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History of early Christianity

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Stele Licinia Amias Terme 67646

Funerary stele of Licinia Amias on marble. One of the earliest Christian inscriptions found, it is from the early 3rd-century Vatican necropolis area, Rome.

The history of early Christianity spans from the death of Jesus Christ (c.26-36) to the First Council of Nicaea in 325.

The first part of the period, initiated by the Great Commission, during the lifetimes of the Twelve Apostles, is called the Apostolic Age. The earliest followers of Jesus composed an apocalyptic, Second Temple, Jewish sect, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity. The Apostles and others following the Great Commission's decree to spread the gospel of Jesus to "all nations," had great success spreading the religion to gentiles. Early Christianity gradually grew apart from Judaism and established itself as a predominantly gentile religion.

In the Ante-Nicene Period (literally before the First Council of Nicaea in 325), following the Apostolic Age, both incredible diversity and unifying characteristics lacking in the apostolic period emerged simultaneously. Part of the unifying trend was an increasingly harsh rejection of Judaism and Jewish practices. By the beginning of the Nicene period, the Christian faith had spread throughout Western Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, and to North Africa and the Near East.

The First Council of Nicaea in 325 and the promotion of Christianity by Emperor Constantine I in the Roman Empire are commonly used to mark the end of early Christianity, beginning the era of the first seven Ecumenical Councils.



The term "Christians" (Greek Χριστιανός) occurs three times in the New Testament. The disciples were first called "Christians" in Antioch (as related in Acts 11:26). The term also appears in Acts 26:28, used by Herod Agrippa II. In the final New Testament usage, the First Epistle of Peter tells believers not to be distraught if they suffer because the name was applied to them (1Peter 4:14-16). Ignatius of Antioch was the first Christian to use the label in self-reference and made the earliest recorded use of the term Christianity (Greek Χριστιανισμός), around 100 AD.[1] "Christ" is a modified transcription of the Greek word christos, meaning "anointed one". The form of the Greek term Χριστιανοί (Christianoi) indicates it was a transcription of a Latin word. It was most likely coined by a Roman official in Antioch, which was the seat of Roman administration in the eastern Mediterranean.[2]

The suffix (Latin -iani, Greek -ianoi) means "belonging to the party of", much like the suffixes -er and -ite are used in modern English.[3] It (-iani, -ianoi) was a standard wording used for followers of a particular person (such as Pompeiani, Caesariani, Herodiani,[4] etc.). It was this "follower" wording that led Claudius to blame "Chrestus" for the disputes among Roman Jews that led to their expulsion from Rome in circa 49.[5] Suetonius's report that it was on account of "Chrestus" that the Jews were expelled from Rome in 49 was due to the use by some pagans (for whom "Christ" was an unusual and meaningless name, while "Chrestos" was a common name) of "Chrestians" in place of the term "Christians".[6]

According to the account by Tacitus in his Annals, "Christians" were a group which was punished for the Great Fire of Rome, in order to divert blame from Nero. The original text of the earliest extant manuscript, from which the other existing manuscripts probably are derived, suggests that Tacitus wrote "Chrestianos", which was a vulgar form of the name "Christianos", likely derived from the most common name for slaves ("Chrestus", which means "useful"). In the same passage Tacitus used the name "Christus", not "Chrestus", to refer to the founder of the "Chrestianos", noting that he was a Jew executed as a criminal under Pontius Pilate.[7]

Accordingly, "Christians" (with the variant "Chrestians") was by 49 already a familiar term in the Latin-speaking capital of the Roman Empire. As the church spread throughout Greek-speaking Gentile lands, the appellation took prominence and eventually became the standard reference for followers of the faith. James Tabor suggests that Christian (in essence meaning a "Messianist") was an attempt to approximate Nazarene in Greek.[8]

Modern historians debate whether or not the Roman government distinguished between Christians and Jews prior to Nerva's modification of the Fiscus Judaicus in 96. From then on, practising Jews paid the tax, Christians did not.[9]

