What history really tells us about the birth of Jesus
From the beginning of civilization to the 20th century rise of globalism, World History and Cultures enables your child to see God's purpose and plan in human . Firstly, the actual birth day of Jesus was not December The date we celebrate was adopted by the Christian church as the birthday of Christ. Christianity in View: Timeline of Christian History. History. A complete timeline, showing important dates. Rise of Hellenism (Greek culture).
The Church transcends the contingent facts of this world, yet at the same time is deeply connected to historical events, for its very foundation is rooted in the centrality of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ.
The Christian view of history is a vision and interpretation of time in terms of eternity and of human events in the light of divine revelation. Christianity is the dynamic element in the history of our Western culture.
The life of Jesus Christ, the birth of Christianity, and the Apostolic Age the first years speak for themselves, for great historical movements do not spring from non-events.
The links and references provide a more in-depth discussion of each topic. Upon their return, the Holy Family settled in Nazareth, where Jesus grew and spent his childhood and early years as an adult.
A brief history of Western culture
Hardly anything is known of his life at that time except that he was called a Nazarene Matthew 2: Jesus of Nazareth began his public ministry when he was about thirty years old. He spent much of his ministry by the Sea of Galilee, preaching in such towns as Capernaum John 6: When his hour came near, he headed toward Jerusalem Luke 9: Jesus often taught in parables, an ancient Eastern literary genre. A parable is a narrative that presents comparisons to teach an important moral lesson.
Jesus performs many miracles, demonstrating his power over nature and spirits, and thus confirming that the Kingdom of God is at hand Mark 1: In a physical miracle, such as making the blind see, or walking on water, or calming a storm, the laws of the universe are suspended through divine intervention.
In a moral miracle, such as forgiveness of sins or driving out demons, the blessing of Jesus purifies the spirit. Only three miracles appear in all four Gospels - his own Resurrection, the greatest miracle of them all, the healing of the blind, and the feeding of the through the multiplication of the loaves. His public ministry lasted about three years, prior to his Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension. Jesus taught transformation of the inner person. His mission was one of love, mercy, and peace John Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of salvation history and the mediator and fullness of all revelation.
See our home page Jesus Christ for further discussion. Following the Resurrection, Matthias was chosen to replace Judas Iscariot. Prior to his Ascension, Jesus commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth Acts 1: This strengthened the Apostles to spread the word of Christ Jesus. The Acts of the Apostles describes the infancy period of the Church, a time following the Pentecost when Christianity spread like wildfire.
The Apostles all gathered in Jerusalem Acts 15 to discuss whether Gentiles who had been converted to Christianity had to observe all the ceremonial precepts of the Mosaic Law. This gathering of the Apostles became known as the Council of Jerusalem, and set the pattern of future Councils to resolve issues that arose within the Church. To the question of Jesus, "Who do you say that I am? Whereupon Jesus responded, "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" Matthew Peter became the first Patriarch of Antioch and ultimately Bishop of Rome.
Saul persecuted the Church and consented to the death of the first martyr Stephen. He had men and women who lived the Way thrown into prison.
But while going to Damascus, Saul was struck from his horse by a great light and a voice asked "Why do you persecute me? Christ identified himself with his Church: Paul, as Apostle to the Gentiles, became just as passionate spreading Christianity as he was in persecuting Christians before his conversion.
Peter was crucified upside down and St. Paul was beheaded, both probably in AD. In fact, all of the Apostles were martyred for having preached the Gospel, except for St. Heeding the message of Jesus Christ to Go therefore and make disciples of all nations Matthew Andrew, Peter's brother, was the first to be called to follow Jesus, and is called by the Byzantine Church the Protoclete, meaning the first called.
Andrew evangelized Byzantium, appointed Stachys Romans James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, is believed to have preached in Spain; he is the only Apostle to have his martyrdom recorded in the Bible Acts John, the son of Zebedee and the brother of James, was the "one Jesus loved. Christ on the Cross entrusted his mother Mary to John He played an important role as head of the Church of Jerusalem, and writer of the Letter of James in the Bible. According to the historian Flavius Josephus, he was stoned to death in 62 AD.
