A History of Christianity

The Christian faith, unlike any other religion, is tied to historical events, including one of pivotal importance, the birth of Jesus Christ. This helpful timeline tracks the major events, advancements and notable people of Christianity dating back to over 2,000 years ago to when it all began. 

While the Christian faith may seem timeless, it has a definitive starting point combined with a rich history. This history is comprised of cherished literature, celebrated figures, and world-changing events.  In addition, the Christian faith has had an all-encompassing influence on almost countless aspects of society including language, politics, family life, law, art, music, calendars, and more since its inception over two thousand years ago.

Christianity first began with Jesus of Nazareth and centers around his life, teachings, death and ultimately, his resurrection, which took place in 30 AD. Jesus’ message continued to be spread after the resurrection by his apostles and aspects of his life were written by multiple authors between 30 and 100 years after his death. This written material makes up the Gospels, which later became the first four books of the New Testament. The Gospels detail Jesus’ teachings and healing ministry. His 12 disciples believed him to be the Messiah, hence the title “Christ,” originating from the Greek word for “Messiah.”

Those who follow Jesus’ teachings are referred to as Christians, or Christ followers. The Bible, known as the sacred text of Christianity, consists of the Old and New Testament. Appearances of the earliest Bible translations occurred between 200-300 AD. While many Christians believe the Bible is divinely inspired, views differ regarding the extent of its authority. Over the centuries, Christianity has divided into three major branches, including Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. Religious practices vary by denomination and numerous holy days are celebrated. Easter is considered the most important Christian holiday, its date originally being determined in 190 AD. A celebration of Christ rising from the dead, the holiday is preceded by Holy Week and Good Friday. The 40 days leading up to Easter are known as Lent, a period of time marked by repentance and fasting. Another sacred day of Christianity is Christmas, which celebrates Jesus’ birth, and has largely been adopted by the secular population.

Christianity has been shaped over the centuries by a large number of captivating people such as the Apostle Paul, who is considered the greatest missionary and theologian of the faith; the early church father, Augustine; the reformer Martin Luther; world renowned missionary Mother Teresa; and Billy Graham, one of the most prominent evangelists in the history of Christianity.  In addition, some critical historical events that helped shape the Christian faith into what it is today include the Apostles spreading Jesus’ message after his death, the conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity, the Crusades, and the Protestant Reformation, among countless others.

If you find yourself fascinated by the Christian faith and interested in expanding your own faith, you may want to consider pursuing a degree in Theology, Biblical Studies, or Divinity. While you can study many religion-based programs at a Christian college, you may also want to consider a non-religion based major such as nursing, counseling, or business that infuses Christian teachings and values into its curriculum. 

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