Early Church History
False concepts: Originally,
Christian scholars thought of early Christianity as mainly
an emerging Gentile institution which had quickly come out
of Jewish roots, almost within five to six years after the
founding of the Church in Jerusalem, with the conversion of
Paul and his subsequent spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles. These scholars had ignored almost completely
what the early Church of God in Jerusalem was like, as well
as what the Judeo-Christians churches were like later on in
Asia Minor. But following World War II, due to the exposure
of the huge Nazi atrocities against the Jews in Europe, Christian
leaders and historians began to refocus their attention on
the early Christian church and specifically its Jewish roots.
Also following World War II a tremendous revival of
spiritual fundamentalism and a complimentary explosion of
radio and televised evangelism occurred.
Some labeled this the Sunday morning comedy hour, but much of
it was real nonetheless, and fundamental evangelical churches
and denominations were springing up all over the place.
A hunger developed for the early history of the Christian
church, fueled by a sincere spiritual desire to "earnestly
contend for the faith once delivered" as Jude admonished. So people were asking, very sincerely, "What
was that 'Faith'
like?" Good question. What was it like? Honest church and religious scholars, both secular
and believing, delved deeper into the past to find answers. They sought to find out what the early Church
of God in Jerusalem had been like, as well as what Judeo-Christianity
was like in Asia Minor. Coupled
to this sincere historic research was a virtual knowledge
explosion in Middle Eastern archeology, especially as key
Middle Eastern countries opened themselves up willingly to
outside archeologists. Even
Saddam Hussein welcomed foreign archeological digs in ancient
Babylon (Turkey, or ancient Asia Minor was not left out either).
This all contributed to a far more accurate understanding
of early Church history, focusing on the early Christian community
that subsequently moved out of the Holy Land into Asia Minor
during the period between the first and second Jewish wars
with Rome (70AD-135AD). What
was the effect of all this new knowledge? Even in the mid to late 1960s it led to a huge
paradigm crash for many Christians.
Why? Early Christianity
was nothing like what they'd been taught or assumed it had
been like. It was Jewish. Many were stunned. Close examination of the history showed it was
Jewish in Jerusalem, all of Judea, Samaria, Galilee, and then
as it spread up into Asia Minor it continued to be Jewish
and maintain Jewish days of worship.
Even up into the 300s AD, Asia Minor held in excess
of 3 million Judeo-Christians. Want to learn more?
- Early Christianity during
the apostolic age under the 12 apostles was developing into
a large Judeo-Christian community focused toward Jerusalem.
Most of its members were Jewish, racially.
With the death of the apostles at the end of the
1st century, due to lack of a somewhat centralized
apostolic church government to look to in Jerusalem (and
later Ephesus under John), Christianity had separated into
hundreds of independent groups, small congregations and
house churches, and the like.
Judeo-Christianity doesn't die out yet though.
Through Polycarp (disciple of the apostle John) and
Policrates (disciple of Polycarp), it survives into the
- During the 2nd
and 3rd centuries a "different Christianity"
arose within the Gentile Greco-Roman churches which dwelt
among the pagan population.
- It started to call itself
"orthodox", and ended up overpowering the older original
Judeo-Christianity, and ultimately crushed Judeo-Christianity
out of existence during the 4th century AD.
- By the 5th
century, this "orthodox" Greco-Roman church had tens millions
of adherents, and sought total control of "Christianity".
It determined to and did almost totally succeed in
its quest to eliminate all other forms of Christianity,
especially, as we shall see, Judeo-Christianity.
of the word syncretize: 1. Reconciliation or fusion
of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion,
especially when success is partial or the result is heterogeneous.
linguistics. This merging of
two or more originally different inflectual forms.
sunkretismos, union, from sunkretizeain, to unite (in the manner of the