Christianity and the Fall of the Roman Empire?
Directions: Analyze the documents below by reading and answering the questions that follow. Use your analysis of each document to answer the focus question. You will be provided space at the end of this document to answer the focus question. Your answer should be 5-8 sentences.
Focus Question: How did the rise of Christianity change ancient Roman society?
Religionwas very important to the Romans. Within the Roman Empire, Christianity was banned and Christians were punished for many years. Feeding Christians to the lions was seen as entertainmentin Ancient Rome.
The message of Christianity was spread around the Roman Empire by St. Paul who founded Christian churches in Asia Minor and Greece. Eventually, he took his teachings to Rome itself.
The early converts to Christianity in Ancient Rome faced many difficulties. The first converts were usually the poor and slaves as they had a great deal to gain from the Christians being successful. If they were caught, they faced death for failing to worship the emperor. It was not uncommon for emperors to turn the people against the Christians when Rome was faced with difficulties. In AD 64, part of Rome was burned down. The Emperor Nero blamed the Christians and the people turned on them. Arrests and executions followed.The dangers faced by the Christians in Rome meant that they had to meet in secret. They usually used underground tombs as these were literally out of sight. Rome had a large number of poor people within its population and Christianity continued to grow. In AD 313, the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal and for the first time, they were allowed to openly worship. Churches were quickly built not just in Rome but throughout the empire. In AD 391, the worship of other gods was made illegal.
Answer the following questions using the article above:
- Give an example from the article of cultural diffusion in ancient times. Explain how this is an example of cultural diffusion.
- Explain the relationship between politics and religion. Use evidence from the article to support your answer.
Pagan Beliefs (polytheistic/indigenous religion of Ancient Rome):
In so far as the Romans had a religion of their own, it was not based on any central belief, but on a mixture of fragmented rituals, taboos, superstitions, and traditions which they collected over the years from a number of sources.
To the Romans, religion was less a spiritual experience than a contractual relationship between mankind and the forces which were believed to control people's existence and well-being.
The result of such religious attitudes were two things: a state cult, the significant influence on political and military events of which outlasted the republic, and a private concern, in which the head of the family oversaw the domestic rituals and prayers in the same way as the representatives of the people performed the public ceremonials.
However, as circumstances and people's view of the world changed, individuals whose personal religious needs remained unsatisfied turned increasingly during the first century AD to the mysteries, which were of Greek origin, and to the cults of the east.
Word spread through disciples such as Paul. Paul set up the doctrines that are the basis for Christianity:
All humans are sinful because of Adam and Eve.
Jesus was sent by God to redeem humanity from sins.
By dying on the cross, Jesus made it possible for humans to be saved.
Anyone could be saved through faith in God.
Christianity spread because of its appeal to those who led hard lives. Christianity gave a sense of community and fellowship to the people. The people saw others who were willing to die for a religion.
Answer the following questions on the article above:
- How do the beliefs of early Christians differ from pagan citizens in ancient Rome? Use evidence from the documents to support your answer.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem was constructed by Roman Emperor Constantine I's mother, Helena, on the supposed site of Jesus' tomb
Answer the following questions on the picture above:
- How does this picture show the influence of Christianity in ancient Rome? Use evidence from the document to support your answer.
Focus Question: How did the rise of Christianity change ancient Roman society? (Your answer should be 5-8 sentences, including evidence from the documents to support your claim.)