2. THE PAGAN RELIGIONS OF THE ROMANO-HELLENISTIC CULTURE
3. THE RELIGION OF THE JEWS
4. TENDENCIES IN THE RELIGIOUS WORLD OF THE FIRST CENTURY A.D.
CHAPTER 2: THE FOUNDATION OF THE CHURCH
1. THE FOUNDER
2. THE FIRST GENERATION
NOTE A: THE END OF JEWISH CHRISTIANITY
NOTE B: ST. PETER AT ROME
CHAPTER 3: THE FIRST CONTACTS WITH THE PAGAN RELIGIOUS WORLD
1. THE RELIGIOUS WORLD OF THE SECOND CENTURY
2. THE FIRST APOLOGISTS
3. THE GNOSTICS AND THE CHURCH
4. ST. IRENAEUS OF LYONS
5. MARCION -- MONTANISM
CHAPTER 4: THE CRISES OF THE THIRD CENTURY
1. THE EASTER CONTROVERSY
2. MONARCHIANS -- SABELLIUS -- ST. HIPPOLYTUS
3. THE PENITENTIAL CONTROVERSY -- ST. CALIXTUS I
4. THE SCHISM OF NOVATIAN
5. ST. CYPRIAN AND ROME
6. THE SCHOOL OF ALEXANDRIA -- ORIGEN
8. THE MANICHEES
9. DENIS OF ALEXANDRIA -- PAUL OF SAMOSATA
CHAPTER 5: THE WAY OF CHRISTIAN LIFE
CHAPTER 6: THE CHURCH AND THE PAGAN ROMAN EMPIRE
1. THE STATE -- HOSTILE AND TOLERANT
2. THE STATE DE-PAGANISED
NOTE C: THE CHRISTIAN VIEW OF THE PERSECUTING STATE
CHAPTER 7: THE ARIANS, 318-359
THE CATHOLIC RESTORATION. 359-382
CHAPTER 9: ROME AND THE CATHOLIC EAST. 381-453
1. THE PRIMACY OF HONOUR. 381-419
2. EPHESUS. 427-433
3. CHALCEDON. 446-452
CHAPTER 10: THE TRADITIONAL FAITH AND THE IMPERIAL POLICY
1. THE AFTERMATH OF CHALCEDON. 452-518
2. JUSTINIAN. 527-565
3. BYZANTINE CATHOLICISM. 565-711
CHAPTER 1: THE WORLD IN WHICH THE CHURCH WAS FOUNDED
1. THE ROMAN IMPERIAL UNITY
IT is not possible to understand the early history of the Church without some knowledge of the political and cultural world into which the Church came, of the Roman Empire, that is to say, as it was in the century which followed the Battle of Actium (31 B.C.), of Hellenism, of the older pre-Hellenistic civilisation still alive below the surface, and of the rich diversity of the Empire’s religions. The Empire in which the first Christian propagandists worked was a vast state whose forty provinces took in roughly all Europe west of the Rhine and south of the Danube, with the island of Britain, Asia Minor, Syria, Palestine, Arabia and Egypt and the north coast of Africa thence to the Atlantic. Rome, its central capital city, had begun its history as a city-state. Then, as the head of a league of similar local states, as the chief state of an Italian federation, it had acquired, in little more than a century and a half, in a variety of ways, province by province, the greatest of antique Empires. Spain, Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica were the spoil of the wars with Carthage. The best part of Asia Minor came through the will of the last of its native kings. Gaul was the product of Julius Caesar’s military genius. Syria, Palestine and the rest of Asia Minor of that of his rivaI, Pompey. Egypt was the conquest of Augustus himself. Much of the East came with little native resistance: Gaul, on the other hand, cost nine years of Caesar’s campaigns; Italy was only reconciled to Roman hegemony after the bloody Social War (90-88 B.C.), while in Spain two centuries elapsed between the first occupation and the final definitive victories.
The provinces differed as much in the character of their pre-Roman civilisation as they differed in the circumstances which had subdued them to the Roman power; and hence they differed no less greatly in the degree to which the Roman power “romanised” them. In Greece and Asia, Rome subdued politically peoples who were, culturally, her superiors. In Syria, and especially in Egypt, there was a civilisation older still than that of Greece, “hellenised” now for several centuries; in Gaul a native Celtic civilisation, of yet another type; in Spain a population of fierce local clans where each separate valley was a new, separate people. Greece and Asia were politically organised, famous for their cities, centuries before Roman history began; while in the West it was Rome who introduced the “city,” and, in many western provinces, cities were rare even centuries after the Roman occupation.
