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Brief History of the Church #1

The First Century Church of God


BRIEF HISTORY OF CHURCH OF GOD IN FIRST CENTURY A.D.

From the multi-volumed and mammoth work of Philip Schaff
back in the late 1800s
 

SOURCES OF CHURCH HISTORY.    


 3. Sources of Church Hstory.

The sources of church history, the data on which we rely for our
knowledge, are partly divine, partly human. For the history of
the kingdom of God from the creation to the close of the
apostolic age, we have the inspired writings of the Old an New
Testaments.    But after the death of the apostles we have only
human authorities, which of course cannot claim to be infallible.
These human sources are partly written, partly unwritten.

I. The WRITTEN sources include

(a) Official documents of ecclesiastical and civil authorities
acts of councils and synods, confessions of faith, liturgies,
church laws, and the official letters of popes, patriarchs,
bishops, and representative bodies.

(b) Private writings of personal actors in the history: the 
works of the church fathers, heretics, and heathen authors, for
the first six centuries; of the missionaries, scholastic and
mystic divines, for the middle age; and of the reformers and
their opponents, for the sixteenth century.  These documents are
the richest mines for the historian.    They give history in its
birth and actual movement.    But they must be carefully sifted
and weighed ; especially the controversial writings, where fact
is generally more or less adulterated with party spirit,
heretical and orthodox.

(c) Accounts of chroniclers and historians, whether friends or
enemies, who were eye-witnesses of what they relate. The value of
these depends, of course, on the capacity and credibility of the
authors, to be determined by careful criticism. Subsequent
historians can be counted among the direct or immediate sources
only so far as they have drawn from reliable and contemporary
documents, which have either been wholly or partially lost, like
many of Eusebius' authorities for the period before Constantine,
or are inaccessible to historians generally, as are the papal
regesta and other documents of the Vatican library.

(d) Inscriptions, especially those on tombs and catacombs,
revealing the faith and hope of Christians in times of
persecution. Among the ruins of Egypt and Babylonia whole
libraries have been disentombed and deciphered, containing
mythological and religious records, royal proclamations,
historical, astronomical, and poetical compositions, revealing an
extinct civilization and shedding light on some parts of Old
Testament history.

11. The UNWRITTEN sources are far less numerous: church edifices,
works of sculpture and painting, and other monuments, religious
customs and ceremonies, very important for the history of worship
and ecclesiastical art, and significant of the spirit of their
age.

The works of art are symbolical embodiments of the various types
of Christianity. The plain symbols and crude sculptures of the
catacombs correspond to the period of persecution; the basilicas
to the Nicene age; the Byzantine churches to the genius of the
Byzantine state-churchism ; the Gothic cathedrals to the
Romano-Germanic Catholicism of the middle ages; the  renaissance
style to the revival of letters.


FIRST PERIOD

The Life of Christ, and the Apostolic church.
From the Incarnation to the death of St. John. 1-100.

SECOND PERIOD
Christianity under persecution in the Roman empire. From the
death of St. John to Constantine, the first Christian emperor.   
A.D. 100-311.

THIRD PERIOD
Christianity in union with the Graeco-Roman empire, and amidst
the storms of the great migration of nations. From Constantine
the Great to Pope Gregory I. A.D. 311-590. 

FOURTH PERIOD
Christianity planted among the Teutonic, Celtic, and Slavonic
nations.
From Gregory I. to Hildebrand, or Gregory VII. A.D. 590-1049.

FIFTH PERIOD
The Church under the papal hierarchy, and the scholastic
theology.
From Gregory VII. to Boniface VIII. A.D. 1049-1294.

SIXTH PERIOD
The decay of mediaeval Catholicism, and the preparatory movements
for the Reformation.
From Boniface VIII. to Luther. A.D. 1294-1517.

SEVENTH PERIOD
The evangelical Reformation, and the Roman Catholic Reaction.
From Luther to the Treaty of Westphalia. A.D. 1517-1648.

