The history of Christianity in the Roman Empire covers the period from the birth of Christianity in the first half of the first century to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. During the second century Christianity spread almost all over the Roman Empire, and in the second century there was an extensive apologetic literature, as well as epistles and writings of authoritative Christian authors.
The very transformation of the Roman Empire from pagan to Christian took place slowly, over several centuries; we can distinguish the following epochs in it::
The internal readiness of the pagan world to accept Christianity was determined by the development of pagan religion, philosophy and science.
As regards, first of all, the development of pagan religion, in this epoch it was a very diverse phenomenon, in which, however, one can distinguish three main directions: Hellenic, Roman and Eastern. Of these, the first, the Hellenic, in turn, is divided into two currents: the explicit current of civil cults and the secret one of the mysteries. The explicit Hellenic religion was, in its principle, a very hostile element to Christianity: its pronounced polytheism was as much a repudiation of Christian monotheism as its civic character was of Christian universalism. But this enemy was now far less dangerous than at the time when Delphi had used her great charm in the Greek world to unite it under the banner of the religion of Apollo: now the importance of Delphi was insignificant, Greek polytheism, shaken since the loss of Greek independence by many profanations and corrupting philosophical thought, was no longer very firmly held in the beliefs of believers, and in thinking heads (there were many of them) the mysterious accident (Tyche; this belief was especially developed during the dynastic wars among the successors of Alexander the Great), either as fate (Moira), which controls the movements of the heavenly bodies and through them the life of people, or as providence (Pronoia), or, finally, simply as "deity", "god", "gods" (theion, theos, theoi), regardless of number and qualities.
If, therefore, the manifest Greek religion was in a state of decay and therefore did not present a particularly strong obstacle, then, on the contrary, the secret religion of the mysteries (not so much the Eleusinian as the Orphic) enjoyed wide popularity; but it also largely preceded Christianity and thus went towards it. In orphism had the myth of the suffering God, the Saviour, the Dionysus Zagreus, resteranno titans, and the myth of the resurrection (Evridiki — Orpheus); the attention of believers it (as opposed to explicit religion, with its distant dogma of justice on the ground) were sent to the afterlife, promising eternal bliss — good, punishments, eternal and temporal, evil, and developing the practice of fasting, ablutions and purifications, whereby the people during earth life could have prepared myself better fate on the other side of death.
Thus, the preponderance of secret cults over explicit ones was the engine that within the Hellenic religion contributed to the Christianization of the empire; but the Roman direction of the imperial religion also went towards it, although along a different path. Roman polytheism, in contrast to Greek polytheism, was characterized by complete uncertainty, both qualitative and quantitative, and was therefore inclined to integrate, the result of which was to be the worship of one all-encompassing deity. In this era, this deity tried to make the" genius " of the reigning emperor (which was in principle far from identical with the deification of the emperor himself, but in practice often came down to it), which preceded at the same time two dogmas of the Christian religion — first, its monotheism, and secondly, its doctrine of the God-Man. As for this last point specifically, it can be said that it was precisely because of it that Christianity became as natural a religion of Greco-Roman culture as it was incompatible with Judaism.
Finally, the third — the eastern — trend of pagan religion, which at that time also dominated the western half of the empire, should have already prepared the way for Christianity, whose cradle also lay in the East. In general, it can be said that the Eastern cults, in the sense of their inclination, so to speak, to Christianity, combined, although not completely, the features of Roman and Greek cults. While the Roman religion tended to be monotheistic in nature, the Eastern deities that were rooted in Rome (the Great Mother of Ida, Isis, Ma of Cappadocia or Bellona, Mithras the Invincible) were either one in themselves, or so dominant that other deities seemed to dissolve into them. If, on the other hand, the secret Greek cults aroused in man a consciousness of his sinfulness and a thirst for redemption, the Eastern cults fulfilled the same task, but by means of much more spectacular and therefore much more imaginative rites. The Persian religion of Mithras the Invincible had a special influence in this respect: Mithraism was the most active, if not the most dangerous, rival of Christianity. But the cult of Mithras was widespread especially in the western half of the empire; on the contrary, Christianity became the predominant religion of the eastern part of the empire much earlier than it was recognized as the equal religion of the entire state; thus, the struggle between Mithras and Christ was reduced to a struggle between West and East, between Romanism and Hellenism.
