Whatever their corruption, these new religions, concentrating worship on a single prominent deity, were monotheistic in effect.
Moreover, many of them were characterized by rites of expiation and sacrifice, which familiarized men's minds with the idea of a mediatorial religion.
Whether due ultimately to the Old Testament predictions or to the fragments of the original revelation handed down amongst the Gentile, a certain vague expectation of the coming of a great conqueror seems to have existed in the East and to a certain extent in the Roman worlds, in the midst of which the new religion had its birth.
But a much more marked predisposition to Christianity may be noticed in certain prominent features of the Roman religion after the downfall of the republic. In their stead Greek philosophy occupied the minds of the cultured, whilst the populace were attracted by a variety of strange cults imported from Egypt and the East.
They combined to destroy the notion of a nation cultus, and to separate the service of the Deity from the service of the State.
Finally, as a contributory cause to the diffusion of Christianity, we must not fail to mention the widespread Pax Romana, resulting from the union of the civilized races under one strong central government.
The Gospels, Acts, and most of the Epistles are recognized as belonging to the Apostolic Age. of Clement and Ignatius ) cannot fail to see what a fullness of traditions, topics of preaching, doctrines, and forms of organization already existed in the time of Trajan (A. 98-117), and in particular churches had reached permanence" (Chronologie der altchristlichen Literature, Bk. For clearness' sake we shall arrange the subject under the following chief heads: I. Christianity is the name given to that definite system of religious belief and practice which was taught by Jesus Christ in the country of Palestine, during the reign of the Roman Emperor, Tiberius, and was promulgated, after its Founder's death, for the acceptance of the whole world, by certain chosen men among His followers.
"The oldest literature of the Church ", says Professor Harnack, "is, in the main points and in most of its details, from the point of view of literary history, veracious and trustworthy . ORIGIN OF CHRISTIANITY AND ITS RELATION WITH OTHER RELIGIONS; II. According to the accepted chronology, these began their mission on the day of Pentecost, A. 29, which day is regarded, accordingly, as the birthday of the Christian Church .Thus much may be said with regard to the remote preparation of the world for the reception of Christianity.What immediately preceded its institution, as it was born in Judaism, concerns the Jewish race alone, and is comprised in the teaching and miracles of Christ, His death and resurrection, and the mission of the Holy Spirit.Augustine does not hesitate to say (Retract., I, xiii, 3): "What we now call the Christian religion existed amongst the ancients, and was from the beginning of the human race, until Christ Himself came in the flesh; from which time the already existing true religion began to be styled Christian".And thus it has been remarked that Israel alone amongst the nations of antiquity looked forward to glories to come.Yet, though He often foreshadowed a time when the Law as such would cease to bind, and though He Himself in proof of His Messiahship occasionally set aside its provisions ("For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath ", Matthew 12:8 ), yet, as, in spite of His miracles, He did not win recognition of that Messiahship, still less of His Divinity, from the Jews at large.