The Good Shepherd is an image used in the pericope of John 10:1-21, in which Jesus Christ is depicted as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. Similar imagery is used in Psalm 23; the Good Shepherd is discussed in the other gospels, the Epistle to the Hebrews, the First Epistle of Peter and the Book of Revelation. In the Gospel of John, Jesus states "I am the good shepherd" in two verses, John 10:11 and 10:14. From John 10:11-18: I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He, a hired hand, not a shepherd, who doesn't own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, flees; the wolf snatches the sheep, scatters them. The hired hand flees because he is a hired hand, doesn't care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own, I'm known by my own. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep. I must bring them and they will hear my voice, they will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me. No one takes it away from me.
I have power to lay it down, I have power to take it again. I received this commandment from my Father; this passage is one of several sections of John's Gospel which generate division among the Jews: "There was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. Many of them said, ` He is mad. Why do you listen to Him?' Others said,'These are not the words of one who has a demon'. Jesus Christ is compared to a shepherd in Matthew 2:6, Matthew 9:36, Matthew 25:32, Matthew 26:31, Mark 6:34, Mark 14:27, John 10:2, Hebrews 13:20, 1 Peter 2:25, 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 7:17. Several authors such as Tinto, Barbara Reid, Arland Hultgren or Donald Griggs comment that "parables are noticeably absent from the Gospel of John". According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Parables: "There are no parables in St. John's Gospel" and according to the Encyclopædia Britannica article on Gospel of St. John: "Here Jesus' teaching contains no parables and but three allegories, the Synoptists present it as parabolic through and through."
The image of the Good Shepherd is the most common of the symbolic representations of Christ found in early Christian art in the Catacombs of Rome, before Christian imagery could be made explicit. The form of the image showing a young man carrying a lamb round his neck was directly borrowed from the much older pagan kriophoros and in the case of portable statuettes like the most famous one now in the Pio Cristiano Museum, Vatican City, it is impossible to say whether the image was created with the intention of having a Christian significance; the image continued to be used in the centuries after Christianity was legalized in 313. It was not understood as a portrait of Jesus, but a symbol like others used in Early Christian art, in some cases may have represented the Shepherd of Hermas, a popular Christian literary work of the 2nd century. However, by about the 5th century, the figure more took on the appearance of the conventional depiction of Christ, as it had developed by this time, was given a halo and rich robes, as on the apse mosaic in the church of Santi Cosma e Damiano in Rome, or at Ravenna.
Images of the Good Shepherd include a sheep on his shoulders, as in the Lukan version of the Parable of the Lost Sheep. In ancient Greek cult, kriophoros or criophorus, the "ram-bearer" is a figure that commemorates the solemn sacrifice of a ram, it becomes an epithet of Hermes: Hermes Kriophoros. In two-dimensional art, Hermes Kriophoros transformed into the Christ carrying a lamb and walking among his sheep: "Thus we find philosophers holding scrolls or a Hermes Kriophoros which can be turned into Christ giving the Law and the Good Shepherd respectively"; the Good Shepherd is a common motif from the Catacombs of Rome and in sarcophagus reliefs, where Christian and pagan symbolism are combined, making secure identifications difficult. Media related to Good Shepherd at Wikimedia Commons Holman Bible Dictionary - "Shepherd" for other Biblical references
Synod of Elvira
The Synod of Elvira was an ecclesiastical synod held at Elvira in the Roman province of Hispania Baetica, now Granada in southern Spain. Its date has not been determined but is believed to be in the first quarter of the fourth century 305–6, it was one of three councils, together with the Synod of Arles and the Synod of Ancyra, that first approached the character of general councils and prepared the way for the first ecumenical council. It was attended by nineteen bishops and twenty-six presbyters resident in Baetica. Deacons and laymen were present. Eighty-one canons are recorded, although it is believed that many were added at dates. All concern order and conduct among the Christian community. Canon 36, forbidding the use of images in churches, became a bone of contention between Catholic and Protestant scholars after the Protestant Reformation, it is one of a number of pre-ecumenical ancient church synods. The 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia refers to this as a "council," conveying a wider scope than a synod.