We will try to trace the fate of Christianity only from the moment when we meet it in the "diaspora". It is quite natural that it is impossible to indicate either the time of its origin in various cities, or the direction of its distribution. In view of the above, its simultaneous or almost simultaneous occurrence at several points is not surprising. From geographical conditions, one can guess that the main line, so to speak, for the spread of Christianity was the line leading from Jerusalem through Antioch to Asia Minor (mainly Ephesus), with a split on the one hand to Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica), on the other to Corinth, Puteoli, Rome; but this is only a construction. According to the above-mentioned sources, the Hellenized Jewish communities were the birth centers of Christianity, and as a result, the language of the original Christianity, even in the city of Rome, was Greek. If these communities were strict-type communities, as they became after the Bar Kokhba revolt (i.e. with imp. Hadrian), and Christian groups would inevitably have taken the form of "synagogues"; but in those days, thanks to the many degrees of proselytism, the organization allowed considerable liberties. Given the negative attitude of Jewry towards X., which had already been formed in Jerusalem, it was natural that even in the Diaspora the new teaching would be instilled in the proselytes rather than in the Jews themselves.
A single strict organization of Christian communities was therefore impossible at first. Their appearance during the first decades of Christianity's existence on Roman soil is quite diverse. We meet:
a) particular Christians, so to speak, like those metuentes sabbata who constituted the first degree of Jewish proselytism: they contented themselves with exchanging the Jewish Sabbath for the Christian Resurrection, and otherwise lived their normal lives.
b) Christian groups without any organization, "guided by the Holy Spirit"
c) definitely and more or less strictly organized Christian communities. At the same time, we see that Christian teachers are trying to transform the first two types into the third; they are constantly telling believers that a Christian can only partake of the spiritual gifts of his religion as a member of the Christian community. But if we recall that the prototype of the Christian community, whether directly or indirectly, was the collegium, then it turns out that the compulsion of extrapolitical organization was carried out much earlier on spiritual than on secular grounds, while the principle of unity, on the contrary, arose on secular grounds and was only eventually transferred to spiritual ones. There was no conscious borrowing in either case, but rather a general Roman-imperial spirit.
When we talk about the organization of the first Christian communities, we must first touch on their relationship to the Jewish communities from which they emerged, and to the surrounding pagan environment. As for the attitude towards Jewish communities, although the apostolic word was distributed primarily in synagogues, it was not received by them.
The first Christian communities consisted of three elements:
a) Jews who have fallen away from the synagogue
b) Jewish proselytes who exchanged Judaism for Christianity
c) former pagans who converted to Christianity other than Judaism
The further you went, the more the first circle became obscured before the second and both before the third. The Christian community surrounded the Jewish community in a ring (or rather, the second ring, since the proselytes were the first). To an outsider, it coincided with the core — Christians were considered a Jewish sect and took part in Jewish privileges, of which the most precious for them was exemption from participation in mandatory pagan cults, mainly in the cult of the emperor's genius; in fact, they were independent of the synagogue and managed themselves. In cities where there were several synagogues, in fact, there should have been several Christian communities; perhaps this was the case in the beginning, but for us the Christian community in each city is one whole. Separation was accompanied by hostility: very soon synagogues turned from the centers of Christianity into "sources of persecution" (fontes persecutionis) for it. Under such circumstances, the Roman authorities ' confusion of Christianity with Jewry is a mystery that can only be understood if both are completely ignored.
Less strict was the separation of the Christs. the separation of Jewish communities from the surrounding pagan environment is also less strict than the separation of Jewish communities from it. Of the possible types of dependence of a Christian on the pagan environment — civil, class, social, legal, family-the first three remained inviolable: the Christian remained a citizen of his community and bore its hardships; the slave continued to serve his master (he could even join a Christian community, according to Roman concepts regarding colleges, only with his consent).; the convert was not forced to avoid contact with his former pagan acquaintances. The fourth type also remained unchanged; only the community tried to make disputes between Christians its own jurisdiction, following in this respect (perhaps without direct borrowing) the traditions of synagogues.
Only the fifth was a serious problem, especially in the form of mixed marriages. The synagogue did not recognize them in theory, although in practice it allowed indulgences to avoid conflicts; the Christian community did the opposite — in theory it recognized mixed marriages, but in each individual case (due to the practical inconveniences of such a situation, especially for a Christian wife) tried to bring the matter either to the conversion of both spouses or to divorce. — As for the organization of the community itself, we must distinguish between two elements: (a) the element that characterizes it as a college, and (b) the element that characterizes it as a center of Christianity.
The first one included:
1) the head of the entire community, the "bishop". Like synagogues, and unlike Roman colleges, Christian communities were governed on the basis of a single power, not collegiality (although at first there were also bishops or presbyters in the plural)
2) an indefinite number of "deacons" who can be compared with the curators of colleges; their significance was determined by the significance of Christian charity
(3) An indefinite number of" presbyters", analogous to the decurions of colleges; they seem to have formed a sort of communal council (although where there were several bishops, they probably coincided with the presbyters).
