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Mr. Nikolov. Origins of Christianity. Neo-Platonist roots. Plato is the first Greek philosopher to combine philosophy and religion with attempt to provide a universal explanation of all phenomena. Neo- P latonists in Rome formed the philosophical base of Christianity.

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neo platonist roots
Neo-Platonist roots
  • Plato is the first Greek philosopher to combine philosophy and religion with attempt to provide a universal explanation of all phenomena. Neo-Platonists in Rome formed the philosophical base of Christianity.
  • “God is Good”, he is only one, the rest are just functions of the same. God is ideal, stands above the material world, unifies the world, but heaven is more important than earth.
influence of judeism
Influence of Judeism
  • The idea of sin and salvation – the emergence of the meshaiah (messenger of God).
  • The idea of the selected nation – the one that has to preserve the faith until the arrival of the messenger. From this the idea of the pure nation – Jews who marry non-Jews must leave the faith and community.
  • Cult of Jehovah, the oldest monotheistic belief.
decline of roman values
Decline of Roman values
  • Religious tolerance allows Christianity to establish itself before seen as a threat.
  • Inclusion of foreign gods in roman religion confuses people and introduces new values.
  • Cult of the Emperor eroded faith – not a god
  • Class division, corrupt politics and declining morals lead to the need of one universal god.
  • Mysticism becomes more popular than public faith which is seen as false.
strength of christianity
Strength of Christianity
  • It declared itself a universal religion, excluding all others. It claims to be above the law and all conflicts are to be settled by God. Humans are imperfect and therefore could not know the mechanism of justice.
  • It criticises the rich, but refuses to fight them – passive resistance and faith will earn salvation and eternal life. Preaches strict morals in contrast to the declining morals in Rome. God can only be reached by catharsis.
sources of early christianity
Sources of early Christianity
  • Josephus Flavius – Jew, hates Rome, “Jewish Antiquities”, 66AD. “At that time (of Emperor Tiberius) lived Jesus, a wise man, if we could actually call him a man. He was also a Christ.” …”on the third day he appeared before them (John the Baptist and Mary Magdalena) alive…” “…and he did many other suspicious things…”. Talks about the Apocalypse of John and Jacob as historic personas.
sources of christianity cont
Sources of Christianity – cont.
  • The Gospels – there was at least 11 - 12. The Church discarded some in the 4th c. as contradicting the official dogma, kept 4. All were written 40-70 years after Crucifixion.
  • Luke – the most historical and detailed.
  • John – facts are not important, most important is that God is love and light.
  • Mark and Matthew are between. They all present Jesus as both human and God.
sources of christianity cont1
Sources of Christianity – cont.
  • Suetonius “The 12 Caesars” – biographies of the first 12 Emperors, written at the time of Trajan (about 100 years after Crucifixion). He is against the new sect, describes persecutions of Christians under Nero and Claudius. Nothing about Christ himself.
  • Pliny the Younger – Reports from province Pont to Emperor Trajan – 111AD. Describes the growth of Christianity in his province.
sources of christianity cont2
Sources of Christianity – cont.
  • Tacitus “Analects”, 112 AD. Description of the fire in Rome in 64 AD and the subsequent persecution by Nero. Feels sorry for the Christians. First description of the trial of Jesus by Pontius Pilate outside of the Gospels. Christians were plebeian, usually from the large cities. They don’t have many friends and don’t participate in public ceremonies. Call themselves “Sons of Light”. Those living in Antioch first use “Christians”.
the historical christ
The Historical Christ
  • 1. He did not exist – all sources about him are at least 40 years late, the earliest 5 (non-roman) are biased. No Roman sources.
  • 2. He was an insignificant preacher, one of many existing in the Middle east at this time, so the main writers did not notice him.
  • 3. Information about him was purposefully censored by the authorities to prevent an uprising of slaves and non-Romans (Jews?)
the biblical christ
The Biblical Christ
  • He is a messenger of God, bringing news of the Apocalypse. The final judgement may come on earth as well as heaven and is for all.
  • He is a preacher of wisdom, of moral values and code of behaviour, of brotherly love.
  • He is an ascetic, demonstrating self control and the moral values he teaches.
  • He is an example of Good and forgiveness – the concept of fighting Evil with Good.
growth of christianity
Growth of Christianity
  • First ecclesia (community) in Jerusalem led by apostle Paul. Spread quickly through the low classes of the Empire – plebeians, non-citizens and slaves. Provides comfort to the oppressed and a promise of better life.
  • Christianity provides sense of belonging and community, it appeals to feelings – compassion, love, but also fear (of the apocalypse). It emphasises the soul, not the body and material world.
4 characteristics of christianity
4 Characteristics of Christianity
  • The bloodless sacrifice – God is an idea, so he only needs a sincere prayer, words, not goods
  • The worship of light – always facing east, church buildings with altar to the east.
  • The sacrament, the mystery. This is the baptism, when the newborn’s initial sin is cleansed in a ritual. The idea of Catharsis.
  • Belief in the Trinity - the changing nature of God without hierarchy. The idea of Logos.
christianity and the government
Christianity and the Government
  • Rome is tolerant towards religions, but:
  • 1. Christians refuse to serve in the army.
  • 2. Christians meet in secret.
  • 3. Christians refuse to worship the Emperor.
  • 4. Christians wait for the advent, the Kingdom of God, not the SPQR.
  • 5. Christianity was not approved by the Senate, and was therefore illegal.
  • 113 – Edict of Trajan against secret societies
  • Septimius Severus also banned monotheistic religions as contradicting the Roman values.
  • Diocletian issued 4 edicts against christians.
christianity as official religion
Christianity as Official religion
  • Eusebius of Caesarea – Life of Constantine.
  • 313 – Edict of Milan, the Church becomes a legal institution. Christianity becomes equal with the rest of the Roman religions. Eligible for state subsidies. Becomes public – ability to exercise control and engage in propaganda
  • 324 – Council of Nicaea. The structure of the Church is established. Christianity becomes the Official religion. For Constantine the model of One God, One Nation, One Emperor supports the unity and the monarchy.
  • 390 Theodosian Code declared all other religions illegal and banned gladiators, Olympic games etc.
early heresies
Early Heresies
  • Before the Creed of Nicaea different Christian communities worshiped in a different way and had local leadership.
  • Heresy is a Christian teaching that contradicts the official position of the Church (dogma).The base for the heresies was the ancient philosophical tradition and the incomplete information in the scriptures leading to different possible interpretations.
early heresies cont
Early Heresies – cont.
  • Arians – led by Aria. Christ is not the same as God. He was created by God and sent to us, therefore he is subordinate to God and not holy, so his Church is not holy as well.
  • Manicheans – led by Mani. Christ is a human , an apostle of God and is not the only one, nor the last one. Islam will take this idea.
  • Monophysitism – Christ is only a god, he was never human, never born, never suffered.
  • Nestorians – Christ was the son of God and a mortal woman, he died for our sins, but did not resurrect. This completes his mission.
christianity after the empire
Christianity after the Empire
  • Tradition of unity of Church and state continues in the East (Byzantium empire, Orthodox church).
  • After the fall of Rome, Catholic Church was independent of Government, but survived.
  • Christianity spread to new nations, beginning with the Goths.
  • 800 AD, Frank leader Charlemagne was crowned by Pope Leo III as Emperor and makes the union of Church and state again.