The Vatican refers to it using both terms. The place of meeting, rendered as Elvira, was not far from the modern Granada, if not, as A. W. Dale and Edgar Hennecke think identical with it. There the nineteen bishops and twenty-four presbyters from Hispania Baetica and Carthago Nova, assembled at the instigation of Hosius of Córdoba, but under the presidency of Felix of Accitum in Baetica by virtue of his being the oldest bishop present, with a view to restoring order and discipline in the church; the canons which were adopted reflect with considerable fullness the internal life and external relations of the Spanish Church of the 4th century. The reputation of this council drew to its canons further canons that came to be associated with the Synod of Elvira. Victor De Clercq notes "that except for Hosius of Córdoba, we know nothing about these men, nor do we know with certainty when and why the council was held, that the church of Spain is one of the least known in pre-constantinian times". Maurice Meigne considers that only the first twenty-one canons in the list, transmitted were promulgated at Elvira.
The social environment of Christians in Hispania may be inferred from the canons prohibiting marriage and other intercourse with Jews and heretics, closing the offices of flamen and duumvir to Christians, forbidding all contact with idolatry and participation in pagan festivals and public games. The state of morals is mirrored in the canons denouncing prevalent vices; the canons respecting the clergy exhibit the clergy as a special class with particular privileges, as acting under a more exacting moral standard, with heavier penalties for delinquency. The bishop has acquired control of the sacraments and deacons acting only under his orders; the canons are entirely concerned with the conduct of various elements of the Christian community, have no theological content as such. Sanctions include long delays before baptism, exclusion from the Eucharist for periods of months or years, or indefinitely, sometimes with an exception for the death-bed, though this is specifically excluded in some cases.
Periods of penance for sexual offences, extend to 5 or 10 years: "Canon 5. If a woman beats her servant and causes death within three days, she shall undergo seven years' penance if the injury was inflicted on purpose and five years' if it was accidental, she shall not receive communion during this penance. If so, she may receive communion."All the canons which pertain to Jews served to maintain a separation between the two communities. Canon 15 prohibited marriage with pagans, while Canon 16 prohibited marriage of Christians with Jews. Canon 78 threatens Christians. Canon 49 forbade the blessing of Christian crops by Jews, Canon 50 forbade the sharing of meals by Christians and Jews. Among the early canons, Canon 1 forbade giving holy communion to lapsed Christians in articulo mortis, an unusually severe application of Novatianist principles, which had divided the church since the recovery from mid 3rd-century persecutions: compare the severity of Cyprian of Carthage; the subject of this leading canon is a major indication for a date following recent persecution.
Among the canons, of especial note are Canon 33, enjoining celibacy upon all clerics, married or not, all who minister at the altar. Relating to the subject of clerical celibacy is Canon 27, which calls for bishops and other clergy to refrain from living with women unless they are of relation; this canon is believed to be condemning the practice of Syneisaktism, or spiritual marriage, growing more and more popular among ascetic men and women. Canon 36 states, "It has seemed good that images should not be in churches so that what is venerated and worshiped not be painted on the walls." It forbids pictures in churches. Canon 36 was the first official statement on art by the Christian Church and so of special
A cathedral is a Catholic church that contains the cathedra of a bishop, thus serving as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. The equivalent word in German for such a church is Dom. Churches with the function of "cathedral" are specific to those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Catholic, Anglican and some Lutheran and Methodist churches. Church buildings embodying the functions of a cathedral first appeared in Italy, Gaul and North Africa in the 4th century, but cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century, by which time they had developed architectural forms, institutional structures and legal identities distinct from parish churches, monastic churches and episcopal residences. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the English word "cathedral" translates as katholikon, meaning "assembly", but this title is applied to monastic and other major churches without episcopal responsibilities; when the church at which an archbishop or "metropolitan" presides is intended, the term kathedrikós naós is used.