Other names

A common self-reference among the early Christians was "the disciples", meaning "the learners" or "the followers of a teaching". For example, "disciples" is the most common appellation used in the Acts of the Apostles.[10]

The terms "Nazarene" and "Galilean", were used as polemics by opponents of Christianity. "Nazarene" is one of early names for followers of Jesus, as evidenced in Acts 24:5. Tertullus, a lawyer for the Jewish high priest Ananias (as noted in Acts 24:1) called Paul "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes". Jesus was called "the Nazarene", as mentioned in the biblical books of Matthew, John and Luke-Acts. According to Matthew 2:23, this is because of his relation with the town of Nazareth.[11]

According to Philip Esler, the Jewish term Notzrim (Nazarenes) is the subject of considerable debate. Exactly how broadly the appellation applied to followers of Jesus, or when exactly it was adopted, is believed to be unknown. Esler states that it may or may not have referred to all Christians, but certainly referred to Jewish Christians.[12]


Jewish messianism has its root in the apocalyptic literature of the 2nd century BC to 1st century BC, promising a future "anointed" leader or Messiah to resurrect the Israelite "Kingdom of God", in place of the foreign rulers of the time. This corresponded with the Maccabean Revolt directed against the Seleucids. Following the fall of the Hasmonean kingdom, it was directed against the Roman administration of Iudaea Province, which, according to Josephus, began with the formation of the Zealots during the Census of Quirinius of 6 AD, though full scale open revolt did not occur till the First Jewish–Roman War in 66 AD. Historian H. H. Ben-Sasson has proposed that the "Crisis under Caligula" (37-41) was the "first open break" between Rome and the Jews[13].

Judaism at this time was divided into antagonistic factions. The main camps were the Pharisees, Saducees, and Zealots, but also included other less influential sects. This led to further unrest, and the 1st century BC and 1st century AD saw a number of charismatic religious leaders, contributing to what would become the Mishnah of Rabbinic Judaism, including Yochanan ben Zakai and Hanina Ben Dosa.

The ministry of Jesus, according to the account of the Gospels, falls into this pattern of sectarian preachers with devoted disciples. According to the Gospel writers, Jesus preached for a period of one to three years when he was in his early 30s, in the early 1st century AD. The gospels give Jesus' method of teaching as involving parables, metaphor, allegory, proverbs, and a small number of direct sermons such as the Sermon on the Mount. His ministry of teaching, healing the sick and disabled and performing various miracles culminated in his execution at the hands of the Roman authorities in Jerusalem (but see also Responsibility for the death of Jesus). Shortly thereafter, a strong belief in Jesus' bodily resurrection spread rapidly through Jerusalem, beginning with his closest disciples, which led up to the traditional Day of Pentecost. This event provoked the Apostles to embark on a number of missionary campaigns to spread the "Good News", following the Great Commission handed down by Jesus.

Apostolic Age

Last Supper Room Panoramic

The Cenacle on Mount Zion, claimed to be the location of the Last Supper and Pentecost. Bargil Pixner[14] claims the original Church of the Apostles is located under the current structure.

The Christian church sees "the Apostolic Age" as the foundation upon which its whole history is founded.[15] This period, dated between the years 30 and 100 AD, produced writings attributed to the direct followers of Jesus Christ and is thus associated with the apostles and their contemporaries. Much of our history of the very earliest years of Christianity after the death of Jesus comes from a history written by Luke, the Acts of the Apostles. Some further information of Paul's personal experiences are written in his letters.

