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Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Bible, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion, with about 2.4 billion followers as of 2020. Christians make up a majority of the population in 157 countries and territories.
Christianity remains culturally diverse in its Western and Eastern branches, as well as in its doctrines concerning justification and the nature of salvation, ecclesiology, ordination, and Christology. Their creeds generally hold in common Jesus as the Son of God—the Logos incarnated—who ministered, suffered, and died on a cross, but rose from the dead for the salvation of mankind; as referred to as the gospel, meaning the "good news", in the Bible. Describing Jesus' life and teachings are the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John with the Jewish Old Testament as the gospel's respected background.
Christianity began as a Second Temple Judaic sect in the 1st century in the Roman province of Judea. Jesus' apostles and their followers spread around the Levant, Europe, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Transcaucasia, Egypt, and Ethiopia, despite initial persecution. It soon attracted gentile God-fearers, which led to a departure from Jewish customs, and, after the Fall of Jerusalem, AD 70 which ended the Temple-based Judaism, Christianity slowly separated from Judaism. Emperor Constantine the Great decriminalized Christianity in the Roman Empire by the Edict of Milan (313), later convening the Council of Nicaea (325) where Early Christianity was consolidated into what would become the State church of the Roman Empire (380). The early history of Christianity's united church before major schisms is sometimes referred to as the "Great Church" (though heterodox sects existed at the same time, including Gnostic Christianity and Jewish Christians). The Church of the East split after the Council of Ephesus (431) and Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon (451) over differences in Christology, while the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism (1054), especially over the authority of the bishop of Rome. Protestantism split in numerous denominations from the (mostly Latin, though a minority from the Eastern, Catholic Churches) in the Reformation era (16th century) over theological and ecclesiological disputes, most predominantly on the issue of justification and papal primacy. Christianity played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization, particularly in Europe from late antiquity and the Middle Ages. Following the Age of Discovery (15th–17th century), Christianity was spread into the Americas, Oceania, sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the world via missionary work.
The four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church (1.3 billion/50.1%), Protestantism (920 million/36.7%), the Eastern Orthodox Church (230 million) and Oriental Orthodoxy (62 million/Orthodoxy combined at 11.9%), amid various efforts toward unity (ecumenism). Despite a decline in adherence in the West, Christianity remains the dominant religion in the region, with about 70% of the population identifying as Christian. Christianity is growing in Africa and Asia, the world's most populous continents. Christians remain persecuted in some regions the world, especially in the Middle-East, North Africa, East Asia, and South Asia. (Full article...)
The Diocletianic Persecution
was the last and most severe persecution of Christians
in the Roman empire
. In 303, Emperor Diocletian
and his colleagues Maximian
, and Constantius
issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul
, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Constantius' son, Constantine
, on taking the imperial office in 306, restored Christians to full legal equality and returned property confiscated during the persecution. The persecution failed to check the rise of the church. By 324, Constantine was sole ruler of the empire, and Christianity had become his favored religion. Although the persecution resulted in the deaths of—according to one modern estimate—3,000 Christians, and the torture, imprisonment, or dislocation of many more, most Christians avoided punishment. The persecution did, however, cause many churches to split between those who had complied with imperial authority (the traditores
), and those who had remained "pure". Modern historians have tended to downplay the scale and depth of the Diocletianic persecution.
Joan of Arc
(French: Jeanne d'Arc pronounced [ʒan daʁk]
1412 – 30 May 1431), nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans
" (French: La Pucelle d'Orléans
), is considered a heroine of France for her role during the Lancastrian phase
of the Hundred Years' War
, and was canonized as a Catholic saint
. She was born to Jacques d'Arc
and Isabelle Romée
, a peasant
family, at Domrémy
in the Vosges of northeast France. Joan claimed to have received visions of the archangel Michael
, Saint Margaret
, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria
instructing her to support Charles VII
and recover France from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The as-yet-unanointed King Charles VII sent Joan to the Siege of Orléans
as part of a relief army. She gained prominence after the siege was lifted only nine days later. Several additional swift victories led to Charles VII's consecration
. This long-awaited event boosted French morale and paved the way for the final French victory at Castillon
On 23 May 1430, she was captured at Compiègne by the Burgundian faction, a group of French nobles allied with the English. She was later handed over to the English and put on trial by the pro-English bishop Pierre Cauchon on a variety of charges. After Cauchon declared her guilty, she was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431, dying at about nineteen years of age. (Full article...)
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul (Παῦλος) as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. They provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of early Christianity and as part of the canon of the New Testament they are foundational texts for both Christian theology and ethics.
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The following are images from various Christianity-related articles on Wikipedia.
A Greek fresco of Athanasius of Alexandria, the chief architect of the Nicene Creed, formulated at Nicaea.
The Adoration of the Trinity by Albrecht Dürer (1511): from top to bottom: Holy Spirit (dove), God the Father and the crucified Christ
God the Father (top), and the Holy Spirit (represented by a dove) depicted above Jesus. Painting by Francesco Albani (d. 1660)
Trinity (from top to bottom God the Father, the Holy Spirit (dove) and the crucified Christ in an illuminated Italian manuscript by Cristoforo Majorana, before 1491.
First page of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak (14th century): "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God".
Father, The Holy Spirit, and Christ Crucified, depicted in a Welsh manuscript. c. 1390–1400
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