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Chapter 5, Section 4
The Rise and Spread of Christianity
I. Background: Roman Religion
 Augustus brought back traditional
Roman religious festivals
 The Romans worshiped many Gods
like Jupiter, Juno, Minerva, and Mars
 All of the Roman Gods were based on
Greek Olympic Gods
 Romans believed that if they
observed the right rituals, they would
be guaranteed peace and prosperity
 Romans also believed that if their
empire was successful, it meant the
Gods favored them
 Romans allowed all different religions
to exist
II The Jewish Background and
the Rise of Christianity
 By A.D. 6, Judea was a Roman
province under the direction of a
procurator
 Judea-The Jewish Kingdom of Judah,
now Israel
 Procurator-A Roman official in charge
of a province
 There were many divisions of Jews living in
Judea
 Sadducees- cooperated with the Romans
 Pharisees- Urged Jews to follow Jewish law
to protect the Jewish identity
 Essenes- Were waiting for God to come to
Earth to save the Jewish people
 Zealots- Told Jews to violently overthrow
the Romans
 In 66, there was a revolt by the Jews
against the Romans
 The Romans defeated the Jews and
destroyed their temple in Jerusalem
 The temple was the center of Jewish
worship
 During this time, Jesus, a Jew began
to preach of the love of God
 Jesus taught people to love one
another, treating all as neighbors
 Jesus’ teachings became the
foundation of Western civilization:
humility, charity, and love of others
 Jesus frightened the Romans because
they thought he might tell the Jews to
revolt against Rome
 Pontius Pilate (the procurator)
ordered Jesus’ crucifixion
 Many people believed Jesus rose from
the dead and Jews began to worship
him as their Messiah
 Paul was one of the most important
early Christians
 Paul spread the message of Christ to
both Jews and Gentiles (non-Jews)
around the Roman World
 Paul wrote many letters to Christian
churches in the Roman world which
eventually became part of the New
Testament
 Romans were fearful of Christians
because they refused to worship
Roman Gods
 Many Romans felt that Christians
would ruin public order and morals
 It was seen as a crime in early Rome
to be a Christian
 People still worshiped in hiding and
Christianity grew during the period of
Pax Romana
III. The Triumph of Christianity
 Because the Romans persecuted
Christianity, it strengthened and
became more organized
 The early Christian church organized
people into clergy and laity
 Clergy- church leaders
 Laity- everyday church members
 Finally in the 4th century, the emperor
Constantine legalized Christianity in
the year 313
 In the Edict of Milan, Christianity
became one of the official religions of
Rome
 Theodosius the Great later made
Christianity the official religion of
Rome