|The movement of the followers of Jesus began as a Jewish
sect that met and taught at the Jerusalem Temple after their leader's
execution by the Romans. There is no debate as to whether a
non-Jewish religious sect would have been allowed to enter and teach
there. This part of our journey takes us through the period in
which the movement of the followers of Jesus became a new religion
called Christianity. The first four centuries of Christian history
is known as the "Early Church." Much like the history of
the Bible, this period of history is not very well known by most
Christians. By the end of the fourth century most of the
foundational doctrines of what would become the orthodox Christianity of
the Roman Catholic Church would be formulated. However, many of
those doctrines would not have been known or understood by the earlier
followers of Jesus.
This period begins with the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by
the Roman army in AD 70. By that time many of the apostles were
already dead, and the core group of followers had moved from Jerusalem to
Pella. The central location of the leadership of the movement was
no longer Jerusalem, and new forms of the Jesus Movement were sprouting
in Alexandria, Antioch, Athens, Babylon, Istanbul and Rome.
Debates over the question "Who was Jesus?" were fought
by groups who had very different answers to the question.
The Early Church faced the challenge of numerous persecutions which
were launched by powerful Roman emperors. One must keep in mind
that these churches were not buildings with crosses located on main
streets. They were groups of people who met in homes and other
out-of-the-way locations. This is a fascinating period in the
history of Christianity.