The Desposyni (relatives of Jesus) lived in Nazareth during the 1st century. The relatives of Jesus were accorded a special position within the early church, as displayed by the leadership of James the Just in Jerusalem.[16]

Earliest Christianity took the form of a Jewish eschatological faith. The book of Acts reports that the early followers continued daily Temple attendance and traditional Jewish home prayer. Other passages in the New Testament gospels reflect a similar observance of traditional Jewish piety such as fasting, reverence for the Torah and observance of Jewish holy days. The earliest form of Jesus' religion is best understood in this context.[17][18]

Disputes over the Mosaic law generated intense controversy in early Christianity. This is particularly notable in the mid-1st century, when the circumcision controversy came to the fore. The issue was addressed at the Council of Jerusalem where Saint Paul made an argument that circumcision was not a necessary practice, vocally supported by Peter, as documented in Acts 15. This position received widespread support and was summarized in a letter circulated in Antioch. Four years after the Council of Jerusalem, Paul wrote to the Galatians about the issue, which had become a serious controversy in their region. According to Alister McGrath, Paul considered it a great threat to his doctrine of salvation through faith in Jesus and addressed the issue with great detail in Galatians 3.[19]

Diversity vs. orthodoxy

The diversity of early Christianity can be documented from the New Testament record itself. The first three Synoptic gospels give a contrasting view of Jesus with the fourth (the Gospel of John), but ultimately the Church chose to accept all of them, rather than a Gospel Harmony such as the Diatesseron. The Book of Acts, although it attempts to tone things down to a more eirenic account, readily admits conflicts between Hebrews and Hellenists, Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians, Pharisaic Christians and non-Pharisaic Christians, however, its historical accuracy is disputed by some. The letters of Paul, Peter, John, and Jude all testify to intra-Church conflicts over both leadership and theology, sometimes resulting in schisms and mutual anathemas; and the Book of Revelation tells a similar story. Far from being an ideal model of Christian unity, the first-century Church was a battleground of competing personalities and competing ideologies--and according to Clement, it was precisely this kind of conflict which led to the deaths of Peter and Paul at Rome, and the slaughter of a "vast multitude" of Roman Christians at the hand of Nero.

Jewish Christians

Saint James the Just

St. James the Just, whose judgment was adopted in the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15:19-29, c. 50 AD.

Jewish Christians were among the earliest followers of Jesus and an important part of Judean society during the mid- to late 1st century. This movement was centered in Jerusalem (possibly in the Cenacle) and led by James the Just. They held faithfully to the Torah and Jewish law (which was still somewhat fluid in this time period), including acceptance of Gentile converts possibly based on a version of the Noachide laws (Acts 15 and Acts 21). In Christian circles, "Nazarene" later came to be used as a label for those faithful to Jewish law, in particular for a certain sect. These Jewish Christians, originally the central group in Christianity, were not at first declared to be unorthodox, but were later excluded and denounced. Some Jewish Christian groups, such as the Ebionites, were considered to have unorthodox beliefs, particularly in relation to their views of Christ and Gentile converts. The Nazarenes, holding to orthodoxy except in their adherence to Jewish law, were not deemed heretical until the dominance of orthodoxy in the 4th century. The Ebionites may have been a splinter group of Nazarenes, with disagreements over Christology and leadership. After the condemnation of the Nazarenes, "Ebionite" was often used as a general pejorative for all related "heresies".[8][20]

Jewish Christians constituted a separate community from the Pauline Christians, often using one of the Jewish-Christian Gospels but maintained a similar faith, differing only in practice. There was a post-Nicene "double rejection" of the Jewish Christians by both Gentile Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. It is believed that there was no direct confrontation, or persecution, between Gentile and Judaic Christianity. However, by this time the practice of Judeo-Christianity was diluted, both by internal schisms and external pressures. The true end of ancient Jewish Christianity occurred only in the 5th century. Those remaining fully faithful to Halacha became purely Jews, while those adhering to the Christian faith joined with Pauline Christianity. Gentile Christianity remained the sole strand of orthodoxy and imposed itself on the previously Jewish Christian sanctuaries, taking full control of those houses of worship by the end of the 5th century.[21]

Church of Rome

Vatican City at Large

St. Peter's Basilica, believed to be the burial site of St. Peter, seen from the River Tiber. The iconic dome dominates the skyline of Rome.