EIGHTH PERIOD
The age of polemio orthodoxy and exclusive confessionalisn, with
reactionary and progressive movements.
From the Treaty of Westphalia to the French Revolution. A.D.
1648-1790.

NINTH PERIOD 
The spread of infidelity, and the revival of Christianity in
Europe and America, with missionary efforts encircling the globe.
From the French Revolution to the present time. A.D. 1790-1880.


Christianity has thus passed through many stages of its earthly
life, and yet has hardly reached the period of full manhood in
Christ Jesus. During this long succession of centuries it has
outlived the destruction of Jerusalem, the dissolution of the
Roman empire, fierce persecutions without, and heretical
corruptions from within, the barbarian invasion, the confusion of
the dark ages, the papal tyranny, the shock of infidelity, the
ravages of revolution, the attacks of enemies and the errors of
friends, the rise and fall of proud kingdoms, empires, and
republics, philosophical systems, and social organizations
without number..... It can never die; it will never see the
decrepitude of old age; but, like its divine founder, it will
live in the unfading freshness of self-renewing youth and the
unbroken vigor of MANHOOD TO THE END OF TIME......


"Salvation is of the Jews." This wonderful people, whose fit
symbol is the burning bush, was chosen by sovereign grace to
stand amidst the surrounding idolatry as the bearer of the
knowledge of the only true God, his holy law, and cheering prom
ise, and thus to become the cradle of the Messiah. It arose with
the calling of Abraham, and the covenant of Jehovah with him in
Canaan, the land of promise; grew to a nation in Egypt, the land
of bondage; was delivered and organized into a theocratic state
on the basis of the law of Sinai by Moses in the wilderness; was
led back into Palestine by Joshua; became, after the Judges, a
monarchy, reaching the height of its glory in David and Solomon;
split into two hostile kingdoms, and, in punishment for internal
discord and growing apostasy to idolatry, was carried captive by
heathen conquerors; was restored after seventy years humiliation
to the land of its fathers, but fell again under the yoke of
heathen foes; yet in its deepest abasement fulfilled its highest
mission by giving birth to the Saviour of the world. "The history
of the Hebrew people," says Ewald, "is, at the foundation, the
history of the true religion growing through all the stages of
progress unto its consummation; the religion which, on its narrow
national territory, advances through all struggles to the highest
victory, and at length reveals itself in its full glory and
might, to the end that, spreading abroad by its own irresistible
energy, it may never vanish away, but may become the eternal
heritage and blessing of all nations. The whole ancient world had
for its object to seek the true religion; but this people alone
finds its being and honor on earth exclusively in the true
religion, and thus it enters upon the stage of history."


Judaism, in sharp contrast with the idolatrous nations of
antiquity, was like an oasis in a desert, clearly defined and
isolated; separated and enclosed by a rigid moral and ceremonial
law. The holy land itself, though in the midst of the three
Continents of the ancient world, and surrounded by the great
nations of ancient culture, was separated from them by deserts,
south and east, by sea on the west, and by mountain on the north;
thus securing to the Mosaic religion freedom to unfold itself and
to fulfil its great work without disturbing influences from
abroad. But Israel carried in its bosom from the first the large
promise, that in Abraham's seed all the nations of the earth
should be blessed. Abraham, the father of the faithful, Moses,
the lawgiver, David, the heroic king and sacred psalmist, Isaiah,
the evangelist among the prophets, Elijah the Tishbite, who
reappeared with Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration to do
homage to Jesus, and John the Baptist, the impersonation of the
whole Old Testament, are the most conspicuous links in the golden
chain of the ancient revelation.

The outward circumstances and the moral and religious condition
of the Jews at the birth of Christ would indeed seem at first and
on the whole to be in glaring contradiction with their divine
destiny.  But, in the first place, their very degeneracy proved
the need of divine help. In the second place, the redemption
through Christ appeared by contrast in the greater glory, as a
creative act of God. And finally, amidst the mass of corruption,
as a preventive of putrefaction, lived the succession of the true
children of Abraham, longing for the salvation of Israel, and
ready to embrace Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah and
Saviour of the world.

