proclaimed himself a Christian in A.D. 312. After A.D. 391, when the emperor Theodosius banned the old pagan religion of Rome, Christianity became the sole official religion of the entire empire.

During the later years of the Roman Empire, Christianity developed a definitive church organization. Priests conducted services and performed baptisms and marriages. Above the priests were the bishops, who headed the church in each city. The bishops of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, the most important administrative centers of the church, were called patriarchs. Over time, the bishop of Rome assumed the title of pope, from a Latin word for father, and claimed supremacy over the church.

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