From the days when she was merely the head of a league of Italian city-states, Rome had shown unique capacity for combining diversity in union, a political flexibility always ready to find new relationships on which to build alliances. Hence in the Empire, where no part was less firmly bound to Rome than another, and every part as firmly as possible, each part was yet bound by special links forged by the special circumstances of its conquest. All were equally subject; but in the manner of the subjection and in its implications there was diversity. To the immense population of this vast state the empire gave two hundred years of internal peace -- an achievement that has had few parallels in history. It developed the Hellenistic civilisation it found in possession, and brought that civilisation -- the best material civilisation the world had ever known -- to countries which otherwise, in East and West alike, would never have known it. It was through the Roman town -- the civitas, the city, that is, and the surrounding countryside attached to it -- that this work of civilisation was accomplished. For the city was no mere agglomeration of buildings, its population nothing more than the association of a few thousand or a hundred thousand individuals. The Roman towns were, as far as the thing was possible within the structure of the Empire, city-states, conscious of their existence as such, each with its own personality, centres of strong local patriotism and self-confidence  In varying degrees the towns were all of them self-governing, independent of the central government’s bureaucracy except for certain taxes and the provision of recruits for the army. From this point of view the Empire was a vast federation of self-governing cities. The constitution of this local state varied according to its charter. There was provision always for magistrates who acted as judges, settled the local taxes and collected them, saw to the upkeep of roads and the post. The magistrates were elected, as was also the city’s senate; and the elections were realities. There was, finally, in the city, the popular assembly; year by year representatives of all the cities of a province met at the provincial capital for the solemn rites with which the Emperor and the Genius of Rome were worshipped.
This Provincial Assembly also came in time to have a political importance. It became, for example, the organ through which complaints were made to the emperor. For the centre of the empire, its ruler, was the city of Rome, still in theory a republic of which the emperor was but the chief magistrate. When after a century of terrible civil wars -- Marius, Sulla, Pompey, Julius Caesar, Antony -- the victory of Actium (31 B.C.) left Caesar’s nephew, Octavian, sole master of the Roman world, he was able to build on the ruins of the old republic, where an aristocratic senate had been omnipotent, a new state. The form of the old he carefully preserved, but the reality was the rule of a military chief, an autocrat obeyed by virtue of personal oath of allegiance. The basis of his power was his victorious army, and thence derived one of the empire’s great problems: how to keep this army of professional long-service volunteers, who yet were citizens, from interfering in political life for its own profit. Here the personality of the reigning emperor mattered enormously, and while Augustus’ first successor Tiberius (14-37) succeeded as Augustus himself had done, five emperors, within sixty years of the death of Augustus, had died violently at the hands of the troops and civil war had revived again (68-69). There followed a century of capable rulers -- Vespasian to Marcus Aurelius (69-180), and then in 192 the army, increasingly out of hand, brought about another century of civil wars and finally a reorganisation of the Imperium, under Diocletian and Constantine, that made it a new thing. It is this Empire of the Antonines, either functioning (98-180), or in dissolution (180-284), that is the political background of primitive Christianity.
But the emperor was much more than the chief magistrate of the republic, omnipotent because he commanded an army that was bound to him by personal ties. He was the direct ruler of many of the provinces -- Egypt, one of the wealthiest, was practically a vast imperial estate. There had thus grown up inevitably a great corps of the emperor’s personal servants, paid to watch over his personal and imperial interests throughout the provinces -- to gather monies due to him, to administer his properties, to safeguard his interests in the multitude of cities against distant local rapacity or indifference, to execute his decrees and to see that others observed his laws. Here was a whole superstructure of offices and officials, concerned principally with Finance and Law, and of this, as well as of the army, the emperor was the absolute chief. The chief authors of this system were Claudius (41-54), Vespasian (69-78), and Hadrian (117-138). Inevitably, with the passing years, the importance of this imperial bureaucracy grew. Duties of supervising local government were laid upon it, and in the end the local elective governments came to be of secondary importance beside the paid, Rome-appointed official. In somewhat similar fashion the Law too developed, the emperor being omni-competent and his decisions becoming a source of law, judicial and administrative. When to this is added the development of the religious cultus of the emperor it will be easily understood how by the fourth century the Roman Emperor had become an absolute monarch of the pre-classical, oriental type.
The Roman Empire was not merely one politically, it was one also in culture; and this second unity outlasted the first, survived indeed to be a main foundation of all subsequent culture, to influence the Church in no small degree, sometimes aiding, sometimes hindering the development of her institutions, her expansion and her very doctrines. Politically the Empire was Roman; culturally it was, not Greek, but Hellenistic.
