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The Rise of Christianity
Where and When

In 6 AD, Rome took
control of the
formerly independent
kingdom of Judea
(Judah)
The Savior
God had promised the Jewish people a
savior or “Messiah” who would restore the
kingdom of Israel
 In the first two decades of the first
millennium (0-20 AD), many though that
he had come

Jesus of Nazareth





Born between 6-4 BC
Born in Bethlehem (in
Judea)
Raised in Nazareth
Carpenter
Began preaching at age
30
– Taught
– Performed miracles
– Did good works

Many of his beliefs held
true to Jewish teachings
Similarities to Judaism
– Monotheism
– 10 Commandments
– Descended from
Abraham
Major Differences
- Jesus is the Messiah
- Eternal kingdom after
death (not kingdom
on earth like the
Jewish belief)
Where does this information come
from?
Gospels: first four books of the New
Testament of the Bible (Christian holy
text)
 Thought to have been
written by one or more
of Jesus' pupils –
the apostles

Jesus’ Death
Popularity concerned both Jewish and
Roman leaders
 Jewish Leaders

– Denied that he was the Messiah
– Said his teachings were blasphemy
(contempt for god)

Roman Leaders
– Defied authority of Rome
Spread of Christianity
First followers were Jews
 Jesus’ teachings did not contradict Jewish
law
 Soon became its own faith

Paul






An apostle and Jew who never met
Jesus
Converted in Syria
Stressed that Jesus was the son of God
Pax Romana made travel and the spread
of ideas easy
Common languages (Greek and Latin)
allowed teachings to be spread
Paul invited all Gentiles (non-Jews) to
convert – universality of the religion –
not just a local religion
Persecution

Christians refused to worship Roman gods
– This was seen as opposition to Roman rule
Christians used as scapegoats for problems
 When the Pax Romana was in decline, Christians
were persecuted in large numbers

–
–
–
–
Exiled
Imprisoned
Executed
Crucified, burned, killed by wild animals
Christianity’s Appeal

Embraced all people
– Jesus ignored wealth and status
Gave hope to the powerless
 Appealed to those who didn’t like the
extravagances of the Romans
 Offered a personal relationship with God
 Promised eternal life after death

Constantine
312 AD: Emperor
Constantine was
fighting a great battle;
saw image of a cross;
troops were victorious
 313 AD: Edict of Milan –
declared Christianity to
be one of the religions
approved by the
emperor

Church Hierarchy
Pope: father or head of church
 Bishop: supervises several churches
 Priest: led small groups of Christians


Peter: “Rock” on which the
Christian Church was built
– First Roman bishop
– All priests and bishops traced their
authority to him
Unifying the Faith
Arguments over beliefs developed
 Heresy: a belief that appeared to
contradict a church belief
 New Testament: single, official standard
of belief

– Gospels (1st 4 books of NT)
– Letters of Paul
– Other documents