Another issue is that several books are considered to be forgeries. The injunction that women "be silent and submissive" in 1 Timothy 2  is thought by many to be a forgery by a follower of Paul, a similar phrase in 1 Corinthians 14,  which is thought to be by Paul, appears in different places in different manuscripts and is thought to originally be a margin note by a copyist.
A final issue with the Bible is the way in which books were selected for inclusion in the New Testament. Other gospels have now been recovered, such as those found near Nag Hammadi in , and while some of these texts are quite different from what Christians have been used to, it should be understood that some of this newly recovered Gospel material is quite possibly contemporaneous with, or even earlier than, the New Testament Gospels.
The core of the Gospel of Thomas , in particular, may date from as early as AD 50 although some major scholars contest this early dating ,  and if so would provide an insight into the earliest gospel texts that underlie the canonical Gospels, texts that are mentioned in Luke —2. The Gospel of Thomas contains much that is familiar from the canonical Gospels—verse , for example "The Father's Kingdom is spread out upon the earth, but people do not see it" ,  is reminiscent of Luke —21   —and the Gospel of John , with a terminology and approach that is suggestive of what was later termed Gnosticism , has recently been seen as a possible response to the Gospel of Thomas, a text that is commonly labelled proto-Gnostic.
Scholarship, then, is currently exploring the relationship in the Early Church between mystical speculation and experience on the one hand and the search for church order on the other, by analyzing new-found texts, by subjecting canonical texts to further scrutiny, and by an examination of the passage of New Testament texts to canonical status.
In antiquity, two schools of exegesis developed in Alexandria and Antioch. The Alexandrian interpretation, exemplified by Origen , tended to read Scripture allegorically , while the Antiochene interpretation adhered to the literal sense, holding that other meanings called theoria could only be accepted if based on the literal meaning. Catholic theology distinguishes two senses of scripture: the literal and the spiritual. The literal sense of understanding scripture is the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture. The spiritual sense is further subdivided into:. Regarding exegesis , following the rules of sound interpretation, Catholic theology holds:.
Protestant Christians believe that the Bible is a self-sufficient revelation, the final authority on all Christian doctrine, and revealed all truth necessary for salvation. This concept is known as sola scriptura. Martin Luther believed that without God's help, Scripture would be "enveloped in darkness".
Protestants stress the meaning conveyed by the words of Scripture, the historical-grammatical method. The significance of the text includes the ensuing use of the text or application. The original passage is seen as having only a single meaning or sense. As Milton S. Terry said: "A fundamental principle in grammatico-historical exposition is that the words and sentences can have but one significance in one and the same connection.
The moment we neglect this principle we drift out upon a sea of uncertainty and conjecture. Taken together, both define the term Biblical hermeneutics. Some Protestant interpreters make use of typology. They had known Jesus, and, according to Paul, the arisen Christ had first appeared to James and Peter. Jewish Christianity soon attracted Gentile God-fearers , posing a problem for its Jewish religious outlook, which insisted on close observance of the Jewish commands.
Paul the Apostle solved this by insisting that salvation by faith in Christ , and participation in His death and resurrection, sufficed. At first he persecuted the early Christians, but after a conversion experience he preached to the gentiles , and is regarded as having had a formative effect on the emerging Christian identity as separate from Judaism.
Eventually, his departure from Jewish customs would result in the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. This formative period was followed by the early bishops , whom Christians consider the successors of Christ's apostles. From the year , Christian teachers began to produce theological and apologetic works aimed at defending the faith.
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These authors are known as the Church Fathers , and the study of them is called patristics. According to the New Testament , Christians were from the beginning, subject to persecution by some Jewish and Roman religious authorities. This involved punishments, including death, for Christians such as Stephen [Acts ] and James, son of Zebedee.
Christianity spread to Aramaic -speaking peoples along the Mediterranean coast and also to the inland parts of the Roman Empire and beyond that into the Parthian Empire and the later Sasanian Empire , including Mesopotamia , which was dominated at different times and to varying extents by these empires. Mark the Evangelist is claimed to have started the Church of Alexandria in about 43 CE; various later churches claim this as their own legacy, including the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Constantine I was exposed to Christianity in his youth, and throughout his life his support for the religion grew, culminating in baptism on his deathbed. At that point, Christianity was still a minority belief, comprising perhaps only five percent of the Roman population. Constantine was also instrumental in the convocation of the First Council of Nicaea in , which sought to address Arianism and formulated the Nicene Creed , which is still used by the Catholic Church , Eastern Orthodoxy , Anglican Communion , and many Protestant churches. In terms of prosperity and cultural life, the Byzantine Empire was one of the peaks in Christian history and Christian civilization ,  and Constantinople remained the leading city of the Christian world in size, wealth, and culture.
With the decline and fall of the Roman Empire in the West , the papacy became a political player, first visible in Pope Leo 's diplomatic dealings with Huns and Vandals. While Arianists instituted the death penalty for practicing pagans see the Massacre of Verden , for example , what would later become Catholicism also spread among the Hungarians , the Germanic ,  the Celtic , the Baltic and some Slavic peoples. Around , St.
Benedict set out his Monastic Rule , establishing a system of regulations for the foundation and running of monasteries. In the 7th century, Muslims conquered Syria including Jerusalem , North Africa, and Spain, converting some of the Christian population to Islam , and placing the rest under a separate legal status. Part of the Muslims' success was due to the exhaustion of the Byzantine Empire in its decades long conflict with Persia. The Middle Ages brought about major changes within the church. Pope Gregory the Great dramatically reformed the ecclesiastical structure and administration.
