Christian History Timeline:
By Monk Preston (Co-Founder & President, The Prayer Foundation ™)
(Page 2: Luther to Today)
Ca. 4 B.C. - ca. 30 A.D.
Incarnation of Christ
Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who from all eternity was with God and was God (John 1:1), God the Son, is born as a human being, lives, ministers, is crucified, and dies, paying the penalty Himself for the sins of the entire world. He is buried, and rises from the dead on the third day, providing Salvation for any who will receive Him as their Lord and Saviour. Reconciling those who receive Him, with God the Father, through the forgiveness of their sins, by the offering of His shed Blood for their redemption (see: Plan of Salvation, Statement of Faith).
Ca. 30 -70 A.D.
Apostles' Missionary Journeys
Missionary Journeys of Paul and the other Apostles. Paul preaches in Turkey, Greece, and Rome; Thomas preaches in India; Mark in Northern Africa; Peter in Rome. First attempt to preach the Gospel worldwide.
70 -73 A.D.
Destruction of the Temple / Beginning of Jewish Diaspora
The Roman General Titus captures Jerusalem and destroys the Jewish Temple (70 A.D.) and forbids Jews to live in Jerusalem, renaming Judea, "Syria Palestine." Many Jews are enslaved and sold in Egypt. Many more are forced to move to different areas throughout the Roman Empire (in 73 A.D. Roman Army ends the last remnant of Jewish resistance by capturing the fortress of Masada).
Ca. 90 A.D.
Last Book of the Bible Written
The Apostle John receives and writes down the last of the New Testament Scripture, The Book of Revelation, on the Greek Isle of Patmos off what is now modern-day Turkey.
Ca. 33? - 200? A.D.
Celtic Church Founded
Celtic Christians: It is not known for certain when Christianity first arrived in the British Isles. We do know that the Galatians were Celts. These may have spread the faith to their brethren in Britain while the Apostle Paul was still completing his missionary journeys in the Mediterranean.
Ante-Nicene Era: (100 A.D.-325 A.D.)________________
Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, occupies an important place in the history of the Christian Church. He is among the earliest Christians whose writings survive. It is probable that he knew John the Apostle. He was bishop of Smyrna. He died a martyr. Irenaeus remembered Polycarp from his youth.
Polycarp's sole surviving work is his Letter to the Philippians, a mosaic of references to the New Testament.
Justin Martyr writes "First Apology"
Justin Martyr's "First Apology" is the oldest (non-New Testament) record we have of how early Christian worship was conducted (Liturgy).
Ca. 200 A.D.
Tertullian writes "On Prayer"
Tertullian was an early Church Father, the first to write in Latin. In his writing he often took stands against different heresies. However, later in life he converted to a sect (or cult) known as the "Montanists" which had three new "prophets" (one man and two women) considered to be equal to Scripture, and who also rejected the Trinity. His writings from when he was still an orthodox Christian are useful historical sources on Christian practice in his era (155-230 A.D.).
Beginning of Christian Monasticism (Eremetics: Hermits)
Paul of Thebes / Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage 250 A.D.
Paul of Thebes retreats to a cave in the Egyptian desert in 250 A.D. to avoid the persecution initiated by Decius. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, goes into hiding in the same year and for the same reason at the other end of the north African coast.
Many Christians follow and are soon living as religious "hermits" (monks) in the deserts of Egypt (desert areas of Nitria and Scete), Israel, and Syria.
271 or 272 A.D.
Antony - Inspiration for European Monasticism
Antony (or Anthony) (251 or 252-356 or 357) is converted to Christ at age 20 (271 or 272 A.D.) and moves into the Egyptian Desert as a religious hermit after hearing the words: "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast." His desire is to live like Christ and the Apostles. He is often spoken of as the "Father of Christian Monasticism" and "the first Christian Monk". Antony was the first to go to the desert intentionally to live the solitary life devoted to God, and not because he was fleeing persecution. Antony's own story (by Athanasius) says that there were hundreds of others (who had fled persecution) already living in the Egyptian desert when Antony first arrived.
Ca. 312-348 A.D.
