The First Century of Christianity- HOARATS

The First Century of Christianity- HOARATS February 7, 2024

My attempt in this blog post is to recount a short history of the first Century of Christianity.

The Catholic Bard’s Guide To History Introduction 

If something is colored RED it probably has a link to a related Jimmy Akin’s Mysterious World Podcast on the particular topic highlighted. 

From the beginning of the Church, Christians have told her story, because history is integral to the Faith. God does not ignore his creation, but rather entered human history in a unique manner in the Incarnation, intimately involving himself in that history. The writing of Church history should acknowledge this super-natural reality and follow certain  principles, such as accepting the miraculous in human affairs, seeing the impact of the actions of the saints, and recognizing the primacy of the Vicar of Christ (the pope) in the life of the Church and Western Civilization.
-Steve Weidenkopf,  Timeless: A History of the Catholic Church (2018 )  Our Sunday Visitor

Before this century took place, these pre-church events happened.

Biblical Figures Who Lived Before The First Christmas 

People And Places Before The First Christmas 

Now we move on to the…

Popes 1 – 5: All Saints
0 Anti- Popes

When we try to understand the early Church and the origins of Christianity, the first thing we have to keep in mind is that there are probably more documents from that era that are lost to us than there are documents that have survived. There are more artifacts and ruins that have disintegrated or that remain buried than those that have been excavated. Like the sounds of the first Christians singing, those echoes of the past have long faded away, and we have no access to them. So we have to do the best we can to piece together the story from what we do have.

And we have some pretty amazing things: we have the documents that make up our New Testament—some of them written by people who knew Jesus personally—as well as other documents from the early centuries. We have the relics and the tombs of the martyrs—especially the tombs of Peter and Paul in Rome (in case anyone might claim they never actually went there). And we still have many of the earliest church buildings, though they have been remodeled and embellished over the centuries. Finally, we have the writings of the first Christian historians, such as Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea and his Ecclesiastical History.
The Early Church (33–313): St. Peter, the Apostles, and Martyrs (Reclaiming Catholic History) (2019)  by James L. Papandrea  

00’s – The Joyful beginning has the Angel Gabriel visit Zechariah to announce the birth of John the Baptist to his elderly wife Elizabeth.

The Angel Gabriel then visits Mary to ask if she wants to be the mother of God. She says YES.

The Angel Gabriel visits Joseph in a dream to let him know it’s alright to take Mary as his wife.

Mary and Joseph head to Bethlehem to enroll in the census by Caesar Augustus.

The word of God is brought out of the womb and Jesus’s Joyful Birth .

 

1888 – Edward Burne-Jones – The Nativity

He is visited by the the Magi.

c. 1890 –James Tissot The Magi Journeying Brooklyn Museum New York City

 The song “We Three Kings” (1957) is  a Christmas carol that was written by John Henry Hopkins Jr..  At the time of composing the carol, Hopkins served as the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and he wrote the carol for a Christmas pageant in New York City. It was the first widely popular Christmas carol written in America.

He is also visited by Shepherds where they celebrate The Mystery of the Very First Christmas .

1865What Child Is This?” (1865) is a Christmas carol with lyrics written by William Chatterton Dix  and set to the tune of “Greensleeves“, a traditional English folk song, in 1871. Although written in Great Britain, the carol today is more popular in the United States than its country of origin.

Herod gets mad and tries to kill Jesus by killing a bunch of other infants and children around Jesus age.

Joseph and the Family flee to Egypt home off mummies and Pyramids.

The historical novel  Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ (1880) by Lew Wallace takes place during the life of Christ starting with his birth. It was made into several movie adaptations including the 1925 and academy award winning 1959 versions.

30’s40s  John the Baptist appears on the scene preparing the way of the Lord. Jesus appears slightly afterwards living his ordinary extraordinary Luminous Life and started his ministry, formed the apostles to start his church.

Then Jesus summoned his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every sickness. These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon, also known as Peter, and his brother Andrew; James son of Zebedee, and his brother John; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed him.— Matthew 10:1–4

and later…

Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles. Acts 1:26

The Importance of the Cross

He then suffered his Sorrowful torture and death on the cross.

“A myth, though, is not a lie. At its most profound—as Tolkien, that devout Catholic, always argued—a myth can be true. To be a Christian is to believe that God became man and suffered a death as terrible as any mortal has ever suffered. This is why the cross, that ancient implement of torture, remains what it has always been: the fitting symbol of the Christian revolution. It is the audacity of it—the audacity of finding in a twisted and defeated corpse the glory of the creator of the universe—that serves to explain, more surely than anything else, the sheer strangeness of Christianity, and of the civilization to which it gave birth. Today, the power of this strangeness remains as alive as it has ever been. It is manifest in the great surge of conversions that has swept Africa and Asia over the past century; in the conviction of millions upon millions that the breath of the Spirit, like a living fire, still blows upon the world; and, in Europe and North America, in the assumptions of many more millions who would never think to describe themselves as Christian. All are heirs to the same revolution: a revolution that has, at its molten heart, the image of a god dead on a cross.”
― Tom Holland, Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World

The book The Robe (1942) by Lloyd C. Douglas and Movie version (1953) takes place right after the crucifiction. 

