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In the following article an account is given of Christianity as a religion, describing its origin, its relation to other religions, its essential nature and chief characteristics, but not dealing with its doctrines in detail nor its history as a visible organization.These and other aspects of this great subject will receive treatment under separate titles.
But a much more marked predisposition to Christianity may be noticed in certain prominent features of the Roman religion after the downfall of the republic. In their stead Greek philosophy occupied the minds of the cultured, whilst the populace were attracted by a variety of strange cults imported from Egypt and the East.Whatever their corruption, these new religions, concentrating worship on a single prominent deity, were monotheistic in effect.Moreover, many of them were characterized by rites of expiation and sacrifice, which familiarized men's minds with the idea of a mediatorial religion.The Gospels, Acts, and most of the Epistles are recognized as belonging to the Apostolic Age. of Clement and Ignatius ) cannot fail to see what a fullness of traditions, topics of preaching, doctrines, and forms of organization already existed in the time of Trajan (A. 98-117), and in particular churches had reached permanence" (Chronologie der altchristlichen Literature, Bk. For clearness' sake we shall arrange the subject under the following chief heads: I. Christianity is the name given to that definite system of religious belief and practice which was taught by Jesus Christ in the country of Palestine, during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius, and was promulgated, after its Founder's death, for the acceptance of the whole world, by certain chosen men among His followers."The oldest literature of the Church ", says Professor Harnack, "is, in the main points and in most of its details, from the point of view of literary history, veracious and trustworthy . ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY AND ITS RELATION WITH OTHER RELIGIONS; II. According to the accepted chronology, these began their mission on the day of Pentecost, A. 29, which day is regarded, accordingly, as the birthday of the Christian Church .