Pachomius (Ca. 292-348), a contemporary of Anthony, formed the first organized monastic community (cenobitic). There had previously existed monastic communities not formally organized made up of individual hermit-type (eremitic) monks who of their own accord would meet together weekly for religious services including Communion.
Pachomius also built a convent (the first organized women's community) in which a number of religious women lived with his sister
(See: The Desert Fathers).
October 27, 312 A.D.
Constantine defeats Maxentius at the Milvian Bridge "under the sign of the Cross" on the Tiber River near Rome.
Probably Before 313 A.D.
Co-Emperors Constantine and Lucinius Legalize Christianity
Emperor Constantine the Great Emperor of the West (274 A.D. through 288-May 22, 336 A.D.), and Lucinius Augustus, Emperor of the East, in the Edict of Milan declare Christianity a legal religion, ending official government persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.
"This was the first proclamation of the great principle that every man had a right to choose his religion according to the dictates of his own conscience and honest conviction , without compulsion and interference of the government." (Philip Schaff: "History of the Christian Church" Vol. 2, Pages 72,73).
First History of the Church Written since New Testament
Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. A.D. 260-339), a learned scholar who lived most of his life in Caesarea (in what was at that time part of the Roman Province of Syria-Palestine...now modern-day Israel), breaks new ground by writing The History of the Church (the history of Christianity from Christ to Constantine); providing a model for all later ecclesiastical historians. He extensively quotes sources; including Jewish and Roman Historians such as Josephus, Tacitus, early Church Fathers like Polycarp, Irenaus; and many others.
What is most amazing about this book is the picture it paints of the entire history of the Early Church during the 230 years from the ending of the Book of Acts until 320. A.D., just before the meeting of the Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.).
Perhaps what is most startling to today's readers is what is missing. The Bishop of Rome has no authority over any other Christians living outside of the City of Rome (and has not even claimed such). There are no Icons in use by Christians at any time during this period. There are no prayers to Mary or prayers to the Saints offered by any Christian during this entire period.
Post-Nicene Era: (325 A.D.-750 A.D.)________________
Nicene Creed / Canon of Scripture Officially Recognized
Council of Nicaea, a general council of all the Bishops in the Christian church, publishes The Nicene Creed as a united statement against the Arian heresy (which rejects the Deity of Christ). They also affirm which books have since their writing been recognized by Christians as being divinely inspired (the Canon of Scripture of the New Testament). Athanasius; as Bishop of Alexandria, in Egypt; is present.
The Eastern Orthodox Communions sometimes refer to this a "the birth of Orthodoxy". In the East, the Orthodox Church now begins developing out of the Early Church.
Beginning of Christian Monastic Communities
Athanasius writes "The Life of St. Antony"
Pachomius (292-346) founds the first organized monastic community in the deserts of Egypt.
Basil the Great (329-379), succeeded Eusebius as bishop of Ceasarea. Influenced by Pachomius, he founded monasteries in Cappadocia (eastern Asia Minor; modern-day Turkey). He writes his own monastic Rule, which greatly influenced the later Rule of St. Benedict. He was the brother of Gregory of Nyssa (330-395 A.D.) and the friend of Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389 A.D.).
John Chrysostom (349-Ca. 407 A.D.), was the archbishop of Constantinople. He is known for his eloquence in preaching and public speaking, and his denunciation of abuse of authority by ecclesiastical and political leaders. The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, used by the Eastern Orthodox Churches in its present form since the 7th Century, is named after him. After his death, John was given the Greek surname chrysostomos, "golden mouthed", rendered in English as Chrysostom.
Athanasian Creed / Europe Adopts Monasticism
Athanasius (296 through 298-373) The author of the Athanasian Creed. Also wrote: A Life of St. Antony (357 A.D.) which causes thousands in Europe to adopt the monastic lifestyle, both as religious hermits (eremitic), and in communities (cenobitic).
Before 373 A.D.
