August 12, 2004
Christianity has become one of the largest religions in the world. It is a religion that began in the Mediterranean over 2,000 years ago with the death of Jesus Christ. Where it began, however, is not what make Christianity unique. The most startling part about this is that it began in the Roman Empire , the very empire that crucified Christ, and within 400 years, was the only religion allowed. How did this happen and how did it shape the Roman Empire?
To understand the magnitude of the rise of Christianity, you have to understand the world at the time of the Roman Empire. It is not uncommon for an empire to have an official' religion. Through the years, conquering armies often brought the religion of their empire to their newly acquired territories. What makes Christianity and the Roman Empire unique is the mentality of the Romans of the time. The time during Christ's life was in a period known as Pax Romana, or Roman Peace", which lasted from the beginning of the reign of Augustus in 27 B.C. until almost 200 years later. Pax Romana was an attempt to bring peace and prosperity to the Roman Empire. Augustus, who was then the emperor of Rome, had halted the expansion of the Empire, cleansed' the Senate of nearly 200 questionable' members, leaving 800 who were loyal to Augustus. He also reduced the size of the military, paying soldiers with 20 or more years of experience to be loyal to the Roman state, not their commanders and stationed the army in the surrounding provinces instead of Rome (he had created the Praetorian Guard to be his bodyguards; these were Roman citizens who were better paid than a Roman legionnaire). This made the area around the Mediterranean stable economically and nearly self-sufficient. (History Guide, 2004)
Another factor in the stabilization was the Roman businessmen who formed social units in many of the cities in the Mediterranean, which brought... [continues]
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