How did a small movement of Jewish fanatics, devastated by the ignominious demise of their leader, rise to become the official state religion of the Roman empire, Armenia, Georgia, and Ethiopia? We trace the dramatic rise of the new faith through three centuries of preaching, prophesy, and persecution.
Also see all 8 episodes On the History of Christianity
Image: fresco of a woman at the 3rd-century house-church of Dura-Europos.
Suggested reading: E. Glenn Hinson, “The Early Church”
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Things You Don’t Know
Did Columbus really think that he was going to reach Asia?
What little do we actually know about Shakespeare, the person?
Why is it misleading to apply the word “religion” to Judaism and Hinduism?
How did Tisquantum (popularly known as Squanto) already know how to speak English before the Pilgrims had ever arrived?
Ever heard that Florida has no history? Dr. Sam wants you to know how incorrect that common perception actually is…
How did so much of the Epic of Gilgamesh remain hidden and forgotten – but preserved – for over 2,000 years until being rediscovered in modern times?
What did Netflix’s movie “The Dig” miss about the most dramatic part of the whole Sutton Hoo discovery?
What does the English Civil War of the 1640s tell us about the American Civil War, and about the present?
How is the growing field of genetics being used to both tear down and reinforce the myth of ‘Race’ today?
Who were the Freemasons of the 1700s? How did they grow from a local Scottish fraternity to a global network?
How can one mid-sized U.S. city – Tulsa, Oklahoma – serve as a microcosm of so much of the triumphalism and tragedy of American history?
Why can no one agree on what “capitalism” actually is? And why does a lack of clear definition call into question so many other myths of the modern world?
How – and why – did universities begin in the Middle Ages, long before the scientific revolution and the “Enlightenment”?
Was there really an Exodus from Egypt like the one described in the Bible?
How did accusing people of witchcraft further several political agendas of the time?
How did mountains on the Moon help bring about an end to the Earth-centric view of the universe?
Why did every Renaissance-era ruler in Europe have a court astrologer?
Does a single coin prove that Vikings came all the way to what’s now the United States?
Why is the dramatic 2019 fire at Paris’ Notre Dame actually a common occurrence for cathedrals around Europe?
Why don’t US citizens directly elect their President? Or have a more proportional Senate?
How might a series of volcanic eruptions in the Americas have spurred the earliest Viking raids and the creation of the myth of Ragnarok in Scandinavia, halfway around the world?
Are people really becoming less religious than they used to be?
What did followers of the ancient and secretive branch of Christianity, Gnosticism, actually believe?
How did changes in the climate in the 1600s lead people to think they were living in the Apocalypse? How did this help spur the creation of institutions and forces that still shape the world today?
Could all of British history have turned out differently if the winds on the English channel had shifted direction on just one day in 1066?