Origin and Expansion of Christianity

Origin and Expansion of Christianity

Origin: Today it is certain that the historical Jesus neither wanted to found a new religion nor a universal church. Rather, he saw himself as a reformer of Israel, to whose twelve tribes he laid claim with the appointment of twelve apostles; Its near expectation (parousia) also prevented a further perspective, so that the earliest Palestinian Christians initially saw themselves as Jews and adhered to the law and temple cult. Nevertheless, the emergence of Christianity must be seen as an inner consequence of the life and work of Jesus. It was true that Jesus was In everything he did and taught, he had a Jewish influence, but in his sermon he changed and sharpened the motifs taken over from the Jewish tradition in such a way that the subject matter was no longer Judaism: he proclaimed – in accordance with the Jewish apocalyptic and in the wake of the sermon of John the Baptist  - the kingdom of God; but this, according to his words, had already begun in him. The Jewish interpretation of history was no longer open to the future, and the end had already begun. Jesus Therefore he did not see himself as one of the men or prophets sent by God in an endless chain, rather he should complete this series and bring about the end in his person. This claim to be the “eschatological” figure was not expressed in self-predications, but in the radicalism of the follow-up sayings, in the sovereignty over the law and the temple, in the special relationship to God, in freedom over tradition, in his willingness to Death.

According to theinternetfaqs.com, the historical Jesus, although coming entirely from Judaism, deepened it in such a way as to “man” and “humanity” and at the same time ascribed such an indispensable role to his own figure for this new practice that the spiritual and social separation from Judaism and the formation of an independent religion inevitably appear a few years after his death.

Spread: The nucleus of Christianity was the early Jerusalem community, but also Palestinian Christian groups in Judea and Galilee. Due to the evasion of Christians from persecution by the Jewish and Roman authorities (e.g. Stephen), there was a first wave of missions and in their wake the baptism of Samaritans, Diaspora Jews, proselytes and pagans. However, the spread of Christianity only took a tremendous boost through the targeted work of a few missionaries (“apostles”), including Paul could gain the greatest importance. Programmatically he operated the “Gentile Mission” and justified it theologically, so that the core of the newly emerging Christian groups was recruited from Gentile Christians. Their share soon increased more and more, and accordingly the influence of a living Jewish Christianity declined (from 150 at the latest). Favored by the conditions of the Roman Empire, Christianity also penetrated into the interior of the country and as far as England and at the time of the so-called Constantinian Turnaround (311/313) represented an (estimated) proportion of the population of around 15% in the Roman Empire; During antiquity, we encounter Christianity as “urban religion”; H. represented almost without exception in urban populations.

Initially, mainly members of the lower class or lower middle class belonged to Christianity; Towards the end of the 2nd century, in some centers (Alexandria, Antioch) there were also well-educated people. This movement grew so strongly that Emperor Constantine I, the Great, saw the spiritual and political power of the future in the Christian minority. After the “Constantinian turning point” the number of Christians increased rapidly until Emperor Theodosius I, the Great, declared Christianity the state religion in 380/381, so that – at least officially – the world known at the time, the “ecumenism”, covered.

While the Greek-speaking (Christian) Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire) was able to assert itself in the turmoil of the Great Migration and thereby establish a state church (Caesaropapism) – it was only with the advance of Islam (from the 7th century) that Christianity disappeared in these areas largely – the west of the Roman Empire was harder hit by the Great Migration; In 476 Rome finally came under Germanic rule. After conquering Christian territories, the Germanic tribes largely adopted Christianity, but in its Arian form (Arianism). It was only with the baptism of the Frankish King Clovis I. In Reims on the Catholic faith (according to church tradition 496) an important decision for the future of Europe had been made; from now on the Latin form of ancient Christianity could increasingly spread among the Germanic tribes of Central Europe.

Before that, however, another development had already begun: Christianity was probably brought to Ireland as early as the 4th century. There were connections to the Celtic northwest of France. In Ireland, as well as in Scotland and Wales, a Celtic-Greek monk’s church (Irish- Scottish church) was formed, but from Gaul it also absorbed Latin influences. From the 6th century onwards, the Irish Scottish monasticism developed an impressive missionary activity in England and on the mainland (as far as northern Italy). Soon there were two competing forms of Christianity in Europe: a Latin episcopal and a Celtic / Greco-monk. The decision was made in favor of the first variant, partly because of the one since Clovis The interests of the Frankish rulers oriented towards Rome, which finally led to the coronation of Charlemagne as Roman emperor in 800, on the other hand because of a second wave of missions in the 8th century, which was carried by Anglo-Saxon monks (Bonifatius) and which was closely associated with Rome. Christianization finally also spread to the north and eastern parts of Central Europe.

The Islamic expansion in the 7th / 9th The 19th century made Christianity disappear in North Africa and much of Spain; It was only after centuries of fighting (reconquista) that Islam was ousted from the Iberian Peninsula.

Most of the Slavic peoples were proselytized from the 9th to 11th centuries and leaned on Byzantium and Greek Christianity (Cyril and Methodius).

With the beginning of modern times, the whole earth came into view for the first time in Europe and Christianity, which now gained a foothold in other continents. This process was accompanied by negative side effects: for a long time the mission was a matter for the colonial powers (e.g. patronage mission of the Spanish and Portuguese kings), in America and Australia the complete Christianization of both continents was connected with the decimation of the native population, in Africa and in Asia, a European form of Christianity was established ( Ritenstreit). As a result of this systematic mission, there are some countries in sub-Saharan Africa with Christian majorities, and in most countries very dynamic minorities. In Asia only one country (the Philippines) is predominantly Christian, but here, too, there are small but active Christian churches in almost all countries. The island world of Oceania is almost entirely Christianized.

The number of Christians worldwide is today (2010, estimated) around 2.26 billion; the quantitative increase is currently higher than the population growth. Almost 52% of these belong to the Catholic Church, almost 19% to Protestant churches, around 12% to the Orthodox Church (as a collective term for all churches according to the Byzantine rite without Eastern Catholic churches) and the Oriental Orthodox churches ( ancient Oriental national churches) and around 4% Anglican churches. The remainder are spread across a large number of independent churches (especially in Africa and Asia) and religious communities on the edge of the Christian faith spectrum (e.g. Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons). More than 60% of Christians now live in the southern hemisphere of the earth and thus a large percentage in countries of the so-called Third World, where v. a. the Pentecostal churches are currently the fastest growing branch of Christianity.

Origin and Expansion of Christianity