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The term “Byzantine” derives from Byzantium, an ancient
Greek colony founded by a man named Byzas.
Located on the European side of the Bosporus the strait
linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean
Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day
The Roman empire, divided in the late
AD200’s, was weakened by internal and
external forces. Power shifted to the east, as
Germanic invaders weakened the western half
of the once great Roman empire.
By 330, the emperor Constantine, had
built a new capital city in Constantinople
on the site of the Greek city Byzantium.
The Byzantine empire arose from this site.
During most of its existence, the empire was the
most powerful economic, cultural, and military
force in Europe.
Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman
Empire" are historiographical terms applied in
later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to
their empire as the Roman Empire
The first recorded official persecution of
Christians on behalf of the Roman Empire was
in AD 64, when, as reported by the Roman
historian Tacitus, Emperor Nero attempted to
blame Christians for the Great Fire of Rome.
When put in the arena, a
popular method was for
them to be killed by wild
A problem the Romans
faced is that the
death and the chance to
be martyred. They took
joy in death… which the
They would even taunt
the crowd to kill them.
His association with Christianity began with a fateful
battle for control of the Western Roman Empire.
Constantine faced Western Roman Emperor Maxentius
at the Tiber River's Mulvian Bridge in A.D. 312.
Fourth-century historian and bishop Eusebius of
Caesarea reported that before the great battle
Constantine saw a flaming cross in the sky bearing the
words "in this sign thou shalt conquer." Constantine
did indeed conquer, routing and killing his enemy on a
day that loomed large not only for the emperor but for
the Christian faith.
Emperor Constantine I is often
credited with converting the
Roman Empire to Christianity.
In fact, though he ended the
persecution of Christians and
eventually converted, some
historians debate the true
nature of his faith.
Constantine made clear that he
believed that he owed his
successes the protection of
that High God alone.
The next year Constantine, now the
Western Roman Emperor, and Eastern
Roman Emperor Licinius signed the
Edict of Milan, which finally ensured
religious tolerance for Christians.
The agreement granted freedom of
worship to all, regardless of deity, and
brought an end to the Age of Martyrs,
which had begun after Jesus' death.
Christians were also given specific legal
rights such as the return of confiscated
property and the right to organize
Is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based
on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
It is the world's largest religion, with over
2.4 billion adherents, known as Christians.
Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of
God and the savior of humanity whose
coming as the Messiah (the Christ) was
prophesied in the Old Testament.
The central tenet of Christianity is the belief
in Jesus as the Son of God and the Messiah (Christ).
Christians believe that Jesus, as the Messiah,
was anointed by God as savior of humanity, and
hold that Jesus' coming was the fulfillment
of messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
The Christian concept of the Messiah
differs significantly from the
contemporary Jewish concept.
The core Christian belief is that through
belief in and acceptance of the death and
resurrection of Jesus, sinful humans can
be reconciled to God and thereby are
offered salvation and the promise
of eternal life.
What Is Christianity?
1) Historical Background:
Abraham, Israelites, Hebrews,
2) Historical Foundation:
Jesus of Nazareth (crucified ca. AD
& his first disciples/apostles
2000 years (interplay of both old &
new, ancient & modern)
1) Major Christian Branches:
(Eastern) Orthodox, (Roman) Catholic,
Anglican, Protestant, Restorationist,
2) Orthodox, Anglicans,
O: by nation & language: Greek,
A: by nations: esp. former British
P: by leaders/theologies: Lutheran,
3) Groups within Catholicism:
religious orders & societies
(monastic, mendicant, apostolic,
etc.), lay groups
What Is Christianity?
1) Number of Christians World-wide:
~ 2 billion in 2000; ~ 33% of world
1 bill. Catholics; 500 mill.
Protestant/Anglican; 250 mill. Orthodox;
250 mill. Other
3) % of Populations:
48% Africa; 85% N. America; 93% S.
