77 votes
Accepted

Why does the amount of days in an year on average of the Gregorian calendar only have 4 decimal places (365.2425)?

Why? Because there was no point. First, according to more modern astronomical measurements, the current length of the year is closer to about 365.2422 days, so they would've been relatively less ...
Gort the Robot's user avatar
70 votes
Accepted

Why was the Council of Nicea held in Nicea rather than Rome or Constantinople?

The First Council of Nicaea was held in 325, five years before Constantinople would be founded. At the time, the capital of the Eastern Empire was Nicomedia, which Constantine conquered in 324. The ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.6k
51 votes
Accepted

What is the pre-schism Christian church called today?

This is incredibly complicated and almost always misleading. For example, in many countries the Catholic Church is called strictly the Roman-Catholic church. The higher up members of that community ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
47 votes

Could someone who had joined a monastery decide to leave?

In principle, they were not supposed to leave their order because they took a vow for life. In practice, some did leave, and some were subsequently readmitted. However, the time period covered here is ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
32 votes
Accepted

Was Hagia Sophia built over a pagan temple?

Going beyond E.B. or Wikipedia: The official website of the Hagia Sophia Museum (at its former domain, link now dead) stated The first church [at the H.S. site] was constructed by Emperor Konstantios ...
Marakai's user avatar
  • 2,476
30 votes

What is the pre-schism Christian church called today?

First of all, @LangLangC's answer is excellent. I intend only to expand on it. The unified Eastern (Greek-speaking) and Western (Latin-speak) churches called themselves "orthodox" as opposed to the ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 7,724
26 votes

Do historians support the existence of brothers to Jesus?

Historians quite widely agree that there very probably was a historical person called Jesus. They do agree that this person provided the blueprint or projection space for the belief that centered on ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

Constantine the Great created the Chi-Rho from the Greek word for "Christ". Why choose Greek over Latin, even though he was Roman?

The short answer is that Constantine didn't create the Chi-Rho Christogram. There is evidence that it was already being used before Constantine, but he certainly raised the symbol's prominence after ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
25 votes
Accepted

Were lay people ever forbidden to read the Bible in the Christian world?

This question suffers under a couple of misapprehensions I think. The first one is that there's a single unitary "The Bible" out there somewhere. What we have is translations drawn from ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
24 votes
Accepted

Did the Roman Empire have penal colonies?

It seems that the term "penal colony" would be evoking quite modern, if not 'Australian', imagery. When we look at Roman sources, not that much springs to mind. True: They frequently sent ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
20 votes

Why does the amount of days in an year on average of the Gregorian calendar only have 4 decimal places (365.2425)?

The Gregorian Calendar was introduced (to the Catholic World) in 1582, the result of preparation over the preceding five or so years. However the popularization of decimal fractions would wait another ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Did any contemporary sources write about Jesus?

No, nobody did. Despite the fact that literacy was relatively high amongst the Jews at that time. And we have several historians living there or in the area in those days. Jesus was mentioned outside ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 22k
18 votes

How did Christianity replace Roman Paganism and other ancient religions?

A major underlying factor to keep in mind is that Christianity is monotheistic. Christianity flatly admits no god besides its own; Pagans were accustomed to a great multitude of (often local) deities ...
Semaphore's user avatar
  • 97.6k
18 votes

What was the reason Jesus allowed Christians to eat pork?

Jews and Pigs We don't really know. The problem with this one is that lots of people have plausible-sounding reasons for the prohibition. Lots of people have implausible-sounding reasons for this too. ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
16 votes

After Jesus was executed what became of Pontius Pilate

The best and most accessible recent historical account I know of for the historical Pilate is Reza Aslan's Zealot*. Here's a portion of what he wrote near the beginning of Chapter 5 of Pilate's story ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
16 votes

Why does some Califate money feature crosses?

The top picture is quite obviously a coin with a crude depiction of a seventh century "byzantine" emperor holding a globe with a cross on top. The early Muslim coins issued in former Roman ...
MAGolding's user avatar
  • 19.3k
15 votes

Why didn’t Christianity spread southwards from Ethiopia in the Middle Ages?

There wasn't anything for it to spread south to. OK, there is one exception that Mr. de Bernardy pointed out in the comments. Somalia is south of Ethiopia (when it wasn't part of its empire), and ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
15 votes

Was it illegal to blaspheme God in Antioch in 360.-410.?

Well, if we can change venue to Alexandria, which was a Roman city in Egypt with roughly similar standing to Antioch (they both housed a Christian Patriarch), and roll the date forward by only 5 years,...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
15 votes

Could someone who had joined a monastery decide to leave?

"Decide to leave" was always an option to consider. And one could do that, of course. Just do that. But it seems the question is more about the obstacles and costs that may be associated ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
15 votes
Accepted

Was reincarnation part of the early Christian church?

I'll ignore the additional questions and focus on the headline / question #1. When it comes to the basic historical facts (as opposed to the interpretation of theological fragments) there isn't ...
Brian Z's user avatar
  • 20.8k
14 votes
Accepted

Was Saint Patrick an abolitionist?

He was himself an escaped slave, so at the very least we know he was in favor of abolition of slavery in that one case. We actually only have two writings from St. Patrick himself. Most of our ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
  • 119k
14 votes

What was the death toll during the Inquisition?

Getting accurate numbers is going to be problematic. Firstly, as you might expect, not all the records have survived. Secondly, a large number of those who were killed were never recorded in the ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
13 votes

Are these remarks by Napoleon on Jesus genuine?

My hesitant conclusion, made firmer by reading the answers above, is that they are in essence genuine remarks. Though what you quote is an amalgam of three sayings from the same passage assembled ...
ThomasSeidler's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

Who does Irenaeus call "a certain person among the ancients"?

Irenaeus doesn't say and he doesn't give any hint. Unfortunately, that question couldn't be answered by several other experts in the field: It is unclear to whom Irenaeus is here referring. — M. C. ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
13 votes

Why can't the gospel of Mark be as late as 110 CE?

The question needs a couple of frame challenges. Dating solutions for the gospel of Mark do range from ~40s–140s. It is correct to say that the most common/popular/conventional dating would put Mark ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
12 votes
Accepted

How/when did the halo shift from being a solid disk behind the head to being a floating ring above the head?

There wasn't a sudden change from one to the other and ring halos above the head appeared in art from time to time over several centuries. What happened first was that the traditional halo went into ...
bonzo-lz's user avatar
  • 1,304
11 votes

After Jesus was executed what became of Pontius Pilate

Very little is known about this Roman soldier who became the fifth Prefect of Judaea between 26 and 36 A.D., serving under Emperor Tiberius. Philo of Alexandria, Josephus and Tacitus mention him in ...
Lesley's user avatar
  • 427
11 votes

Why did Christianity disappear in North-Western Africa?

The decline of Christianity in the Maghreb is related to the Arab conquest and the rule of Muslim governors. An important step in that decline was the rule of Almoravids and Almohads, under which most ...
Pere's user avatar
  • 3,871
11 votes

Did any contemporary sources write about Jesus?

None that we know of. And actually Jesus wasn't unique in that regard. There were a lot of ancient figures who we know existed, but nearly everything we have written about them was from after their ...
Eric Naylor's user avatar

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