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The Story Of Christianity Essay

1293 words - 6 pages

The Romans never had a single uninterrupted policy of persecuting Christians between the first and fourth Century, but rather the Romans developed policy as the Christian Religion impact on Roman society grew. As each century progresses the Christian Religion continued to grow, and in response the Roman government adapted their policy to deal with the changes. In the first century Christianity was working to establish an identity by spreading the word that God’s promise had been fulfilled, but Romans could not or take the time to see the difference between Christianity and Judaism. The second century Romans started to differentiate between Christianity and Judaism, but Romans were still at a ...view middle of the document...

In The Story of Christianity González basically defines Hellenistic Jews as practitioners of Judaism who incorporated Greek culture into their lifestyle. Jewish leadership saw Hellenism and Roman influences as a problem because they were both polytheistic societies that threatened to overwhelm their monotheistic culture. But as González points out “Roman policies toward the religion and customs of the conquered people were rather tolerant. Shortly after the conquest, the Roman government gave the descendants of the Maccabees a measure of authority” (González, p. 15). The Maccabees were the ones leading the charge in the first Jewish rebellion, so the fact the Romans were still willing to give power to the Maccabees to run their land after a rebellion shows the open mindedness of the Roman empire towards religion. At this time Rome is still being patient with Judaism and Christianity since their followers are new to the empire. The first Christians did not see themselves as a new religion but rather as a member of Judaism who believes the covenant with God was fulfilled by Jesus. Since early Christians still saw themselves as Jewish, this dictated the Jewish leadership- the Sanhedrin and Pharisees responses to vary to Christian preaching. On page 26 González gives up the example of the first martyr Stephen who was executed by the Saul and the Sanhedrin for Stephen’s Hellenistic views towards Jewish traditions. Saul who becomes Paul, one of the largest early Christian evangelists is able to dodge Stephen’s fate early on because of his belief in upholding Jewish traditions early on. Romans though started to get wary of Jews and Christians because of their strange belief in only one God and the stubborn position on not adding any new gods to their beliefs. Romans saw religion as a unifying social construct and as González proclaims “In order to achieve greater unity, imperial policy sought religious uniformity by following two routes: syncretism (the indiscriminate mixing of elements from various religions) and emperor worship” (González, p. 20). Jewish practitioners were not fond of this concept and the Roman Empire and have a second rebellion which results in the destruction of Jerusalem. Christians seeing the Judaism has really kicked the hornet’s nest with the Roman Empire now decides to try and separate itself from Judaism. But as González goes on to say “[T]he Jews and Christians were seen as unbending fanatics who insisted on the sole worship of their One God-an alien cyst that must be removed for the good of society” (González, p. 20). So now at the end of the first century the Roman Empire starts to notice Christianity but is still not sure how to handle this new group.
In the second century we see Roman Leadership and intellectuals attempt to categorize and rationalize Christianity. Christianity is also having its own struggles to...

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