CHRISTIANITY by mD08AE

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									            CHRISTIANITY
• In most respects, the Late Roman Empire
  was a time of decline
   – Sole exception was in the area of religion
      • Period of immense vitality
      • Included resurgence of paganism
      • But it was also the time when
        Christianity emerged in triumph
          –Transformed the way people
           comprehended God, their fellow
           human beings, and the entire
           universe
                  ORIGINS
• Began with the
  teachings of Jesus
• In 300 years following
  his death, Christianity
  gradually spread
  through the Roman
  Empire
   – Churches organized
     in Greek-speaking
     communities outside
     of Palestine in the
     Middle East shortly
     after death of Jesus
       EARLY ORGANIZATION
• By 200 AD, Christians
  had become numerous
  enough to become a
  politically important
  group
   – Began to attract
     members of the upper
     classes
   – Every city had a small
     Christian community
      • Presided over by a
        bishop
          – Elected by the
            community
      • Helped by priests
        and deacons
         SPECIAL COMMUNITY
• Disputes over doctrine were settled
  by councils of local bishops

• Christians had strong sense of
  themselves as a special community
   – A “New Israel”
   – Gave alms to Church to help
     other Christians
   – Retained Jewish sense of
     exclusiveness of their religion
      • To be a Christian meant giving
        up all other forms of worship
         – Including worship of the
           emperor
     PAGANS VS CHRISTIANITY



• Christianity encountered great deal of hostility from pagan
  intellectuals
   – Miracle stories didn’t bother them
   – Nature of Jesus bothered them
      • Condemned and executed criminal and a traitor
      • Pseudo-teacher who presented teachings with
         simple, unsubstantiated assertions instead of using
         reasoned and logical arguments
• Christianity seemed to be another irrational cult
   – Gave rise to ugly rumors that Christians were cannibals,
     that their services were orgies, that they engaged in
     promiscuous sex
                PERSECUTION
• As a general rule, Rome tolerated
  all religions
   – But Christians refused to
      worship the emperor and
      appeared to threaten unity of
      empire
   – Also met in secret
   – Also opposed to violence and
      sometimes refused to serve in
      army
• From reign of Nero onwards,
  Christians subject to frequent
  persecutions
   – Never successful because they
      were never sustained long
      enough
   – Created martyrs which provided
      heroic examples which inspired
      survivors
                   GOOD LUCK
• Last great persecution of
  Christians was launched by
  Diocletian in 303 AD
   – Then Constantine legalized
     Christianity, ending persecution
     of the religion
      • Why he did is not clear
          – Christians were not
            popular
          – Only formed minority of
            population
              » 25% in East and 10% in
                West
          – Did not figure in the army
            at all
      • No important practical
        reason for his action
   MOTIVATED BY A DREAM




