Study the history of the Christian church is a huge task. It includes two thousand years of history spanning the entire globe. One could spend their entire life studying the history of the church and only comprehend a fraction.
Having said that, there are some related areas of history that very much affect the history of Christianity. They may not belong fully to the area of church history but there is much overlap.
Here are three historical areas that I believe a student of church history should have some knowledge of:
- Roman Empire – The early church and the New Testament emerged within the context of the Roman Empire. But some knowledge of the Roman Empire, both in the west and the east, is important for understanding how the church developed. Whether the Romans were persecuting the Christians or being merged with the church, Rome left its stamp.
- Philosophy – Christianity has had a long and complicated relationship with philosophy. This includes the Greco-Roman philosophy that was around at the birth of the church but also ongoing philosophical development. Many later philosophers did their work either from within the church or in reaction to the church.
- Religion – Christianity is not the only religious game in town. Christianity appeared along side other religions. By the time of Jesus, three of the other major religions (Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism) were already around. Christianity has also had a complicated relationship with Islam. Seeing how Christianity interacts with other religions throughout the centuries can be beneficial.