But when he put his hand in the Lord's side, he reacted with a beautiful profession of faith: Thomas traveled through Chaldea and Persia all the way to India! Little is known about Simon the Zealot or Matthias. The Apostolic Fathers were a group of early Christian writers who knew one of the Apostles and lived about AD, and sought to define, organize, and defend the faith, such as Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna, and the author s of the Didache.
Ignatius of Antioch was designated Bishop of Syria by St. Peter on his trip to Antioch to meet St. Ignatius was the first to use the term Catholic Church in his Letter to the Smyrnaeans.
The word catholic means universal and refers to the universal Church of Jesus Christ. Ignatius of Antioch would not worship the Emperor Trajan, and thus was placed in chains and martyred in Rome when thrown to the lions in the Coliseum. He wrote seven letters on his trip to Rome, which proved to be a unifying event for all of the early Churches.
He established the Church hierarchy of bishop, priest, and deacon for the early Churches, the pattern which still exists today. In his First Apology written inhe described the Memorial of the Last Supper on Sunday, one that would be called the Divine Liturgy in the East and the Mass in the West, an event which has remained essentially the same for nearly years.
For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these, but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God The Eastern Christian Churches are characterized by a rich heritage with Apostolic origin, and are treasured by the universal Church, for the East was the home of Jesus Christ our Redeemer! Jerusalem is the birthplace to all of Christianity throughout the world. The Levant, the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, served as the cradle of Christianity.
Antioch, Syria became an early center for Christianity, especially following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Indeed, followers of Christ were first called Christians in Antioch Acts They also became known as Nazarenes Acts Mark the Evangelist founded the Church of Alexandria, Egypt. Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History reported that King Abgar of Edessa was afflicted with illness and contacted Jesus in the hope of a cure. Upon his healing by St. Jude Thaddeus, King Abgar converted to Christianity.
Edessa became home to such writers as St. Ephrem wrote his beautiful hymns and religious poetry in Syriac, a dialect of the Semitic language of Aramaic, the language of Jesus. Syriac became the biblical and liturgical language of early Christian Churches in the East. The theology of Eastern Churches often developed independently, outside the sway of Roman and Byzantine thought. Eastern Christian Churches allow clerical marriage, for they accept the gift of human sexuality given by God, who said, "It is not good for the man to be alone" Genesis 2: But their powerful witness through martyrdom only served to spread Christianity!
Constantine became Emperor of the West in As he was in Gaul at the time, he still had to capture Rome where Maxentius held sway. Welcome relief from Christian martyrdom came with the Edict of Milan inthrough which Constantine and Licinius, the Emperor of the East, granted Christianity complete religious tolerance. His defeat of Licinius in made him sole Emperor of the entire Roman Empire, and he moved the seat of the Empire to Byzantium in and renamed it Constantinople. Constantine considered himself Christian and did much to protect and support Christianity.
Sunday as the Lord's Day was made a day of rest, and December 25 was celebrated as the birthday of Jesus. He restored property that once belonged to Christians.
Christianity remain undivided until mankind sought to define the hidden nature of God and the mystery of Christ. A dispute concerning the relation of the Father and the Son arose in Egypt known as the Arian controversy.
The Nicene Creed was expanded and finalized at the Council of Constantinople in to include homoousios for the Holy Spirit as well, by quoting John Constantine considered himself both head of state and father of the Christian Churches. There were eight named writers of the New Testament: The Tradition of the Fathers of the Church was important to early Christianity, for they were the ones who chose those inspired books which best reflected the life and teachings of Jesus Christ in the formation of the canon of the New Testament, and were also involved in the interpretation of Scripture.
Jerome that "Matthew put together the sayings of the Lord in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could" Papias, in Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, III, 39, Catherine's Monastery on Mt.
