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Christianity Origins and Early History

The history of Christianity is one that is rich in traditions and upheavals that helped to consolidate its central principles and shape a faith that is shared by millions of people around the world. Having its origins in Judaism, Christianity is rooted in the teachings of Jesus and eventually spread to encompass members of many geographical, cultural and linguistic communities.

A Brief History of Early Christianity

In the middle of the first century, the Christian religion developed beyond its Jewish origins, becoming a separate religion. This development of Christianity was fostered primarily under the leadership and guidance of the apostles Paul and Peter, the latter of whom went on to become the first bishop of Rome, that is, the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

During this early period of the history of the Christian religion, the central underpinnings of Episcopal hierarchy established the structural foundation of the Church. This foundation helped to form the theological crux of Christianity, with Armenia being the first country to accept Christianity, where it was established as the official state religion.

However, early persecution of its followers was a central component of the early history of Christianity. For example, the Great Persecution of 303 CE under the Roman Emperor Diocletian resulted in the discrimination of thousands of early Christians. The Great Persecution resulted in the destruction of scripture, buildings of worship, as well as the arrest of priests and bishops.

The legalization of Christianity that was promulgated in 313 with the Edict of Milan by Emperor Constantine himself a Christian ended the systematic persecution of Christians, which had included physical torture and death, as well as legal and fiscal restrictions, such as heavy taxation and the inability to own property.

As a result, Christianity flourished. In 391, Theodosius I established Nicene Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire and was therefore, along with Judaism, the only legal religion of the vast Empire.

The rise of monasticism and the establishment of monastic orders was also important to the early history of the Christian church. For example, St. Anthony of Egypt helped to spread the principles of the faith, as did Frumentius, the first bishop of Axum, located in northern Ethiopia. The Syrian born Greek bishop established Christianity as the religion of both modern day Ethiopia and Eritrea, making these two countries Christian long before most nations of Europe.

Jesus of Nazareth Mary Magdalene: Mariamne Early Christianity
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