The Rise of Christianity

The Rise of Christianity - The Rise of Christianity 1....

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The Rise of Christianity 1. Christianity first arose historically as a reform movement within Judaism. The apostle Paul forced it open to non-Jews and gave it the Greek flavor that allowed it to flourish in the eastern Mediterranean. The significant question is how it became the official religion of the Roman empire and an agency of the Roman imperial government. 2. Roman religion did not provide a moral base or message of hope. The Romans had an elaborate religious system with many groups and types of deities. The Pantheon: the gods and goddesses of mythology. The old gods -- Chronos, Uranus, and others overthrown by the Olympian deities The Titans - defeated allies of the old gods -- friends of humanity -- Prometheus, the fire-bringer was a titan. The demi-gods -- the "almost gods" -- like Ganymede, chosen as servants by the Olympians The heroes -- humans who achieved divine status -- Hercules was the most famous example. Note that the gap between god and human was not so great as to be uncrossable. Local deities -- each region, city, town, and village had its own tutelary gods, and their were gods who protected field boundaries, storehouses, and every other imaginable thing of value. Nature spirits -- each tree, stream, hill, and other natural feature had its in- dwelling spirit. Dryads in trees, hydrads in springs and streams, oreads in hills and mountains. lares and penates -- the early Romans were ancestor worshippers, and each family and family home had its "household gods." Genii -- in addition, each individual had his or her own "genius," a tutelary deity transformed by the early Christians into the "guardian angel." Magic and superstition -- people needed to believe that they had protecting spirits, because they were very superstitious and that they were always in danger of "bad luck" on Fridays, the 13th of the month, after having broken a mirror, when their stars were not in a good alignment, and so forth. They also believed in witches, vampires, the evil eye, and other malevolent forces. There were alternate systems of belief for those dissatisfied with the chaotic traditional religious forms: Greek philosophical systems (Skepticism, Epicurianism, Stoicism) that offered moral bases but no hope. Nevertheless, some of these systems, particularly Stoicism with its belief in
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This note was uploaded on 11/18/2011 for the course HISTORY 170 taught by Professor Romero during the Fall '11 term at Rutgers.

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The Rise of Christianity - The Rise of Christianity 1....

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