A Historian’s Assessment of Ancient Christianity
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Mohamed Zaki. There is a tangible sense of urgency to the mission. There is, of course, overwhelming evidence that the kingdom of Christ was, in fact, launched to the accompaniment of miracles.
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The early church, for example, consisted exclusively of Jews for the first several years of its existence. The Hebrews were fierce in their devotion to the worship of one God — especially since those hard days of the Babylonian exile.
What was the cause, therefore, that led thousands of them to develop a religious devotion for Jesus Christ that was so intense they were willing to die for him? Both New Testament and secular history reveal that this was the case. The cause must have been the powerful, miraculous demonstration that Jesus was a divine Being.
Additionally, there is much testimony that even the enemies of the Lord acknowledged that he possessed powers extraordinary cf. Even secular sources, i. The truth is, no honest historian can explain the success of the Christian movement apart from a supernatural origin. It was history.
When Pliny the Younger wrote his letter to Trajan ca. One only has to read Romans 1 to get a sense of the moral bankruptcy that engulfed the world of the Caesars. But Christianity, with its lofty moral and ethical influence, was a fresh breeze across the stagnant terrain of antiquity.
And thousands, burdened under the oppressive weight of ungodliness, found thrilling relief in the elevating power of the Gospel of the Son of God. The early church was characterized by a sense of solidarity cf. Acts ; Christian unity provided a source of strength against the hostile forces of the world.
Thus the divine organization of the church, along with its willingness to discipline the unruly, facilitated growth.
The Scriptural Universe of Ancient Christianity
The historian surmised that by the end of the 3rd century A. At its most basic, Christianity is the faith tradition that focuses on the figure of Jesus Christ. As a tradition , Christianity is more than a system of religious belief. It also has generated a culture , a set of ideas and ways of life, practices, and artifacts that have been handed down from generation to generation since Jesus first became the object of faith.
Christianity is thus both a living tradition of faith and the culture that the faith leaves behind. The agent of Christianity is the church, the community of people who make up the body of believers.
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Few Christians, however, would be content to keep this reference merely historical. Although their faith tradition is historical—i. While there is something simple about this focus on Jesus as the central figure, there is also something very complicated. That complexity is revealed by the thousands of separate churches, sects, and denominations that make up the modern Christian tradition.
To project these separate bodies against the background of their development in the nations of the world is to suggest the bewildering variety. To picture people expressing their adherence to that tradition in their prayer life and church-building, in their quiet worship or their strenuous efforts to change the world, is to suggest even more of the variety. Given such complexity, it is natural that throughout Christian history both those in the tradition and those surrounding it have made attempts at simplification.
Modern scholars have located the focus of this faith tradition in the context of monotheistic religions. Christianity addresses the historical figure of Jesus Christ against the background of, and while seeking to remain faithful to, the experience of one God.
Christianity - Ancient History Encyclopedia
It has consistently rejected polytheism and atheism. A second element of the faith tradition of Christianity, with rare exceptions, is a plan of salvation or redemption. That is to say, the believers in the church picture themselves as in a plight from which they need rescue.