Development Of Christianity Essay

885 words - 4 pages

In the crucible of the ancient world in which it was born, Christianity should not have survived to the modern age, let alone flourish and spread throughout the globe. When one considers that the foundation of Christianity is based upon the teachings of one man from a conquered, minor civilization on the outskirts of the Roman Empire, it astounding to see the fruit produced by such a small seed. After the death of Jesus of Nazareth, his apostles took over the ministry and administration of the fledgling religion that was founded on Jesus’ teachings. While Jesus was alive his teaching and ministry didn’t leave the boundaries of the Roman territory that was inhabited by the Jews; however, after his death, the apostles took Christianity to the far reaches of the Roman Empire and beyond.
As Christianity spread, and its influence expanded, leaders in Rome started to take notice. At the close of the first century Christianity came to be the preferred religion for Roman citizenry, as it presented a more attractive doctrine that the common man could relate to. However, it wasn’t until Emperor Constantine signed the Edict of Milan (A.D. 313) that religious tolerance became mandatory, and Christianity received a reprieve from persecutors. Christianity came under attack almost from the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Jewish leaders felt threatened by Jesus’ disciples trend of increasing rejection of the dogmatic rituals and practices that made up Judaism. Ultimately, Jewish leaders, the Sadducees, were able to convince the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate, that Jesus’ teachings were tantamount to sedition and that he was a threat to Roman rule. Little did the Sadducees know at the time, but the teachings of Jesus had already taken root, and the dissemination of information among his twelve closest disciples had laid a foundation strong enough to withstand the mounting storm of persecution that stemmed from Jerusalem, and later, Rome itself.
As early Christians endeavored to spread the “Good News,” they encountered resistance from those loyal to the teachings of Orthodox Judaism in Jerusalem, and adherents to pagan, polytheistic beliefs in other Roman holdings. In the case of some tormentors of Christians, their motives were purely economical as they coveted the real estate holdings that were controlled by Christian followers and leaders. There were others who persecuted Christians based purely upon their belief in differing theological doctrines. However, it was the hatred of Christianity by Roman Emperors like Nero (A.D 37 - 68), and later Diocletian (A.D. 284 - 305), that almost extinguished the sect from the ancient world. The first recorded government sponsorship of Christian persecution comes from the reign of Nero...

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