4) gathering of all members of the community — "ecclesia", which gave the name of the entire Christian church
The second element, which was transferred to Christian communities from Judaism, included:
1) the apostles
2) the prophets
3) didaskals (teachers), of whom only the latter were sedentary and belonged to the given community
The work of all of them was to spread Christ's teaching and educate communities in his spirit: the pastoral epistles of the apostles and apostolic men that have been preserved for us to this day bear witness to this activity. However, we must not imagine this organization to be either uniform or too strict for the first period: all communities, even the best organized ones, were governed by the Holy Spirit, and the significance of each of their factors depended on how much it was considered to be imbued with It. On the religious and intellectual life of the first communities, their meetings, and the struggle against hostile trends (mainly Jewish propaganda and the beginnings of Gnosticism), see the previous and next article.
Finally, when we talk about the relationship of Christian communities to each other, we touch upon the question of how much the Christian Church as such can be considered in the first epoch of Christianity. The answer can be either positive or negative, depending on whether we are referring to the internal community of teaching and mood and live communication, or the external unity of the organization. From the first point of view, it can and should be said that all the communities formed a single Christian church: all the members of the communities realized that they belonged to such a church, and not to the local sense; the exchange of news and opinions between the communities was very lively — both thanks to the migrations of the apostles and prophets, and thanks to the widely developed hospitality.
But from the second point of view, we must admit that the church did not yet exist either in the form of a single headship, or in the form of a council of representatives of a single leadership: the church was governed by the Holy Spirit. This is not surprising in an era when even within individual communities, the organization was still in its infancy. Nevertheless, it can be said that even in the first epoch the organization of the church in the sense of its centralization was in oriente domo. Moreover, just as in individual communities the organization took place more and more on the basis of the episcopal element and to the detriment of the apostolic element, so in the general church the apostolic primacy that was nascent eventually fades and gives way to the emerging preponderance of one central community and its leader, the bishop, over others. Indeed, at first the apostolic leadership is unquestionable, but it does not lead to unification. Except for the Roman community, which recognized ap as its founder. So, we distinguish the circle of communities founded by the ap. By Paul (in his own right). Greece with Macedonia and Asia Minor), and another circle grouped around the mysterious name ap. St. John (in Asia Minor). In further development, we see clear signs of the Roman community's attempts to rise above the rest: in the pastoral epistle to the Corinthian community, its leader (traditionally, Bishop Clement of Rome) is named St. John the Baptist. The Spirit demands obedience from it. Thus, already in this era, the main road along which the development of the Christian Church was to go over the next centuries is outlined.
The age of sporadic persecution, from Domitian to the death of Alexander Severus (80-235). At this time, Christianity, having completely severed all connection with Judaism, becomes, as such, the subject of attention not only of the Roman authorities, but also of Roman society.
The extensive spread of Christianity presents us with the following picture at the beginning of our period. In Palestine, we find Christian communities (or groups), in addition to Jerusalem, in Samaria, Joppa, Lydda, and Sarona (i.e., Caesarea of Palestine); in Syria, in addition to Antioch of Syria, in Damascus, Tyre, Sidon, and Ptolemais; in Cyprus, in Salamis and Paphos; in Asia Minor, the most Christian of all the countries of the ancient world, with the exception of Ephesus and the other six communities of the Apocalypse (Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea); in Tarsus, Perga, Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Colossae, Hierapolis, and several cities of Galatia, Cappadocia, and Troas unknown to us; in Macedonia, with the exception of Thessalonica, Philippi and Berea; in its own Greece (Achaia), except Corinth, still in Athens and the Corinthian harbor of Cenchrei; in Crete; in Italy, except Rome, still in Puteoli; In Egypt-only in Alexandria (in all of these areas, except for the latter, the existence of Christian groups and communities is attested by the New Testament). This picture shows the extent to which Greek was the language of Christian preaching during the entire first period of Roman Christianization: the entire West is untouched — here, as we have seen above, the competitor of X, the cult of the Invincible Mithras, can freely spread. — During our period before the hierarchical unification of the Christian Church in the empire around 180, the territorial spread of Christianity increased. in the eastern lands, and to the above-mentioned cities were added: in Syria a number of cities, including, no doubt, Seleucia; in Asia Minor a very large number of communities, among others Magnesia, Trallae, Philomelius, Parium, Nicomedia, Otr, Pepusa, Timium, Apamea, Cumana, Eumenia, Ancyra, Sinope, Amastrida, and those more precisely unknown Bithynian communities about which Pliny the Younger writes to Trajan; in Thrace Debelt and Anchiales; in Greece, Larissa, Lacedaemon and Sama (on Kefallen); in Crete, Knossos and Gortina. The West was also added to the East in the form of Italy with Sicily (Naples, Syracuse), Gaul (Lyons, Vienne, several communities in Central Gaul), Africa (Carthage), Numidia (Madaura, Scyllium), Germany (Colony = Cologne) and Spain.