Following the Protestant Reformation, the Christian church in several parts of Western Europe, such as Scotland, the Netherlands, certain Swiss Cantons and parts of Germany, adopted a Presbyterian polity that did away with bishops altogether. Where ancient cathedral buildings in these lands are still in use for congregational worship, they retain the title and dignity of "cathedral", maintaining and developing distinct cathedral functions, but void of hierarchical supremacy. From the 16th century onwards, but since the 19th century, churches originating in Western Europe have undertaken vigorous programmes of missionary activity, leading to the founding of large numbers of new dioceses with associated cathedral establishments of varying forms in Asia, Australasia and the Americas. In addition, both the Catholic Church and Orthodox churches have formed new dioceses within Protestant lands for converts and migrant co-religionists, it is not uncommon to find Christians in a single city being served by three or more cathedrals of differing denominations.
In the Catholic or Roman Catholic tradition, the term "cathedral" applies only to a church that houses the seat of the bishop of a diocese. The abbey church of a territorial abbacy does not acquire the title. In any other jurisdiction canonically equivalent to a diocese but not canonically erected as such, the church that serves this function is called the "principal church" of the respective entity—though some have coopted the term "cathedral" anyway; the Catholic Church uses the following terms. A pro-cathedral is a parish or other church used temporarily as a cathedral while the cathedral of a diocese is under construction, renovation, or repair; this designation applies. A co-cathedral is a second cathedral in a diocese; this situation can arise in various ways such as a merger of two former dioceses, preparation to split a diocese, or perceived need to perform cathedral functions in a second location due to the expanse of the diocesan territory. A proto-cathedral is the former cathedral of a transferred.
The cathedral church of a metropolitan bishop is called a metropolitan cathedral. The term "cathedral" carries no implication as to the size or ornateness of the building. Most cathedrals are impressive edifices. Thus, the term "cathedral" is applied colloquially to any large and impressive church, regardless of whether it functions as a cathedral, such as the Crystal Cathedral in California or the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø, Norway. Although the builders of Crystal Cathedral never intended the building to be a true cathedral, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange purchased the building and the surrounding campus in February 2012 for use as a new cathedral church; the building is now under renovation and restoration for solemn dedication under the title "Christ Cathedral" in 2019. The word "cathedral" is derived from the French cathédrale, from the Latin cathedra, from the Greek καθέδρα kathédra, "seat, bench", from κατά kata "down" and ἕδρα hedra "seat, chair." The word refers to the presence and prominence of the bishop's or archbishop's chair or throne, raised above both clergy and laity, located facing the congregation from behind the High Altar.
In the ancient world, the chair, on a raised dais, was the distinctive mark of a teacher or rhetor and thus symbolises the bishop's role as teacher. A raised throne within a basilican hall was definitive for a Late Antique presiding magistrate; the episcopal throne embodies the principle that only a bishop makes a cathedral, this still applies in those churches that no longer have bishops, but retain cathedral dignity and functions in ancient churches over which bishops presided. But the throne can embody the principle that a cathedral makes a bishop.
Cyril of Alexandria
Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He was enthroned when the city was at the height of its power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late-4th and 5th centuries, he was a central figure in the Council of Ephesus in 431, which led to the deposition of Nestorius as Patriarch of Constantinople. Cyril is counted among the Church Fathers and the Doctors of the Church, his reputation within the Christian world has resulted in his titles Pillar of Faith and Seal of all the Fathers, but Theodosius II, the Roman Emperor, condemned him for behaving like a "proud pharaoh", the Nestorian bishops at the Council of Ephesus declared him a heretic, labelling him as a "monster and educated for the destruction of the church."Cyril is well-known due to his dispute with Nestorius and his supporter Patriarch John of Antioch, whom Cyril excluded from the Council of Ephesus for arriving late. He is known for his expulsion of Novatians and Jews from Alexandria and for inflaming tensions that led to the murder of the Hellenistic philosopher Hypatia by a Christian mob.