Roma San Paolo fuori le mura BW 1

Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, believed to be the burial site of St. Paul.

The See of Rome is traditionally said to be founded by Peter and Paul. While the New Testament says nothing directly about Peter's connection with Rome, indirectly Romans 15:20-22 may indicate that when Paul wrote it, another Apostle was already in Rome, and it is highly probable that the "Babylon" mentioned in 1 Peter 5:13, a letter attributed to Peter, is Rome.[22] The tradition that links Peter with Rome is "early and unrivalled".[22] In the first years of the second century, Ignatius of Antioch implies that Peter and Paul had special authority over the Roman church.[22][23] Irenaeus of Lyons, also of the 2nd century, believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as bishop.[24] Dionysius of Corinth also serves as a witness to the tradition.[22]

The New Testament offers no proof that Jesus established the papacy nor that he established Peter as the first bishop of Rome.[25] The official documents of the Catholic Church do not apply to Peter the title "Bishop of Rome", applying it instead to the "successor of Peter",[26] and presenting the Pope as Peter's successor in his relationship with the whole of the Catholic Church.[27] However, some present the Church as linking Peter's primacy with his being bishop of Rome: Eamon Duffy says the official Catholic Church position is that Jesus had essentially appointed Peter as the first pope, with universal primacy as bishop of Rome.[28] Some historians have challenged the view that Peter was bishop (as the term is now understood) of Rome.[29][30][31][32][33]

While most scholars agree that Peter died in Rome,[34] it is generally accepted that there was a Christian community in Rome before either Peter or Paul arrived there.[35][36][37]

Today, New Testament scholars agree that there is a special position to Peter among the Twelve. According to Eamon Duffy, the official Catholic Church position is that Jesus had essentially appointed Peter as the first pope, with universal primacy as bishop of Rome.[28] The Catholic Church draws an analogy between Peter's seeming primacy among the Twelve in New Testament texts such as Matthew  16:17-19, Luke  22:32, and John  21:15-17 and the position of the Pope among the Church's bishops.[38]

Two apostolic and patriarchal sees are claimed to have been founded by Peter: those of Antioch and Rome. With the see of Alexandria, viewed as founded by a disciple of Peter, these formed what became known as the three Petrine Sees, endowed with special authority as recognized by the First Council of Nicaea.[39]

Split with Judaism

There was a slowly growing chasm between Christians and Jews, rather than a sudden split. Even though it is commonly thought that Paul established a Gentile church, it took centuries for a complete break to manifest. However, certain events are perceived as pivotal in the growing rift between Christianity and Judaism. The Council of Jamnia circa 85 is often stated to have condemned all who claimed the Messiah had already come, and Christianity in particular. However, the formulated prayer in question (birkat ha-minim) is considered by other scholars to be unremarkable in the history of Jewish and Christian relations. There is a paucity of evidence for Jewish persecution of "heretics" in general, or Christians in particular, in the period between 70 and 135. It is probable that the condemnation of Jamnia included many groups, of which the Christians were but one, and did not necessarily mean excommunication. That some of the later church fathers only recommended against synagogue attendance makes it improbable that an anti-Christian prayer was a common part of the synagogue liturgy. Jewish Christians continued to worship in synagogues for centuries.[40][41][42]

Nerva Fiscus Iudaicus coin

Coin of Nerva "The blackmail of the Jewish tax lifted"

During the late 1st century, Judaism was a legal religion with the protection of Roman law, worked out in compromise with the Roman state over two centuries. Observant Jews had special rights, including the privilege of abstaining from civic pagan rites. Christians were initially identified with the Jewish religion by the Romans, but as they became more distinct, Christianity became a problem for Roman rulers. Circa 98 the emperor Nerva decreed that Christians did not have to pay the annual tax upon the Jews, effectively recognizing them as distinct from Rabbinic Judaism. This opened the way to Christians being persecuted for disobedience to the emperor, as they refused to worship the state pantheon. It is notable that from c. 98 onwards a distinction between Christians and Jews in Roman literature becomes apparent. For example, Pliny the Younger postulates that Christians are not Jews since they do not pay the tax, in his letters to Trajan.[43][44][45]

