74 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 ...
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69 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 ...
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  • 95.9k
51 votes
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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 ...
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  • 75.2k
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 ...
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37 votes
Accepted

What historical evidence is there for the existence of Jesus Christ? What do we know about him?

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 ...
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  • 1,804
34 votes
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Why did people die for their religion in the 400s CE (or even now)?

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....
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31 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 ...
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  • 2,445
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 ...
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  • 5,657
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 ...
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  • 75.2k
25 votes
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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 ...
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  • 110k
24 votes
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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 ...
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  • 75.2k
23 votes
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Did the biblical apostle James visit Ireland?

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 ...
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23 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 ...
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  • 76.2k
20 votes
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What caused the imposition of strict celibacy for Catholic priests during the 11th century?

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 ...
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  • 95.9k
19 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 ...
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18 votes

What historical evidence is there for the existence of Jesus Christ? What do we know about him?

Gospels are a source, like any other. If we were to exclude sources simply because they were written down four decades after the facts, then most of History would disappear. For instance, most of what ...
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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. ...
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  • 110k
17 votes
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What is the last historical mention of people worshipping the Roman gods?

Greco-Roman polytheism in Rome survived the 455 CE sacking but it is unclear at what point traditional roman paganism transformed into hybrid Christian heresies versus any retention of religious ...
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17 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 ...
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  • 95.9k
16 votes
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Was it ever deemed illegal to translate the Qu'ran?

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 ...
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  • 2,283
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 ...
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  • 110k
16 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 ...
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  • 17.6k
15 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 ...
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  • 16.9k
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 ...
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  • 110k
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,...
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  • 110k
14 votes

What is the origin of the subdivisions of Heaven and Hell?

The subdivisions of heaven and the theme of a vision of an ascent to heaven originate from Jewish mysticism. Different parts of the Talmud come from different times, but this idea is very old. ...
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  • 5,949
14 votes
Accepted

How long did belief in the Egyptian sun god Ra last?

The Wikipedia article on Egyptian Temples has a rough estimate as to when the last temple of the Old Egyptian Religion, The Temple of Isis at Philae, was closed - as early as 456 if one goes by ...
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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 ...
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  • 110k
14 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 ...
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  • 75.2k
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 ...
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