Of the intensity of the spread of Christianity, that is, of the density of the Christian population in the empire, we have not sufficient information; the most precious of all is the testimony of Origen, who lived at the end of our period, from which it is clear that Christians in the empire were still comparatively "very few", although they formed a "large crowd" in comparison with their original smallness, and that He calls the figure only for Jewish Christians (about one and a half hundred thousand). It is interesting, however, to trace the spread of X. in various strata of Roman society. In the age of innovation. Paul X. was held mainly in a dark and unenlightened environment; the participation of educated and high-ranking people was an exception. Now X. attracts people in the upper class as well. First of all, the intelligentsia, especially among the Gnostics, we find very educated and talented people; among the Orthodox, especially Clement and Origen, who lived at the end of the period (80-236), were worthy representatives of Christian science. In the case of the nobility, then, the evidence of the conversion of senatorial and equestrian officials is so common that we must imagine X. this era as a religion is almost equal-from the point of view of class status — with paganism. The transition to X was particularly striking at the very beginning of our period. close relatives of the uti. Domitian, the consul Titus Flavius Clement, and his wife Domitilla-all the more striking because their sons were the intended heirs to the throne. They were severely punished by Domitian in 95-96, and this punishment resulted in the death of Domitian himself at the hands of a servant of Domitilla (who, however, is not said to have been a Christian). The ascension to the throne of the Christian emperor was delayed for many years. However, among the imperial entourage, freedmen, and slaves, a certain number of Christians were found at all times; by the end of the second century, we find a special kind of Christian Esther — Marcia, the favorite of the imp. Commodus, to whose patronage the Christians were indebted for many benefactions; The Bishop of Rome, Victor, was well received by her, and through her obtained, among other things, the release of Christians who worked in the mines of Sardinia. It is useful to note immediately the influence of this intellectual and class aristocratization of X. the first was reflected in the change in its internal appearance, the second in its external appearance. The first X was due to the introduction of a strong intellectualist element, which raised it to the height of the religion of reason, but also contributed to the emergence of many heresies; specifically, the Hellenization of X, both outside and within the Orthodox framework, was its business. The second had a consequence — among other reasons, however-of the nature of the Christian hierarchy, which will be mentioned later. A special kind of conflict was generated by the belonging of Christians to the army. In the first period they were out of the question: since Christians were considered Jews, and Jews were released from military service, we almost do not meet Christians in the army (we say: "almost", since the conversion of soldiers was possible even then). But now the Jewish disguise was removed, Christians were Roman subjects on an equal basis with others and were subject to recruitment; the question of compatibility of X was born. with military service. Since this question was of interest to the highest military authorities, it will be discussed below; the Christians themselves were ambivalent about it. Strict solved it negatively, referring to:
a) The duty of a soldier to shed blood
b) The pagan nature of the military oath, and c) the fact that the Savior himself disarmed the ap. Peter. But there were also more conciliatory interpretations, based on the Forerunner's appeal to the soldiers, on the centurion of Capernaum and on the centurion under the cross. There was no single solution; there were martyr soldiers at all times, but at the same time the number of Christians in the army, especially in its Eastern legions, grew and grew.
The development of the internal organization of Christian communities and the Christian Church follows in this period the main line that we outlined in the corresponding section of the previous section; the changes created by this development were very significant. As mentioned earlier, Christian communities contained a double element, a general collegiate and a specifically Jewish one, and both could be made elements of the communal hierarchy: they were (a) bishops, presbyters, deacons, and (b) apostles, prophets, and didascals. The second element was the vehicle of spiritual excitement and ecstasy, the first-of sober civic activity. In the beginning, the second element prevails; when reading the New Testament epistles, one gets the impression that it is called to unite the church; however, it turned out differently, and by the end of the period, the second element (except for the didascals) is already separated from the church. Later tradition represented this separation as a peaceful act. According to Theodore of Mopsuet, the apostles from the very beginning assumed the leadership of entire regions, while the communities were left to the bishops; the second-generation apostles, feeling unworthy of the name and task of their predecessors, voluntarily left the arena. Especially according to the Roman tradition of ap. Peter, the founder of the Roman community, in view of his near martyrdom, ordained his assistant and companion Clement as bishop of Rome. Be that as it may, the fact is that the organization of the church is now developing in the sense of the first and not the second element. But even here, not one, but two paths were possible. The Roman colleges, as we have seen, were governed not by one person, but by a college of "magisters"; the Jewish synagogues, having generally adopted the type of collegial organization, modified it in the sense of autocracy, with a single "arch-hierarch"at the head. Christian communities at first vacillated between one and the other principle, having either a single "bishop" or several "abbots" (hé gumenoi; this, however, was hardly their technical name, and there is reason to assume that they were called either presbyters or bishops). Moreover, despite the freedom of the original organization of communities governed by the Holy Spirit, even the presence of a bishop did not make them monocephalous: often the bishop and presbyters, as primus inter pares, were in charge of the community's affairs.
