• Know the basic path of Jesus’s life.
• Also, for what reasons he was executed.
• Know the importance of Paul to the spread of
Christianity (and what he did that was so important to
• Know what factors helped the faith spread (both
logistical, like the Pax Romana, and why the faith was
appealing to people).
• Know why Christians were persecuted for their faith.
• Know the importance of Constantine to the rise of
Christianity and the effects of what he did.
• Also, what led him to legalize it.
• What were the downsides of Constantine?
3. By 63 BC, Rome rules Palestine.
By around BC 6 – AD 6, Caesar Augustus is emperor and
this is the world into Jesus is born.
4. Regardless of one’s belief in Jesus’s divinity, it’s hard to
deny that he was probably the most influential person
to have lived.
• He lived just 33 years and his main ministry lasted only
3 years. Yet he had a mind boggling effect on world
5. • For somebody so important, we don’t have any
contemporary accounts of his appearance.
• He certainly wasn’t the Caucasian-looking fellow that
gets portrayed a lot in Western culture.
6. • Being a Semitic man from the 1st century, he likely had
a tawny skin tone, dark hair and eyes. These are facial
reconstructions from a skull from that time period.
• Bear in mind that this is just a random skull the face is
based on. You can’t say this is Jesus any more than if
you took George Bush’s skull and came up with my
7. • This is based on the image from the Shroud of Turin
9. • Interestingly, just as the West portrays Jesus as white,
other cultures portray him in their own ethnicity: Arab,
10. Anyway… Jesus was born in Bethlehem anywhere from 6
BC to AD 6. There’s disagreement about when it was
based on astronomical events, King Herod’s death, and
• The AD 1 year mark is based on a system devised by a
6th century monk named Dionysius Exiguus. He
• Raised in Nazareth, he didn’t begin his public preaching
until he was 30. Then he shook the world.
• Preached a message of forgiveness (divine and
interpersonal), a personal relationship with God, and
• Became rather popular with the hoi polloi and was
hailed as the Messiah… Israel’s savior.
11. Neither the Romans nor the Jewish authorities were too
comfortable with Jesus’s popularity.
• The Romans didn’t like the idea of somebody gaining
power and prestige. They were a potential threat.
12. • It didn’t help that people were thinking of him as
• The Christian conception of that term is different
from the Jewish conception at the time. For 1st
century Judaism, the messiah would be a political
and military leader – a new king that would
reunite Israel and defeat its enemies (specifically
the Romans). Naturally, the Romans didn’t like
13. • The Jewish leaders, the Pharisees and the
Sadducees, saw him as a threat because he was
continually preaching against them.
• Thus, both major powers wanted him out of the
14. Accordingly, Jesus is crucified due to trumped up charges.
• Crucifixion was actually a uniquely painful way to die.
15. • Different theories as the actual cause of death:
asphyxiation from being stretched out, embolisms from
blood clots, dehydration, and others.
• It was definitely painful, however. Hence ‘excruciating.’
17. After his death, his
apostles carry on his
Primary spreader of the
faith was Saul of
Tarsus, aka the
18. • Was originally a
Christians, but then
became its main
supporter after a
19. Paul visited a number of locations, starting churches in
20. • He would also write letters to many of these churches
supporting them and giving advice.
• Many of these letters are now books of the New
Testament. They have the names of the cities or
people to which/whom they were address, e.g.
Galatians was to the church in Galatia, Ephesians
was to the church in Ephesus, 1 and 2 Timothy are
to a disciple named Timothy, etc.
21. • Paul even visits the acropolis in Athens and argues with
some Stoic and Epicurean philosophers.
• Christianity slowly started spreading around the
• Aided by the Pax Romana and the fact that Romans
tended to be tolerant and accepting of other
• They wanted to make sure they weren’t missing
any gods after all.
25. • The Roman tolerance, though, was that you could
worship your own gods, but you had to recognize
Roman ones too, including worshiping Caesar.
• This wasn’t too big a deal for most polytheistic
religions. For the monotheistic Christians, it was a
26. • So the problem wasn’t that Christians had their own
god, it’s that they didn’t recognize or worship the
• This was viewed as undermining Roman authority.
It was also seen as dangerous that people weren’t
worshipping the Roman gods because then the gods
could turn their backs on Rome.
• As Roman society started frowning on Christians, the
Christians started meeting in secret: in catacombs,
sewers, caves, etc.
• This only increased the misconceptions of
Christians: rumors swirled that they engaged in
depraved acts: sexual depravity, child sacrifice, even
cannibalism due to misunderstanding communion.
27. • So the Romans were naturally suspicious of these
• The first big persecution comes after the great fire in
Rome in AD 64.
• Emperor Nero blames it on the Christians (they were
• Nero proceeds to round up and execute some
• The succeeding emperors such as Vespasian and Trajan
don’t worry themselves too much about the Christians,
though the Romans still didn’t like them.
29. • As the Roman Empire
starts its decline,
persecution steps up as
Romans blame the
Christians for their woes.
• Some were crucified,
others burned alive, still
more killed in the arena.
disapproved of the
arena and gladiatorial
sport in general… it
was too easy to get
hooked on the
30. • When put in the arena,
a popular method was
for them to be killed by
• A problem the
Romans faced is that
welcomed death and
the chance to be
martyred. They took
joy in death… which
the Romans found
• They would even
taunt the crowd to
kill them. St. Ignatius
37. • Some Christians went to extreme lengths to avoid
persecution, such as at Cappadocia.
• This was a labyrinth of caves Christians carved
into a mountain and down into the ground.
• It was 18 stories deep and had miles of tunnels.
• The complex housed around 20,000 people who
rarely left the underground system.
• Was complete with living quarters, grape juicing
rooms, churches, ventilation shafts, and wells.
• Was complete with secret doorways that closed
tight from the inside.
42. • Despite the Roman attempts to use brute force to
stamp out the Christians, the religion continued to
43. Spread due to 5 main factors as put in the book:
1.Embraced all people – men, women, slaves, poor,
2.Gave hope to the powerless
3.Appealed to those who were repelled by Roman
4.Offered personal relationship with a loving God.
5.Promised eternal life after death.
44. As the faith spreads, it takes on an organizational
• There are local priests and then regional bishops.
• Eventually, the bishop of Rome becomes the pope.
45. Official Religion
• In 313, Emperor Constantine (the same guy who
moved the capital to Byzantium/Constantinople) ended
all persecution and legalized Christianity in the Edict of
• His mother was actually a Christian and he credited
God with helping win a major battle.
46. • The Labarum: chi rho:
• Used the first two
letters of xristos.
• Accompanied by the
words, Εν τούτω Νίκα.
“With this, you win.” Or
“In this sign, conquer.”
48. • Also replaced crucifixion with hanging.
• Kept some aspects of paganism and doesn’t actually
officially convert until shortly before his death.
• Speculation that the only reason he converted to
Christianity is because it was the only religion that
would offer him forgiveness for his grievous sins
(although late life baptism wasn’t uncommon).
• Sins such as having his eldest son tried and
executed because of rumors he was having an
affair with his second wife Fausta.
• Then he had Fausta executed because she was
the apparent source of the rumors.
• Marks a pivotal joining of church and state, although it
doesn’t become the state religion until 390 under
49. • To his great discredit, Constantine also starts
persecuting the Jews.
• Put restrictions on them, makes it illegal to convert
to Judaism. Unfortunate considering the recent
treatment of Christians.
• “It was, in the first place, declared improper to follow the custom of the Jews
in the celebration of this holy festival, because, their hands having been
stained with crime, the minds of these wretched men are necessarily blinded.
... Let us, then, have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our
adversaries. ... avoiding all contact with that evil way. ... who, after having
compassed the death of the Lord, being out of their minds, are guided not by
sound reason, but by an unrestrained passion, wherever their innate madness
carries them. ... a people so utterly depraved. ... Therefore, this irregularity
must be corrected, in order that we may no more have any thing in common
with those parricides and the murderers of our Lord. ... no single point in
common with the perjury of the Jews.”
• Starts a tragic trend in Western culture towards
50. • Constantine also called the Council of Nicaea
• Sought to settle some religious disputes and provide
some standard Christian doctrines.
• There were all sorts at the time.
• Upside is that Christianity starts getting some
• Downside is that pagans and heretical Christians
start being persecuted.
• Persecution of the Jews, pagans, and heretical
sects was much greater than anything the
Romans forced on the early Christians.