America; 9% Asia; 76% Europe; 85%
1) The Bible:
official collection of books, in two parts:
both Old Testament & New Testament
2) The Creeds:
short professions of faith, defined by first two
Ecumenical Councils: Nicea & Constantinople
3) Other Writings:
writings of Church leaders throughout history,
esp. founders of orders & denominations
1) One God in Three Persons
Father / Almighty / Creator
Son / Jesus / Christ / Savior / Lord
Holy Spirit / Giver of Life / Paraclete
2) World & Humans:
created by God, in God’s image,
with free will;
originally good, but corrupted by
3) Church, Salvation,
community of believers; body of
Christ; resurrection of the body;
1) Foundational Principles:
do good & avoid evil; love God, others, self;
develop an “informed conscience”
2) Sexual Morality:
dual purpose of sex; consistent ethic of life;
human relationships; central role of family
3) Social Ethics:
dignity of each person; common good; care of the
poor/needy; work, participation, property
What Is Christianity?
1) Calendar, Feasts, & Festivals:
Advent & Christmas; Lent & Easter;
saints’ days; local & universal festivals
2) Public / Communal Worship:
official liturgies, rites, rituals, Sacraments,
esp. Baptism & Eucharist; Sunday worship
3) Private / Individual Spirituality:
prayer, devotions, pilgrimages, asceticism,
retreats, pious/spiritual practices, etc.
What Is Christianity?
1) Churches & Denominations:
historical divisions: always! esp. 1054, 1517
but also reunifications & mergers
2) Structures with each Church:
indiv. parishes/congregations, local dioceses,
national conferences, international
3) Leaders within each Church:
bishops (incl. Pope, cardinals), priests,
deacons, lay ministers; pastors, elders, etc.
Through its long history, the Church has
been a major source of social services
such as schooling. Several universities
were founded by the Church.
Some historians of
science, have argued
that the Church had
a significant, positive
influence on the
Some of the Church's
Nicolaus Copernicus, the clergyman
astronomer who put the sun at the
center of the solar system, upsetting
both scientific and religious accepted
The Bible and Christian theology have also
strongly influenced philosophers and political
activists. The teachings of Jesus, such as
the Parable of the Good Samaritan, are among the
important sources for modern notions of Human
rights and the welfare measures commonly
provided by governments in the West. Long held
Christian teachings on sexuality and marriage
have also been influential in family life.
Christianity played a role in ending practices such
as human sacrifice, slavery , infanticide and
polygamy. Christianity in general affected the
status of women by
condemning infanticide (female infants were more
likely to be killed), divorce, incest, polygamy, birth
control, abortion and adultery.
The cultural influence
of the Church has
been vast. Festivals
like Easter and Christ
mas are marked
universally as public
Calendar has been
Interestingly, the first
community of Christians
This group believed that
Christ, by example of his
teachings and through
resurrection, had brought a
new vision and spoke as an
equal to God.
As converts to Christianity
increased, the religion
spread. The most
influential early missionary
Paul journeyed tirelessly. He preached that
the Old Law, or the Laws of Moses, should be
replaced by faith in Christ. Only through
Christ, said Paul, can a person live a life of
kindness and joy, ultimately being saved and
Both Paul and the chief apostle, Peter, were
martyred at the hands of the Roman emperor,
Nero. It was not until the early 4th century
that Christianity was legalized by Constantine
the Great. By 300 CE, Christianity became the
accepted religion of Rome, spreading
throughout the empire.
With the founding of the New World, Christianity
began to spread beyond Europe and Asia. Among
the early missionaries were Catholics who
journeyed to Central and South America, seeking
to convert native peoples. Protestants escaping
persecution traveled to North America, bringing
with them their beliefs.
By 1900, Christianity had spread onto every continent.
It was a major world religion. Christian missionaries
took advantage of the European colonization of India
and Africa as well, as can be seen on the map below.
Of course, missionary work is not solely a thing of the
past. It continues most fervently today.
During his reign, Justinian sought to
revive the empire’s greatness and
reconquer the lost western half of
the historical Roman Empire.
Justinian was well known for creating a unified
code of laws – The Justinian Code, that took its
He also oversaw constructions of great buildings
in his capital – the city of Constantinople, the
most remarkable of them being the church of
Hagia Sophia, which later on became the center of
Eastern Orthodox Christianity for many centuries.
The famous emperor, who went on
to become the First Christian
Emperor in the history, was a ruler
of major historical importance.