Now, with the initial enthusiasm fading, the question of organization is ripe: what form should it take, monocephalous or polycephalous — in other words, episcopal or presbyterian? The issue was resolved in various ways: for example, the Alexandrian community was governed presbyterially for a good half of the period; but in general, the development of the church leads to the consolidation of the episcopal regime. "Obey your bishop!" - this is the ceterum censeo in the pastoral epistles to the communities of the" apostolic husband " Ignatius, who lived at the beginning of the era we are considering. It was in this way that the Christian Church even then passed through all the three types that have been repeated in it up to our times in the person of its various confessions and sects — the apostolic-prophetic type, the presbyterian type, and the Episcopalian type. The latter was victorious, for various reasons, of which the main ones are: (a) The far-sighted men who had in mind the unification of the church could not help noticing that such a unification is much easier to achieve in the Episcopalian than in the presbyterian organization of individual communities; b) the penetration of the official nobility into Christian communities also in practice (although in theory this, of course, was not allowed) resulted in the leading role of the most distinguished of the members; c) with the disappearance of the apostolate, concern for the purity of Christian teaching passed to the bishops; this also favored the sole personality of the episcopate, since otherwise disagreements, and with them confusion and temptation, were inevitable; it was the struggle against heresies that emphasized the Be that as it may, the hierarchy of Christian communities is already defined during the first period: the lowest level is occupied by deacons, the middle — by presbyters, and the highest — by the bishop. Then we see the signs of the separation of these individuals into a special ecclesiastical class — the clergy; this separation is connected with the question of the priesthood, which is also solved in two ways, either in the sense of community representation or in the sense of succession. The first decision is based on the principle that the entire community is animated by St. John the Baptist. The second solution is based on the principle that the source of the priesthood is the Saviour himself, through Him His apostles, and through them the persons ordained by them.
The whole period is occupied with a struggle between the two principles, and the same causes that contributed to the development of the organization in the sense of episcopalism (mainly — the weakening of the initial animation) also contributed to the solution of the question of the priesthood in favor of continuity. This decision strengthened the privileged position of those communities in which the apostolic succession has never, according to tradition, been interrupted by the principle of communal representation, that is, according to what was said above, mainly Roman. All this development largely prepared for the unification of Christian communities, that is, the formation of the Christian Church, which took place, as already mentioned, around 180 A.D. The reason for it was the Montanist heresy (cf. As the apostolic and prophetic element was pushed aside, the expectation of the second coming of the Savior, which had inspired Christians in the first period, began to give way to confidence in the longevity of the world and the need to reckon with its demands. This sobering of minds was a correlate of increased episcopalism. The repressed elements of prophetic ecstasy and eschatological expectations broke out precisely in Montanism, around the middle of the second century, in Asia Minor. It is clear that the Montanist crisis took on an anti-episcopal character and brought the episcopal communities together for a common rebuff. They were so-called. synods attended first by bishops together with other community delegates, and then by bishops alone. First of all, the communities of Asia Minor began to organize anti — Montanist synods-the first that we know of; then both parties tried to enlist the assistance of Bishop Eleufer of Rome, who spoke out against the Montanists. This state of affairs contributed to the desire of the Roman community and its bishop for the primacy of power, which we noticed already in the first period. Victor (189-199), Eleutherus ' successor, was a particularly enthusiastic supporter of Roman primacy.
Provincial synods have been convened on his initiative for the celebration of Easter; their decisions are communicated to him, and he, in turn, circularly informs the provincial bishops of the decisions of the Synod of Rome. When all the communities except those of Asia Minor agreed to the Roman solution of the Easter question, Victor excommunicated the communities of Asia Minor as "heterodox" (heterodoxoi). This is how the tendency to organize the Christian Church is outlined, from the Roman point of view — in its hierarchical aspect, from the ecumenical point of view-in its conciliar element. The hierarchical element of this organization was:
1) bishops of individual communities
2) metropolitans, i.e. bishops of the main communities of each province (we have identified these" metropolitans " in our statistics above)
3) the (future) pope, that is, the bishop of the Roman community
These three hierarchical levels correspond to the three cathedral levels, namely: 1) to the bishop — an ecclesia, that is, an assembly of the members of the community; 2) to the metropolitan — a synod, that is, an assembly of the bishops of all the communities centered in the given metropolis; and 3) to the Pope — an ecumenical council, that is, an assembly of the bishops of all Christian communities. This last one doesn't exist yet, but the gap is already felt. It is clear that if this gap existed in the conciliar organization, the significance of the corresponding factor of hierarchical organization should have greatly increased; it is also clear that with its filling, an antagonism between the hierarchical and conciliar elements of church organization should have been born — but these were the tasks of the future.
