What Imprint Did Rome Leave on Christianity? Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:06:56
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Category: Christianity

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When Christianity first began to develop during the Roman Empire, it was not as a welcome addition for the Roman Emperor Neros reign, but as an example of persecuted intolerance toward anyone who refused to acknowledge, worship, or sacrifice to the Romans gods and goddesses. During the days of the Roman Empire, Christians were tortured and killed through harsh persecutions and tortuous deaths for their religious beliefs that appeared to be different on the outside, yet were not so on the inside.

Christianity was similar to many of the other religions of that time period, such as Mithraism a division of Zoroastrism whose belief in a son of the sun coming to assist mankind helped promote Christianity to the early Roman people. These early cults laid the soil fertile for the acceptance of Christianity in Rome, making its philosophy an easy concept to believe in. The religion of monotheism was not a stranger to Rome or to the new religion of Christianity.

The fact that God and Jesus were placed above such individuals as the Emperor or anyone of authority and would not answer to anyone, was a new theory which caused an uproar in the Roman belief system, making it hard to swallow for the upper hierarchy of Roman aristocrats. During those early days, part of Christianitys successful growth was due to many promises of Christian leaders of spiritual gifts, immortality, no poverty or sickness, and a future that did not look so dismal or depressing that were given to the people.

However, the people who formed this early basis of Christianity were Romans or Roman conquered with many of the ideas for the newly developing religion being Roman based. The inequality and poverty of the hierarchal Roman Empire were part of the whole empire, not just the Christians alone. The struggle between Romes paganism and the religion of Christianity have definitely been shown over the centuries to be on opposite sides of the fence.

Yet Roman imprints still lie in Christianity today, with Romes subtle influence on Christianity helping form the present Christian format originating from early Christianity which had became a large part of Rome during the days of Constantine and thereafter, eventually forcing the removal of Roman paganism items from their alters and churches, being substituted with Christian icons that were similar to those destroyed or removed.

Christianity did not develop until 50 AD as a Christian community, beginning a 200-year struggle between Rome and the Christians religious sectors. Regardless of their early brutal days, in 312 AD Christianity became the state religion through the Emperor Constantine who was baptized in 337 AD on his deathbed. The Christians for many a long year had been a despised and often a persecuted sect, and it was not until the conversion of Constantine that their status became secure.

Yet at the time of the Edict of Toleration they still formed a relatively small minority of the total population within the empire. From A. D. 312 their progress was indeed triumphant, but paganism and its cults showed remarkable tenacity, so that it would be a grave error to suppose that these rapidly disappeared under the Christian emperors. It has been said that the senatorial class in Rome and Italy was chiefly responsible for this survival.

(Laistner, 1951, p. 5) The fact that Rome could even influence this early form of Christianity is nothing short of a miracle, with the early brutal and harsh treatment by the Romans almost destroying it. The influence of Constantines mother on his early training regarding a Christian belief system also helped promote Christianity in Rome, otherwise it would never have been able to develop or grow as much as it did.

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