Bar Kokhba Revolt

The Bar Kokhba Revolt (132 - 135) created a large rift between Judaism and Jewish Christians. Simon bar Kokhba was recognized as the Jewish Messiah by Rabbi Akiva. The Christians, believing Jesus to be their Messiah, rejected Bar Kokhba and refused to join the revolt. The revolution turned against the Jewish Christians and some were killed. The failure of the revolt had serious consequences. Jews and Jewish Christians were barred entry into Jerusalem, which was rebuilt as the pagan city Aelia Capitolina, leaving the church in Jerusalem without a Jewish identity. Many historians believe the revolt was the most notable event in the split between Judaism and Christianity.[43][46]

Post-apostolic period


Origen, one of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.

Christianity throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries have generally been less studied than the periods that came before and after it. This is reflected in that it is usually referred to in terms of the adjacent periods with names as such "post-apostolic" (after the period of 1st century formative Christianity) and "ante-Nicene" (before the First Council of Nicaea). However, the 2nd and 3rd centuries are quite important in the development of Christianity.[47]

There is a relative lack of material for this period, compared with the later Church Father period. For example, a widely used collection (Ante-Nicene Fathers) includes most second- and third-century writings in nine volumes. This includes the writings of the Apostolic Fathers, Apologists, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus of Lyons, Origen of Alexandria and the New Testament Apocrypha, among others. In contrast, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (consisting mainly of Augustine, Jerome and Chrysostom) fills twenty-eight volumes.[48]

The developments of this time are "multidirectional and not easily mapped". While the preceding and following periods were diverse, they possessed unifying characteristics lacking in this period. First-century Christianity possessed a basic cohesion based on the Pauline church movement, Jewish character, and self-identification as a messianic movement. The 2nd and 3rd centuries saw a sharp divorce from its early roots. There was an explicit rejection of then-modern Judaism and Jewish culture by the end of the 2nd century, with a growing body of adversus Judaeos literature. Fourth- and fifth-century Christianity experienced imperial pressure and developed strong episcopal and unifying structure. The ante-Nicene period was without such authority and immensely diverse. Many variations in this time defy neat categorizations, with as various forms of Christianity interacted in a complex fashion to form the dynamic character of Christianity in this era.[49]

Spread of Christianity

Spread of Christianity in Europe to AD 600

     Spread of Christianity to AD 325      Spread of Christianity to AD 600

Early Christianity spread from city to city in the Hellenized Roman Empire and beyond. Major cities such as Rome, Ephesus, Antioch and Corinth served as foundations for the expansive spread of Christianity in the post-apostolic period. By the end of the 1st century, Christianity had already spread to Rome and to various cities in Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and India, serving as foundations for the expansive spread of Christianity. Over 40 communities were established by the year 100,[50][51] many in Asia Minor, such as the seven churches of Asia.

Within the Empire

Christianity spread very quickly throughout Italy, establishing nearly one hundred episcopal sees by the middle of the 3rd century. Christianity spread more slowly throughout Gaul and Spain, but was established in the main urban centers by the end of the 2nd century. By the end of the 3rd century, Christianity had reached Britain and spread significantly throughout Gaul, Spain, Germany and Iberia.[52]

In North Africa, Carthage and Alexandria were notable centers of Christianity. The writings of Tertullian and Cyprian indicate the vitality of the churches in the area of Carthage, Numidia and Tunisia during the ante-Nicene era. Clement and Origen bear witness to the influential Alexandrian Christian community. Apocryphal works indicate a strong ascetic component to some forms of Alexandrian Christianity. The Nag Hammadi library indicates the strong presence of Gnostic forms of Christianity in Egypt, but the dating of the earliest Gnostics in the area is heavily disputed.[53]

Outside the Empire

Christianity arrived along the southern Indian Malabar Coast via Thomas the Apostle[54] and from this came Thomasine Christianity. These Syrian Malabar Nasranis kept a unique Christian identity until the arrival of the Portuguese in the 15th century.