An era of universal persecution aimed at destroying the Christian Church, from the death of Alexander Severus to the autocracy of Constantine the Great (235-325).
The inner life of the Christian Church will also be considered here from three points of view: from the point of view of the extensive, then intensive dissemination of X. and, finally, from the point of view of the development of church organization.
As regards, first of all, the extensive spread of X., it was during this period that X. received in the Roman Empire that numerical superiority, which by its end forced the Roman emperor to recognize its equality with other religions of the state. The following can be said about individual provinces.
In Palestine, the final allocation of X takes place. from a Jewish background. The poor community of Judeo-Christians, shunned as much by Jews as by other Christians, languishes and perishes; X. survives only among the Hellenic population of the country, and there is very weak; only thanks to the assistance of Constantine did the Christians manage to get control of the holy places into their own hands. The metropolis was Caesarea; however, the bishop of Caesarea had a rival bishop of Elia (Hadrian's city, founded on the site of the destroyed Jerusalem with the prohibition of Jews to settle in it) in the leadership of provincial synods.
In Phoenicia, things were not much better; and here, too, Pillar X. there was a Greek element of the country in the seaside towns; internally, we find X. only in Damascus, Palmyra, and Panead, thanks to a strong percentage of the Greek population. The metropolis was Tyre; however, it was only during this period that the synods of Phoenicia were separated from the synods of Palestine. Phoenicia sent eleven bishops to the first ecumenical council. In Syria lay the capital of Eastern X.," the beautiful city of the Greeks, " as it was called, Antioch, from which the teaching of Christ began its march through the pagan world. At this time, this city was already almost half Christian; in addition to provincial synods, great regional synods were also convened here, with the participation of up to 80 bishops from all over the East, from the Black Sea coast to Mesopotamia and Palestine inclusive. In other Syrian cities of X. It was also quite common; they sent 20 bishops to the Council of Nicaea.
Three bishops went from Cyprus to the Council of Nicaea, but there were more of them; we do not know the details.In Egypt, thanks to the numerous Greeks and Jews of X. it was very widespread: there were almost more Christians than Jews, that is, more than a million. There were about a hundred bishops under Athanasius, that is, at the end of the period; we know of about fifty episcopal sees; 29 bishops went to the Council of Nicaea. However, it is only during this period that Egypt passes from a presbyterian system to an episcopal one, with the appointment of bishops by the metropolitan, that is, the Bishop of Alexandria. In the fourth century. X. It first enters Abyssinia.In Cilicia, the metropolis was Tarsus, the birthplace of the Saints. The number of Christians was considerable; at the Council of Nicaea, Cilicia was represented by ten bishops.
The rest of Asia Minor was the most Christian of all regions, just as it had previously been most devoted to the cult of the emperor; here it is clear how much this latter was a preparation for X in the sense of universal religion.The metropolitans were Caesarea (for Cappadocia), Nicomedia (for Bithynia), Ancyra (for Galatia), Laodicea (for Phrygia), Iconium (for Pisidia and Lycaonia) and Ephesus (for Asia Minor in the narrow sense). Ephesus was the spiritual center for a long time; it remains so even in the period under review, but its significance within the general Christian church passes to Rome.
In the Balkan peninsula, Christianization was slow: in the north, the savage tribes were not very receptive to the Christian preaching that was in use at that time (for a description of it, see above; the secret of Christian preaching for barbarians was discovered only by Rome, on the threshold of the Middle Ages); as for the Greek population, they showed much more attachment to their old religion in their The number of Christian communities mentioned in the previous section is not very large.
In the Danubian provinces we meet with X. only in our own period; for the reason mentioned in the preceding paragraph, it was not particularly successful here either. In the eastern provinces (Mesia, Pannonia), Greek preaching competed with the Roman, but the latter outweighed; the western (Noricum) was entirely dependent on Rome.
In its own Italy with Sicily, X. was very common. As early as A.D. 250, a synod convened by Pope Cornelius against Novatianus was attended by 60 (exclusively Italian) bishops; there were, therefore, about a hundred of them, and the language of the Roman community was Latin from the time of Pope Fabian (236-250); before him, Greek outweighed; Pope Hippolytus, as we have seen, was still a Greek writer.
In Upper Italy, the progress of X. was rather modest: it gravitated not to Rome, but to the Balkan Peninsula. The entire western part was still pagan; of the eastern communities, the three main ones — Ravenna, Aquileia, and Milan (Mediolanum) - were founded only at the beginning of our period.