Since the conquest of Jerusalem by Pompey, B.C. 63 (the year made
memorable by the consulship of Cicero, the conspiracy of
Catiline, and the birth of Caesar Augustus), the Jews had been
subject to the heathen Romans, who heartlessly governed them by
the Idumean Herod and his sons, and afterwards by procurators.
Under this hated yoke their Messianic hopes were powerfully
raised, but carnally distorted. They longed chiefly for a
political deliverer, who should restore the temporal dominion of
David on a still more splendid scale; and they were offended with
the servant form of Jesus, and with his spiritual kingdom. Their
morals were outwardly far better than those of the heathen; but
under the garb of strict obedience to their law, they concealed
great corruption. They are pictured in the New Testament as a
stiff-necked, ungrateful, and impenitent race, the seed of the
serpent, a generation of vipers. Their own priest and historian,
Josephus, who generally endeavored to present his countrymen to
the Greeks and Romans in the most favorable light, describes them
as at that time a debased and wicked people, well deserving their
fearful punishment in the destruction of Jerusalem.

As to religion, the Jews, especially after the Babylonish
captivity, adhered most tenaciously to the letter of the law, and
to their traditions and ceremonies, but without knowing the
spirit and power of the Scriptures. They cherished a bigoted
horror of the heathen, and were therefore despised and hated by
them as misanthropic, though by their judgment, industry, and
tact, they were able to gain wealth and consideration in all the
larger cities of the Roman empire.

After the time of the Maccabees (B.C. 150), they fell into  three
mutually hostile sects or parties, which respectively represent
the three tendencies of formalism, skepticism, and mysticism; all
indicating the approaching dissolution of the old religion and
the dawn of the new. We may compare them to the three prevailing
schools of Greek philosophy-the Stoic, the Epicurean, and the
Platonic, and also to the three sects of Mohammedanism-the
Sunnis, who are traditionalists, the Sheas, who adhere to the
Koran, and the Safis or mystics, who seek true religion in 
"internal divine sensation."

1. The PHARISEES, the "separate," were, so to speak, the Jewish
Stoics. They represented the traditional orthodoxy and stiff
formalism, the legal self-righteousness and the fanatical bigotry
of Judaism. They had most influence with the people and the
women, and controlled the public worship. They confounded piety
with theoretical orthodoxy. They overloaded the holy Scriptures
with the traditions of the elders so as to make the Scriptures
"of none effect." They analyzed the Mosaic law to death, and
substituted a labyrinth of casuistry for a living code. "They
laid heavy burdens and grievous to be borne on men's shoulders,"
and yet they themselves would "not move them with their
fingers." In the New Testament they r bear particularly the
reproach of hypocrisy; with, of course, illustrious exceptions,
like Nicodemus, Gamaliel, and his disciple, Paul.

2. The less numerous SADDUCEES were skeptical, rationalistic,    
and worldly-minded, and held about the same position in Juda
ism as the Epicureans and the followers of the New Academy in
Greek and Roman heathendom. They accepted the written Scriptures
(especially the Pentateuch), but rejected the  oral traditions,
denied the resurrection of the body and the immortality of the
soul, the existence of angels and spirits, and the doctrine of an
all-ruling providence. They numbered their followers among the
rich, and had for some time possession of the office of the
high-priest. Caiaphas belonged to their party. The difference
between the Pharisees and Sadducees reappears among modern Jews,
who are divided into the orthodox and the liberal or
rationalistic parties.

