LA 171 Academy of Art University Roman Christianity Discussion


This week you have a choice. Please address either A or B, not both.
Option A: Rome saw itself as the nation that set order to the world. Discuss the parallels to this in modern history and compare the tactics taken to ensure that order. What techniques do you think were most effective in ensuring social peace and stability?
Option B: What factors help explain the rise of Christianity from an outlawed cult to a majority religion in the empire by the fifth century? What made it stand apart from Roman paganism?

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From ALex
5.1 [Discussion] Roman Christianity
One of the main factors that raised Christianity would be social disruption amongst the people. The upper class
believed Christianity was a “slave religion” due to the lower-class accepting Christianity as it’s told to have equality,
universal love, peace, one God and everlasting salvation. There were many missionaries, apostles, authors and
historians that supported or followed Christianity for they would tell stories and teach outsiders the religious morals
and ethics that Jesus had taught. Which influenced more people to convert to Christianity and spread throughout the
Roman Empire, Egypt and Jerusalem. While Roman paganism and Judaism were opposed to Christianity, they
believed in the Roman imperial cults and mystery religions that included worshiping multiple gods and spirits. A
majority of their worship took place in temples such as the Pantheon. Often sacrifices of animals or precious items
would be offered to the gods. In which sacrifices are one of the factors that separated the two religions. Their
differences also lead to persecution of Christians in the beginning of the first century AD. It wasn’t until Constantine
ruling in 312-337 BCE had made Christianity the main religion which ended paganism and the persecution of
Christians toward the end of Edict of Milan in 313 CE. People had also looked up to the early Christians for their
commitment to one God and not relinquishing their faith with Roman paganism.
From Ricardo
4.1 [Discussion] Rome and Carthage [Option B]
The problems started from within the Roman walls as the citizens demanded political and economic reforms within
their government. As the Roman Republic did not face the issues of reform head-on as there were many disputes
among the citizens that were not addressed as the Senate nor the aristocracy took measures to confront them.
Abusing and misusing their power to control the current population to their own benefit. The desire for a republic had
passed as the nobility and government had taken control over not just the city but also its inhabitants leading towards
a dictatorship having one individual ruler to govern the citizens, nobility, and economics have complete rule over the
nation. Although during the era of the republic as they lead many different reforms, the spread of culture, and
conquering other civilizations. Their focus was placed upon supremacy as the Romans craved status and power
leading towards the idea of a Monarchy. This new form of government often led to internal strive amongst the
civilians, nobility, and ruler as well. As the nobility or aristocracy desired to obtain power that would strengthen their
faction as they fight to control the position of Monarchy or dictator. But this internal strive for power was their own
doing as their greed and control over power led them down this path. But this glory and pride took head as their
decision was passed through the senate and looked upon by plebians as they could not change these ideals. The
senate took advantage of the plebians and decided for them as they were not acknowledged in terms of internal
affairs such as laws. As they thought their input was not important. We can say that if the plebians had put forth their
own inputs and decision into law and government they would have a voice in their community but no such reforms
were created at that time. Leading down to many civil wars to fight for their ideals but none were ever truly a voice in
a peaceful manner as Pride, Power, and Wealth were the main motivations of leadership. As individual classes were
formed through such means. As a lasting note, I believe this transition into a dictatorship often to internal strive
however, their growth and development allowed for many changes and reforms that contributed to their culture. As it
allows an individual the power to change their culture at will providing not just power but the safety of their culture, for
the people as they lead their nation.
From Chaos Mi
Option B: What factors help explain the rise of Christianity from an outlawed cult to a majority religion in the
empire by the fifth century? What made it stand apart from Roman paganism?
The factor that made Christianity rise from a cult to the majority religion of the empire had to do with the audience for
Christianity, which originally emerged as a branch of Judaism from the lower classes under the leadership of the
Jewish Jesus. Secondly, the spread of Christianity benefited from a tightly organized and regular way of functioning,
as we can see in the Bible in the daily life of many Christian churches. In addition to this, the God of Christianity is the
only almighty God, and Christianity believes that all people are equal before God. This doctrine was deeply popular,
unlike the polytheism of the Roman Empire in the past. And Christianity answered the ultimate question of life, that
people go to heaven and hell after death. Many people at the bottom of the Roman Empire were living in extreme
hardship and despair, but Christianity provided just the right amount of food and medical care, and shelter, which
established the popular base of Christianity. With a large popular base and the organized wealth of the church, it, in
turn, attracted many nobles to join. All this gave Christianity the capital to compete with the Empire.
In 306 A.D., after Constantine became the emperor, he proclaimed religious toleration in the Edict of Milan, which
freed Christianity from persecution. In addition, the confiscated property of the Christians was returned and
Constantine donated some properties to Christianity. The status of Christianity in the empire was instantly changed
from illegal to legal, and it also gained the support of the royal family. Constantine also converted to Christianity on
his deathbed, which led to an increase in Christianity’s public prestige. Eventually, in 392, Emperor Theodosius voted
in the Senate to make Christianity the state religion.
The major difference between Christianity and the pagan religions in Rome is that Christianity developed from the
bottom of the people, and only after it had a large popular base did it begin to grow upward. The second difference is
the doctrinal difference between Christianity and paganism. In other religions, there is a class distinction between
gods, so there are classes of mortals. In Christianity, there is only one God, and all men are equal before God.

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