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The Expansion of Christianity in the Roman World of the First Three Centuries

Garner, Gary O. (2003) The Expansion of Christianity in the Roman World of the First Three Centuries. (Unpublished)

Abstract

The first three hundred years of expanding Christianity is marked by considerable persecution and oppression under the prevailing Roman rulers. Commencing with the crucifixion of Jesus, the nature and extent of persecution was at times quite severe, with innumerable martyrs executed for reasons not always readily apparent. In general terms it is very likely that Christians respected Roman or civil authority, however the Christian’s faith more than likely engendered a sense of frustration in the Roman leaders whom otherwise demanded allegiance, loyalty and respect, and at times - worship. Paradoxically, Christianity may have appeared to flaunt the level of respect required by the Roman government, since the Christian could not bow to any other god. It was not until the fourth century that, under the Emperor Constantine, total freedom is achieved whereby the Christian Church becomes the established religion of the empire. This period is referred to as "The Age of the Christian Roman Empire" which lasted until AD 590. However, this was not achieved without history recording the worst persecution of all in the period AD 303 - 311 under the Roman Emperor Diocletion Galerius. Until this time, the extent of persecution varied primarily according to the Emperor’s will. This ranged from the confiscation of Christian’s property and excluding their rights, forbidding of Christian conversion, to outright seeking out Christians for the purpose of killing and torture.

The spread of the Gospel in this period is testimony to the perseverance and bravery of the apostles, early Church fathers and Christians generally whom by and large underwent significant oppression. It is also witness to the paradox that it is often in times of the greatest persecution, that there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit accompanied by strongest growth of the Church.

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ID Code: 7214
Item Type: Other
Keywords: Christianity, Roman World, third century
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS (220400) > Religion and Society (220405)
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2003 Gary Garner
Deposited On: 27 Apr 2007
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 22:39

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