In Gaul (with Belgica, Rhaetia, and Roman Germany), the number of congregations was not very large: from the lists of provincial synods in Rome (313) and Arles (316), we know that by this time there were twenty bishops. The distribution of Christians was very uneven: in the south, the Christian population at the beginning of the fourth century seems to have already set the tone — in Belgica, the most significant community, Trier, was very modest at the same time.
The Christianization of Britain was the work of our time; during the Diocletian persecutions, the British first Martyr Albanus, whose name is preserved by the city of St. Albans, shone forth; the synod of Arles (316) had three British bishops as members — London, York, and Lincoln. For North Africa, from Tripoli to the ocean, our era was a time of great prosperity; it was also a time of intense Christianization. The episcopal see of Carthage was not inferior to any other in the entire empire, except that of Rome, which seems to have been greatly assisted by the powerful personality of Bishop Cyprian (c.250); however, even before him, the synod of Carthage (c. 220) gathered up to 70 bishops, the synod of Lambese (no later than 240) — up to 90 bishops. By the beginning of the fourth century, there were already more than 125 of them. The distribution was geographically almost as uniform as in Asia Minor, but ethnographically very uneven. "Speed of X propagation . in these provinces, it corresponded to the rapidity of its disappearance under the yoke of Islam. The native population of the Berbers was either not Christian at all, or very superficial. The next section of the population, Punic, seems to have become mostly Christian, but since the Punic language was never ecclesiastical and there was no Punic Bible, its Christianization was not solid. The third layer, the Greco-Roman one, probably took all the X., but it was too thin" (Harnack).
X. This is known to us through the acts of the Council of Elvira, which was attended by up to 40 bishops; it was quite common there, but in moral terms it was very low.
As for the intensive spread of Christianity in our period, in general, it should be noted that the ancient bishopric is far from the same as the present one; a number of accurate data indicate that bishops of 3,000-4,000 people were not uncommon, and there were bishops of 150 or even fewer people (as early as the end of the fourth century). We have digital data only for the Roman community, from which it is clear that under Pope Cornelius (circa 250), the Roman church had 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 42 acolufs, 52 members of the lower clergy (axorkists, clerics, and gatekeepers) and over 1,500 widows and the poor; there were over forty churches in 300. On this basis, Harnack estimates the size of the Roman community at 3,000 0 members; its significance is eloquently shown by the word of the Emperor Decius that he would rather be reconciled to a rival emperor in Rome than to a rival bishop. Regarding the X distribution. In the various strata of the population, it is enough to refer to what was said in the previous section, adding that the difference between the cultural level of paganism and X. in the course of our own period, it is almost disappearing; this is evident from the attention that the platonic philosopher Plotinus pays to Christian dogmas, in comparison with the neglect with which Celsus spoke about the mental content of X. It seems that the level of pagan and Christian culture are moving towards each other: the first is falling, the second is growing.
Regarding the internal organization of the church, it should be noted that after the victory of the Orthodox Church over the apostolic-prophetic reaction of Montanism, which marked the end of the previous period, a new strengthening of the importance of the clergy as a separate part of the community followed. Noteworthy in this respect is the episcopate of Pope Fabian (236-250), who established the lower clergy in five degrees (subdeacons, acolufs, exorcists, nachetchiki and gatekeepers) and divided his community into 14 parishes, respectively with the administrative division of the city of Rome into regiones, assigning one deacon or subdeacon to each parish. Shortly after Fabian, Pope Dionysius (259-268) designated dioceses under his metropolitan see, thus completing the ecclesiastical centralization of Italy in anticipation of the same centralization of the universal church. This latter, too, has advanced in our period: among the rival metropolitanates, the Ephesian one was already broken, as we have seen, by Pope Victor; now Rome has an opportunity to interfere in the affairs of Antioch as well. There, a schism was revealed between the community and its power-hungry Bishop Paul of Samosata; at the suggestion of the imp. The Pope of Rome was chosen as Aurelian's mediator, and Paul was deposed by his sentence. Of course, from these interventions to formal primacy was far away; Cyprian of Carthage did not recognize this, and other metropolitan and episcopal sees defended their independence, referring to the continuous apostolic succession among their bishops, for the sake of which apocryphal tables of bishops were compiled up to some founding apostle. — The internal centralization of individual communities has progressed in our period to the detriment of community self-government. The choice of bishops from the community finally passes to the clergy, as the primary bearer of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In some regions of the East, the so-called institute is developing. chorepiscopates, that is, bishops over Christians scattered in various rural communities; but the city bishops are not friendly to it, and it is gradually being abolished. There is no doubt that the episcopate was greatly strengthened by the persecutions of our period, which, as we shall see, were directed mainly against the pastors of the church; martyred bishops were a characteristic feature of our period, and they stamped with their blood the charm and sanctity of their power. Another reason for the strengthening of episcopal power was the right of absolution, which was again confirmed and recognized by the bishops as a result of the victory over the Montanist heresy; the third was the right of the community to own property, which was assigned not to the community as such, but to the bishop as its representative. The Christian church with which Constantine the Great entered into his alliance was an Episcopal church, divided into metropolitanates, and tending — but only tending-to its Roman center. For the religious and ecclesiastical policies of Constantine, see
The fourth period. The era of the preponderance of Christianity over paganism and the gradual eradication of the latter, from Constantine the Great to Justinian. Theodosius I the Great persecuted representatives of ancient philosophy and religion, whom Christians considered pagans. In 384-385, a number of decrees ordered the destruction of ancient temples: the Temple of Artemis of Ephesus, the Temple of Artemis of Gemera, etc. The Prefect of the East, Cynegius, destroyed many of the remaining shrines of the old faith.The edict of 391, even more severe, dealt the final blow to "paganism", prohibiting the worship of the gods not only in public, but also in private homes. In Rome, the famous statue of Nike ("victory"), which was recognized as the palladium of ancient religion, was finally and forever removed from the Senate hall. The opposition of the old Roman nobility (with Symmachus and Praetextatus at their head) did not crush Theodosius ' decisions; the sacred fire of Vesta was extinguished (394), and in the same year the Olympic Games in Greece were celebrated for the last time. In fact, the practice of "paganism" continued in remote corners of the empire.
