This article outlines the history of Christianity and provides links to relevant topics.
Roots of Christianity
The Jewish background
Christianity emerged from Judaism in the first century of the common era. Christian brought from Judaism its scriptures (the Old Testament) and fundamental doctrines such as monotheism, and the belief in a moshiach (Hebrew term for messiah; this term is more commonly known as Christ (Greek.) The Jewish picture of the messiah is a national one - the deliverer of Israel, and has significant differences from how Christians understand the term. Christianity developed a new form of the messiah, in which Jesus became the son of God in a literal sense, and the saviour of all mankind.
The Life of Jesus of Nazereth
The earliest emergence of Christianity
Starting with the events recorded in the Gospels and Acts, Christianity grew from the personal practice of a minority of Jews, to the dominant religious group of the Mediterranean world in little over 300 years. It also gained important extensions to the east and south of the Mediterranean. This section will examine those first 300 years.
- The martyrs
- The Apologists
Disputes of doctrine began early on. The newly-organised church organised councils to sort matters out. Some groups were rejected as heretics.
- Monarchian controversy (need the "ism" form of this word...)
Christianity was far from the only religion seeking and finding converts in the 1st century. Modern historians of the Roman world often discern interest in what they tend to call mystery religions or mystery cults beginning in the last century of the Roman Republic and increasing during the centuries of the Roman Empire. Roman authors themselves, such as Livy, tell of the importation of "foreign gods" during times of stress in the Roman state. Judaism, too, was receiving converts and in some cases actively evangelising. The New Testament reflects a class of people referred to as 'believers in God' who are thought to be Gentile converts, perhaps those who had not submitted to circumcision; Philo of Alexandria makes explicit the duty of Jews to welcome converts.
- Mithraism - to distinguish from Mithra, who may be a separate thing inside Persian religions. It's complicated, like all the rest of this.
- Mandaeanism - the group in which Mani is reputed to have been brought up
- Manichaeism - the group that came from Mani
- Isis and Serapis
Second and third centuries
In the third century conventionally educated converts began to produce two kinds of writings that help us understand the developing shapes of Christianity - works aimed at a broad audience of educated non-Christians and works aimed at those who considered themselves inside the Church. The writing for non-Christians is usually called apologetic in the same sense that the speech given by Socrates in his defense before the Athenian assembly is called his Apology - the word in Greek meant "speech for the defense" rather than the modern more limited denotation of "statement expressing regret". The Apologists, as these authors are sometimes known, made a presentation for the educated classes of the beliefs of Christians, often coupled with an attack on the beliefs and practices of the pagans. Other writings had the purpose of instructing and admonishing fellow Christians.
Development of the canon of scripture
Christianity legalized in the Roman Empire
Fourth-century pagan revival by Rome
The Christology controversies
- Diodore, Theodore and Apollinarius
- Cyril and Nestorius
- The Monophysite council at Ephesus and the reaction at Chalcedon
- The search for reconciliation and the doctine of one will
Christianity becomes a state religion
The conversion of the Mediterranean world
Developing Christianity outside the Mediterranean world
Christianity was not restricted to the Mediterranean basin and its hinterlands; at the time of Jesus a large proportion of the Jewish population lived in Mesopotamia outside the Roman Empire, especially in the city of Babylon, where much of the Talmud was developed.
- Ethiopian Orthodoxy
- Christianity in the Sassanian Empire
- Thomas Christians (Malabar Christians?) in India
- Christianity comes to Great Britain and Ireland
- Christianity comes to Ireland and the evolution of Celtic Christianity
- Irish missionaries and the spread of Christianity to Britain and Northern Europe
- The re-establishment of papal authority in Ireland
Development of the Papacy
The rise of Islam
Church & state in the Medieval west
Schisms between East and West
The Later Middle Ages
- the Conciliar Movement
- Christian Humanism
The Reformation and Counter Reformation
- the role of Johann Gutenberg's printing press in the spread of religious dissent
- Martin Luther
- John Calvin
- King James Version
- Council of Trent
- Thirty Years War
- Discusses the rise of the major denominations after the Reformation, and the challenges faced by Catholicism.
- Lots missing here.
- Baptist Church
- Presbyterian Church
- Anglican Church
- Methodist Church
- Lutheran Church
This is a bit sketchey, not sure about the title either. currently readin up on this...
- The Puritans
- The English Civil War
- The church of Christ Movement in Britain and the US
- The Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers
- Catholic Resurgence in Romantic Europe
- Anglo-Catholic or Oxford Movement in the Church of England
- Missionaries and Colonialism
The Earliest Controversies Resurface in New Forms
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- Seventh-day Adventist Church
- Congress of Religions, 1893
Anti-Clericalism and Atheistic Communism
In many revolutionary movements the church was associated with the established repressive regimes. Thus, for example, after the French Revolution and the Mexican Revolution there was a distinct anti-clerical tone in those countries that exists to this day. On a more extreme level, Karl Marx condemned religion as the "opium of the people" and the Marxist-Leninist states of the twentieth century were officially atheistic.
20th Century and beyond
Christianity in the 20th century was characterised by accelerating fragmentation. The century saw the rise of both liberal and conservative splinter groups, as well as a general secularisation of Western society. The Roman Catholic church instituted many reforms in order to modernise. Missionaries also made inroads in the Far East, establishing further followings in China, Taiwan, and Japan.
- Creationist backlash to Darwinism, reaction to the critical method of Biblical interpretation.
The rise of free evangelical churches
- And the corresponding decline of mainstream Protestant denominations. Maybe this is too U.S.-centric? Also, its impact on worldwide Christianity remains to be seen, but the polarization of the Anglican Communion is, IMHO, worthy of mention. At least, I've been tracking it at http://anglican.swiki.net/ because I find it interesting. <>< tbc
- Evangelism in the 10/40 Window
- How evangelicals defined and prioritized efforts to reach the "unreached" in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
= The Spread of Secularism
In Europe there has been a general move away from religious observation and belief in Christion teachings and a move towards secularism. For example the Gallup International Millennium Survey showed that only about one sixth of Europeans attend regular religious services, less than half gave God "high importance", and only about 40% believe in a "personal God". Nevertheless the large majority considered that they "belong" to a religious denomination.
In North America and South America, the other two continents where Christianity is the dominant professed religion, religious observation is much higher than in Europe.