From Jesus to Constantine-The Spread of Christianity 2024

 Historic Events that happened in time of Jesus

Roman Empire, in 44 BC Julius Ceasar declared himself “Dictator for Life” as a result he was assassinated in the floor of the senate. Octavian his grand nephew became Emperor Augustus. This were turbulent times in the Roman Empire.

 Judea was a tributary province of Rome. Julius Ceasar had granted Judea two exemptions: 1) providing troops 2) obligation to sacrifice to the Roman Gods. And, Ceasar had given Harod Antipater the title role of “epitropos” [prime minister] to govern the vassal state of Judea.

Harod Antipater’s goal was to build cities in a Greco-Roman style to please Octavian a.k.a. Emperor Augustus and secure his position as governor of Judea. i.e. Sephoris a Greco Roman city and deep sea port in Judea, and the expansion of the Second Temple, Masada and other forts. Workers and Farmers were overtaxed to pay for this construction.

Jesus’s Teachings

Jesus lived during emperor Augustus reign, at a time where people in Judea were very oppressed, poor, and over taxed, and they longed to have a savior that would free them from the Roman abuse. 

Jesus was born into a Jewish family, his father Joseph was a carpinter,  Mary was his second wife and he had brothers and sisters. Scholars believe he was baptized by John the Baptist, a just and holy man, who was also his cousin, because he shared the same beliefs. When John asked Jesus why he wanted to be baptized, Jesus said:  “To fulfill all Righiousness”. John the Baptist was trained by the “Essenes”, an Ortodox Jewish sect that included: standing for justice and righteousness, a meal of bread and wine, celibacy, did not accept divorce, and use baptism as purification ritual, frequent ablutions as practice of ritual purity, and wanted Jews to return to the old fashion ways as stipulated in the law of Moses.

Roman Jewish historian Josephus[25 wrote that John the Baptist was a just and holy man that had a large following, and was executed for criticising king Herod Antipas for marrying his brother’s ex-wife Herodias. Herod Antipas was afraid John’s followers would riot and that was a big problem for him as gobernor.

 After the death of John the Baptist, Jesus and some followers of John the Baptist continued preachimg similar ideas like inviting Jews to reject Roman culture and return to follow the Law of Moses,   to highlight a new beginning, a reformation of the Jewish law, he spoke in Aramaic using parables, short stories with hidden messages in his teachings. Jesus sermons were directed to Jewish people exalting them to live according to Jewish Law [halakhah] and which all Christians later embraced. Some of these include:

      • Love God.  (Deut. 6:5)
      • To imitate God’s good and upright ways (Deut. 28:9)
      • Ask God for forgiveness of your sins. (Exodus 34:9
      • Repentance of sins is essential.To pray to G-d (Ex. 23:25;
      • Love your neighbor as yourself. (Deut. 10:19
      • Forgive others who have wronged you. (Lev. 19:17)
      • Love the stranger (Deut. 10:19)
      • Not to covet what belongs to another (Ex. 20:14)
      • Don’t judge others. [“1.6 chapter of Avot”]
      • The Kingdom of God is near. Some scholars think it translates to: within you.

        I hope you read more about the historic Jesus, his time, and understand histeachings better. 

Christianity spread among the Roman Gentiles

Pagan religion in the Roman empire was overwhelming and confusing, because there were multiple gods from different cultures such as Egyptian, Germanic, and demi gods like Hercules, spirits, Fortuna, Victory. And after life, you might become a wandering ghost, or dust.

The Apostle Paul who was Greek but also a Roman Citizen, Jew converted to Christianity. He traveled preaching Jesus message to Jewish communities, he wrote many letters in Greek. Then in Rome, he preached to anyone who listened, others too wrote and preached the message of Jesus about one legitimate god, tolerance, salvation and resurrection, after life reward, and equality among rich and poor, men and women, and all these written narratives became the New Testament.
The four canonical gospels of Matthew (c. AD 80 – c. AD 90), Mark (c. AD 70), Luke (c. AD 80 – c. AD 90), and John (written at the end of the 1st century) are ancient biographies of Jesus’ life.[24]

In the beginning Christianity developed out of Judaism traditions, Christianity offered morality rules and the caring for others, but non Jews found it difficult to follow the Jewish laws of food and circumcision. And those were the main reasons why Christianity became a separate and invividual religion that would appeal to both jews and non jews alike, it eliminated the Jewish laws of food and circumcision and the message became appealing and accesible to Jews and Non Jews alike, and spread very slowly borrowing some Roman iconography like Jesus depicted with a halo as was the Sun Victorius, and describing it as “Dominus” [The Lord] as applied to Roman Emperors.

 As Christianity began to gain popularity and influence both in society and government, the Roman Empire allowed the religion to be practiced freely along with the old Roman religion. 

Christianity becomes the victory flag of the Emperor Constantine!

Around 312 A.D. Emperor Constantine was involved in a civil war with Emperors of other Roman provinces. He had been offering sacrifices to numerous Roman gods. The night before the most important batle, Constantine had a vision that if he carried the symbol of Christ to the battle, he would be victorius. So, he had his soldiers paint the “Christogram” on their shields, and defeated Maxentius on the “Battle of Milvian Bridge”. Christianity would become the only allowed religion in the Edict of Thessalonica in 380 A.D.

Before the Nicean Council on 325 A.D

  • Before Christianity was legalized as official religion of the Roman Empire, Christians suffered persecusion, executions, and misunderstandings such as: i.e. Some people believen Christians were Canibals because they overheard them talking about eating Christ flesh, and drinking Christ blood. After Constantine became Christian,  Christian communities came to adopt some Jewish practices while rejecting others.

The Roman Emperor Constantine invited Christian bishops to a Christian Council in the Bithynian city of Nicaea now İznik, Turkey to:

  • Resolve the issue of the divine nature of God the Son and his relationship to God the Father the Arian controversy
  • The construction of the Nicene Creed, Mandating a uniform observance of the date of Easter
  • Promulgation of early canon law. [Beliefs]
    At the end,
    To most bishops, the teachings of Arius were heretical and he and two bishops Arius, were banished to Illyria. This council formulated the Nicene Creed, the intent being to define unity of beliefs for the whole of Christendom. The observance of the Christian Day of the Lord [Easter] will continue to be observed following the Jewish Pasch calendar as it has been from ancient times. And, lastly The Council promulgated twenty new church laws.

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