 Then came the Glorious  Resurrection  from the dead.

He then descended to heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to bring his church to full life. His apostles went out to spread…

The Gospel Message

Pope # 1 St Peter(30–33 / 64–68)
Apostle of Jesus. The first pope. He received the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 16:18–19).

You who are Israelites, hear these words. Jesus the Nazorean was a man commended to you by God with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs, which God worked through him in your midst, as you yourselves know. This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God, you killed, using lawless men to crucify him. But God raised him up, releasing him from the throes of death, because it was impossible for him to be held by it. – Acts 2: 22 – 24
After the apostles started their ministry, they gained their most important convert.

Conversion of Paul

 Now Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
 On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”
The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, for they heard the voice but could see no one.
Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing;* so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank. –Acts 9:1–9

Conversion on the Way to Damascus, a 1601 portrait by Caravaggio

MEANWHILE IN ROME

Caligula the mad emperor was assassinated on  January 24, 41

In 1937 – The movie I, Claudius is not released. It is an unfinished 1937 film adaptation of the novels I, Claudius (1934) and Claudius the God (1935) by Robert Graves. Produced by Alexander Korda, the film was directed by Josef von Sternberg, with Charles Laughton in the title role. The production was dogged by adverse circumstances, culminating in a car accident involving co-star Merle Oberon that caused filming to be ended before completion. Footage from the production was incorporated into a 1965 documentary on the making of the film The Epic That Never Was.  Claudius was the paternal uncle of the Mad Emperor Caligula. Welsh actor Emlyn Williams was cast as Caligula in the never-completed film.

50’s – The Council of Jerusalem was held early in the decade: The council decided that Gentile converts to Christianity were not obligated to keep most of the fasts, and other specific rituals, including the rules concerning circumcision of males. The Council did, however, retain the prohibitions on eating bloodmeat containing blood, and meat of animals that were strangled, and on fornication and idolatry.

The rest of the century, the rest of the New Testament is lived out and written about. As well as the struggle of the early church and its clash with the Roman government and the life and death of the early saints.

All Christians owe an enormous debt to the Catholic Church, for it was through the Church that the Bible was given to the world. The Catholic Church laboriously copied the scriptures in the age before the printing press, when every book—including lengthy ones like the Bible—had to be written by hand.

It thus preserved these books through the centuries, unlike so many ancient works that have now been lost. The Catholic Church is why we have the Bible today, and everyone should be grateful for the gift that, by the grace of God, it has given to the world. The Bible is a Catholic book!
Jimmy Akin, The Bible is a Catholic Book (2019)  Catholic Answers Press.

The four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

Sir Peter Paul Rubens  1614

 When Were the Gospels Written? Church of England bishop Herbert Marsh (December 10, 1757 –   May 1, 1839)  advanced a proto-gospel hypothesis, in his Dissertation in 1801. He  deduced that there had been an original Aramaean gospel-narrative which had been translated into Greek, and had been circulated in copies into which additional information was afterwards added or interpolated. This became known as the  two-source hypothesis (or 2SH). This Hypothesis proposes that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written independently, each using Mark and a second hypothetical document called “Q” as a source.

The New Testament consists of 27 books:

  • 4 canonical  Gospels  by the “Four Evangelists” (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
  • The Acts of the Apostles by St. Luke
  • 13 Pauline epistles by St. Paul
  • The Epistle to the Hebrews. The text does not mention the name of its author, but was traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle. However, doubt on Pauline authorship in the Roman Church is reported by Eusebius. Modern biblical scholarship considers its authorship unknown, written in deliberate imitation of the style of Paul,  with some contending that it was authored by Priscilla and Aquila.
  • 7 general epistles including letters by St. Peter and St. John  and Jesus relatives named  James and Jude.
  •  The Book of Revelation   by the Apostle St. John which helps us   Unbox  The Mystery of the Antichrist  and The Mark of Beast. 

Throughout human history, people in all cultures have sensed the divine and developed a bewildering arrays of beliefs and ideas.  The Bible helps us to understand the revelation of  God in Christ and how he is not just one God among other gods.

Other ancient Christian writings include…

The Infamous Gospel of Thomas  which is one of the Gnostic Gospels

The Gospel of Cerinthus  which is one of the The Lost Gospels 

In 1945 –  The Nag Hammadi library (also known as the   “Chenoboskion  Manuscripts” and the “Gnostic Gospels”) is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi. The Nag Hammadi library (also known as the “Chenoboskion Manuscripts” and the “Gnostic Gospels”  is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi.