See also


  1. Elwell & Comfort (2001). Pp 266, 828.
  2. Bockmuehl (2001). Pg 198.
  3. Barclay (1999). Pp 223-224.
  4. "The political family so named for its support of the Herod family is described by Josephus, the Jewish historian, as wanting to put Herod on the throne instead of the Maccabean Antigonus in 40 BC. The Herodians are mentioned on two occasions in the Gospels"(Ronald Brownrigg, Who's who in the New Testament, p. 87)
  5. Dunn (2003). Pg 26.
  6. Elwell & Comfort (2001), p. 266
  7. Theissen & Merz (1998), pp. 81-3
  8. 8.0 8.1 Tabor (1998).
  9. Wylen, Stephen M., The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction, Paulist Press (1995), ISBN 0809136104, Pp 190-192.; Dunn, James D.G., Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways, A.D. 70 to 135, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (1999), ISBN 0802844987, Pp 33-34.; Boatwright, Mary Taliaferro & Gargola, Daniel J & Talbert, Richard John Alexander, The Romans: From Village to Empire, Oxford University Press (2004), ISBN 0195118758, p. 426.;
  10. Esler (2004). Pg 157.
  11. Esler (2004). Pp 157-158.
  12. Esler (2004). Pg 158.
  13. H.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, ISBN 0674397312, The Crisis Under Gaius Caligula, pages 254-256: "The reign of Gaius Caligula (37-41) witnessed the first open break between the Jews and the Julio-Claudian empire. Until then — if one accepts Sejanus' heyday and the trouble caused by the census after Archelaus' banishment — there was usually an atmosphere of understanding between the Jews and the empire ... These relations deteriorated seriously during Caligula's reign, and, though after his death the peace was outwardly re-established, considerable bitterness remained on both sides. ... Caligula ordered that a golden statue of himself be set up in the Temple in Jerusalem. ... Only Caligula's death, at the hands of Roman conspirators (41), prevented the outbreak of a Jewish-Roman war that might well have spread to the entire East."
  14. Bargil Pixner, The Church of the Apostles found on Mount Zion, Biblical Archaeology Review 16.3 May/June 1990 [1]
  15. Brown (1993). Pg 10.
  16. Taylor (1993). Pg 224.
  17. White (2004). Pg 127.
  18. Ehrman (2005). Pg 187.
  19. McGrath (2006). Pp 174-175.
  20. Esler (2004). Pp 157-159.
  21. Dauphin (1993). Pp 235, 240-242.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 "Peter, St" Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  23. In his Epistle to the Romans, chapter 4:3, he told them he was not giving them orders like Peter and Paul (οὐχ ὡς Πέτρος καὶ Παῦλος διατάσσομαι ὑμῖν). The context of this phrase is, in Lightfoot's translation of 1891:
    4:1 I write to all the churches, and I bid all men know, that of my own free will I die for God, unless ye should hinder me. I exhort you, be ye not an unseasonable kindness to me. Let me be given to the wild beasts, for through them I can attain unto God. I am God's wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread [of Christ].
    4:2 Rather entice the wild beasts, that they may become my sepulchre and may leave no part of my body behind, so that I may not, when I am fallen asleep, be burdensome to any one. Then shall I be truly a disciple of Jesus Christ, when the world shall not so much as see my body. Supplicate the Lord for me, that through these instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God.
    4:3 I do not enjoin you, as Peter and Paul did. They were Apostles, I am a convict; they were free, but I am a slave to this very hour. Yet if I shall suffer, then am I a freed-man of Jesus Christ, and I shall rise free in Him. Now I am learning in my bonds to put away every desire.
  24. "Irenaeus Against Heresies 3.3.2". "...[the] Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. ...The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate." 
  25. O'Grady, John. The Roman Catholic church: its origins and nature. p. 143. 
  26. :Catechism of the Catholic Church, 85
  27. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 877-892, 936
  28. 28.0 28.1 Saints and Sinners: A History of the Popes Eamon Duffy, ch. 1
  29. Brown, Raymond E. and Meier, John P. (1983). Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Christianity. Paulist Press. p. 98. "As for Peter, we have no knowledge at all of when he came to Rome and what he did there before he was martyred. Certainly he was not the original missionary who brought Christianity to Rome (and therefore not the founder of the church of Rome in that sense). There is no serious proof that he was the bishop (or local ecclesiastical officer) of the Roman church--a claim not made till the third century. Most likely he did not spend any major time at Rome before 58 when Paul wrote to the Romans, and so it may have been only in the 60s and relatively shortly before his martyrdom that Peter came to the capital." 