Jerome was commissioned by Pope Damasus in to produce a new Latin translation of the Bible. Jerome completed the translation of the Greek New Testament into Latin inand finished his translation from both Greek and Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament by In view of his work, St.
Jerome was named the Father of Biblical Scholars. The Latin Vulgate Bible published by St. Jerome served as the standard Bible for Western Christian civilization for over years. He was born in Tagaste, near Hippo, in north Africa. Monica was a devout Christian and taught him the faith. However, when he studied rhetoric in Carthage, he began living a worldly life. He obtained a post as master of rhetoric in Milan, accompanied by an unnamed woman and child Adeodatus, born out of wedlock in The woman soon left him and their son, and Monica joined them in Milan.
Under the incessant prayers of his mother, and the influence of St. Ambrose of Milan, he eventually converted at age 32 in AD. Perhaps the most eloquent examination of conscience is found in The Confessions of St. Augustine, where he describes his moment of conversion in the garden reading St. Paul to the Romans Both his mother and son died soon afterwards and he returned in to his home in Tagaste.
He was ordained a priest inand became Bishop of Hippo in Augustine was people-oriented and preached every day. Many of his followers lived an ascetic life.
He had a great love for Christ, and believed that our goal on earth was God through Christ himself, "to see his face evermore. Augustine was one of the most prolific writers in history, and his writings show an evolution of thought and at times a reversal of ideas, as seen in his Retractations.
His Scriptural essays on Genesis and Psalms remain starting points for modern Biblical scholars. His commentary on the Sermon on the Mount is still read today. Perhaps most debated are his views on predestination. Augustine is the doctor of grace. In his book Grace and Free Will, he explained simply why he believed in free will.
If there was no free will, then why did God give us the Ten Commandments, and why did he tell us to love our neighbor? Augustine's arguments against the Pelagian heresy set the doctrine of grace for the Catholic Church to the present day. Pelagius thought that man could achieve virtue and salvation on his own without the gift of grace, that Jesus was simply a model of virtue.
This of course attacks the Redemption of man by Christ! If man could make it on his own, then the Cross of Christ becomes meaningless! But Augustine saw man's utter sinfulness and the blessing and efficacy of grace, disposing man to accept his moment of grace, and hopefully ultimate salvation.
Grace raises us to a life of virtue, and is the ground of human freedom. Perhaps one of his greatest works was The City of God, which took 13 years to complete, from to History can only be understood as a continued struggle between two cities, the City of God, comprised of those men who pursue God, and the City of Man, composed of those who pursue earthly goods and pleasures.
He refers to Cain and Abel as the earliest examples of the two types of man. The Roman Empire was an example of the city of man which had just been sacked by Alaric in and was the occasion of the book.
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Augustine was a living example of God's grace that transformed nature. He died August 28,during the sack of Hippo by the Vandals. August 28 is celebrated as his Feast Day in the liturgical calendar. Alaric had sacked Rome inand the Huns and the Visigoths were gaining strength. However the Pope proved to be a master statesman and history has deservedly accorded him the title of Pope Leo the Great. One of his first actions in was to bless the missionary efforts of St.
Patrick and to ordain him as Bishop of Ireland. A tension in Church authority between papal leadership and collegiality of the bishops was developing over theological questions. Rome was the place of martyrdom for Saints Peter and Paul. Rome's position as the capital of the Roman Empire was also supportive of a leadership role for the Bishop of Rome. The Bishop of Rome as successor to St. Peter was the Pastor and Shepherd of the whole Church, as seen with St.
The independent Church of the East in Persia believed in two distinct natures dyophysite in Christ and did not accept the wording. Pope Leo synthesized the thought of the differing Schools of Antioch and Alexandria in a letter known as the Tome. The Council of Chalcedon in was the Fourth Ecumenical Council, which supported Leo's stance that Christ had two natures, Divine and human in perfect harmony, in one Person or hypostasis. This set the theology for Roman and Byzantine theology and was important for European unity.
