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Chapter 9: Late Roman Empire, Judaism, and the Rise of Christianity

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Title: Chapter 9: Late Roman Empire, Judaism, and the Rise of Christianity


1
Chapter 9 Late Roman Empire, Judaism, and the
Rise of Christianity
2
1. Outline
  • Late Roman empire
  • Moral decline and cultural relativism
  • Historical overview
  • Rise of Christianity
  • the elements of Christianity
  • the rise of Christianity

3
Evaluate these statements
  • 1. Christianity triumphed because of its moral
    superiority over the pagan values of the decadent
    Roman empire.
  • 2. With the arrival of Christianity the pursuit
    of reason (science, philosophy) and the freedoms
    typical of a secular society (freedom of thought
    and speech, pleasures of life, admiration for the
    human body) gave way to the (irrational) promise
    of messianic deliverance and eternal life.

4
Moral decline and the Late Roman Empire
  • Moral decline
  • The moral decline of Rome is denounced by Roman
    writers as early as the 3rd century BCE.
  • Examples Julius Caesar, Sallust, Livy, Augustus
    moral legislation
  • It is a constant topic in every culture.
  • It is retrospective and frequently used to
    justify the need of reform or the moral
    superiority of the reformer.

5
How depraved were the Romans of Late Imperial
times?
  • Achievements
  • Staunch moralists Seneca
  • Unsurpassed physicians Galen
  • Wise emperors Marcus Aurelius, Hadrian.
  • Foreign emperors Trajan, Hadrian, Diocletian.
  • Urbanism, architecture and civil administration.

6
Moral decline and the Late Roman Empire
  • Pantheon (Hadrians)
  • Trajans market

7
Moral decline and the Late Roman Empire
  • City of Thamugadi, Algeria
  • Volubilis (Morocco), Roman mosaic.

8
2. Historical overview
  • Christianity arises in the Roman province of
    Judea in the first century AD.
  • At first Christianity appears as a reform of
    Judaism followers are Jews.
  • Over the course of the 1st century Christianity
    becomes open to non-Jews.

9
2. Historical Overview
  • Diocletian divides the empire (284-305)
  • Eastern Roman empire Byzantium
  • Western Roman empire Rome
  • He persecutes Christians (303 CE)

10
2. Historical Overview
  • Constantine (315-330 CE) converts to
    Christianity (Constantinople).
  • Theodosius (379-395 CE) closes all the pagan
    cults and outlaws the practice of other
    religions
  • Concludes the celebration of the Olympic games
  • Closes the oracle of Delphi
  • Extinguishes the sacred fire of the Vestal
    Virgins in Rome.

11
3. Origins of Christianity
  • Christianity coexists with and is informed by
    other monotheistic and salvation religions
  • Judaism
  • Mystery cults
  • Lets explore the religious atmosphere
    surrounding the rise of Christianity.

12
4. Christianity and Judaism
  • Monotheism
  • God who speaks through sacred texts
  • Insistence on moral behavior (ethical monotheism)
  • Messiah (divine savior)
  • Sabbath (Sunday), Passover (Easter)
  • Dichotomies good/evil

13
4. Christianity and mystery religions
  • A dying and reborn god.
  • Promise of immortality through sacrifice of a
    savior Osiris, Dionysus, Orpheus, Mithra
    (Sunday, Dec, 25th)
  • Dichotomies body/ soul, sin/reward, good/evil
  • Rituals of initiation baptism, communal meal
  • Isis, Cybele (mother goddesses) Virgin Mary
  • Worship of an intercessor in the final judgment
    Dionysus, Isis, Mithra.

14
5. The rise of Christianity
  • Christianity arises among other similar and
    competing religions.
  • Why did it prevail over others?

15
5. The rise of Christianity
  • Proselytism
  • Infrastructure of the Roman empire
  • Relative freedom from class distinctions
  • Mutual aid to members
  • Ideas of monotheism and salvation
  • Assimilation of elements of Greek and Hellenistic
    philosophy
  • What does it mean?
  • How and why did it help?
  • To whom would this be appealing?
  • Were monotheism and salvation popular ideas in
    other religions?
  • How did this contribute to the consolidation of
    Christianity?

16
5. The rise of Christianity
  • Proselytism conscious effort to spread the faith
    (Paul)
  • Infrastructure of the Roman empire easy
    communications, common languages (Greek, Latin)
  • Relative freedom from class distinctions appeal
    to women and slaves.
  • Greek and Hellenistic philosophy created the
    theological pillars of Christianity making it
    intelligible to educated minds.

17
5. The rise of Christianity
  • A common religious landscape
  • National identity is no longer defined in
    religious terms (Athens/ Athena)
  • Preoccupation for individual salvation rather
    than national prosperity. (Pharaoh fertility of
    Egypt)
  • A common religious language
  • Shared by mystery cults, Jewish sects and
    Christianity immortality of the human soul,
    divinity-intercessor in the final judgment,
    rebirth, initiation, dogma, sin/ reward

18
6. Persecutions of Christians
  • Was Christianity tolerated by the Roman emperors?
  • Why were Christians persecuted?
  • Were members of other religions persecuted too?

19
6. Persecutions of Christians
  • Firstly Christians gained the enmity of Jews, who
    considered them heretic.
  • They were perceived as a secretive and sectarian
    group by the Roman establishment, because they
    chose NOT to participate in the state politics or
    religion.
  • They refused to worship the state gods and
    therefore were perceived as a threat to civil
    order.

20
6. Persecution of Jews
  • Arch of Titus, Rome.
  • Not only Christians but also Jews were persecuted
    (destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, 70 CE).

21
7. Early Christian Art
  • Clandestine and iconoclastic at first.
  • Funerary art with subliminal messages of
    salvation.

22
7. Early Christian Art
23
7. Early Christian Art
24
7. Early Christian Art
  • Funerary art paintings in the catacombs and
    sculpted sarcophagi.

25
7. Early Christian Art
  • Catacombs of Saint Domitilla

26
11. Early Christian Art
  • It utilizes the forms of the Greco-Roman
    tradition to convey religious meanings.
  • Highly symbolic.

27
11. Early Christian Art
  • Common motifs
  • Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
  • Leader of the flock and sacrificial lamb.

28
11. Early Christian Art
  • Common motifs
  • scenes from the Old and New testaments

29
11. Early Christian Art
  • individuals praying

30
11. Early Christian Art
31
12. Roman Architecture
  • Last remainders of imperial monuments
  • Arch of Constantine- last in tradition of Roman
    triumphal monuments.

32
13. Christian architecture
  • Development of new Christian churches with the
    support of the emperors.
  • Use of the basilica design

33
13. Christian architecture
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