3. The ESSENES (whom we know only from Philo and Jose- I
phus) were not a party, but a mystic and ascetic order or
brotherhood, and lived mostly in monkish seclusion in villages
and in the desert Engedi on the Dead Sea. They numbered about
4,000 members. With an arbitrary, allegorical interpretation of
the Old Testament, they combined some foreign theosophic
elements, which strongly resemble the tenets of the new
Pythagorean and Platonic schools, but were probably derived (like
the Gnostic and Manichaean theories) from eastern religions,
especially from Parsism. They practised communion of goods, wore
white garments, rejected animal food, bloody sacrifices, oaths,
slavery, and (with few exceptions) marriage, and lived iii the
utmost simplicity, hoping thereby to attain a higher degree of
holiness. They were the forerunners of Christian monasticism.

The sect of the Essenes came seldom or never into contact with
Christianity under the Apostles, except in the shape of a heresy
at Colossse. But the Pharisees and Sadducees, particularly the
former, meet us everywhere in the Gospels as bitter enemies of
Jesus, and hostile as they are to each other, unite in condemning
him to that death of the cross, which ended in the glorious
resurrection, and became the foundation of spiritual life to
believing Gentiles as well as Jews.


The Law, and the Prophecy.

Degenerate and corrupt though the mass of Judaism was, yet the
Old Testament economy was the divine institution preparatory to
the Christian redemption, and as such received deepest reverence
from Christ and his apostles, while they sought by terrible
rebuke to lead its unworthy representatives to repentance. It
therefore could not fail of its saving effect on those hearts
which yielded to its discipline, and conscientiously searched the
Scriptures of Moses and the prophets.
Law and prophecy are the two great elements of the Jewish
religion, and make it a direct divine introduction to
Christianity, "the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a
highway for our God."

1. The law of Moses was the clearest expression of the holy will
of God before the advent of Christ. The Decalogue is a marvel of
ancient legislation, and in its two tables enjoins the sum and
substance of all true piety and morality-supreme love to God, and
love to our neighbor.    It set forth the ideal of righteousness,
and was thus fitted most effectually to awaken the sense of man's
great departure from it, the knowledge of sin and guilt.' It
acted as a schoolmaster to lead men to Christ' that they might be
justified by faith.

The same sense of guilt and of the need of reconciliation was
constantly kept alive by daily sacrifices, at first in the
tabernacle and afterwards in the temple, and by the whole
ceremonial law, which, as a wonderful system of types and
shadows, perpetually pointed to the realities of the new
covenant, espepecially to the one all-sufficient atoning
sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

God in his justice requires absolute obedience and purity of
heart under promise of life and penalty of death. Yet he cannot
cruelly sport with man; he is the truthful, faithful, and
merciful God.  In the moral and ritual law, therefore, as in a
shell, is hidden the sweet kernel of a promise, that he will one
day exhibit the ideal of righteousness in living form, and give
the penitent sinner pardon for all his transgressions and the
power to fulfil the law. Without such assurance the law were
bitter irony.

As regards the law, the Jewish economy was a religion of
repentance.

2. But it was at the same time, as already hinted, the vehicle of
the divine promise of redemption, and, as such, a religion of
hope. While the Greeks and Romans put their golden age in  the
past, the Jews looked for theirs in the future. Their whole
history, their religious, political, and social institutions and
customs pointed to the coming of the Messiah, and the
establishment of his kingdom on earth.

Prophecy, or the gospel under the covenant of the law, is really
older than the law, which was added afterwards and came in
between the promise and its fulfilment, between sin and
redemption, between the disease and the cure. Prophecy begins in
paradise with the promise of the serpent-bruiser immediately
after the fall. It predominates in the patriarchal age,
especially in the life of Abraham, whose piety has the
corresponding character of trust and faith; and Moses, the
lawgiver, was at the same time a prophet pointing the people to a
greater successor. Without the comfort of the Messianic promise,
the law must have driven the earnest soul to despair. From the
time of Samuel, some eleven centuries before Christ, prophecy,
hitherto sporadic, took an organized form in a permanent
prophetical office and order. In this form it accompanied the
Levitical priesthood and the Davidic dynasty down to the
Babylonish captivity, survived this catastrophe, and directed the
return of the people and the rebuilding of the temple;
interpreting and applying the law, reproving abuses in church and
state, predicting the terrible judgments and the redeeming grace
of God, warning and punishing, comforting and encouraging, with
an ever plainer reference to the coming Messiah, who should
redeem Israel and the world from sin and misery, and establish a
kingdom of peace and righteousness on earth.