Ca. 373 A.D.:
374 A.D. / 388 A.D.
St. Augustine - Writes / Founds Monastic Order
Augustine of Hippo (Nov. 13, 354-Aug. 28, 430) is converted to Christianity in 374 A.D. While the Servei Dei (Servants of God) Lay Religious Order of the fourth and fifth centuries did not occupy official positions, the Church recognized and honored these Laymen who pursued a monastic life of contemplation and prayer. Augustine accepted Christ. Then he joined the Servei Dei.
In 388 A.D. Augustine and a few Christian friends founded the Augustinian Order, the oldest Monastic Fraternity in the West. Eventually Augustine would be made Bishop of the town of Hippo, where he established a monastery that functioned as a Seminary, training young monks to be Bishops in all of the towns of North Africa. He would write 93 books that would influence the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox Churches."
Ca. 390 A.D.
St. Patrick Converts Ireland to Christianity / His Church Model is Monastic
St. Patrick (387-Mar.17, 461-464) was captured at age sixteen by Irish slave raiders and enslaved for six years in Ireland. During this time he became a Christian (he had been raised in a Christian home, but had not been given his life to Christ). He escaped Ireland, studied in a monastery in France (at Lerins, and probably also at Auxerre), and was sent (by God through means of a dream) as a missionary Bishop to the Irish people (432 A.D.?), who converted from Druidism to Christianity.
The best telling of the story of St. Patrick is found in the book: How the Irish Saved Civilization (Book Review). Read Patrick's own words in his Confession, in his Letter to Coroticus, and in his "Breastplate" Prayer St. Patrick, a Missionary Bishop and Monk, establishes Monasteries everywhere. There are at this time no cities in Ireland. Celtic Christianity is organized along Monastic lines (each monastery group being independent), as opposed to the Roman model of central universal control organized through Bishop/City based political hierarchies.
A Possible Timeline that fits all of the known dates (including the founding dates of Lerins and Auxerre Monasteries):
Born 390; Enslaved 406; Escaped and returned to Britain 412; In France at Lerins monastery (founded 410) from 412 to 422 (10 years; or a later start date if he remained in Britain longer); at Auxerre monastery (founded 422) from 422 to 432 (10 years). Is called by God in a dream and returns to Ireland in 432. Converts the Irish people to Christianity. Died March 17, 461-464.
Ca. 404 A.D.
Jerome Translates Pachomius' "Rule"
St. Jerome translates The Rule of Pachomius into Latin.
Monk Telemachus' Martyrdom Ends Coliseum Games
Telemachus (?-400 through 429 A.D.) The Monk responsible for ending the Coliseum Games. While visiting Rome from somewhere in the East, Telemachus places himself between two gladiators in the Roman Coliseum during the Games. The crowd, enraged at having their "entertainment" interrupted, stone him to death. The Emperor Honorius declares Telemachus to be a victorious martyr, and proclaims the Gladiatorial and Coliseum Games to be henceforth illegal and ended.
Leo I ("Leo the Great"), Bishop of Rome, Claims Authority/Primacy over all Christians
Certain of the distinctive teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, such as that of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome over all Christians, first begin to be taught at this time. From 440-600 A.D., in the West, the local Church of the City of Rome now begins developing out of the Early Church into what is known today as the Roman Catholic Church.
Leo I "The Great" (400?–461 A.D.), was Bishop of Rome from 440–461 A.D. He was the first Bishop of Rome to claim primacy/authority over all other Christians (at that time Europe had been overrun by the Huns, and had become largely barbarian and pagan again). The claim was largely ignored for the next 200 years by other Christians, including the Celtic Church, and the four other Apostolic Sees of the East; particularly by the Patriarch of Constantinople.
Up until this time all Christians had considered themselves to be both of orthodox (with a small "o", meaning "right belief") faith, and members of the catholic (with a small "c", meaning "universal") church, (the universal "Body of Christ"). The various Orthodox churches to this day have no single organizational structure or single "head".
The claim of Leo I of Rome's supremacy would ultimately affect monasticism by leading to the Great Schism between the Eastern and Roman Churches in 1054 A.D., and resulting in the end of independent Celtic monasticism in 1172 A.D. at the Synod of Cashel. At that time the Irish Celtic Christians finally came under the authority of the Roman Catholic Church which then disbanded the Celtic Monastic Orders that had existed in Ireland for nearly 700 years previously.
