68

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 Emperor resided there until he refounded Byzantium as his namesake. Nicaea was a nearby resort town, and hosted an imperial palace - a suitable convention venue. ...


59

First, the easier part on Christianity. As the other reply says, the British were (mostly) unwilling to convert Indians in order to avoid inflaming local religious sentiments. In fact, the British were so cautious on this that they would probably even tolerated the practices of sati and child marriage had some Indian reformers (such as Ram Mohan Roy) not ...


59

Only two US presidents haven't self-described themselves as being Christians to date: Lincoln (whose case is murky) and Jefferson (who rejected the idea of the divinity of Jesus and became a deist later in life). [Edit: but see JMS's better answer, as it has more specific details and things appear murkier still.] If you scan through the linked list, you'll ...


57

Question: Has the United States ever had a non-Christian President? Short Answer: Roughly 18% - 25% of all American Presidents were "non- Christian". Or stated another way, arguable the United States did not have a Christian President until the eigth President Martin Van Buren who was Dutch reformed. I say arguable because three ...


49

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 that acknowledges the papal supremacy call their own organisation most often just "the church". In that they are sharing this endonym with most other sects of ...


39

Indeed, the idea that educated people in the middle ages thought the earth was flat is a myth. It was well known to have been round since well before Christ. Many early maps represent a round earth with edges covered by a sea. It is quite possible that the earliest of these actually are meant to represent a flat earth, but that's 6th century BC. Of course,...


34

Religion is a great cultural differentiator. People have been killing each other for many millenia, with a preference for targeting other people who belong to a distinct "culture", a rather loose term. From the outside, the god(s) people worship are quite easy to work out; if they are not the same as yours, then these people are "foreigners". Historically, ...


33

Most of the information I have found indicates that the Arab Christians were caught in the crossfire between the Muslims and the Christian Crusaders. In fact, they were often slaughtered along with the Muslims. Most likely this was because the Crusaders did not want to risk being infiltrated by Muslims posing as Christians. Ironically, the Crusades ...


28

Thomas Pornin's answer is very good answer to the question of "Can we know anything about Jesus?" But since your question was technically "What do we know about Jesus?", I thought I'd add a few facts about Jesus that the majority of secular and religious historians alike agree upon. Jesus existed Virtually no serious historian believes that Jesus never ...


27

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 many heresies (like Arianism). They also called themselves "catholic" -- universal. They were united in religion, but administratively united only in theory, as ...


26

Tokugawa Ieyasu banned it in 1614 for one. You would be killed for being a practicing Christian up until the Meiji restoration. Think about it like this. You've got Europeans coming in. They are seen as a direct threat[1] to your power base built on the divine authority of the God Emperor and the Shogun, his personal representative. The Buddhists don't claim ...


25

No, residual paganism was not a factor in Hitler's rise to power. As far as anyone can say, that is. This theory you reference posits that the German people claimed to be Christian, yet practiced secret worship "in the dark" to pagan gods. No one can prove that no German ever worshipped a pagan god in secret. But we can say this much: Christianity was ...


25

Time and again India has seen some reformers who revolutionize the thoughts of the masses. When Buddhism was in full force in India, Adi Shankara was born to revive Hinduism. During the Mughal Period, Tulsidas, Surdas and others deeply imposed the faith of Hindus in God. Tulsidas wrote Ram Charitra Manas whereas Surdas composed many devotional songs about ...


25

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 and around him. A belief that was a Jewish sect during his lifetime and later slowly forming into what we know today as Christianity. I wrote "widely" as there ...


23

It's because Hindusim is not a religion at all.Even if it is now considered as a major religion in India, it is having features of a culture more than a religion. The term "Hinduism" was coined recently. The culture in India is known as "Sanathana Dharama", which means "eternal dharma" or "eternal order". Actually it is a culture passed by ancient rishis ...


23

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 people into exile, often to islands. That sounds more like Napoleon on Elba or St. Helena, compared to what a "penal colony" would describe now. And even that is ...


22

I can go into further details if requested, but "TL;DR" answer is: After Luther agitated that "Jews didn't convert to Christianity because Catholics treated them badly, and would convert if you treat them better", Jews still didn't show any great willingness to convert. Here's one supporting quote (context was Luther's refusal to intercede on Jews's ...


22

Going beyond E.B. or Wikipedia: The official website of the Hagia Sophia Museum states The first church [at the H.S. site] was constructed by Emperor Konstantios [i.e. Constantine's son] (337-361) in 360. The first church was covered with a wooden roof and expanded vertically (basilica) yet was burned down after the public riot that took place in 404 ...


21

Jack Weatherford's "History of Money" on page 60 states, if the emperor could not obtain much property from the Christians, then he needed to target a wealthier group from whom to confiscate property. Constantine found that wealth in the many well-endowed pagan temples throughout his empire. Unable to finance his administration from taxation and ...


20

There is no credible evidence that the apostle James ever visited Ireland. According to Acts 12:1-22, James was beheaded in Jerusalem by Herod Agrippa, with no indication that he had traveled. Acts does include passages about other apostles' travels--most notably Paul, but also Philip in Samaria and Peter in Caesarea. The fourth century church historian ...


20

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 the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312AD. Most of the early Christian texts were written in Greek, and Greek actually continued as the language of the eastern ...


17

The Religion Factor To understand this, you have to understand Hinduism. Let me take up my own case- a Kokanast Maharashtrian Brahman. This is a sub-caste. The point of interest to us here is the amazing similarity in diversity in India. Hinduism (Sanaatan Dharm) is an individual, a highly individual religion. it is common to have the Father ...


17

Celibacy was part of the Church's identity, as well as a strategy for keeping wealth within the Church. The American historian and Vanderbilt Professor Katherine Crawford writes that: Celibacy set the clergy apart, and instantiated patristic suspicions about sexuality as weakness and distraction from God within the moral architecture of the Church. The ...


16

At the moment of his election (1641), it seems that Mazarin was in minor orders - so called "lay cardinal". After that, there seems to be little consensus and pretty much no primary sources, but if anything, he was a cardinal-priest. By the process of elimination, he was a cardinal-priest: He was definitely not a cardinal-deacon. From "The Cardinals of the ...


16

The question asked seems to presuppose that the Ottoman empire was a source of intellectual and technological progress in the Middle Ages and explicitly states that the Christian religion hindered intellectual progress in the West. This looks wrong to me on all counts. Turkish power only rose in the 14th century, at the very end of the Middle Ages, and the ...


16

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 after the Crucifixion of Jesus: Three years after that, in 36 C.E., a messiah known only as "the Samaritan" gathered a group of followers atop Mount ...


15

The Jewish calendar is in year 5774 (between September of 2013 and October of 2014, it's a leap year), so the "Jewish civilization" is not in 2014. The state of Israel, which is really the only official body to recognize the Jewish calendar, determines all of its holidays and memorial days on the basis of the Jewsih calendar. However, all of the civil dates ...


15

Translation of Qu'ran was always problematic question in Islamic theology. In Islamic world there is doctrine called I'jaz that holds that Qu'ran is miraculous, both in content and in form and that no human speech can match. According to I'jaz Muslims oppose to text from Qu'ran be reproduced in another language or speech. Also there are some words which have ...


15

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 coexisting. Christians were thus commanded to shun pagan deities as false; pagans had no ideological compunction to not be at least keep their minds open to the ...


15

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 territories were obviously based on Roman coins which the subject people were more familiar with, or else made with reused and modified Roman coin dies. In 636 the ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible