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WH Chapter 6 Section 4 Notes
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WH Chapter 6 Section 4 Notes

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  • 1. Section 4 Notes
  • 2.     Early in the Pax Romana, a new religion, Christianity, sprang up in a distant corner of the Roman empire The new faith grew rapidly and by 395 A.D. it had been declared the official religion of the Roman empire As it gained strength and spread throughout the empire, Christianity reshaped Roman beliefs And when the Roman empire fell, the Christian church took over much of its role, becoming the central institution of western civilization for almost 1,000 years
  • 3.      Within the culturally diverse Roman empire, a variety of religious beliefs and practices coexisted Jupiter, Mars, Juno, and other traditional Roman gods remained important to some people Some people turned to mystery religions that emphasized secret rituals and promised special rewards One of these was the cult of Isis, which originated in Egypt and offered women equal status with men Others worshipped the Persian god Mithras, who championed good over evil and offered life after death (Mithraism was favored by Roman soldiers)
  • 4.    Generally, Rome tolerated the varied religious traditions throughout their empire As long as citizens showed loyalty by honoring Roman gods and acknowledging the divine spirit of the emperor, they were allowed to worship other gods as they pleased Because most people at the time were polytheistic, they had no problem worshipping Roman gods along with their own
  • 5.     By 63 B.C., the Romans had conquered Judea, where most Jews of the time lived To avoid violating the Jewish monotheistic religion, the Romans excused Jews from worshipping Roman gods There was a growing divide among the religious beliefs of the Jews themselves Some were growing concerned about the weakening of their religion, and called for strict obedience to Jewish laws and customs
  • 6.        Jewish zealots called on Jews to revolt against Rome and reestablish an independent state Some Jews believed that a messiah, or anointed king sent by God, would soon appear to lead the Jewish people to freedom In 66 A.D., Roman forces crushed a Jewish rebellion, captured Jerusalem, and destroyed the Jewish temple There was then another rebellion with thousands of Jews being killed and others enslaved This lead a large number of Jews to leave Judea Jews survived in scattered communities around the Mediterranean Over the centuries, Jewish rabbis (scholars) preserved the religious law set forth in the Talmud and this commitment to learning Jewish law and traditions enabled the Jews to survive over the centuries
  • 7.      A new religion, Christianity, was founded by a Jew named Jesus Almost all that is known about the life of Jesus comes from the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was supposedly a descendant of King David Jesus grew up in Nazareth and worked as a carpenter At 30 years of age, he began preaching and got the support of his Apostles (the twelve closest followers of Jesus)
  • 8.   Jesus emphasized God’s love and taught the need for justice, morality, and service to others Jesus was eventually arrested and sentenced to die by crucifixion---a person is nailed to or hung on a cross and left to die
  • 9.     Following the death of Jesus, the apostles and other disciples spread the message of Jesus and helped establish Christian communities For a time, Christianity remained a sect with Judaism The apostle Peter spread Christianity in the city of Rome The apostle Paul played the most influential role in the spread of Christianity
  • 10.     Paul had never actually seen Jesus—he actually persecuted some of the followers of Jesus One day Paul had a vision in which Jesus spoke to him and it was at this point that he converted to Christianity and decided to spread the new religion to gentiles (non-Jews) Paul’s missionary work set Christianity on the road to becoming a world religion He traveled around the Mediterranean and set up churches from Mesopotamia to Rome
  • 11.    Rome’s tolerant attitude toward religion did not extend to Christianity Roman officials suspected Christians of disloyalty to Rome because they refused to make sacrifices to the emperor or to honor the Roman gods Christians had to meet in secret in order to avoid persecution
  • 12.    Roman rulers like Nero used Christians as scapegoats, blaming them for social or economic ills Over the centuries, thousands of Christians became martyrs---people who suffer or die for their beliefs Supposedly, both Peter and Paul were killed in Rome during Nero’s reign
  • 13.     Christianity continued to spread despite the attacks on it Reasons: Jesus welcomed all people including the humble, the poor, and the oppressed Equality, human dignity, and the promise of a better life beyond the grave were attractive teachings
  • 14.     Christian missionaries like Paul added ideas from Plato, the Stoics, and other Greek thinkers to Jesus’ message Educated Romans were attracted to a religion that incorporated the discipline and moderation of Greek philosophy The work of missionaries such as Paul was made easier by the unity of the Roman empire Early Christian documents were usually written in Greek or Latin, languages that many people in the empire understood
  • 15.     Persecution brought new converts Observing the willingness of Christians to die for their religion, people were impressed by the strength of Christians’ beliefs Persecutions finally ended in 313 AD when emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan which granted freedom of worship to all citizens of the Roman empire About 80 years later, the emperor Theodosius made Christianity the official religion of the Roman empire
  • 16.    A person fully joined the Christian community by renouncing evil through the rite of baptism Members of the community were considered equals and addressed each other as “brother” and “sister” Each Sunday, Christians gathered for a ceremony of thanksgiving to God
  • 17.    Women often lead the way to Christianity They served as teachers and administrators Even when they were later barred from any official role in the Church, they still worked to win converts across the Roman world
  • 18.     Each Christian community had its own priest Only men were allowed to become members of the Christian clergy Priests were under the authority of a bishop, a Church official who was responsible for all Christians in an area called a diocese The bishops of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Constantinople gained the honorary title of patriarch
  • 19.     As the rituals and structure of the Church became more refined, divisions began to arise A major divisive force was rivalry among the patriarchs In the Latin-speaking west, bishops of Rome, who came to be called popes, began to claim greater authority over all other bishops In the Greek-speaking east, the patriarchs felt that the five patriarchs should share spiritual authority as equals
  • 20.    Another source of disunity was the emergence of heresies---beliefs said to be contrary to official Church teachings To end disputes over questions of faith, councils of Church leaders met to decide official Christian teachings The Church also sent out missionaries both within the Roman empire and beyond to convert people to Christianity
  • 21.     Theology---word borrowed from Greek philosophy and literally means “talk or discourse about God” Two important scholars---Clement and Origen Augustine---combined Greco-Roman learning, especially the philosophy of Plato, with Christian doctrine The City of God---Augustine said the City of God was the community of those who loved God and would one day live with him in heaven. Those whose minds and hearts were set only on worldly things lived outside the City of God
  • 22.     While the Christian church was growing in strength and influence, Roman power was fading When the western Roman empire finally collapsed, the Church inherited many of its functions The Church preserved and spread not only Christian teachings but also the achievements of Greco-Roman civilization The Christian church would eventually split into eastern and western halves

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