Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Demographics of Early Christian Church


-->  The first period of the early church that most scholars recognize is the Apostolic Age from 33 A.D to 100 A.D.  The early Christian church began it’s existence in the year 30 A.D, the year Jesus Christ was crucified, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven (Nickens).

 After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, most scholars believe that the first Christian church began in Palestine or in the city of Jerusalem. (Duchesne) Originally, there were about 1,000 followers and the number increased to about 10,000 people in one year.  (Nickens) The group that began the church included Palestine Jews who were living in Jerusalem during the last years of the Emperor Tiberius (30-37 A.D) (Duchesne, 31). 

This group of Jews included two main groups.  The Essenes were Jews who became disgusted with Judaism after many Jews called for his crucifixion and became faithful followers of Jesus.  The Pharisees were Jewish priests who strictly followed the law and called for the execution of Jesus Christ, but after his resurrection, they help formed the new group of Early Christians. (Duchense, 35).
  Among this group were eleven apostles of Jesus Christ and a Jewish convert named Paul.  Paul’s conversion to Christianity was said to be around 35 A.D (Davies, 16).  The prophet is considered to be the leading apostle in spreading the early Christian church.  After his conversion, Paul and several apostles were charged with the task of converting others to Christianity.

The first target for all these apostles was the Palestine Jews in Israel and north in Syria.  Originally, the early Christians were considered to be a new sect of Judaism, but Paul had several difficulties, as he would teach Jews in Palestine Christian teachings.  For example, he taught that the Jewish practice of circumcising male infants was not necessary, but Jewish preachers would tell the Jews to beware of Paul who was an apostle to avoid. (Duchsne, 45).  The Jewish priests in Jerusalem persecuted any Jews that openly admitted to supporting Christianity.  Paul even had to present himself before the Council of Jerusalem in 50 A.D to determine whether his teachings to Jews about circumcision were accurate.  (Nickens)
The people that the early Christians were able to convert were Gentiles.  Now, nations to the east such as Ancient Greece had despised Judaism.  Originally, the Greeks thought the Early Christians were Jews, but once they heard the teachings of Paul and the apostles, they quickly expanded the religion.  (Nock, 56)  Paul visited Greece, present day Turkey and Rome during the years 50-58 A.D (Nickens) The cultures quickly disregarded their Hellenistic religions which included worshiping multiple gods.  The reason for this is because these cultures found similarities with Christianity in that both groups believed that gods were real and care for all men on Earth. (Nock, 56)
In Paul’s journey through the Roman Empire, his efforts to convert Roman Jews led to his imprisonment in 60 A.D, but he had made enough impressions on Roman Jews that they visited him in his cell and he taught them while in prison.
After his death, the early Christians in Rome would become the main constituent of apostles after the Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (Nickens)
The apostle Paul's journeys to Greece, Rome and Israel.
The main demographics of all these groups consisted of young men who were gentiles not living in Jerusalem, although the original apostles were Jews from Palestine.  Scholars have been debating about the role of women in the early church. 
Some scholars acknowledge that Christianity greatly appealed to women and its spread of doctrine was due to women becoming converts and convincing their husbands to convert.  The reason for this is because Christianity didn’t have political emancipation on women.  For the first time, women felt equal to men through Christianity. (In the Beginning)
Other scholars suggest that the early Christian church received degrading views of women from its branches in the Greek, Roman and Hebrew cultures.  Paul has been looked at as an instigator of lowering the women’s role in the church.  Some scholars argue that he preached that women in the congregation should remain silent and remain faithful to their husbands.
While the demographics of the early Christian church include all the Roman, Greek and Hebrew cultures, there was a clear difference in gender roles among the early Christians.

Works Cited

Davies, J. G. The Early Christian Church. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965. Print.

Duchesne, L. Early History of the Christian Church. --. London: S.n., 1950. Print.

In the beginning: the early christian church
        Off Our Backs , Vol. 1, No. 21 (May 6, 1971), p. 2

Nickens, Mark. "Resources for Studying Christianity & Church History." Christian Timelines. N.p.,  
      2004. Web. 15 Apr. 2013. <http://christiantimelines.com/firstcentury.htm>.

Nock, Arthur Darby. Early Gentile Christianity and Its Hellenistic Background. New York: Harper &      Row, 1964. Print.

Paul the Apostle, Saint: Paul’s Missionary Journeys. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. <http://media-    

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