Just one year laterAttila and the Huns were threatening outside the walls of Rome. Pope Leo met Attila, who decided to call off the invasion! For not only have they been islands of asceticism and holiness that have served as ideals to a secular world, but also they have provided many if not most of the religious leaders within each historic age, especially during times of renewal and reform.
The word monos is the Greek word for one or alone.
Monasticism began in the East and spread throughout Europe and saved European civilization. The practice of leaving the ambitions of daily life and retreating to the solitude of the desert was seen throughout Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, St.
John the Baptist Mark 1: The father of Christian monasticism was St. Antony of the Desertthe first of the Desert Fathers. Antony of Egypt took to heart the words of Christ to the rich young man, " Go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven" Matthew He headed across the Nile to a mountain near Pispir to live a life of solitude, prayer, and poverty.
Soon many gathered around him to imitate his life, living as hermits in nearby caves in the mountain, and in he emerged from solitude to teach his followers the way of the ascetic. He then moved further into the desert by Mount Kolzim near the Red Sea, where a second group of hermits gathered and later formed a monastery.
He lived there for 45 years until his death in Marona contemporary of St. John Chrysostom, was a monk in the fourth century who left Antioch for the Orontes River to lead a life of holiness and prayer.
As he was given the gift of healing, his life of solitude was short-lived, and soon he had many followers that adopted his monastic way. Following the death of St. Maron inhis disciples built a monastery in his memory, which would form the nucleus of the Eastern Catholic Maronite Church of Lebanon. The fall of the Roman Empire to the barbarian invasions left European civilization in disarray, for the social structure under one ruler in Rome was destroyed.
The preservation of culture and the conversion of the barbarians to Christianity was left to an unlikely group: Their missionary efforts converted one tribe after another, so that eventually all of Europe was united in the worship of the one Christian God.
Patrick as Apostle to Ireland founded the monastery of Armagh in and other monasteries throughout Ireland. As the social unit in Ireland and much of Europe at the time was the tribe in the countryside, the monastery was the center of Church life and learning. The Irish monks that followed him converted much of northern Europe. The lasting legacy of the Irish monks has been the present-day form of confession.
In early times, penance was in public and severe, often lasting for years, such that Baptism was generally postponed until one's deathbed. The Irish monks began private confession and allowed one to repeat confession as necessary. Benedict was born in Nursia of nobility but chose a life of solitude in Subiaco outside of Rome. Soon he moved nearby to build a monastery at Monte Cassino in and there wrote the Rule of Benedict. Monte Cassino placed all of the monks in one monastery under an abbot.
The guiding principle for the monastery was ora et labora, or pray and work. The monastery provided adequate food and a place to sleep and served as a center of conversion and learning. Known for its moderation, Monte Cassino and Benedict's rule became the standard for monasteries throughout Europe and the pattern for Western civilization. The first monk to become Pope was St. Gregory the Great Born to Roman nobility, Gregory at first pursued a political career and became Prefect of Rome.
However he gave up position and wealth and retreated to his home to lead a monastic life. He was recalled to Rome and soon was elected Pope in and served until his death in A man of great energy, he is known for four historic achievements. His theological and spiritual writings shaped the thought of the Middle Ages; he made the Pope the de facto ruler of central Italy; his charisma strengthened the Papacy in the West; and he was dedicated to the conversion of England to Christianity.
Gregory sent the monk Augustine to England in The conversion of King Aethelbert of Kent led St. Augustine to be named the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Soon English Benedictine monks were being sent to convert the rest of Europe, such as the English monk Winfrid, better known as St.
Boniface, who served from as the Apostle to Germany. Boniface in his conversion of Germany. His son Pepin and the Papacy formed an historic alliance. Pepin needed the blessing of the Pope in his seizure of leadership of Gaul from the Merovingians. Eastern Christian art[ edit ] 6th? The dedication of Constantinople as capital in AD created a great new Christian artistic centre for the Eastern Roman Empirewhich soon became a separate political unit.