He was also known as Constantine
as he reunited a divided empire
under a single emperor and scored
important wins against some ardent
He also re-occupied some of the
long lost Roman provinces. He
created his own capital and named it
after himself – Constantinople,
which went on to be cradle of
Byzantine empire for centuries. For
that reason, he was also known as
the founder of Byzantine.
He became a historical figure of Christianity
by becoming the first emperor to adorn it.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
His decision went on to have significant
impact in the religious preferences in the
subsequent Byzantine empire.
He was one of the most peaceful
ruler in the history of Roman
empire. There were no records of
any military related acts in his time.
However, there were a few fickle
conflicts here and there, but none
of them caused any serious
Antoninus was virtually unique
among the roman emperors
because he dealt with these crises
without leaving Italy once during
his reign. This style of government
was highly praised by his
contemporaries and later
His rule started at one of the most
troubled times in Roman history –
the Romans were just recovering
from the antics of infamous
emperors like Nero and Caligula,
A down to earth man himself, and a
competent general, who had
proved his mettle in the battlefield,
Vespasian was handed the task of
bringing balance in Rome.
And over his rule of 10 years, he
did all that, sketching his name as
one of the greatest Roman
In his reign, much money was spent on public works as
well as on restoration and beautification of Rome.
He initiated construction of the temple of peace, a
number of public baths and one of the most majestic
structures in ancient Rome – the Colosseum.
Sadly by the time Colosseum was completed, he was
dead. After his death in 79, he was succeeded by his
eldest son Titus and thus became the first Roman
Emperor to be directly succeeded by his own natural son
and establishing the Flavian dynasty.
Born by the name of Octavian, he was
given the name ‘Augustus’ by the senate
as an honour for his great achievements.
He went on to avenge the death of Caesar
together with Mark Antony, before falling
out with him. He defeated Mark Antony
together with the famous Egyptian queen
Cleopatra and thereafter, together with
the senate of Rome, created a new
constitution for the great empire.
Byzantine culture included women and men
alike, unlike practices in classical Greece and
Rome or in medieval Europe.
Women could not attend school, but
aristocratic females received tutoring in
history, literature, philosophy, and
The culture of Byzantium was rich and affluent,
while science and technology also flourished.
Very important for us, nowadays, was the
Byzantine tradition of rhetoric and public
debate. Philosophical and theological discourses
were important in public life, even emperors
taking part in them.
Byzantine culinary tastes
focused on the regions
flourished: cheese, figs,
eggs, olive oil, walnuts,
almonds, apples, and
pears, were all staples of
the Byzantine diet,
indigenous to the lands of
the empire and
appreciated by aristocracy
and common people alike.
The Byzantine Empire was mainly comprised
of an array of small towns and seaports
connected by a developed infrastructure.
Production was very high, and there was a
notable growth in land ownership.
The Byzantines followed a Christian lifestyle
which revolved around the home, where
women dedicated themselves to the
upbringing of their children.
There were also various public places where
men sought relaxation in their leisure hours.
The Byzantines were also a
major conduit of classical
learning and science into the
West down to the
While western Europeans
were fumbling to create a
culture of their own, the cities
of the Byzantine Empire
provided them a model of a
Art and architecture was elaborate-
domed buildings, colored mosaics,
and painted icons expressed an art
linked to religion
The Byzantine empire had its influence in the
development of history. Emerging out of the
once strong Roman empire, the Byzantines
develop a written set of law and strongly
influence art and architecture of the time.
New techniques and new levels of
Byzantine silver- and gold smithing,
enamel, jewelry, and textiles.
Architecture found its highest expression in
the Hagia Sophia, superior in scale and
magnificence to anything in the ancient
For the next thousand years the Turks
(Islam), began to take over parts of the
Crusades failed to stop the takeover by
◦ 1453 Ottoman Turks conquered
◦ The ancient Christian city was
renamed Istanbul and became the
capital of the Ottoman Empire
in 1204, the Crusaders attacked,
conquered, and pillaged the city
of Constantinople, a goal that
the Muslims had been trying
achieve for centuries
In 1453, the city was
conquered by the
Ottoman Turks and
to its final end.
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