Early Christianity is the period of the Christian religion starting after the death and resurrection of Jesus around 30 AD to the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD. While that is the agreed upon infancy of Christianity scholars of this time period widen their scope further in order to fully appreciate the historical causes and effects in relation to the birth, persecution and rise of early Christianity. For instance, Everett Ferguson sets his sights to the fifth century BC and carries through to the fourth century AD. Incorporating a range of topics such as political history, society, culture, religions and philosophies.
Early Christianity is a highly contextualized religion in history enveloped by a diverse set of pervasive ancient systems, beliefs and practices. Roman governmental, legal and economic systems inform the political structures, laws and taxation policies. Greek society, culture and philosophies form city organization and ideas of the human person, permeating the minds of the people of Palestine and the greater Roman empire. These important ways of life form a Greco-Roman backdrop that therefore lends to the labeling of Christianity sometimes as a Greco-Roman religion. Though Greco-Roman contexts certainly from the backdrop of early Christianity, they are not responsible for its founding and in fact was involved in considerable competition and argument against it. Most importantly however, was the historical progenitor Judaism.
Council of Nicea
- Main Article: Nicene Creed
The Nicene Creed took place in the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, in Asia Minor, in the year 325. About 300 bishops came to attend; the majority from the Greek-speaking eastern part of the Roman Empire. The most difficult issue that the council had to face was the Arian controversy. Arius, a Libyan presbyter in Alexandria, had declared that although the Son was divine, he was no more than a creature, no matter how high a creature, and therefore not co-essential with the Father, and "there was when he was not". This made Jesus less than the Father.
Society and Culture
Early Christian writings
- Main Article: Early Christian writing
Early Christian writings are religious works written by early Christians, some of which were later canonized as the New Testament of today. They comprise the original documents that outline the governing principles, practices, and the history of the Christian Church. The Biblical canon contains what are considered the most significant of the early Christian writings. Of the same period, beyond the canon, are the works of the Apostolic Fathers as the Didache or doctrine of the twelve apostles, the epistles of St. Clement, the letters of St. Ignatius Martyr, Martyrdom of Polycarp, the Letter of Barnabas, speaking to Diognetus, Papias and the Shepherd of Hermas.
- Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity, Third Edition (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003)
- Latourette, Kenneth Scott (2007). A History of Christianity: Beginnings to 1500. 1. Peabody, MA: Prince Press. p. 153-157. ISBN 978-1-56563-328-5.
- González, Justo L. (2010). The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Dawn of the reformation. 1 (2nd ed.). New York: HarperOne/HarperCollins Publishers. p. 186-189. ISBN 978-0-06-185588-7.
- Bueno, Daniel Ruiz (1985) (in Spanish). Padres Apostolicos:Edición Bilingüe Completa [Apostolic Fathers: Bilingual Edition Complete]. Madrid: La Editorial Catolica - Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos. p. VII-IX. ISBN 84-220-0151-9.