Roman Religious Tolerance Rome was tolerant of many religions, as long as the people remained peaceful and loyal to the emperor. The Pax Romana allowed for these diverse religions to spread across the empire.
Judea Lies on the east coast of the Mediterranean sea. Traditional homeland of Jews. By 63 B.C., Judea was part of the Roman empire. To keep the peace, Rome excused Jews from worshipping Roman gods. – Remember, Judaism is a monotheistic religion.
Zealots Jews had once controlled their own homeland. Now under Roman rule, Zealots pushed for Jews to revolt and reestablish an independent Jewish state. Jews had been waiting for the fulfillment of their prophesies that their Messiah would be sent from God to lead their people to freedom.
Rebellions A.D. 66 – Jewish discontent with Roman rule turned into rebellion. A.D. 70 – Romans crushed the rebels, captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the Jewish temple there.
When rebellions broke out again in the next century, Jerusalem was leveled by Roman armies and many Jews were either killed or enslaved. Many Jews decided to leave Judea, to avoid destruction. Though they were scattered around the ancient world Jewish teachers, called rabbis, helped preserve Jewish laws, prophecies, and Judaism itself.
Jesus and Christianity Jesus – Born around 4 B.C. in Bethlehem, near Jerusalem. – Most of what we know about his life comes from the first four books of the Christian New Testament. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) – These four books are called the Gospels, or “good news”.
Christian beliefs about Jesus He’s the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah. Descendant of Jewish King David. Gospels say an angel told Jesus’ mother Mary that she would give birth to the prophesied Messiah, though she was a virgin. Christians believe that Jesus was/is the son of God, and the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Jesus’ Life Grew up in Nazareth, following Jewish law and worshipping God. Adopted/earthly father was a carpenter named Joseph. Began preaching around age 30, near the sea of Galilee. Large crowds gathered to hear his teachings, and to see his miracles of healing.
Spoke in parables, short stories with simple moral lessons in them. Recruited 12 disciples (close followers) to help him. – He called these 12 men apostles, which is Greek for “a person sent forth”.
Jesus and Judaism Jesus’ teachings were rooted in Judaism. – Belief in one God. – Adherence to the Ten Commandments, the torah, and respect for the Jewish prophets. – Emphasized God’s love and the need for justice, morality, and serving others. – Taught that the greatest Commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart” and to then “love your neighbor as yourself”. – Emphasized forgiveness
Conflict Jewish leaders began to look for opportunities to accuse Jesus of a crime because the popularity of his teachings had reduced their own authority with the Jewish people.
The Death of Jesus According to the Gospels, Jesus’ disciple, Judas Iscariot, betrayed him to Jewish authorities while he was praying in a garden outside of Jerusalem. – Jesus had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover meal, a celebration of the Jewish exodus from Egypt. – Following Judas’ betrayal, Jesus was arrested by the Romans, tried by Pontius Pilate, and condemned to death by crucifixion.
Jesus’ Death Jesus was condemned to death, despite Pilate’s efforts to free him. He was stripped and flogged with a cat of nine tails. Crown made of thorns pushed, then beaten onto his head with reed staves. Body beaten with reeds.
Forced to carry his own cross to Golgatha (place of the skull), a hill outside Jerusalem. Nailed to the cross through his hands and feet, then raised into position to die.
While on the cross, Jesus is reported in the Gospels to have said “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. To make sure he was dead, a Roman centurion stabbed him through the side with his spear. – (Blood and water flowed out of the wound)
The Resurrection After his burial, Jesus’ disciples were fearful that they would be next to be arrested and killed. According to the Gospels, Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to the disciples and many others.
The Great Commission Jesus’ last act on earth, according to the Gospels, was to issue his Great Commission. – “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel (good news) to every creature.” Following the “Great Commission”, the Gospels say that Jesus ascended into Heaven.
Martyr Someone who suffers or dies for their beliefs.
Persecution Physical or mental harassment of a person.
Christianity Spreads Jesus’ disciples spread his message throughout the Roman empire. They began in Judea, converting many Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, or the “Christ” (anointed one). Followers soon came to be called Christians. The disciples moved throughout the Roman empire spreading the message of Jesus and starting churches.
Paul Jewish convert to Christianity. Had never met Jesus. Persecuted, even killed Christians and was feared by them. On his way to Damascus, Syria, to increase his persecution of Christians, Paul has a vision of Jesus speaking to him. He immediately joined the Christians and began preaching to the gentiles (non-Jewish people).
Paul’s Missionary Trips Took several missionary trips throughout Asia Minor and Greece. His letters to the young Christian churches helped establish them in a unified doctrine and helped settle disputes that arose. – These letters make up part of the New Testament in the Christian bible. Paul preached that by believing that Jesus was the son of God, and through love and forgiveness of sins, one could receive salvation (eternal life in Heaven).
Christian Persecution Roman religious tolerance was not extended to Christians. Christians were seen as disloyal because they would not honor the emperor with sacrifices or pray to Roman gods. Christians began to be persecuted by the Romans. When they met in secret to avoid persecution, people said they were engaged in evil practices.
Nero Used Christians as scapegoats, blaming them for social and economic problems in Rome. Killed many Christians, even using some on crosses as human party torches. – Christians who were persecuted and killed are known as Martyrs. – Both the apostle Peter and Paul are said to have been martyred in Rome under Nero.
Rome Accepts Christianity Despite this persecution, Christianity spread throughout the Roman world. Jesus had welcomed all people, especially the lowly, poor, and the oppressed. This message of equality, love, and forgiveness drew many to accept Christianity.
Unity of Rome Helps Spread Christianity. Roman roads made travel easier for Christian missionaries. Christians who traveled across the Mediterranean sea were safe thanks to the Roman navy. Early Christian writings spread thanks to the unifying Latin and Greek languages. The Martyrs’ willingness to die for their beliefs impressed many Romans.
Persecution Ends A.D. 313 Emperor Constantine – Had a vision before battle of a cross in the sky, along with the words “by this you shall conquer”. – When he had won the battle, he fully embraced Christianity. – Issued the Edict of Milan, granting freedom of worship to all Roman Citizens.
Emperor Theodosius – Made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire. – Worked to stop the practice of other religions.
Overarching Question??? What factors enabled Christianity to spread throughout the Roman Empire? – Roman roads making travel easier. – Protection in travel from the Roman legions and navy. – The Christian message of equality, love, and forgiveness attracting many Romans. – Unified languages (Latin and Greek) helped with spreading Christian writings.