II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > A. Global and Comparative Dimensions > 4. The Spread of Religions, 300 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > d. The Expansion of Christianity
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
d. The Expansion of Christianity
 
Christianity began in the eastern Mediterranean at the heart of the Hellenistic world among Jewish communities and in the context of the Roman Empire. It spread throughout the Mediterranean basin and in Roman western Europe, competing with a variety of other popular religions. As Christianity spread, it took a number of distinctive forms.  1
 
312–395 C.E
 
ROMAN WESTERN CHRISTIANITY received official toleration and support from emperors, leading to the Roman Empire becoming formally Christian. The Western Church was centered in Rome where the Bishop of Rome as Pope claimed authority over all Christians. The Roman-led Church expanded into western Europe and became the dominant world-view in the whole region by the 7th to 8th centuries.  2
 
330–451 C.E
 
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY developed in the older cities in the eastern Mediterranean and had its center in Constantinople, proclaimed the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire in 330 C.E. The Eastern Church did not accept the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and developed doctrinally distinctive positions. It was the official church of the Byzantine Empire and spread through missionary activity into the Middle East and the Balkans. By the 6th century C.E. the Eastern Church was the dominant church in those regions.  3
 
451 C.E
 
NESTORIAN CHURCH emerged as the independent tradition after the Council of Chalcedon. This was part of the development of distinctive Christian church traditions in Egypt and Ethiopia in Africa, in the territories of the Sassanid Empire, and eventually in central Eurasia.  4
 
200 C.E.–500 C.E
 
THE CLASSICAL ECUMENE developed as an interacting set of empires, religious communities, trade networks, and migrating peoples. Although imperial systems collapsed in many areas by 500 C.E., the broader ecumene continued to expand.  5
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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