Historians disagree over the extent of his responsibility in this. The Roman Catholic Church did not commemorate Saint Cyril in the Tridentine Calendar: it added his feast only in 1882, assigning to it the date of 9 February; this date is used by the Western Rite Orthodox Church. Yet the 1969 Catholic Calendar revision moved it to 27 June, considered to be the day of the saint's death, as celebrated by the Coptic Orthodox Church; the same date has been chosen for the Lutheran calendar. The Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches celebrate his feast day on 9 June and together with Pope Athanasius I of Alexandria, on 18 January. Little is known for certain of Cyril's early life, he was born c. 376, in the small town of Didouseya, modern-day El-Mahalla El-Kubra. A few years after his birth, his maternal uncle Theophilus rose to the powerful position of Patriarch of Alexandria, his mother remained close to her brother and under his guidance, Cyril was well educated. His writings show his knowledge of Christian writers of his day, including Eusebius, Didymus the Blind, writers of the Church of Alexandria.
He received the formal Christian education standard for his day: he studied grammar from age twelve to fourteen and humanities from fifteen to twenty and theology and biblical studies. In 403 he accompanied his uncle to attend the "Synod of the Oak" in Constantinople, that deposed John Chrysostom as Archbishop of Constantinople; the prior year, Theophilus had been summoned by the emperor to Constantinople to apologize before a synod, over which Chrysostom would preside, on account of several charges which were brought against him by certain Egyptian monks. Theophilus, had them persecuted as Origenists. Placing himself at the head of soldiers and armed servants Theophilus had marched against the monks, burned their dwellings, ill-treated those whom he captured. Theophilus arrived at Constantinople with twenty-nine of his suffragan bishops, conferring with those opposed to the Archbishop, drafted a long list of unfounded accusations against Chrysostom, who refused to recognize the legality of a synod in which his open enemies were judges.
Chrysostom was subsequently deposed. Theophilus died on 15 October 412, Cyril was made Pope or Patriarch of Alexandria on 18 October 412, but only after a riot between his supporters and those of his rival Archdeacon Timotheus. According to Socrates Scholasticus, the Alexandrians were always rioting. Thus, Cyril followed his uncle in a position that had become powerful and influential, rivalling that of the prefect in a time of turmoil and violent conflict between the cosmopolitan city's Pagan and Christian inhabitants, he began to exert his authority by causing the churches of the Novatianists to be closed and their sacred vessels to be seized. Orestes, Praefectus augustalis of the Diocese of Egypt, steadfastly resisted Cyril's ecclesiastical encroachment onto secular prerogatives. Tension between the parties increased when in 415, Orestes published an edict that outlined new regulations regarding mime shows and dancing exhibitions in the city, which attracted large crowds and were prone to civil disorder of varying degrees.
Crowds gathered to read the edict shortly. Cyril sent the grammaticus Hierax to discover the content of the edict; the edict angered Christians as well as Jews. At one such gathering, read the edict and applauded the new regulations, prompting a disturbance. Many people felt. Orestes had Hierax tortured in public in a theatre; this order had two aims: the first was to quell the riot, the other to mark Orestes' authority over Cyril. Socrates Scholasticus recounts that upon hearing of Hierex's severe and public punishment, Cyril threatened to retaliate against the Jews of Alexandria with "the utmost severities" if the harassment of Christians did not cease immediately. In response to Cyril's threat, the Jews of Alexandria grew more furious resorting to violence against the Christians, they plotted to flush the Christians out at night by running through the streets claiming that the Church of Alexander was on fire. When Christians responded to what they were led to believe was the burning down of their church, "the Jews fell upon and slew them" by using rings to recognize one another in the dark and killing everyone else in sight.
When the morning came, the Jews of Alexandria could not hide th
Abbot, meaning father, is an ecclesiastical title given to the male head of a monastery in various traditions, including Christianity. The office may be given as an honorary title to a clergyman, not the head of a monastery; the female equivalent is abbess. The title had its origin in the monasteries of Egypt and Syria, spread through the eastern Mediterranean, soon became accepted in all languages as the designation of the head of a monastery; the word is derived from the Aramaic av meaning "father" or abba, meaning "my father". In the Septuagint, it was written as "abbas". At first it was employed as a respectful title for any monk, but it was soon restricted by canon law to certain priestly superiors. At times it was applied to various priests, e.g. at the court of the Frankish monarchy the Abbas palatinus and Abbas castrensis were chaplains to the Merovingian and Carolingian sovereigns’ court and army respectively. The title abbot came into general use in western monastic orders whose members include priests.
