One of the most important events in the first century for both Jews and Christians was the Jewish War (66-73 AD). This war included the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. Nothing would ever be the same. This episode gives a summary of the events of this first Jewish War.
If you want more details about this event, read Josephus’s Jewish War.
Here is a picture of the Arch of Titus commemorating the Roman victory over Jews.
The recommended audiobook is Jerusalem’s Traitor: Josephus, Masada, and the Fall of Judea. Get this audiobook for free with a free trial of Audible at www.audibletrial.com/hopesreason.
As important as the Jewish background is to the rise of Christianity, so is the Roman background. All of the events of the New Testament take place within the borders of the Roman Empire and there are frequent interactions with various aspects of Roman authority.
This episode includes a short summary of the Roman emperors of the first century and their importance for understanding the history of Christianity. There are also some comments about other ways that Rome influenced the spread of Christianity.
In the episode, I mention these resources:
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.