The Dead Sea Scrolls  Including The Copper Scroll with the  The Dead Sea Scrolls Treasure Map.

Between November 1946–February 1947   – The Discovery of The Dead Sea Scrolls  was by Bedouin shepherd Muhammed edh-Dhib, his cousin Jum’a Muhammed, and Khalil Musa first discover what is known today as The Dead Sea Scrolls in this time period.  They were found in a series of 12 caves around the site originally known as Ein Feshkha near the Dead Sea in the West Bank (then controlled by Jordan). All the scrolls were discovered  between 1946 and 1956 by these Bedouin shepherds and also a team of top crack amazing archeologists such as Dr. Henry Jones. The practice of storing worn-out sacred manuscripts in earthenware vessels buried in the earth or within caves is related to the ancient Jewish custom of genizah.

On March 14, 1952 –  While most of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found by Bedouins, the Copper Scroll was discovered by an archaeologist.  The Copper Scroll (3Q15) was found in Cave 3 near Khirbet Qumran, but differs significantly from the others. Whereas the other scrolls are written on parchment or papyrus, this scroll is written on metalcopper mixed with about 1 percent tin, although no metallic copper remained in the strips; the action of the centuries had been to convert the metal into brittle oxide.

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife  This was supposedly an antient papyrus discovered in the 21st century that indicated that Jesus had a Wife. But it was proved to be a big fat fake.

The Didache also known as The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations is a brief anonymous early Christian treatise (ancient church order) written in Koine Greek, dated by modern scholars to the first  or (less commonly) second century AD. It is the oldest extant written catechism.and considered  part of the group of second-generation Christian writings known as the Apostolic Fathers.

The Talmud  is the central text of Rabbinic Judaism and the primary source of Jewish religious law (halakha) and Jewish theology.  Until the advent of modernity, in nearly all Jewish communities, the Talmud was the centerpiece of Jewish cultural life and was foundational to “all Jewish thought and aspirations”, serving also as “the guide for the daily life” of Jews.

Other Events in this century include…

AD 31: the Han dynasty Chinese engineer and statesman Du Shi (d. AD 38) from Nanyang invented the first-known hydraulic-powered bellows to heat the blast furnace in smelting cast iron. He used a complex mechanical device that was powered by the rushing current against a waterwheel, a practice that would continue in China.

AD 50 San Bartolo pyramid is completed around this time. San Bartolo is a small pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site located in the Department of Petén in northern Guatemala, northeast of Tikal and roughly fifty miles from the nearest settlement.

In AD 62 or 64, the Baths of Nero were constructed. It stood between the Pantheon and the Stadium of Domitian and were listed among the most notable buildings in the city by Roman authors and became a much-frequented venue.

Pope # 2  St Linus (64–68 / 76–79)
First Roman pope, being a Roman citizen born in Italia, the homeland of the ancient Romans.

64 A Fire breaks out in Rome and destroys a significant section of Rome; the Christians are blamed of course, and the mad egotistical emperor Nero begins the first official persecution of the Church.

67: Buddhism came to China with the two monks Moton and Chufarlan.

68Buddhism is officially established in China with the founding of the White Horse Temple.

AD 70  Jesus’ Prophecy: “The Temple Will Be Destroyed!The Romans besieged and sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple. After this major victory, the Romans continued to clear pockets of Jewish resistance, with the final stronghold taken being Masada 

 Geoffrey Arthur Williamson MC (1895–1982) translates Josephus: The Jewish War. (1959)

Pope # 3  St Anacletus (76–79 / 88–91)
First Greek pope.

AD 79 The Roman City of Pompeii is destroyed.

Pope # 4 St Clement I April 26, 88 –  November 23, 99 (11 years, 211 days)
He is the earliest Apostolic Father.
He issued 1 Clement which is said to be the basis of apostolic authority for the clergy.

AD 96 – 180: Reign of the Five Good Emperors of Rome: NervaTrajanHadrianAntoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius

Pope # 5 St Evaristus – November 23, 99 –   October 27, 105 (5 years, 338 days)
Hellenized Jew.
Said to have divided Rome into parishes, assigning a priest to each.

NEXT TIME

Popes And Councils Of The 2nd, 3rd And 4th Centuries HOARATS
A Timeline Of Events From The 2nd – 3rd Centuries (patheos.com)

HOARATS

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What I love and How I Write About History  

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please read

The Catholic Bard’s Guide To History Introduction  

And to view a historical article click on

Catholic Bard’s Guide To History Timeline Of Articles |
A Link List To The Catholic Bard’s History Articles. (patheos.com)


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