This Hellenistic Culture was the product of the political conquest of the East by the Macedonian king, Alexander the Great (336-323 B.C.).
The Macedonians, though the language they spoke was undoubtedly a Greek dialect, and though they were probably Greeks by blood, were none the less reckoned barbarians by the Greeks of the classic culture. The Macedonian conquest of the East was therefore, from its beginning, a victory for a “Grecianism” that had never been purely classical, for a culture almost entirely Greek but a culture already mixed, and ready therefore to adapt itself to other cultures. The opportunity came with Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire.
Persia had menaced the Greek civilisation -- that is, roughly, all that we know as “the East,” had seemed bound inevitably to replace in the West all that we know as “the West” -- for a century and a half already when Alexander became king, 336 B.C. The lack of unity among the Greek city-states, the wars between them -- the long Peloponnesian War 431-403 B.C. -- were an eternal invitation to Persian aggression. To defend the West against this, unity was essential; and to unite Greece in a league directed by himself was the aim of Philip of Macedon (360-336). By 337 he had accomplished it. The following year, however, he was assassinated, and it was Philip’s son, Alexander, who led the alliance to victory. The story of his conquests reads like a fairy tale, Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Persia itself, and even beyond the Indus -- in thirteen years he was master of the world from the Himalayas to the Adriatic. Then, unexpectedly, he died, thirty-three years of age.
That his Empire should descend intact to his baby son was not to be expected. It became, naturally, the much-disputed spoil of his leading generals, and thus Macedonian dynasties were established in Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt -- the only parts of the conquest that concern this story. These original dynasties vanished, the kingdoms were divided still further. From Syria were formed Armenia, Cappadocia, Pontus and Bithynia within a hundred and fifty years. The Celts came in (278 B.C.) and established themselves in Galatia, while the impotent Seleucid kings looked on from Antioch, and in self-defence against the invaders the natives established the Kingdom of Pergamum. Finally into Persia itself came the Parthians, “the Turks of Antiquity,” destined to harass and wear down the Roman Empire for centuries. Thus, with Greek or Macedonian dynasties ruling, the hellenising of the East was only a matter of time. By the time of the Roman Conquest it was largely accomplished, and thenceforward Rome is the agent of Hellenism’s expansion in the West.
Alexander had dreamed of a real union of all the races he conquered, their fusion into one new people. He had planned the administration of his Empire on this principle and had himself married a Persian. This fusion of Europe and Asia on a basis of Greek culture, Hellenism did not achieve; nor did it ever make Greeks of the Orientals. Nevertheless it transformed the East for centuries, and for this transformation the chief credit once more is Alexander’s. He promised to be as great a ruler as he had been a general in the field. His conquests he welcomed as enlarging the scope and opportunity for the development of the Greek mind, the spread of Greek ideas and ideals of life, of the Greek scientific achievement. Aristotle had been his tutor and the cultural sequel to his conquest was natural. He was the world’s great city founder, and the seventy which claim him as their founder were all of them Greek in form and spirit, so many active centres whence diffused Greek thought and life. Alexander’s successors were, in this respect, his enthusiastic imitators. A vast scheme of colonisation went with the foundations, and soon the East was filled with Greek traders, Greek artisans, Greeks to organise and exploit native talent, native industry, and especially land. The superiority of Greek methods and policies whether in diplomacy, in politics, or in the exploitation of natural resources, brought a new age of prosperity and peace to the East -- to the profit indeed principally of the Greeks. The East -- Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt -- became one vast market, Greek controlled.
At the head of this new hellenised world were the Greek rulers, secure because conquerors, and more stable still because they inherited, for their native subjects, the divinity acknowledged in the native kings they had dispossessed. Between these Greek rulers and their native subjects there grew up a new, extensive and wealthy middle class of commercials, industrials and middle men of all kinds. This class again was almost entirely Greek. The centres of its wealth were the hellenised towns; and the natives, dispossessed, were bound to the soil, a despised and impoverished class. Between the town and the country, drained for its advantage, here was inevitably a chronic hostility, and an allied hostility between natives and foreigners. The new social and political strain gave to the old native religions a new importance -- they were the one means left for the corporate expression of “national” feeling. Of all these countries Egypt affords the best example of this oppression, for in Egypt the government owned and controlled everything -- agriculture, industry, trade. The country was one vast royal estate, its people the ruler’s slaves or serfs.