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Christian History, the Ante-Nicene Period (113-325 CE).

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Christian History, the Ante-Nicene Period (113-325 CE).

If any of you are interested in learning more, I post the articles on Sundays and Wednesdays.

I would now like to present a summary of the first period of Christian History, the Apostolic Period (33-113 CE):

"The Apostolic Period of the history of the Early Church lasted from 33-115 CE. It is during this period that Christianity had emerged in ancient Judaea and had begun to grow throughout the Roman Empire.
Christianity had begun as a sect of Second Temple Judaism, and therefore was early on Judaic. Thus the earliest Christians were Jews who were centered on the family of Jesus. They were from their beginnings known to other Jews and Gentiles as Nazarenes. The groups that formed what scholars term Jewish Christians were at the outset mainly three: Nazarenes, Elkasites, and Ebionites. The local Nazarenes of Antioch would call themselves Christians, which later became widely accepted by Nazarenes in other cities.

In its beginnings Jewish Christianity was centered at Jerusalem. A church had become organized around the personality and leadership of James the Just, who was the brother of the deceased Jesus. As the new religion grew, it began attracting interest among Greeks, Romans, and Hellenized Jews. Greeks, Romans and other ethnics who attended synagogues and shown interest in Judaic law and religious rites had become known as Godfearers.

As more Gentiles were accepted into Jewish Christianity a controversy emerged regarding the proper way to observe Judaic, or Mosaic, Law. The main point of concern was over circumcision. And the reason that this was so was because circumcision had historically been a mark of distinction between who was a Jew and who was a Gentile. This controversy was resolved at the Council of Jerusalem in 50 CE in favor of not requiring Gentile converts to adhere to Mosaic Law.

Between 40 and 60 CE Saul of Tarsus, later known as Paul the Apostle, emerged as the most influential man within the Early Church. Scholarship has shown that the earliest Jewish doctrines regarding the Mosaic Law was abandoned and attacked by Paul to be replaced by making Jesus a focal point as a Messiah to the Jew and as a new god to be worshipped by Gentiles for the forgiveness of sins. This was a marked distinction from the Jewish Christianity that was before Paul to the one after him. This fact is further underscored by the many parallels that are found between Christianity and Mithraism, another religion that had become popular within the Roman Empire. Such parallels do suggest Christianity borrowing themes from Pagan sources.

The First Roman-Jewish War (66-73 CE) brought the conflicts of Roman authority and Jewish political autonomy and religious independence to a head. With the Siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, the road toward Jewish and Christian divergence had been established.

Though Jerusalem had throughout the period remained the focal point of Early Christianity, by the end of the 1st Century CE other centers of Christianity had emerged: Antioch in Syria, Byzantium in Anatolia, Alexandria in Egypt, and Rome, the imperial capital. There had also emerged a hierarchy of bishops, presbyters, and deacons organized around each local church.

During this period Early Christian literature emerged as texts used for the instruction of local congregations in proper ritual and etiquette regarding inter-communal behavior. Scholarly study has determined that what is now regarded as the New Testament had not yet been set. There were many texts used at this period that some can be reliably asserted to be written by Paul while other texts cannot with any reliability be asserted to be actually penned by any of the Apostles. A few would become canon while many other books would later be rejected. Collectively Paul's writings can be dated between 52 and 62 CE.

It is during the late part (c. 70-113 CE) of the Apostolic Period that Christianity formed differences and divergences of doctrine among themselves. In fact, at the outset of its formation, being that it emerged out of such a diverse cultural background of Judaic and Hellenistic traditions, heterodoxy had always been part and parcel of Christian ideas and worship."

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