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3. History of Civilization (3.9.2-3.9.5)
Written by Messiah   
Thursday, 06 July 2006

3.9.2    Religion, Jesus and the Birth of Christianity

The Romans were pagans, which include a broad set of spiritual/religious beliefs and practices of a natural religion (as opposed to a revealed religion based on a revealed text). Romans allowed the citizens to practice their own faiths (Mainly Jewish) and did not force them worship Roman gods. About year 30, a prophet named Jesus began to attract a following in the Roman province of Judea. Judea is part of the modern nation of Israel. His followers came to believe that Jesus was the son of the Jewish God and that he performed miracles. Jesus angered the Jews, as he claimed himself to be the son of God and king of the “Kingdom of heaven”. Jesus’ use of language contrasted with that of the first century Jewish revolutionaries who believed that the Kingdom was a political reality which would overthrow of Roman rule and replace it with theocracy. He was subsequently arrested on the orders of the Sanhedrin and the High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas. He was identified to the guards by one of his apostles, Judas Iscariot, who is portrayed as having betrayed Jesus by a kiss. He was condemned for blasphemy by the Sanhedrin and turned over to the Romans for execution - not for blasphemy, but for sedition against the Empire.

The Romans however didn’t want to be involved in the conflict and handed him over to his home authorities in Galilee, a region of the province Palestine. But again, the conflict was brought back before Roman authorities, with increased anger from the Jews. The Romans then crucified Jesus. Three days after his execution, Jesus’ followers said they saw him raised from the dead. At first the Romans did not mind about the Christians. The Empire was prosperous and there were not many Christians. But things would change…

3.9.3    The Great Fire of Rome

In the night the 19th of July year 64 a great fire broke loose in Rome. Two thirds of Rome was destroyed. This fire has been a mystery ever since. As Rome was such a tightly built city, the fire could have been an accident. However, it may have been created on purpose and fact is that after the fire, Emperor Nero ordered many Christians to be executed, crucified and thrown to lions accused of arson.

Some historians mean that it was Nero himself who created the fire to be able to rebuild his new “Neropolis” in Rome. However, which seem more likely, Gerhard Baudy (a modern historian) mean that it actually was the Christians who created the fire. By putting Rome in flames the 19th of July year 64 fulfilled an ancient Egyptian prophecy, which would serve as secular proof that Rome was a city of Evil, as Egypt and its history was well known by the Romans. Such a strike against Rome possibly would have served the, at the time, minority religion of Christianity well as their hate for Rome of course had grown to enormous proportions after Jesus was crucified thirty years earlier and as Rome in Christian eyes were a city of Evil with Emperor Nero as the Antichrist.

3.9.4    A growing hate against Christianity

The Roman Empire reached its greatest size around year 117 and extended from Britain and Spain, across France, southern Germany, and the Balkan Mountains. The empire also included North Africa, and stretched as far east as the Caspian Sea. Many Romans, however, suggested that bad times were coming to the empire because the growing group of Christians did not worship the Roman gods. Roman emperors became increasingly intolerant of Christianity. In year 202, Emperor Septimius Severus banned any Roman citizen from converting to Christianity or Judaism. Those who disobeyed the emperor were often tortured by soldiers or wild animals at sporting events. This, however, did not get a wanted effect. Christianity continued to grow. Because of the increasing instability within Rome, Constantine when seized power in year 306, ended the persecution and made Christianity legal and tolerated.

3.9.5    Constantinople and Byzantine Empire

To secure his government before the collapse of Rome, Constantine moved to a city called Byzantium in modern Turkey in year 330, which he renamed to “Constantinople”. Constantine supported the church, but he continued to worship Roman gods. At the end, laying in his deathbed, he called to be baptized into the Trinity Church which was his own made flavor of Christianity. Fifty years after Constantine’s death, Trinitarian Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. In the matter of fact, Trinitarian Christianity was developed as a merger from “Arianism” which was the religion that took over when the Roman Empire ended. While Arianism did dominate for several decades in the family of the Emperor, the Imperial nobility and higher ranking clergy, in the end it was Trinitarianism which prevailed. Interestingly regarding Arianism is that it became condemned at Council of Nicea in year 325, but Constantine did revoke the condemndment already in year 327, but yet, after decades of theological fights and the death of Constantine in year 337, Arianism again became condemned in 381 and was replaced with the “Credo” which has become the modern Christian theology in the eastern Churches. In Arianism, Christ was not equal to God and thereby it was adapted easier by to the Germanic tribes, were it did linger for some centuries, especially Goths and Longobards kept it. Arianism is considered to be heretic even today. To be known is that the first Merovingian king, Clovis I, did officially convert to Catholicism from Arianism in year 498. He is known to be the first one who used the well known “fleur-de-lily” symbol, which later became a symbol for many monarchs of Europe.

Roman civilization survived for centuries in Constantine’s eastern empire and long after the actual city of Rome and the empires western Constantine provinces fell to invaders. Historians refer to this as the “Byzantine Empire”.

 

 


 
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