By about 600-650 A.D. The Roman Popes (Bishops of Rome) had established their doctrine of Papal Supremacy in their city of Rome, and begun slowly extending control of the Roman Church over other Christians across Europe. This Papal claim would ultimately affect monasticism by causing the Great Schism between the Eastern and Roman Churches in 1054 A.D., and ending independent Celtic monasticism in Great Britain at the Synod of Whitby (ca. 664 A.D.) and in Ireland at the Synod of Cashel in 1172 A.D.
Note: the term "Pope" is an equivalent term to the Eastern Orthodox term "Patriarch" (of an Apostolic "See"), and in early times was given to both the Bishop of Rome and the Bishop of Alexandria, who is to this day still referred to as "Pope" (Patriarch), but none of whom have ever claimed jurisdiction over any of the other "Sees".
The original "Sees" were/are in order of their founding as Churches by the Apostles: Jerusalem (all Apostles), Antioch (Peter), Rome (Paul, Peter), and Alexandria (Mark). Constantinople (the founding of the Church there in the earlier City of Byzantium is attributed to the Apostle Andrew) was added as the fifth Apostolic "See" when the Emperor Constantine made it the new Capitol of the Roman Empire.
Note: The Churches (and "Sees") of Jerusalem and Antioch (founded by the Apostle Peter) both outdate Rome. The first Church Council, was held in Jerusalem (Book of Acts), and though the Apostle Peter was present, was presided over, not by the Apostle Peter, but by the Apostle James.
Irish Missionary Monks Convert Pagan Europe to Christianity
Irish Monks travel as missionaries to bring Christianity to pagan Europe, founding monasteries all over the continent, re-introducing (or introducing for the first time in many northern European areas) literacy, the Bible, and preserved classical literature and knowledge (some consider this to be the second attempt to preach the Gospel worldwide). The story of the missionary Irish Monks is found in the 2nd half of the book: How the Irish Saved Civilization. Columban (Columbanus), missionary to Europe, founded a Celtic Christian monastery at Bobbio in Italy. At this time Europe, including Italy, had been overrun by the barbarian Huns and was largely pagan in religion.
Monk Benedict Founds Monte Cassino Monastery
Benedict of Nursia (480-547) writes The Rule of St. Benedict, after living as a hermit for three years in a cave in near Subiaco, Italy, and founds the oldest continuous monastic community in Europe, Monte Cassino, where he lives until his death.
Monk Brendan - Sailor / Explorer
Brendan the Navigator (484-577), also known as Brendan of Clonfort, sails the North Atlantic for seven years, including discovering Iceland (he also may have sailed to America).
Before Ca. 550 A.D.
Monk Dionysius Exiquus Creates Our Modern Calendar
Dionysius Exiquus (d. ca. 550), a Monk in Rome, invents the modern Calendar and system of dating. It establishes the birth of Christ as the central point of all of history. Everything before is B.C. (Before Christ). Everything after is Anno Domini ("in the year of our Lord").
Monk Dionysius was off by a few years as to precisely when the birth of Christ occurred. According to internal evidence in the Gospels mentioning the Census of Augustus, and Quirinius being Governor of Syria, both of which dates are known from Roman sources, Christ's birth had to have occurred between 4 and 6 B.C.).
Irish Monk Columcille (Columba) Converts Northern Scots
Columcille (also called Columba) (521-597) leaves Ireland and founds a monastery on the island of Iona (565) on the coast of Scotland (here the Book of Kells will be created). He is the first missionary to the Picts, one of the peoples living in what is now Scotland, converting them to Christianity.
Monk Columbanus - Missionary to Continental Europe
Columbanus (also called Columban) (543-Nov. 21, 615) was an Irish monk who, with 12 monks who recognized him as their leader, went to France to preach the gospel, then to Germany, and finally to northern Italy, where he founded the monastery at Bobbio near Milan.
