The Growth of Christianity
You will find three main related factors that contributed to the growth and continuing development of Christianity, and ultimately its success. These were a combination of political, social and economic factors. An upswing of early Christianity has become the topic of much debate and historical analyses. I will be attempting to simply outline and reply to some of the main social factors that cause the rise of Christianity.
Christianity have come at the correct time, in an age where life was uncertain and many circumstances could not be controlled like the barbarians invading; fires residence whole cities and plagues killing off a lot of the population, whether you were rich or poor it made no difference, life in the Greco-Roman world was very fragile and short. Life expectancy was not great and the average person lived until throughout the age of 30 or perhaps considerably less. Life expectancy was very low and what may have appealed to pagans was that the Christian religion and doctrines offered hope and certainty within the afterlife and even some personal divine protection in this world. These new doctrines could have seemed attractive to pagans, when there is growing discontent with pagan practices plus a general spiritual unrest. Like Christianity the Roman Religion was for your ordinary man but interest was waning and also the mystery religions were too complicated for the common Roman, thus the people's choice was probably be Christianity.
Christianity also offered aspire to a usually pessimistic society that considered that their destinies were fixed, either to be in the Gods' favour or be out of it, without hope of redemption. Christianity offered an alternative solution with the much desired chance for salvation.
Christianity was primarily an urban movement, in these urban centre's Christianity grew with a steady pace, the towns of cities like Antioch, were very condensed with others it is estimated that there were 117 people per acre. Compared to modern cities nowadays this is rather overcrowded. The overcrowding was extreme, entire families lived together in single room apartments; this left little personal space and allowed everyone to understand each other's business. Given that urban centre's were dramatically overcrowded knowning that early Roman Greco cities had minimal sanitation or sewerage to the average apartments people would often just throw their bodily waste your window of their apartments on the streets. Starks describe the situation in these urbanized areas as:
Given limited water and way of sanitation and the incredible density of humans and animals, most people in the Greco-Roman world could have lived in filth beyond our imagining.
Apartments or condos were often Smokey, dark, damp and constantly dirty. The air was stuffed with the smell of sweat, urine and faces. Onto of those conditions the rodents and bugs were everywhere over these apartments. The city streets weren't much better they had open sewers, animal manure and crowds from time to time it was so bad there were dead human corpses abandoned within the streets. When cities were inside a constant state of filth, insects and crowding, disease was rife during these conditions, especially when these Roman societies didn't have antibiotics or knowledge of germs. Often plagues would strike and physical illness was almost certainly a part of daily life. A good example of this was the analysis of human faeces that have been found in a cesspit in Jerusalem showed large amounts of tapeworm and whipworm eggs, which shows poor sanitary conditions where humans often got into contact with human faeces.
Christianity revitalized the way of life in Greco-Roman society offering social change, which dealt with many of the consequences of urban problems. Charity and hope was wanted to homeless and the poor, often the cities were packed with newcomers and strangers and Christianity offered a long family and a base for attachments in addition to effective nursing services when in disaster, that were often a result of plagues, earthquakes and fires.
Christianity's attitude towards society as well as social impact greatly triggered the expansion and success from the church. The church was particularly well-known for the acts of charity, chances are that the charity itself was the most influencing factors on the growth of Christianity.
The church offered this charity to everyone, including pagans and Jews. From the third century the Church was taking care of one thousand five hundred widows in need. The church itself was wealthy and according to Eusebius, by the year 251 the church in Rome supported the bishop, 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 7 sub deacons, 42 acolytes and 52 exorcists, reader and doorkeepers, but additionally more than 1500 widows and needy persons. The churches obvious financial stability leads it to be popular and it successfully expanded because it helped those in need, it offered help and frequently people were converted to Christianity on account of the kindness and a spotlight they received. Even though the Roman Empire did have some charitable services for example the bread dole, Christian charity far outweighed the state's charity.
Throughout the first century towards the fourth century there was clearly government enforced persecution of early Christianity, though not constantly. Persecution and martyrdom became a sign of the strength of Christianity, which in turn shows if the movement was attracting attention through the Roman state. Such emperors that instigated severe persecution were Decius and Diocletian. There are sufficient amounts of Christians in North Africa for martyrdoms to become noticed, one of these martyrdoms were Perpetua and her slave girl, Felicity who were thrown to the lions from a trial.