Church of Agios Panteleimonos, Greece. This achievement was checked by the controversy over the use of graven images, and the proper interpretation of the Second Commandment, which led to the crisis of Iconoclasm or destruction of religious images, which racked the Empire between and The restoration of Orthodoxy resulted in a strict standardization of religious imagery within the Eastern Church.
Byzantine art became increasingly conservative, as the form of images themselves, many accorded divine origin or thought to have been be painted by Saint Luke or other figures, was held to have a status not far off that of a scriptural text.
They could be copied, but not improved upon. As a concession to Iconoclast sentiment, monumental religious sculpture was effectively banned. Neither of these attitudes were held in Western Europe, but Byzantine art nonetheless had great influence there until the High Middle Agesand remained very popular long after that, with vast numbers of icons of the Cretan School exported to Europe as late as the Renaissance.
Where possible, Byzantine artists were borrowed for projects such as mosaics in Venice and Palermo. The enigmatic frescoes at Castelseprio may be an example of work by a Greek artist working in Italy.
The art of Eastern Catholicism has always been rather closer to the Orthodox art of Greece and Russia, and in countries near the Orthodox world, notably Poland, Catholic art has many Orthodox influences.
Other images that are certainly of Greek origin, like the Salus Populi Romani and Our Lady of Perpetual Helpboth icons in Rome, have been subjects of specific veneration for centuries. Although the influence has often been resisted, especially in Russia, Catholic art has also affected Orthodox depictions in many respects, especially in countries like Romania, and in the post-Byzantine Cretan Schoolwhich led Greek Orthodox art under Venetian rule in the 15th and 16th centuries.
El Greco left Crete when relatively young, but Michael Damaskinos returned after a brief period in Venice, and was able to switch between Italian and Greek styles. Even the traditionalist Theophanes the Cretanworking mainly on Mount Athosnevertheless shows unmistakable Western influence. Many Eastern Orthodox states in Eastern Europe, as well as to some degree the Muslim states of the eastern Mediterraneanpreserved many aspects of the empire's culture and art for centuries afterward.
A number of states contemporary with the Byzantine Empire were culturally influenced by it, without actually being part of it the " Byzantine commonwealth ". These included BulgariaSerbiaand the Rusas well as some non-Orthodox states like the Republic of Venice and the Kingdom of Sicilywhich had close ties to the Byzantine Empire despite being in other respects part of western European culture.
Roman Catholic art[ edit ] Main article: Roman Catholic art Bernini's Ecstasy of Saint Theresa Roman Catholic art consists of all visual works produced in an attempt to illustrate, supplement and portray in tangible form the teachings of the Catholic Church.
This includes sculpture, painting, mosaics, metalwork, embroidery and even architecture. Catholic art has played a leading role in the history and development of Western Art since at least the fourth century.
The principal subject matter of Catholic Art has been the life and times of Jesus Christalong with those of his disciples, the saints, and the events of the Jewish Old Testament. The earliest surviving art works are the painted frescoes on the walls of the catacombs and meeting houses of the persecuted Christians of the Roman Empire. He brought a crib and animals into church so that everyone worshipping could feel part of the story. Thus a popular pietistic tradition was born.
Later art showing the adoration of the baby Jesus reflects a similar devotional spirituality. A radical Christmas If we pare back the story to its biblical and historical core - removing the stable, the animals, the cherub-like angels, and the inn - with what are we left? The Jesus of history was a child of a Jewish family living under a foreign regime. He was born into an extended family living away from home and his family fled from a king who sought to kill him because he posed a political threat.
The Jesus story, in its historical context, is one of human terror and divine mercy, of human abuse and divine love. It is a story that claims God became human in the form of one who is vulnerable, poor and displaced in order to unveil the injustice of tyrannical power. While there is nothing wrong with the devotional piety of Christian tradition, a white-washed nativity scene risks missing the most radical aspects of the Christmas story.