Monk Fiónan Founds Monastery On "Skellig Michael"
Monk Augustine Converts Southern England
Augustine of Canterbury sent as missionary by Pope Gregory the Great to the English (Angles) in the south of England.
Monk Aidan (Lindisfarne) Converts Northern England
Aidan (ca. 600-651) Became a monk of Iona in 630, and in 635 was sent out to found the monastery on Lindisfarne (Holy Island). He is the missionary to the English people in the north of England (to Northumbria: at this time they were still the Angles; we get our word "English" from the word "Angle-ish").
Monk Cuthbert Evangelizes Northern England
Cuthbert (ca. 635-Mar. 20, 687) becomes a monk, after seeing a vision at the time of Aidan's death. After living as a Hermit Monk, he is ordained a Bishop. In the Monastic Celtic Church, this means a ministry as a Missionary / Evangelist, and he evangelizes Northern England, before retiring again to his Farne Island hermitage near Lindisfarne (Holy Island).
Roman Catholic Church Takes Control of Northern England
Synod of Whitby (the Celtic Church in northern England joins the Roman Catholic Church, thus ending its independent Celtic Christian history; The Celtic Irish missionary Monks in its jurisdiction return to Ireland. Lindisfarne and Iona hold out much longer. The Celtic Church continues distinct in many areas through the 1200's. In some parts of Scotland the Celtic Church remains until the Protestant Reformation, when it becomes Protestant).
Monk Bede Writes History of England's Conversion to Christianity
The Venerable Bede (672 or 673-735), at the age of seven was taken to the monastery where he would spend the next rest of his life (most of it as a monk), and become the first English Historian by writing his book, "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" (see also: Venerable Bede (Painting).
Charles Martel Stops Islamic attempt to invade France from Spain and Conquer Europe
Medieval Era: (750 A.D.-1517 A.D.)_________________
Monk Athanasios Founds First Monastery On Mt. Athos
Athanasios the Athonite, an Eastern Orthodox Monk, builds the Monastery of the Great Lavra on Mount Athos, in what is now the Greek part of Macedonia (on the peninsula of Chalkidiki). Mt. Athos officially became a Monastic Republic, the oldest in existence. Women are not allowed to even enter the entire area. Hermit Monks (eremitic anchorites) had already been living in the area since the mid-ninth century. There are 21 separate monasteries and numerous affiliated hermitages in the Mt. Athos region.
Conversion of the Slavic People to Christianity
The Great Schism. In 1053 the Patriarch of Constantinople closed the Latin (Roman Catholic) churches in his jurisdiction. In response, in 1054 A.D., the Bishop of Rome excommunicated the Patriarch of Constantinople, who was the head of the Orthodox portion of the church ("Eastern Orthodox" includes: Greek, Armenian, Coptic, Russian, Serbian, and so forth). The Orthodox portion of the Church rejected the claim of the Bishop of Rome to have authority/primacy over all Christians since first put forward by Leo I ("Leo the Great"), Bishop of Rome from 440–461 A.D. (see Book Review: "Faith in the Byzantine World").
Roman Catholic Church Takes Control of and ends the independent Irish Celtic Church
Irish National Synod near Cashel (1172). Roman Catholic Church achieves control of the Celtic Christian Church in Ireland. Mellifont Abby founded by Cistercians in Ireland (1157). Dominicans, and later Franciscans are introduced into Ireland. This is the end of the Celtic Church monastic period.
Waldensians Preach the Doctrines of the Protestant Reformation 300 Years Before Luther
Waldensians condemned as heretics by Pope Lucius III. (also known as: Waldenses, Vaudois, "Poor Men of Lyon"). Founded by Peter Waldo (Valdes), they were sort of "pre-franciscans" and "pre-Protestants" who practiced poverty and equality. They criss-crossed Europe preaching against the laxity of the clergy and taught the Bible to the people in the vernacular. They rejected as unscriptural: purgatory, indulgences, and the veneration of saints.