Tertullian wrote that "the blood of Christians is seed" which is often misquoted as "the blood with the martyrs is the seed of the church." Tertullian may have been saying this as they believed that martyrdoms created new converts or could possibly have strengthened the church.
The Roman Empire planned to exterminate this new religion immediately and it seems it tried at first to exterminate every Christian they can find but later under Decius they started new ways to try and exterminate Christianity one way was by detaching the clergy and the bishops as well as taking away lands and churches from your Christians, irrespective of rank while forcing them to sacrifice to the states pagan gods or why not be punished severely with torture, exile, slavery and quite often execution, depending on numerous reasons along with the time of persecution.
This would have experienced to give this new religion much publicity, particularly if it was in the circus arenas being killed by wild beats could have been creating attention, it appears many would have seen these peculiar people ready to suffer excruciating torture and also die for their God and religion, this must have left the pagan with something further to take into consideration and consider if they were ready to die for their pagan gods.
The Christians could even have won converts in some areas, because of their courage in the persecutions, the strength of their faith along with the support they showed each other, Tertullian said that pagans had exclaimed within the arenas during martyrdoms "See how these Christians relative another" this indicated the social nature in the Christian faith. The persecutions also created apologists these folks were people who would be writing trying to convince the authorities they'd done nothing wrong, whether or not the Emperors read these long letters of apology no-one knows, it seems rather unlikely however one could suggest State officials having read these letters of apology.
Another part of Christian growth was that Christianity and its particular friendships formed from within the Church lead to its successful growth because people that had become a Christian felt that they were to fulfil the truly amazing commission as taught by Jesus as well as the apostles and they were to pass the message onto their friends and family, this quite often triggered a close knit community this also was appealing within an era when it was expected person to look after yourself. Within this Greco-Roman era religious and social interaction was very much interlinked. It absolutely was taught in the church when Christian travellers came from outside of the city or were strangers to a new city, Christians were to provide their needs and supply shelter to these Christians, this became not only taught from the teachings of Jesus but in addition by the apostle Paul. So it was an incentive to become a Christian as there was always help and social support systems that could support you inside a large empire. It had been like an extended family anywhere you went inside the Roman Empire. Eusebius writes that this Christian missionaries were so inspired through the Holy Spirit that they can saw mass conversions occur, from be a contributing factor.
Christianity also gained some favour in society due to the improvement in the treating women, and it elevation of the social status. Christianity taught that marital unfaithfulness in a partner as serious as in the other and that in in accordance with the New Testament, husbands should treat their wives basic consideration and love as Christ manifested for his Church, though women remained considered homemakers and wives. It is believed that Christianity made its distance to the aristocracy in Rome back then through the influence of their wives.
The Greco-Roman world was quite different woman had less rights than men. It had been a very male orientated society where male babies were wanted and feminine babies rejected this resulted in infant side of female babies. Some excavations have found hundreds of babies bones within an underground sewer viewed as female babies. It was not uncommon that girls were offered in marriage before that they reached puberty to much older men and the cultural custom was that the women were the house of the man, either the dad or the husband. Women played a huge role in the early Christian church this might have been because they received more rights inside the Christian community when compared with women in the Greco-Roman world. We see in some early writings around the persecution of Christians that many more females clothing were stored or found than men's, over double, this may suggest there have been far more females than males noisy . church.
If this is genuine that there were far more females than males noisy . church then which allows for many secondary conversions. Secondary conversions are ones that are a result of another person being converted due to the first conversion, for instance a woman is converted then again shortly after her husband is converted which most likely would not have occurred if the woman was not originally converted. Christian doctrines were against abortion and infanticide. This might have had some effect on the birth-rates of Christian woman in comparison with their pagan counterparts.
Multiplication of Christianity also involved Christian writings by the end of the first century the writings of Paul and also the apostles of Jesus ended up spread sporadically from the Roman Empire. Apart for your early apostolic writers, others set about advocating, defending and propagating Christianity. Justin Martyr who lived around Ad 100-160 was obviously a Christian teacher and philosopher, he wrote the first and second apology. There were many subsequent Christian writers throghought earlier years of the church, generally they were well-educated, such as Origen, Tertullian and many more. In the pagan mystery religions just the elite could read the sacred and secret texts, yet, in Christianity often the Gospels and Paul's epistles were read out aloud for all to hear in the church, this could have appealed to the pagans when thinking about a choice in further religious observance. The Christian writings also acted as a way of spreading the Gospel message from place to place, often reaching beyond the Roman Empire itself.