The victorious reign of David and the peaceful reign of Solomon
furnish, for Isaiah and his successors, the historical and
typical ground for a prophetic picture of a far more glorious
future, which, unless thus attached to living memories and
present circumstances, could not have been understood. The
subsequent catastrophe and the sufferings of the captivity
served to develop the idea of a Messiah atoning for the sins of
the people and entering through suffering into glory.

The prophetic was an extraordinary office, serving partly to
complete, partly to correct the regular, hereditary priesthood,
to prevent it from stiffening into monotonous formality, and keep
it in living flow. The prophets were ... the ministers of the
spirit and of immediate communion with God, in distinction from
the ministers of the letter and of traditional and ceremonial
mediation.

The flourishing period of our canonical prophecy began with the
eighth century before Christ, some seven centuries after Moses,
when Israel was suffering under Assyrian oppression. In this
period before the captivity, Isaiah ("the salvation of God"), who
appeared in the last years of king Uzziah, about ten years before
the founding of Rome, is the leading figure; and around him
Micah, Joel, and Obadiah in the kingdom of Judah, and Hosea,
Amos, and Jonah in the kingdom of Israel, are grouped. Isaiah
reached the highest elevation of prophecy, and unfolds feature by
feature a picture of the Messiahspringing from the house of
David, preaching the glad tidings to the poor, healing the
broken-hearted, opening the eyes to the blind, setting at liberty
the captives, offering himself as a lamb to the slaughter,
bearing the sins of the people, dying the just for the unjust,
triumphing over death and ruling as king of peace over all
nations - a picture which came to its complete fulfilment in one
person, and one only, Jesus of Nazareth. He makes the nearest
approach to the cross, and his book is the Gospel of the Old
Testament. In the period of the Babylonian exile, Jeremiah (i.e.
"the Lord casts down") stands chief. He is the prophet of sorrow,
and yet of the new covenant of the Spirit. In his denunciations
of priests and false prophets, his lamentations over Jerusalem,
his holy grief, his bitter persecution, he resembles the mission
and life of Christ. He remained in the land of his fathers, and
sang his lamentation on the ruins of Jerusalem; while Ezekiel
warned the exiles on the river Chebar against false prophets and
carnal hopes, urged them to repentance, and depicted the new
Jerusalem and the revival of the dry bones of the people by the
breath of God; and Daniel at the court of Nebuchadnezzar in
Babylon saw in the spirit the succession of the four empires and
the final triumph of the eternal kingdom of the Son of Man. The
prophets of the restoration are Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
With Malachi, who lived to the time of Nehemiah, the Old
Testament prophecy ceased, and Israel was left to himself four
hundred years, to digest during this period of expectation the
rich substance of that revelation, and to prepare the birth-place
for the approaching redemption.

3. Immediately before the advent of the Messiah the whole Old
Testament, the law and the prophets, Moses and Isaiah I together,
reappeared for a short season embodied in John the Baptist, and
then in unrivalled humility disappeared as the red dawn in the
splendor of the rising sun of the new covenant. This remarkable
man, earnestly preaching repentance in the wilderness and laying
the axe at the root of the tree, and at the same time comforting
with prophecy and pointing to the atoning Lamb of God, was
indeed, as the immediate forerunner of the New Testament economy,
and the personal friend of the heavenly Bridegroom, the greatest
of them that were born of woman; yet in his official character as
the representative of the ancient preparatory economy he stands
lower than the least in that kingdom of Christ, which is
infinitely more glorious than all its types and shadows in the
past.