  30. Cullmann, Oscar (1962). Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr, 2nd ed.. Westminster Press. p. 234. ""In the New Testament [Jerusalem] is the only church of which we hear that Peter stood at its head. Of other episcopates of Peter we know nothing certain. Concerning Antioch, indeed ... there is a tradition, first appearing in the course of the second century, according to which Peter was its bishop. The assertion that he was Bishop of Rome we first find at a much later time. From the second half of the second century we do possess texts that mention the apostolic foundation of Rome, and at this time, which is indeed rather late, this foundation is traced back to Peter and Paul, an assertion that cannot be supported historically. Even here, however, nothing is said as yet of an episcopal office of Peter."" 
  31. Chadwick, Henry (1993). The Early Church, rev. ed.. Penguin Books. p. 18. "No doubt Peter's presence in Rome in the sixties must indicate a concern for Gentile Christianity, but we have no information whatever about his activity or the length of his stay there. That he was in Rome for twenty-five years is third-century legend." 
  32. J.N.D. Kelly, Oxford Dictionary of the Popes (Oxford University Press, 1996), p. 6. "Ignatius assumed that Peter and Paul wielded special authority over the Roman church, while Irenaeus claimed that they jointly founded it and inaugurated its succession of bishops. Nothing, however, is known of their constitutional roles, least of all Peter's as presumed leader of the community."
  33. Building Unity, Ecumenical Documents IV (Paulist Press, 1989), p. 130. "There is increasing agreement that Peter went to Rome and was martyred there, but we have no trustworthy evidence that Peter ever served as the supervisor or bishop of the local church in Rome."
  34. "most scholars, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, concur that Peter died in Rome": Keener, Craig S., The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, p. 425, n. 74, 2009 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
  35. Gilbert, George Holley (1906). A short history of Christianity in the Apostolic Age. "We must suppose, then, that there had been disciples of Jesus in Rome for a period of twelve or fifteen years before Paul's letter, if not for a much longer period." 
  36. "Rome", Catholic Encyclopedia "Even on the Day of Pentecost, 'Roman strangers' (advenœ Romani, Acts 2:10) were present at Jerusalem, and they surely must have carried the good news to their fellow-citizens at Rome ... according to the pseudo-Clementine Epistles, St. Barnabas was the first to preach the Gospel in the Eternal City." [2]
  37. Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article Rome (early Christian) "When the Ep. to the Romans was written (c. AD 58), a large Christian community already existed at Rome".
  38. [ Lumen gentium, 18-22
  39. Gerard Mannion, Richard Gaillardetz, Jan Kerkhofs, Readings in Church Authority: Gifts and Challenges for Contemporary Catholicism, p. 211
  40. Wylen (1995). Pg 190.
  41. Berard (2006). Pp 112-113.
  42. Wright (1992). Pp 164-165.
  43. 43.0 43.1 Wylen (1995). Pp 190-192.
  44. Dunn (1999). Pp 33-34.
  45. Boatwright (2004). Pg 426.
  46. Hunt (2003). Pp 6-7.
  47. Siker (2000). Pg 231.
  48. Siker (2000). Pp 231-32.
  49. Siker (2000). Pp 232-34.
  50. Hitchcock, Geography of Religion (2004), p. 281, quote: "By the year 100, more than 40 Christian communities existed in cities around the Mediterranean, including two in North Africa, at Alexandria and Cyrene, and several in Italy."
  51. Bokenkotter, A Concise History of the Catholic Church (2004), p. 18, quote: "The story of how this tiny community of believers spread to many cities of the Roman Empire within less than a century is indeed a remarkable chapter in the history of humanity."
  52. Siker (2000). Pg 241.
  53. Siker (2000). Pp 241-42.
  54. A.E. Medlycott, India and The Apostle Thomas, pp.1-71, 213-97; M.R. James, Apocryphal New Testament, pp.364-436; Eusebius, History, chapter 4:30; J.N. Farquhar, The Apostle Thomas in North India, chapter 4:30; V.A. Smith, Early History of India, p.235; L.W. Brown, The Indian Christians of St. Thomas, p.49-59


