The Spread of Christianity

See   Map

The Christian community was first led by St. James in Jerusalem, while
St. Paul began his missionary avtivity in Antioch among the gentiles.

The Council of Jersusalem (48) organized the regional missionary activity :
St. Peter and the original apostles assumed the miss. activity among the Jews, St. Paul and Barnabas among the gentiles.

2nd miss. journey of Paul to Corinth (49-52).
3rd miss. journey of Paul to Ephesus and Corinth (54-8).
Paul's journey  to Rome (60-61), where he was beheaded in 64.
Peter was crucified on the Mons Vaticanus in the same year.
Christianity spread from  Antioch to Syria, from  Ephesus to Asia Minor and Gaul, from  Alexandria to the south and southeast of the Roman empire, from Rome to Italy and Africa and from there to Spain.  Constantinople became the centre for the christianization of the Balkans.

During the second century Christianity experienced internal crises over:

1. Gnosticism : the attempt to alter Christ. teaching into a
    mystic cosmology with redemptory priniples.
2. Marcionism: the fusion from Pauline and dualistic Iranian
3. Monatism: asceticism and renewal of early Christian
The crisis by Gnosticism was overcome by the establishment of the early Catholic Curch (formation of synods). The democratic principle of leadership was replaced by a hierarchical constitution: bishops and priests stood apart from the laymen. A hierarchy of 4 patriarchates of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome evolved.

The conflict between the Roman state and the Christian Church was caused by the Christian insistence on the difference between the kdms of God and the world, the Christ. refusal to make sacrifices to the Emperor, and the claim to divine position by the emperors.

There were several persecution periods of Christians until the Edict of Toleration in 260 brought peace for 30 years. A renewed persecution under Diocletian (303-11) ended by another Edict of Toleration. After the conversion of Constantine, the cults of the state were eliminated and Christians were granted religious freedom and equality.

The Christian apologists of the first half of the 2nd cent. were followed by the Fathers of the Church  Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria and Origen..

The Arian controversy was settled by the Council of Nicaea in 325.

Four men are called the Doctors of the Western Church :

Jerome who translated the Bible into Latin (the Vulgata)
Ambrose who wrote instructions as to Christ. duties and determined the relation of Church and State.
Augustine who wrote the 'Confessions', and the 'City of God' and fixed the theology of the Church until the Reformation.
Pope Gregory the Great who was the founder of the worldly power of the papacy.
(See also The rise of the Papacy)

(Quoted from the Penguin Atlas of History)

Back to Religion Back to People Back to History