This is the Jewish religion, as it flowed from the fountain of
divine revelation and lived in the true Israel, the spiritual
children of Abraham, in John the Baptist, his parents and
disciples, in the mother of Jesus, her kindred and friends, in
the venerable Simeon, and the prophetess Anna, in Lazarus and his
pious sisters, in the apostles and the first disciples, who
embraced Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfiller of the law and the
prophets, the Son of God and the Saviour of the world, and who
were the first fruits of the Christian Church.


Judaism and Heathenism in Contact.

The Roman empire, though directly establishing no more than an
outward political union, still promoted indirectly a mutual
intellectual and moral approach of the hostile religions of the
Jews and Gentiles, who were to be reconciled in one divine
brotherhood by the supernatural power of the cross of Christ.
1. The Jews, since the Babylonish captivity, had been scattered
over all the world. They were as ubiquitous in the Roman empire
in the first century as they are now throughout Christendom.
According to Josephus and Strabo, there was no country where they
did not make up a part of the population.

Among the witnesses of the miracle of Pentecost were " Jews from
every nation under heaven ... Parthians and Medes and Elamites,
and the dwellers of Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in
Pontus and Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts
of Libya about Cyrene, and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and
proselytes, Cretans and Arabians." In spite of the antipathy of
the Gentiles, they had, by talent and industry, risen to wealth,
influence, and every privilege, and had built their synagogues in
all the commercial cities of the Roman empire. Pompey brought a
considerable number of Jewish captives from Jerusalem to the
capital (B.C. 63), and settled them on the right bank of the
Tiber (Trastevere). By establishing this community he furnished,
without knowing it, the chief material for the Roman church.     
Julius Caesar was the great protector of the Jews; and they
showed their gratitude by collecting for many nights to lament
his death on the forum where his murdered body was burnt on a
funeral pile.' Ile granted them the liberty of public worship,
and thus gave them a legal status as a religious society.
Augustus confirmed these privileges. Under his reign they were
numbered already by thousands in the city. A reaction followed;
Tiberius and Claudius expelled them from Rome; but they soon
returned, and succeeded in securing the free exercise of their
rites and customs. The frequent satirical allusions to them prove
their influence as well as the aversion and contempt in which
they were held by the Romans. Their petitions reached the ear of
Nero through his wife Poppaea, who seems to have inclined to
their faith; and Josephus, their most distinguished scholar,
enjoyed the favor of three emperors-Vespasian, Titus, and
Domitian. In the language of Seneca (as quoted by Augustin) "the
conquered Jews gave laws to their Roman conquerors."

By this dispersion of the Jews the seeds of the knowledge of
the true God and the Messianic hope were sown in the field of    
the idolatrous world. The Old Testament Scriptures were
translated into Greek two centuries before Christ, and were
read and expounded in the public worship of God, which was open
to all. Every synagogue was a mission-station of monotheism, and
furnished the apostles an admirable place and a natural
introduction for their preaching of Jesus Christ as the fulfiller
of the law and the prophets.

Then, as the heathen religions had been hopelessly undermined by
skeptical philosophy and popular infidelity, many earnest
Gentiles, especially multitudes of women, came over to Judaism
either wholly or in part. The thorough converts, called
"proselytes of righteousness," were commonly still more bigoted
and fanatical than the native Jews. The half-converts, 
"proselytes of the gate " or "fearers of God," who adopted only
the monotheism, the principal moral laws, and the Messianic hopes
of the Jews, without being circumcised, appear in the New
Testament as the most susceptible hearers of the gospel, and
formed the nucleus of many of the first Christian churches. Of
this class were the centurion of Capernaum, Cornelius of
Caesarea, Lydia of Philippi, Timothy, and many other prominent
disciples.

