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The Rise of Christianity Essential Questions 1. How did Christianity build on Jewish beliefs? 2. Who was Jesus and what did he do? 3. What did Jesus’ disciples do after his death? 4. What was Rome’s attitude towards Christianity in its early stages and how did it change? Christianity’s Jewish Roots • Rome had conquered the Jewish kingdom of Judea in 63 B.C.E. – Where is Judea? • Many Jews hated being under Roman rule and sought out ways to secure freedom from foreign rulers • Sacred Jewish writings promised a Messiah who come and free them Life of Jesus • Gospels – accounts of Jesus’ life written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – 1st four books of the New Testament • Born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth – Father, Joseph, was a carpenter – Not much known about life before preaching – Celebrate birthday as Christmas Teachings of Jesus • Preached justice, compassion, coming of God’s kingdom – Delivered teachings using parables: stories with morals • Sermon on the Mount became most famous – Asked people to love and pray for enemies – To live simply and humbly – “Love thy neighbor” • Had 12 disciples as his followers • Some Jewish leaders angered by his teachings – Also upset that some called him the Messiah Review Questions: What did some Jews believe the Messiah would do? What form did Jesus’ teachings often take? Jesus – A Threat to Rome? • Claim that Jesus was Messiah was direct threat to Roman rule – Power and authority of Roman rulers came into question • During Passover, Jesus had criticized the running of a temple • Jewish leaders appointed by Rome arrested Jesus and turned him over to the Romans for punishment Death of Jesus • Brought to trial before Pontius Pilate – Called for execution by crucifixion: hanging on a cross until suffocated – Buried in tomb, but on the third day some followers claim that he had risen from the dead • Resurrection: return to life – Account of this proved to followers that he was divine – Followers believed Jesus gave his life to create new world – In this new world, sin and death are defeated The Early Christians • First disciples were Jews, also known as apostles – Wanted to spread Jesus’ message and convert others • Early church stressed sharing property, meals, and practicing charity – All members were equal including women – This greatly appealed to women, slaves, and the poor • Romans leaders ignored Christians at first Spread of Christianity • Christianity becomes separate from Judaism and starts to attract many Gentiles (nonJews) • One of the first missionary (a person who spreads faith by converting others) was Paul – Had Roman citizenship – Pax Romana and the Roman roads aided in his travels Paul’s Influence • Started many new churches • Wrote letters to the churches explaining Christian beliefs – These letters became part of New Testament as Epistles – Wrote that Christianity removed barriers between people • Jews, Greeks, slaves, man, woman are “all one in Christ Jesus” – Eventually persecuted (opposed or harassed) by Roman emperor Nero and died in Rome A Christian Threat to Rome? • Romans did allow other religions in empire • But became alarmed at rate of Gentiles becoming Christians – Some said didn’t have to worship emperor – Appeal of women, slaves, and the poor also alarming – Thought God’s kingdom implied an end of the Roman Empire • Started persecuting Christians – Some hid in catacombs (underground cemeteries with secret passages) – Many Christians died at hands of Romans Constantine • Constantine became emperor in 306 C.E. – At first allowed persecutions of Christians • During battle for leadership in 312 C.E., Constantine prayed for help – Said he saw cross in sky and prediction of win – Had soldiers put crosses on shields and battle flags – Constantine won the battle that day Legalization and Adoption of Christianity • Constantine ended persecutions • Edict of Milan (312 C.E.) made Christianity a legal religion within the Roman Empire • Constantine had churches built, and made Sunday a holy day • Didn’t formally convert to Christianity until he was on his death bed • Emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of Roman Empire in 380 Structure of the Church • Priests and deacons run local parishes • Obeyed bishops: local church leaders • Christian church was all Roman Catholic until the 1500s • Much later, Rome’s bishop becomes pope: the most important bishop • Created sacraments – religious rites like baptism and communion Power of the Church • Christianity becomes very wealthy and powerful • The Church became the source of moral authority • Loyalty to the Church became more important than loyalty to empire –Aides in the decline of the Roman Empire Essential Questions: Take a few moments and answer these questions. 1. 2. 3. 4. How did Christianity build on Jewish beliefs? Who was Jesus and what did he do? What did Jesus’ disciples do after his death? What was Rome’s attitude towards Christianity in its early stages and how did it change?