An abbot is the head and chief governor of a community of monks, called in the East hegumen or archimandrite. The English version for a female monastic head is abbess. In Egypt, the first home of monasticism, the jurisdiction of the abbot, or archimandrite, was but loosely defined. Sometimes he ruled over only one community, sometimes over several, each of which had its own abbot as well. Saint John Cassian speaks of an abbot of the Thebaid. By the Rule of St Benedict, until the Cluniac reforms, was the norm in the West, the abbot has jurisdiction over only one community; the rule, as was inevitable, was subject to frequent violations. Monks, as a rule, at the outset was the abbot any exception. For the reception of the sacraments, for other religious offices, the abbot and his monks were commanded to attend the nearest church; this rule proved inconvenient when a monastery was situated in a desert or at a distance from a city, necessity compelled the ordination of some monks. This innovation was not introduced without a struggle, ecclesiastical dignity being regarded as inconsistent with the higher spiritual life, before the close of the 5th century, at least in the East, abbots seem universally to have become deacons, if not priests.
The change spread more in the West, where the office of abbot was filled by laymen till the end of the 7th century. The ecclesiastical leadership exercised by abbots despite their frequent lay status is proved by their attendance and votes at ecclesiastical councils, thus at the first Council of Constantinople, AD 448, 23 archimandrites or abbots sign, with 30 bishops. The second Council of Nicaea, AD 787, recognized the right of abbots to ordain their monks to the inferior orders below the diaconate, a power reserved to bishops. Abbots used to be subject to episcopal jurisdiction, continued so, in fact, in the West till the 11th century; the Code of Justinian expressly subordinates the abbot to episcopal oversight. The first case recorded of the partial exemption of an abbot from episcopal control is that of Faustus, abbot of Lerins, at the council of Arles, AD 456; these exceptions, introduced with a good object, had grown into a widespread evil by the 12th century creating an imperium in imperio, depriving the bishop of all authority over the chief centres of influence in his diocese.
In the 12th century, the abbots of Fulda claimed precedence of the archbishop of Cologne. Abbots more and more assumed episcopal state, in defiance of the prohibition of early councils and the protests of St Bernard and others, adopted the episcopal insignia of mitre, ring and sandals, it has been maintained that the right to wear mitres was sometimes granted by the popes to abbots before the 11th century, but the documents on which this claim is based are not genuine. The first undoubted instance is the bull by which Alexander II in 1063 granted the use of the mitre to Egelsinus, abbot of the monastery of St Augustine at Canterbury; the mitred abbots in England were those of Abingdon, St Alban's, Battle, Bury St Edmunds, St Augustine's Canterbury, Croyland, Glastonbury, Gloucester, St Benet's Hulme, Malmesbury, Ramsey, Selby, Tavistock, Westminster, St Mary's York. Of these the precedence was yielded to the abbot of Glastonbury, until in AD 1154 Adrian IV granted it to the abbot of St Alban's, in which monastery he had been brought up.
Next after the abbot of St Alban's ranked the abbot of Westminster and Ramsey. Elsewhere, the mitred abbots that sat in the Estates of Scotland were of Arbroath, Coupar Angus, Holyrood, Kelso, Kinloss, Paisley, Scone, St Andrews Priory and Sweetheart. To distinguish abbots from bishops, it was ordained that their mitre should be made
Heresy is any belief or theory, at variance with established beliefs or customs, in particular the accepted beliefs of a church or religious organization. A heretic is a proponent of such beliefs. Heresy is distinct from both apostasy, the explicit renunciation of one's religion, principles or cause, blasphemy, an impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things; the term is used to refer to violations of important religious teachings, but is used of views opposed to any accepted ideas. It is used in particular in reference to Christianity and Islam. In certain historical Christian and Jewish cultures, among others, espousing ideas deemed heretical has been and in some cases still is met with censure ranging from excommunication to the death penalty; the term heresy, from Greek αἵρεσις meant "choice" or "thing chosen", but it came to mean the "party or school of a man's choice" and referred to that process whereby a young person would examine various philosophies to determine how to live.