Since in this era, Christianity and paganism are changing roles (with the exception of a brief reaction under Julian the Apostate).
After the legalization of Christianity by Tsar Constantine the Great in 313, and then the elevation of Christianity to the rank of a state religion, the nature of Christianity has changed dramatically, which has been tested by the corrupting worldliness of society from within. A powerful stream of converts poured into the previously small church communities, who were interested not so much in Christ and the salvation granted to them after the grave,but in the social, material and state benefits that appeared. The quantitative increase in the church flock has led to a decrease in the "quality" of these pastors. The external boundaries of the Church (between the faithful, catechumens, penitents and pagans) were blurred, but within the Church itself, the existing barriers grew and new barriers appeared: between priests, churchmen, itinerant preachers, monks, rich influential (courtiers) and poor (including slaves) lay people, between Christians of different nationalities and hostile states, and others.
Clergymen now became more likely to engage in commerce and seek privileges and positions from the state authorities , and cases of simony began to appear again. Bishops-as chairmen, who previously dealt mainly with financial issues in local Christian communities (acting as current parish elders or rich benefactors), not without the help of state power structures, actually seized full power in the earthly Church and banned the activities and began to ridicule the previously revered wandering preachers (these included wandering teachers, exorcist prophets, homeless fools, somewhat earlier — apostles, and others).
Some extreme zealots for the purity of Christianity believed that it was now impossible to be saved "in the world", and went to the remote deserts of the mountains and forests, where they founded monasteries. But the increased authority of monasticism led to the secularization of monasticism itself = monasteries began to grow rich, become involved in political life, and, finally, were completely subordinated to the ruling diocesan bishops, who, after a while, began to be elected/appointed exclusively from the monks themselves (sometimes, not so much by their desire for a high spiritual life, but by their ability to administrative and official church activities = find compromises). Members of the clergy began to strive more often for church careers, church awards, magnificent titles, and high positions.
There was a paradoxical situation when bishops began to resemble the Jewish high priests and elders (the direct crucifixers of Christ), monks — the Evangelical Pharisees, and Christian theologians — the Talmudic scribes. Ritualism began to be accepted as the norm of life, and it became fashionable to talk about the mysteries of the person of Jesus Christ, the Holy Trinity, and other sacred things in city bazaars, port wharves, and royal bedchambers.
Out of complaisance to the authorities, Christian theologians began to praise the existing Byzantine monarchy and the shameful and inhumane slave system, although 1 Samuel (chapter 8) explicitly states that monarchies are unholy pagan inventions. The fanatical monarchists were not deterred by the evangelical hostility of even Christ Himself to King Herod (supposedly "God's anointed one") and to Pontius Pilate, the authorized representative of an even more powerful king (Roman Emperor Tiberius).
At times, all Christians (even those living outside the Byzantine Empire) were forced to defend the political interests of the Byzantine Emperor, in violation of the commandment of Christ to respect (but not to worship) all state power, but not to actively get involved in any political intrigues: "Is it not at this time, Lord, that You restore the kingdom to Israel? But he (Jesus Christ, in his final farewell to the apostles, said to them very sharply: "It is not for you to know the times and seasons that the Father has set in His power, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth." 1:6–8).
Since the time of Constantine the Great, wars between Christian peoples and kingdoms have begun, and within the Christian empire itself, protests against social injustice and national oppression have taken on a pronounced anti-church (or rather, anti-Orthodox) orientation, for example, Copts, Armenians, Syro-Jacobites, Donatists.