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History of the church

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The emergence and spread of Christianity can be dated back to the 31st to 33rd A.D when Jesus Christ embarked on his mission to spread the Good news to the Jewish population which was gradually spread globally by the apostles and missionaries. This mission was bestowed upon the apostles when the Roman Empire crucified Jesus Christ to order to end the emergence of a new leader & religion. The history of Christianity covers the faith and teachings of the vast Christian denominations from the 1st century to the 21st century. The history is categorized into the Early period, Medieval era and the Modern era.

Early Christianity can be classified into apostolic age and Ante-Nicene period. The form of Christianity spread during the apostolic period was considered to be Jewish Christianity while Judaism was gradually rejected by the public in the Ante-Nicene period. The end of Early Christianity is marked by the First Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D. Following this early Christianity lies the Middle age also termed as the medieval era during which can be classified into Early middle, High middle and late middle ages which is marked by the fall of the roman empire until the protestant reformation.

Patristic Period

Apostolic Era and Post Apostolic Era

The periods of early Christianity along with the periods of early middle age are clubbed together as patristic period. The apostolic age covers the lifetime of the Twelve apostles who were chosen by Christ himself. The conception of the Christian faith and its entire history is believed to be established during “the Apostolic Age”. It is during this period of time, (to be more specifically the 1st century) that the Gospel and letters by apostles of Christ were contributed which was organized as the New Testament.

In the early periods of Christianity the religion became accustomed to Jewish beliefs in which one’s soul unite with God while the body perishes after one’s death. Initially Jewish population surround the Mediterranean Sea were focused and within a decade of Jesus” departure Christianity was spread across major cities and trade routes including Ephesus, Corinth, Antioch, Cyprus, Thessalonica, Crete, and Rome. During this era the converted Christians did not fail in participating in Jewish traditions, practices and festivals which is elucidated in the Acts of the Apostles and canonical Gospel.

This was common until the latter period of the 1st century where the teachings of Paul of Tarsus did not encourage the Gentiles to pursue all of the Jewish laws (including Circumcision) in Antioch which marked a revolution in early Christianity. The Council of Jerusalem overlooked this controversy around 50 A.D since Paul was backed up by Peter who also emphasized that circumcision need not be practiced. It has been documented in the letter to the Galatians 4 years later that even though the council approved of this exception the other Laws and practices were meant to be considered necessities and be followed by the converts.

The council of Jamnia in 85 A.D opposed to the fact that the Messiah had come and until 135 A.D the Jews persecuted heretics among which the Christians were included. Christianity was legalized only in 313 A.D while Judaism was laundered in the end of 1st century by the Roman Empire. Even though Jewish Christianity was the earliest form of Christianity where the people simultaneously followed Torah and Jewish laws and venerated in synagogues and it was in the 5th century that the complete take over ensued.

The period of history that lies between the 2nd century and the council of Nicaea are termed as post apostolic or ante-Nicene era. In spite of this period considered to be highly significant in the growth of Christianity, there is only limited knowledge of this era due to the lack of evidence compared to the other eras. It was in this period that the Christians dissuaded from following Jewish traditions unlike 1st century Christians. The exquisite and distinct features of the church were formed during this era and became robust around 5th century. 9 volumes of scriptures by ante-Nicene fathers and 2 volumes by post Nicene and Nicene fathers were followed in the early periods. By the dawn of the 2nd century common scriptures were accepted by the gentiles and in turn led to the organization of the New Testament. The chain of command or the hierarchy and structure of the present church emerged from this period that took command from a central authority (bishop).

During the apostolic and post apostolic era Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and parts of Asia and Africa by mercenaries, mercantile and missionaries. Armenia was the first to announce their official religion as Christianity in 301 A.D. The fall of the Roman regime fell in 476 A.D which marked the beginning of the medieval period.

Middle Ages

Early Middle Age

Odoacer who became the first emperor of Italy marked the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West while it still prevailed in the East. Since the influence of the Roman regime remained in the West for a long period of time, this fall of empire was considered as a transformation rather than a downfall. The Latin (West) and Greek (East) Christians differed among themselves due to the invasion of the Muslims. Transformation of the Eastern Church was steadier when compared to the west since the western church was compelled to become accustomed to the current state of affairs. When combat struck Italy Rome was left helpless which pushed the Bishop of Rome (Pope) to appeal to the Franks for provisions and support. By the initial period of the 5th century St.Patrick contributed much in spreading Christianity to Ireland from Britain with the help of his missionaries, priests ordained by him where Penitence was introduced as a private practice rather than a public one.

Anglo Saxons who are considered to be barbarians looted the Irish land once the Roman Empire departed and were eventually converted by St.Augustine around the latter period of the 5th century.

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