• Christian god appeared to him in dream the eve of an
  important battle and promised him victory if he
  legalized Christianity
   – Had soldiers paint white crosses on their shields
     and won the battle the next day
   – Became convinced that Christian God was real
     and powerful and that his followers should not be
     persecuted
CONSTANTINE AND
  CHRISTIANITY
     • Constantine was an ignorant,
       brutal, and violent man
        – Doubtful that he ever
          understood Christian doctrine
          or ethics
     • But he was nonetheless baptized
       a Christian right before he died
        – Every emperor after him
          (except one) was also a
          Christian
        – As a result of this official
          support, Christianity quickly
          became the dominant religion
          of the Empire
           • All pagan religions
             outlawed by 395 AD
                         PERKS
• As official religion, Church
  received special privileges
  from government
   – Clergy were tax exempt
   – Bishops could act as judges
     in civil cases that involved a
     Christian
   – Church buildings were
     proclaimed sanctuaries
• Church also developed
  sophisticated administrative
  organization
   – Modeled after Diocletian’s
     administrative system
       FORMAL ORGANIZATION
• Cities and rural land around
  them organized into
  bishoprics
• Bishoprics grouped together    archbishop
  into dioceses
   – Administered by
     archbishop
                                  bishop
• Strict chain-of-command
  established
• Originally, there was no
  central figure of authority      priest
   – Although special prestige
     was associated with
     bishops of Rome,
                                  deacon
     Jerusalem, Alexandria,
     Antioch, and
     Constantinople
                          POPE
• Bishop of Rome (pope) claimed
  superiority because church in Rome
  had been founded by Peter and
  because it was the former capital of
  the empire
   – In 344, pope declared that any
     bishop who had been deposed
     could appeal to Rome
      • Confirmed by council of
        bishops
      • But council also argued that
        bishop of Constantinople was
        second highest because of the
        political importance of his city
          – Pope was worried because
            bishop of Constantinople
            might later use this
            argument to claim he was
            equal to or even superior to
            pope
                   POPE WINS
• Series of pope successfully
  stressed their leadership on the
  basis that they were direct
  successors of St. Peter
   – Used Matthew 16: 18-19
   – Argued Jesus had given Peter
     leadership of the Church and that
     the popes, as the heirs of Peter,
     inherited that leadership
• By 500 AD, all Christians in the
  West and many in the East
  acknowledged pope as head of the
  Church
   – But there was still a lot of
                                         Pope Boniface V
     disagreement over what being
     the head of the Church actually
     meant
              EAST VS WEST I
• Eastern Christians tended to
  infuse Christian doctrine with
  heavy doses of classical
  philosophy
• Western Christians preferred to
  stick with traditional doctrines
   – Even when they could not be
     defended by philosophical
     logic
   – Looked to many in East that
     the pope was trying to impose
     simple solutions to
     complicated theological
     problems
      • That he was robbing
        Christianity of all
        intellectual content
EAST VS WEST II
   • Eastern Christians allowed emperor
     in Constantinople to make decisions
     regarding doctrine
      – Pope often argued that this
        secular interference in religion
        was wrong and endangered purity
        of the faith
   • Major division began to develop
      – Western Christians looking to
        pope as their natural champion
        and leader
      – Eastern Christians looking to
        bishop of Constantinople and
        emperor as their natural leaders
      – Two different worlds were being
        created
     ORIGINS OF MONASTICISM
• First forms of monastic life
  appeared in the Middle East and
  North Africa shortly after
  Christianity became official religion
  of Roman Empire
   – Christians began to leave their
     neighbors, friends , and family
     and go to isolated places to
     become hermits
      • Devoted their waking hours to
         prayer and meditation
      • Many fasted and beat
         themselves
      • St. Simon the Stylite sat on
         top of a pillar for 15 years
         without even coming down
    MONASTERY MONASTICISM



• Hermit monasticism not suited to conditions in Western
  Europe
   – This hostile environment caused 2 important
     developments
      • Monks tried to convert pagan rural people as part of
        their religious duties
      • They also began to band together in groups for
        protection
          – Even began to build fortresses (monasteries) to
            protect themselves from the outside world
          – Monastery form of monasticism became dominant
            in the West
ST. BENEDICT
      • St. Benedict of
        Nursia established
        monastery of Monte
        Cassino in mountain
        range between
        Rome and Naples
         – 520 AD
         – Wrote “Rule” to
           guide the monks
           who lived there
             BENDICTINE RULE
• Benedict’s Rule encouraged
  moderation and stability
   – Monks prohibited from
     engaging in long, harmful
     fasts and self-inflicted
     tortures
      • Expected instead to live a
        hard and highly disciplined
        life in accordance with
        ideals of poverty, chastity,
        and obedience
   – Each monk required to give
     up his own individual needs
     and desires and live a strictly
     routine and monotonous life
     under the close supervision
     of a superior
      • Called an abbot
         SELF-SUFFICIENCY
• Abbot ran the monastery
   – Elected by other monks
     but, once elected, he had
     full authority over them
• Each Benedictine
  monastery was also
  endowed with enough land
  to support the monks
   – Thus evolved into a self-
     sufficient and virtually
     independent community
     that could sustain itself
     no matter how much the
     surrounding society
     might disintegrate
    PRAYER AND TOGETHERNESS
• Each monk was require to divide
  his day into periods of work and
  periods of prayer
   – Monks met together 7 times
     within each 24-hour period for
     a service of psalm readings
     and prayers
       • Benedict regarded this as
         the essence of the
         monastery
• Benedict also stressed
  “togetherness”
   – Monks slept in a common
     dorm, ate in a common room
     (refectory), worked together,
     studied together, and
     worshipped together
   – No monk could leave without
     the abbot’s permission
        FEMALE MONASTICISM
• Female religious communities
  were smaller and less wealthy than
  male ones
   – But many were founded during
     4th and 5th centuries
       • Generally by aristocratic
         women
• Convent life appealed to many
  women for several reasons
   – Offered an escape for women
     trapped in an unsatisfactory or
     violent marriage
   – Provided protection for widows
     against forced remarriage
   – Established an atmosphere
     were women could develop their
     own intellectual capacities and
     control their own lives

								
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