How did the church’s way of presenting the good news about Jesus to a wide audience change and not change between Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages?
The time beginning in the 2nd and 8th centuries, A.D., is historically tagged as the Late Antiquity. Early Middle Ages were between the 5th and 10th centuries. These were also known as the Dark Ages. It was a time during which in Europe, specifically the Roman Empire, was faltering. There were peculiar happenings dealing with Roman Emperor Constantine. He was having dreams of placing crosses on war shields; he was in constant fear of losing his status; Rome, “The Ruler” of Europe for so many decades was now losing it’s footing in power struggles with outside entities.
Rome was also becoming the center of the Catholic religion’s domain; that power was attached to every single life event that took place and, as Christ bleeds upon the crucifixion cross, this influence bled out to every part of Roman government in existence up until the Middle Ages. Therefore, Constantine deeply down realized he was but little matter; the prophets and disciples, the Kings of the Old and New Testaments were the true icons of ruling forces.
Thus, this writer contends that earlier religious teachings were of mediocre and standard quality and delivery; it was tentative; perhaps there is One God; perhaps there are many gods. It was still, basically, unclear in the minds of men.
In later times, Rome was faltering, the emperor was waning in popularity, and God was a great back up plan for those who wanted desperately to remain in power.
As Americans, we understand the concept of the division of Church and State. In the third century, this was an unknown. There would never come the question of running the empire without the church foundational policies involved in every decision made by those in charge. Thus, teaching Jesus Christ’s story, His life and His crucifixion’s significance to mankind, as well as the implemented laws of State as a result were carved in stone; literally.
Roman leaders, chieftains, emperors, they were true atheists. After crucifying Jesus, they went on to crucify acknowledged Christians. Roman rule depended upon NOT believing in God’s son being the “true” Messiah. Their gods were named, categorized, and filed under certain very precise and detailed stipulation
This voracious stubborn belief and their investment into it wavered; Christians were crying out for equality and acknowledgement, and they were quickly gaining notoriety, if only in their numbers. Thus, the letting go, slowly but completely of Roman gods was, in fact, the virtual undoing of Roman rule.
In 311, Emperor Galerius implemented the first of many to come edicts, tolerating Christian life in the Roman Empire, their teachings, and their practices, and this is when these teachings, now actually legal, turned from simple Bible doctrines and hearsay conversations written down in the Holy Bible to actual law; they were now free to inundate the world with doctrinal influence.
There was a sort of “reverse intolerance” now in the hands of Christians; their profound and inexorable belief was this: There is only one path, and one path only to the Godly life; through his Son, Jesus Christ. No exceptions; half measures would avail nothing, according to the Holy Bible, the disciples, apostles, prophets, and followers. Church leaders were becoming more prominent. What loftier church leader than the head of the Roman Catholic Church? And thus, the bleeding began, the fluid, fast-moving interface, from Jesus to justice. And once it took hold in a legal way in Rome, the greatest empire in the world thus far, it only gained strength as time marched on. This came in the form of, the Milan Edict. The meat of this is as follows:
“…..it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever, which were in the prescripts formerly given to you officially, concerning the Christians and now any one of these who wishes to observe Christian religion may do so freely and openly, without molestation.”
“…..that you may know that we have given to those Christians free and unrestricted opportunity of religious worship.”
“…..we have also conceded to other religions the right of open and free observance of their worship for the sake of the peace of our times, that each one may have the free opportunity to worship as he pleases ; this regulation is made we that we may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion.”
In 316, “religious persecution” became the good cause of the 3rd century, creating an exact opposite transition intended, it seems, from touting the unconditional compassion of Jesus Christ, Son of God, to wielding a cross-decorated-pennon attached to a saber and sinking it into the chest of the pagan, just because he is a nonbeliever.
Christianity at first was a new concept of thought, perhaps, the first existential thinking in the world as we know it. The barbarically ridiculous outcome of this came in the form of further edicts and mandates; now, this being c. 325, any critical thinking and religious choice at all were forbidden in the new Christian Empire.
So doctrines, teachings, laws, and educational mandates were precisely aligned with this new empire’s beliefs. There was no other way of thinking, behaving, acting, living; it was predestined and you were to follow the order, or else.
This included the theory, which necessitated a formal conference in the city of Nicea, including a gathering of 318 prominent religious leaders attendance. The council issued a major creedal statement that affirmed that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were consubstantial. This meant that the Holy Trinity (God being One but composed of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost/Spirit) was a tri-composed entity; separate but in union. This theory was argued over centuries in time. It still is.
This meant that speech, writing, and assembly rights regarding religious issues were under a microscope of some bureaucrat, priest, or both. Other religions were not respected or tolerated and when the tactics of co-opting pagan rituals didn’t work, violence and destruction replaced trickery. Over the coming centuries, pagans were ruthlessly attacked and oppressed by the alliance of government and religion, with their beliefs being progressively outlawed and their temples continually demolished, confiscated, and plunder
This could not help but be reflected in the educational forums, and strict Old Testament and new Testament preachings ruled classrooms and formal gatherings, whether they be political or not.
In 331, churches became the legal beneficiaries of those who died without an heir.
This meant citizens gave theirr estate to the church, with or without permission. Within any educational system, can you imagine the degree in which religious theory was taught and carried out?
Exodus 34:11-15: “Observe…I drive out before thee the Amorite…Canaanite…Hittite…Perizzite…Hivite…Jebusite. Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither though goest…But ye shall destroy their alters, break their images, and cut down their groves; For though shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Summarizing, this writer can only research and take in just so much historical literature and archives of information, both from internet files and hard copy books. There must be an innate sense of justice and injustice where religious doctrines are concerned. There were, it appears, more strict religious requirements of the people living in the Roman Empire as time went on.
Whether the Emperor, Constantine, who was, journaletically weak, ineffectual, and acting in a fear-based manner, did succumb to popular demand, without a devout belief in Christianity as texted in the Holy Bible, or not, how could he truly rule effectively?
Perhaps the answer of how the teachings of Christianity differed from the span of times stipulated here, Late Antiquity, through to Early Middle Ages could be synopsized as such . . .
Any dictatorship political organization will always be questioned as being part of the machinations of unbalanced rule. The appeal from Jesus Christ, who lived on our earth from the year 1 A.D. through to 33 A.D., dying on the cross by Roman soldiers who were either willing or unwilling. We do not have personal interview documentation.
As time, to repeat, marches on, these theories that are unusual, antiestablishment, unique are considered, and reconsidered. With time, they become more potent in theoretical meaning. An “outbreak” of “let’s try something new” comes upon the few followers. Their foundation is a text (the Holy Bible) and true believers (disciples, prophets, followers). The spread of word is their newly chosen vocation. They are innocently providing others with the “true way of life” which in this case, is a new life through Jesus Christ our Lord
To teach this is admirable; to insist on this is tyrannical. It is this writer’s desire that we, as human beings, choose to live, and let live, in the truest sense of the word.