The word "heresy" is used within a Christian, Jewish, or Islamic context, implies different meanings in each. The founder or leader of a heretical movement is called a heresiarch, while individuals who espouse heresy or commit heresy are known as heretics. Heresiology is the study of heresy. According to Titus 3:10 a divisive person should be warned twice before separating from him; the Greek for the phrase "divisive person" became a technical term in the early Church for a type of "heretic" who promoted dissension. In contrast correct teaching is called sound not only because it builds up the faith, but because it protects it against the corrupting influence of false teachers; the Church Fathers identified Judaism with heresy. They saw deviations from orthodox Christianity as heresies that were Jewish in spirit. Tertullian implied that it was the Jews who most inspired heresy in Christianity: "From the Jew the heretic has accepted guidance in this discussion " The use of the word "heresy" was given wide currency by Irenaeus in his 2nd century tract Contra Haereses to describe and discredit his opponents during the early centuries of the Christian community.
He described the community's beliefs and doctrines as orthodox and the Gnostics' teachings as heretical. He pointed out the concept of apostolic succession to support his arguments. Constantine the Great, who along with Licinius had decreed toleration of Christianity in the Roman Empire by what is called the "Edict of Milan", was the first Roman Emperor baptized, set precedents for policy. By Roman law the Emperor was Pontifex Maximus, the high priest of the College of Pontiffs of all recognized religions in ancient Rome. To put an end to the doctrinal debate initiated by Arius, Constantine called the first of what would afterwards be called the ecumenical councils and enforced orthodoxy by Imperial authority; the first known usage of the term in a legal context was in AD 380 by the Edict of Thessalonica of Theodosius I, which made Christianity the state church of the Roman Empire. Prior to the issuance of this edict, the Church had no state-sponsored support for any particular legal mechanism to counter what it perceived as "heresy".
By this edict the state's authority and that of the Church became somewhat overlapping. One of the outcomes of this blurring of Church and state was the sharing of state powers of legal enforcement with church authorities; this reinforcement of the Church's authority gave church leaders the power to, in effect, pronounce the death sentence upon those whom the church considered heretical. Within six years of the official criminalization of heresy by the Emperor, the first Christian heretic to be executed, was condemned in 386 by Roman secular officials for sorcery, put to death with four or five followers. However, his accusers were excommunicated both by Ambrose of Milan and Pope Siricius, who opposed Priscillian's heresy, but "believed capital punishment to be inappropriate at best and unequivocally evil"; the edict of Theodosius II provided severe punishments for those who had or spread writings of Nestorius. Those who possessed writings of Arius were sentenced to death. For some years after the Reformation, Protestant churches were known to execute those they considered heretics, including Catholics.
The last known heretic executed by sentence of the Catholic Church was Spanish schoolmaster Cayetano Ripoll in 1826. The number of people executed as heretics under the authority of the various "ecclesiastical authorities" is not known. In the Catholic Church and willful manifest heresy is considered to spiritually cut one off from the Church before excommunication is incurred; the Codex Justinianus defines "everyone, not devoted to the Catholic Church and to our Orthodox holy Faith" a heretic. The Church had always dealt harshly with strands of Christianity that it considered heretical, but before the 11th century these tended to centre on individual preachers or small localised sects, like Arianism, Donatism and Montanism; the diffusion of the Manichaean sect of Paulicians westwards gave birth to the famous 11th and 12th century heresies of Western Europe. The first one was that of Bogomils in modern-day Bosnia, a sort of sanctuary between Eastern and Western Christianity. By the 11th century, more organised groups such as the Patarini, the Dulcinians, the Waldensians and the Cathars were beginning to appear in the towns and cities of northern Italy, southern France and Flanders.
