An Ideological History Of Early Christianity

by Isaac

I submitted an epically-long (6000+ words) post to an intellectual website (now offline) on the topic of Christianity in Ancient Rome. It was very interesting to research and to write about — I love mentally vacationing in the ancient world, and the story turned out to have many twists I wasn’t previously aware of.

Jerusalem and the surrounding province of Judaea have been part of the Roman Empire for over 90 years. For the Jews, though, the Romans are merely the latest empire in a long series of foreign rulers. The bones of Egyptian, Assyrian, Babylonian and Persian conquerors lie buried beneath the ground upon which the Roman legionaries now walk.

Over two centuries prior to the Roman conquest, Alexander the Great had led an army of Greek hoplites southward down the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, taking Judaea — then known as the Persian province of Yehud — on his way to conquer Egypt, where he celebrated his victory by founding a city in his own name. By AD 33, Alexandria has grown to become the second largest city in the Roman Empire and, with its famous libraries and schools of Greek philosophy, a major cultural and intellectual centre. It’s a true cosmopolis: a world city.

I’d been intending to make this the first in a series on ideas and ideologies, and was going to look next at the Republic of Letters (the international intellectual community which kick-started the Enlightenment) and then maybe something about government manipulation of information online. Basically, trying to improve my own understanding of how ideas spread and were controlled throughout history, but not looking in huge detail at the ideas themselves. I’ve ended up changing direction, though, looking at some of the actual figures of the Enlightenment: the Kant-Hegel-Marx connection in particular seems like something very important to understand.