St. Francis Founds Franciscan Order
Francis of Assisi (1181 or 1182-Oct.3, 1226 A.D.) dons a raggedy Habit (Monk Robe) tied with a piece of rope, and commits to follow Jesus and the Bible as literally as possible. He is soon joined by others. In 1211 the Benedictines give his Order a little Chapel called "The Portiuncula." Building a few small wattle, straw, and mud huts (cells), and surrounding all with a hedge, it becomes the first Franciscan monastery (St. Francis didn't use that term, calling it a "Convent." They are also called "Friaries"). Wanting to take the Gospel to the world, St. Francis preached the Gospel to the Saracens (Moslems) in Egypt, and attempted to take the Gospel to Morocco, but was stopped in Spain by sickness. Some of his followers took up his mission and preached the Good News in Morocco. They were executed by beheading; becoming the first Franciscan martyrs.
John Wycliffe Translates Bible Into English / Founds Lollard Monastic Order of Preachers - They Taught All of the Doctrines of the Protestant Reformation 150 Years Before Martin Luther
John Wycliffe (1330-1384), 150 years before the Protestant Reformation, came to the same conclusions from reading the Bible that Luther would arrive at later. Wycliffe translated the Bible into English (1382). It was the first European translation done in over 1,000 years. He criticized abuses and scriptural error in the teaching of the (Roman Catholic) Church. He sent itinerant preachers (called the Lollards) throughout England. Some of his students were from Bohemia, and took his teachings back to Bohemia and Moravia (later Czechoslovakia). Wycliffe's writings later converted John Huss and the Moravian Brethren.
John Huss, Inspired by Wycliffe, Taught All of the Doctrines of the Protestant Reformation 100 Years Before Luther
John Hus (1369-1414 A.D.), a Roman Catholic Priest from Bohemia, while translating some sermons of John Wycliffe, became convinced of the universal priesthood of all believers; that Christ, not Peter, was the foundation of the Church, and that only Christ is the head of the Church. He became one of the influences for the Protestant Reformation. He was granted a safe conduct to defend his views, but was instead imprisoned and burned at the stake. He was a "Protestant" 100 years before Luther. His witness influenced the later founding of the Moravian Brethren (Bohemian Brethren, Unitas Fratrum) in 1457.
Thomas á Kempis Writes "The Imitation of Christ"
Thomas ŕ Kempis (1379 or 1380-1471), writes The Imitation of Christ (ca. 1427). It is the most popular and printed Christian Book after the Bible. He was a German Monk, a member of the Brethren of the Common Life (also called The Brothers and Sisters of the Common Life). They took no vows, but lived a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience, as far as was compatible with their state. Some lived in their own homes. Others, especially clergy, lived in community. All were expected to earn their living by the labor of their hands. All earnings were held in common. The ambition of all was to emulate the life and virtues of the first Christians; their love for God and neighbor, simplicity, humility, and devotion.
Fall of Constantinople to Islamic Armies
Moravian Brethren Church Officially Founded
Moravian Brethren (Bohemian Brethren, Unitas Fratrum) founded in 1457, and still active today (the movement was renewed by Count Zinzendorf in 1727, becoming a force for World Missions). Influenced by the writings of John Wycliffe (some of his students had been from Bohemia), they stressed the love of Christ and the need for a personal relationship through regeneration (being born-again), justification by faith alone being the means. They stressed grace, and prayer, seeing Baptism and the Lord's Supper as the only two sacraments. They had a great influence throughout the world on many other Christian groups which were inspired to deeper prayer lives and missionary outreach.
Continued on Next Page (Page 2: Luther to Today) ____________________________________________________________
Christian History Pages ____________________________________________________________
Copyright © 2002-2007 S.G.P. All rights reserved.
Except: Photo of Skellig Michael Copyright © Irish Tourist Board.
Copyright © 2002-2003 S.G.P. All rights reserved.
Except: Photo of Skellig Michael Copyright © Irish Tourist Board. ____________
Apostolic Era: (4 B.C. -100 A.D.)
Ante-Nicene Era: (100 A.D. -325 A.D.)
Post-Nicene Era: (325 A.D. -750 A.D.)
Medieval Era: (750 A.D. -1517 A.D.)
Modern Era: (1517 A.D. -Today) ____________