In France the Cathars gr
History of early Christianity
The history of early Christianity covers the Apostolic Age and the Ante-Nicene Period, to the First Council of Nicaea in 325. The earliest followers of Jesus comprised an apocalyptic, Second Temple Jewish sect of Jewish Christians; the inclusion of Gentile God-fearers lead to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion, the condemnation of Jewish Christians as heretics. In the Ante-Nicene Period, following the Apostolic Age, both incredible diversity and unifying characteristics lacking in the apostolic period emerged simultaneously. Part of the unifying trend was an harsh rejection of Judaism and of Jewish practices. By the beginning of the Nicene period, the Christian faith had spread throughout Western Europe and the Mediterranean Basin, to North Africa and the East. Historians use the First Council of Nicaea in 325 and Emperor Constantine I's toleration and promotion of Christianity in the Roman Empire to mark the end of early Christianity and the beginning of the era of the first seven ecumenical councils.
Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as'The Way' coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD. Christianity "emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine" in the syncretistic Hellenistic world of the first century CE, dominated by Roman law and Greek culture. During the early first century CE there were many competing Jewish sects in the Holy Land, those that became Rabbinic Judaism and Proto-orthodox Christianity were but two of these. There were Pharisees and Zealots, but other less influential sects, including the Essenes; the first century BCE and first century CE saw a growing number of charismatic religious leaders contributing to what would become the Mishnah of Rabbinic Judaism.
A central concern in 1st century Judaism was the covenant with God, the status of the Jews as the chosen people. Many Jews believed; the Law was given by God to guide them in their worship of the Lord and in their interctions with each other, "the greatest gift God had given his people."The Jewish messiah concept has its root in the apocalyptic literature of the 2nd century BC to 1st century BC, promising a future leader or king from the Davidic line, expected to be anointed with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age and world to come. The Messiah is referred to as "King Messiah" or malka meshiḥa in Aramaic. In the Synoptic Gospels Jewish eschatology stands central. After being baptized by John the Baptist, Jesus teaches extensively for a year, or maybe just a few months, about the Kingdom of God, in aphorisms and parables, using similes and figurs of speech. In the Gospel of John, Jesus himself is the main subject; the Kingdom is described as eschatological, becoming reality in the near future.
Jesus talks as expecting the coming of the "Son of Man" from heaven, an apocalyptic figure who would initiate "the coming judgment and the redemption of Israel." According to Davies, the Sermon on the Mount presents Jesus as the new Moses who brings a New Law, the Messianic Torah. His ministry was ended by his execution by crucifixion, his early followers believed that three days after his death, Jesus rose bodily from the dead and was exalted to Divine status. Paul's letters and the Gospels document a number of post-resurrection appearances, the resurrection of Jesus "signalled for earliest believers that the days of eschatological fulfilment were at hand." The resurrection was seen as the exaltation of Jesus to the status of divine Son and Lord. His followers expected Him to return in the near future. Since the 18th century, three scholarly quests for the historical Jesus have taken place, each with distinct characteristics and based on different research criteria, which were developed during each specific phase.
Scholars involved in the third quest for the historical Jesus have constructed a variety of portraits and profiles for Jesus, most prominently that of Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet or eschatological teacher. The first part of the period, named after the lifetimes of the Twelve Apostles as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles, is called the Apostolic Age; the Great Commission is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples to spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. After the death of Jesus, "Christianity emerged as a sect of Judaism in Roman Palestine." The first Christians were all Jews, either by birth or conversion, who constituted a Second Temple Jewish sect with an apocalyptic eschatology. The New Testament's Acts of the Apostles and Epistle to the Galatians record the existence of a Christian community centered on Jerusalem, that its leaders included Peter, the "brother of Jesus", John the Apostle; the Jerusalem Church "held a central place among all the churches,".
Christian missionary activity spread Christianity to cities throughout the Hellenistic world and beyond the Roman Empire. Over forty existed by the year 100, most in Asia Minor, such as th