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  • Bockmuehl, Markus N.A. The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. Cambridge University Press (2001). ISBN 0521796784.
  • Brown, Schuyler. The Origins of Christianity: A Historical Introduction to the New Testament. Oxford University Press (1993). ISBN 0198262078.
  • Dauphin, C. "De l'Église de la circoncision à l'Église de la gentilité – sur une nouvelle voie hors de l'impasse". Studium Biblicum Franciscanum. Liber Annuus XLIII (1993).
  • Dunn, James D.G. Jews and Christians: The Parting of the Ways, A.D. 70 to 135. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (1999). ISBN 0802844987.
  • Dunn, James D.G. The Cambridge Companion to St. Paul. Cambridge University Press (2003). ISBN 0521786940.
  • Ehrman, Bart D. Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. HarperCollins (2005). ISBN 0060738170.
  • Elwell, Walter A. & Comfort, Philip Wesley. Tyndale Bible Dictionary. Tyndale House Publishers (2001). ISBN 0842370897.
  • Esler, Phillip F. The Early Christian World. Routledge (2004). ISBN 0415333121.
  • Hunt, Emily Jane. Christianity in the Second Century: The Case of Tatian. Routledge (2003). ISBN 0415304059.
  • McGrath, Alister E. Christianity: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing (2006). ISBN 1405108991.
  • Siker, Jeffrey S. "Christianity in the Second and Third Centuries", Chapter Nine in The Early Christian World. Philip F. Esler, editor. Routledge (2000). ISBN 0415241413.
  • Tabor, James D. "Ancient Judaism: Nazarenes and Ebionites", The Jewish Roman World of Jesus. Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (1998).
  • Taylor, Joan E. Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins. Oxford University Press (1993). ISBN 0198147856.
  • Theissen, Gerd & Merz, Annette. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press (1998). ISBN 0800631226.
  • White, L. Michael. From Jesus to Christianity. HarperCollins (2004). ISBN 0060526556.
  • Wright, N.T. The New Testament and the People of God. Fortress Press (1992). ISBN 0800626818.
  • Wylen, Stephen M. The Jews in the Time of Jesus: An Introduction. Paulist Press (1995). ISBN 0809136104.

Further reading

  • Dunn, James D.G. Unity and Diversity in the New Testament: An Inquiry into the Character of Earliest Christianity. SCM Press (2006). ISBN 0334029988.
  • Freedman, David Noel (Ed). Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing (2000). ISBN 0802824005.
  • Keck, Leander E. Paul and His Letters. Fortress Press (1988). ISBN 0800623401.
  • Mills, Watson E. Acts and Pauline Writings. Mercer University Press (1997). ISBN 086554512X.
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan. The Christian Tradition: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). University of Chicago Press (1975). ISBN 0226653714.
  • Thiede, Carsten Peter. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Jewish Origins of Christianity. Palgrabe Macmillan (2003). ISBN 1403961433.

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