2. On the other hand, the Graeco-Roman heathenism, through its
language, philosophy, and literature, exerted no inconsiderable
influence to soften the fanatical bigotry of the higher and more
cultivated classes of the Jews. Generally the Jews of the
dispersion, who spoke the Greek language-the " Hellenists," as
they were called-were much more liberal than the proper "
Hebrews," or Palestinian Jews, who kept their mother tongue. This
is evident in the Gentile missionaries, Barnabas of Cyprus and
Paul of Tarsus, and in the whole church of Antioch, in con trast
with that at Jerusalem.  The Hellenistic form of Christianity was
the natural bridge to the Gentile.

The most remarkable example of a transitional, though very
fantastic and Gnostic-like combination of Jewish and heathen
elements meets us in the educated circles of the Egyptian
metropolis, Alexandria, and in the system of Philo, who was born
about B.c. 20, and lived till after A.D. 40, though he never came
in contact with Christ or the apostles. This Jewish divine sought
to harmonize the religion of Moses with the philosophy of Plato
by the help of an ingenious but arbitrary allegorical
interpretation of the Old Testament; and from the books of
Proverbs and of Wisdom he deduced a doctrine of the Logos so
strikingly like that of John's Gospel, that many expositors think
it necessary to impute to the apostle an acquaintance with the
writings, or at least with the terminology of Philo. But Philo's
speculation is to the apostle's "Word made flesh" as a shadow to
the body, or a dream to the reality. He leaves no room for an
incarnation, but the coincidence of his speculation with the
great fact is very remarkable.

The THERAPEUTAE, or Worshippers, a mystic and ascetic sect in
Egypt, akin to the Essenes in Judaea, carried this Platonic
Judaism into practical life; but were, of course, equally
Unsuccessful in uniting the two religions in a vital and
permanent way. Such a union could only be effected by a new
religion revealed from Heaven.

Quite independent of the philosophical Judaism of Alexan- dria
were the SAMARITANS, a mixed race, (ACTUALLY A JEWISH SECT as the
Jewish Ency. will show you in a long article entry - Keith Hunt)
which also combined, though in a different way, the elements of
Jewish and Gentile religion. They date from the period of the
exile. They held to the Pentateuch, to circumcision, and to
carnal Messianic hopes; but they had a temple of their own on
Mount Gerizim, and mortally hated the proper Jews. Among these
Christianity, as would appear from the interview of Jesus with
the woman of Samaria, and the preaching of Philip, found ready
access, but, as among the Essenes and Therapeutae fell easily
into a heretical form. Simon Magus, for example, and some other
Samaritan arch-heretics, are represented by the early Christian
writers as the principal originators of Gnosticism.

3. Thus was the way for Christianity prepared on every side,
positively and negatively, directly and indirectly, in theory and
in practice, by truth and by error, by false belief and by
unbelief--those hostile brothers, which yet cannot live apartby
Jewish religion, by Grecian culture, and by Roman conquest; by
the vainly attempted amalgamation of Jewish and heathen thought,
by the exposed impotence of natural civilization, philosophy,
art, and political power, by the decay of the old religions, by
the universal distraction and hopeless misery of the age, and by
the yearnings of all earnest and noble souls for the religion of
salvation.

"In the fulness of the time," when the fairest flowers of science
and art had withered, and the world was on the verge of despair,
the Virgin's Son was born to heal the infirmities of mankind.
Christ entered a dying world as the author of a new and
imperishable life.....


Chronology of the life of Christ

.....To sum up the results, the following appear to us the most
probable dates in the earthly life of our Lord:

Birth.....B.C. 4 or 5 (B.C. 5 is the correct year - there is a
study on this website proving that for you - Keith Hunt)

Baptizm - 27 A.D. (A.D. 26 is the correct date - Keith Hunt)

Length of public ministry .... three years and three or four
months. (three and one half years is the correct length - Keith
Hunt)

Crucifixion......A.D. 30 (Schaff was CORRECT - Keith Hunt)

..........

To be continued


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