What came to be called Roman Catholicism was born as the new Christian faith grounded in the teachings and passion of Jesus Christ, who lived in 1st-century Palestine under Roman occupation.
Early Christianity drew on a variety of sources—Jewish ideas, Greek philosophy, Greek and Latin vocabulary—in an attempt to explain complex theological formulations.
Jesus' first apostles handed authority down in an apostolic succession that developed into a system of bishops, but the specific jurisdiction of Rome's bishop was initially unclear.
Several centuries passed before Church authorities weighed a variety of scriptural writings to establish a definitive canon of authoritative texts known as the New Testament.
As she attempts to interpret and implement the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church is reexamining her relationship with the world, other faiths, and fellow Christians.