THE SHAPING OF CLASSICAL CHRISTIANITY & THE FLOWERING OF
During the first millennium and a half the
classical Christian tradition developed its distinctive ritual,
church structures, and theology. What had begun as a Jewish
sectarian movement in Palestine moved into the wider world of the
Roman Empire, combining aspects of Judaism and Greco-Roman culture.
That was the first great
cultural amalgam. In the fourth century, in one of the great
ironies of history, Christianity became the established religion of
the Empire that had executed Jesus and persecuted his followers.
Christendom was founded on that irony.
cultural amalgam occurred during the last 500 years of the
first millennium; the conversion of Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, and
other peoples produced a synthesis of classical Greco-Roman
civilization and the invading cultures. That synthesis
shaped medieval Christianity. From the beginning, the
Christian tradition has been multi-cultural. Judaism
and Greco-Roman Culture produced classical Christianity; classical
Christianity and “barbarian” cultures [Celtic, Germanic and
Slavic] produced medieval Christianity.
the social, cultural and political embodiment of Christianity,
although preserving the ideal of a unified Roman Empire,
developed into distinct Latin and Greek traditions. Between
1000 and 1500 the schism was completed and the two cultural
traditions of Christendom were established, one centered in the old
Rome and the other in the new Rome, Constantinople.
In the first 500 years of the second
millennium the Western and Eastern variations of classical
Christianity and Christendom came into full flower, shaping the
development of western civilization up to the modern period.