The Second Ecumenical Council of Nicaea finally pronounced in favor of icons. Previously, higher education had been the domain of Christian cathedral schools or monastic schools Scholae monasticae , led by monks and nuns. Accompanying the rise of the "new towns" throughout Europe, mendicant orders were founded, bringing the consecrated religious life out of the monastery and into the new urban setting.
The two principal mendicant movements were the Franciscans  and the Dominicans ,  founded by St. Francis and St. Dominic , respectively.
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Both orders made significant contributions to the development of the great universities of Europe. Another new order was the Cistercians , whose large isolated monasteries spearheaded the settlement of former wilderness areas. In this period, church building and ecclesiastical architecture reached new heights, culminating in the orders of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and the building of the great European cathedrals.
From under the pontificate of Urban II , the Crusades were launched.
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The Crusades ultimately failed to stifle Islamic aggression and even contributed to Christian enmity with the sacking of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade. The two sides disagreed on a number of administrative, liturgical and doctrinal issues, most notably papal primacy of jurisdiction. However, the Catholic Church has achieved union with various smaller eastern churches.
In the thirteenth century, a new emphasis on Jesus' suffering, exemplified by the Franciscans' preaching, had the consequence of turning worshippers' attention towards Jews, on whom Christians had placed the blame for Jesus' death. Christianity's limited tolerance of Jews was not new—Augustine of Hippo said that Jews should not be allowed to enjoy the citizenship that Christians took for granted—but the growing antipathy towards Jews was a factor that led to the expulsion of Jews from England in , the first of many such expulsions in Europe.
Beginning around , following the crusade against Cathar heresy,  various institutions, broadly referred to as the Inquisition , were established with the aim of suppressing heresy and securing religious and doctrinal unity within Christianity through conversion and prosecution. The 15th-century Renaissance brought about a renewed interest in ancient and classical learning. During the Reformation , Martin Luther posted the Ninety-five Theses against the sale of indulgences.
In the Edict of Worms condemned and excommunicated Luther and his followers, resulting in the schism of the Western Christendom into several branches. Other reformers like Zwingli , Oecolampadius , Calvin , Knox , and Arminius further criticized Catholic teaching and worship. These challenges developed into the movement called Protestantism , which repudiated the primacy of the pope , the role of tradition, the seven sacraments , and other doctrines and practices.
Beginning in , the monasteries throughout England, Wales and Ireland were dissolved. Their activity brought about the Radical Reformation , which gave birth to various Anabaptist denominations. Partly in response to the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic Church engaged in a substantial process of reform and renewal, known as the Counter-Reformation or Catholic Reform. During the following centuries, competition between Catholicism and Protestantism became deeply entangled with political struggles among European states.
Meanwhile, the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in brought about a new wave of missionary activity.
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Partly from missionary zeal, but under the impetus of colonial expansion by the European powers, Christianity spread to the Americas, Oceania, East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout Europe, the division caused by the Reformation led to outbreaks of religious violence and the establishment of separate state churches in Europe. Lutheranism spread into the northern, central, and eastern parts of present-day Germany, Livonia , and Scandinavia.
Anglicanism was established in England in Calvinism and its varieties, such as Presbyterianism , were introduced in Scotland, the Netherlands, Hungary, Switzerland, and France. Arminianism gained followers in the Netherlands and Frisia. Ultimately, these differences led to the outbreak of conflicts in which religion played a key factor. These events intensified the Christian debate on persecution and toleration. In the era known as the Great Divergence , when in the West, the Age of Enlightenment and the scientific revolution brought about great societal changes, Christianity was confronted with various forms of skepticism and with certain modern political ideologies , such as versions of socialism and liberalism.
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Especially pressing in Europe was the formation of nation states after the Napoleonic era. In all European countries, different Christian denominations found themselves in competition to greater or lesser extents with each other and with the state. Variables were the relative sizes of the denominations and the religious, political, and ideological orientation of the states. Urs Altermatt of the University of Fribourg , looking specifically at Catholicism in Europe, identifies four models for the European nations.
In traditionally Catholic-majority countries such as Belgium, Spain, and Austria, to some extent, religious and national communities are more or less identical.
Cultural symbiosis and separation are found in Poland, the Republic of Ireland, and Switzerland, all countries with competing denominations. Competition is found in Germany, the Netherlands, and again Switzerland, all countries with minority Catholic populations, which to a greater or lesser extent identified with the nation. Finally, separation between religion again, specifically Catholicism and the state is found to a great degree in France and Italy, countries where the state actively opposed itself to the authority of the Catholic Church. The combined factors of the formation of nation states and ultramontanism , especially in Germany and the Netherlands, but also in England to a much lesser extent,  often forced Catholic churches, organizations, and believers to choose between the national demands of the state and the authority of the Church, specifically the papacy.
This conflict came to a head in the First Vatican Council , and in Germany would lead directly to the Kulturkampf , where liberals and Protestants under the leadership of Bismarck managed to severely restrict Catholic expression and organization. Christian commitment in Europe dropped as modernity and secularism came into their own,  particularly in the Czech Republic and Estonia ,  while religious commitments in America have been generally high in comparison to Europe.
With around 2. This masks a major shift in the demographics of Christianity; large increases in the developing world have been accompanied by substantial declines in the developed world, mainly in Europe and North America. As a percentage of Christians, the Catholic Church and Orthodoxy both Eastern and Oriental are declining in parts of the world though Catholicism is growing in Asia, in Africa, vibrant in Eastern Europe, etc.
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