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The Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire Early Roman Religion Played an important role in Roman society Beginning with Augustus, emperors were often.

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Presentation on theme: "The Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire Early Roman Religion Played an important role in Roman society Beginning with Augustus, emperors were often."— Presentation transcript:


2 The Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire

3 Early Roman Religion Played an important role in Roman society Beginning with Augustus, emperors were often declared gods Romans worship many gods & goddesses (polytheism) Romans believed that observing proper rituals brought them into a proper relationship with the gods in order to guarantee peace and prosperity Roman Worship of Gods: –Impersonal –Practiced without a great deal of emotion

4 CA 63 BCE—Roman Empire extends to Judea (Home of the Jews) –Jewish kingdom remained independent at first, 6 CE—Roman Empire took total control and made Judea a Roman province Jews believed the Messiah would arrive to restore kingdom of the Jews Roman Conquest of Judea

5 Jesus of Nazareth

6 Historians believe he was born between 6 to 4 BCE in town of Bethlehem, Judea Raised in the village of Nazareth in Northern Palestine Baptized by prophet John the Baptist Carpenter by trade Public Ministry—began at the age of 30

7 Jesus of Nazareth Jesus: – reportedly performed miracles, preached, did good works Teachings: –Contained many ideas from Jewish tradition Monotheism—belief in one god Principles of the Ten Commandments Emphasized: –God’s personal relationship to each human being –Stressed importance of people’s love for God, themselves, neighbors, and even enemies –God would end wickedness in the world and establish an eternal kingdom after death for those who genuinely repented their sins.

8 Support for Christianity Grows Historical records mention little of Jesus Main source of information regarding Christianity are found in the Gospels, the first 4 books of the New Testament of the Bible. –Gospels written by Jesus' followers (called disciples / pupils) –12 Disciples later known as Apostles

9 Jesus Becomes a Celebrity Popularity for Christianity grows due to: –Jesus became popular as he traveled from town to town –Messages: appealed especially to the poor (he ignored wealth and status) Simple and direct—people touched by messages (easily understood)

10 Christianity Spreads Throughout the Empire Followers of Jesus inspired by his ‘triumph over death’ Created a new religion based upon his message First followers of Jesus were Jews, his teachings did NOT contradict Jewish teachings Followers create new religion, Christianity

11 Christianity Spreads Throughout the Empire Despite political & religious opposition, Christianity Spreads throughout the Roman Empire Paul—a Jew who was originally an enemy of Christianity Vision: saw a vision of Christ (he never met him personally) in Damascus, Syria and spent the life spreading & interpreting Christ’s teachings

12 Christianity Spreads Throughout the Empire Pax Romana—made spreading of Christianity possible because: –Provided an era in which travel & exchange of ideas was relatively safe –Roman Road System—enabled Christ’s message to spread throughout the Roman Empire –Common Languages—Greek & Latin allowed Christ’s messages to be easily understood

13 Imperial Roman Road System

14 St. Paul: Apostle to the Gentiles

15 The Rise of Christianity

16 The Empire in Crisis: 3c

17 Jewish Revolt 66 CE—band of Jews revolt against Roman rule 70 CE—Romans stormed Jerusalem and destroy Temple Complex, leaving only western portion of the wall (Jew’s holiest shrine) 73 CE—about a ½ million Jews killed by Romans 132 CE—Jews make second attempt at revolt, another ½ million Jews killed –Jewish political state ceased to exist (Romans exact complete control) –Jewish religion survived, though many driven into exile (dispersal of Jews called Diaspora)

18 Persecution of the Christians Christians refused to worship Roman gods & goddesses –Refusal seen as an opposition to Roman rules & laws –Roman rulers used Christians as scapegoats for political & economic problems within the Roman Empire

19 Persecution of the Christians Refusal to worship Roman deities resulted in the following: –Christians were imprisoned, exiled, or executed –Thousands crucified, burned, or killed by wild animals in circus arenas Many Christians (and some non- Christians) regarded persecuted Christians as martyrs—those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a belief or a cause.

20 Persecution of the Christians (Left) Picture of St. Ignatius being thrown to the Lions in Rome. (He was a Christian martyr)

21 A Worldly Religion Despite persecution of its followers, Christianity’s popularity increased By late 3 rd Century CE, there were millions of Christians within & beyond Roman Empire

22 A Worldly Religion Popularity of Christianity due to: –Embraced all people—men, women, slaves, poor, nobles –Gave hope to powerless –Appealed to those who were repelled by the extravagances of Imperial Rome –Offered personal relationship with God –Promised eternal life after death

23 The Spread of Christianity

24 Diocletian Splits the Empire in Two: 294 CE

25 Diocletian: From Persecution to Semi- toleration Diocletian was the last major emperor to enforce persecution of Christians He soon realized that Christianity was too powerful to be destroyed by force

26 Constantine: 312 - 337 Constantine was the 1 st Christian Emperor

27 Constantine Accepts Christianity 312 CE—Constantine fighting rivals for control of Rome –Marched to the Tiber River at Rome to battle his chief rival. –Day before Battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine prayed for divine help— reportedly saw an image of a cross (The Symbol of Christianity) –Ordered artisans to paint Christian cross on his soldiers’ shields & attributed success to help from the Christian God

28 Constantine Accepts Christianity 313 CE—Constantine orders persecution of Jews to cease Edict of Milan—declared Christianity to be one of the religions approved by the Emperor 380 CE—Emperor Theodosius declares Christianity the official religion of Roman Empire

29 Constantine & Christianity Disagreements increase between Christian leaders about beliefs & teachings –Church leaders accused people of heresy— any belief that appeared to contradict the basic teachings of Christ –Church leaders solidify teachings in the Old Testament (included Epistles of Paul, First 4 Gospels, & other documents) Added to the Hebrew Bible—Christians call these teachings the Old Testament Constantine orders further consolidation of Christian teachings & calls to order Church leaders at the Council of Nicaea in Anatolia –Nicaea Creed written—contains the basic beliefs of the Church

30 ChristianHierarchyChristianHierarchy Patriarch Archdiocese/Archbishop Bishop/Diocese Priest/Parish Pope

31 Constantine Moves the Roman Capital Constantine divides the Roman Empire into two: –East—Constantinople –West—Rome –After Constantine, Roman empire continued to be divided into two regions = west and east/ Rome = capital of west, Constantinople = capital of east

32 Constantinople: The “New Rome”

33 Constantinople: “The 2 nd Rome” (Founded in 330)

34 Byzantium: The Eastern Roman Empire

35 Eastern Roman Empire

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