According to what most people say, (and what the bible says) is that Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah/savior who was also Jewish was the son of God. The Bible is the holy book of the Christians. The first four books in the new testament of the Bible are the gospels written by 4 disciples named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Gospel translates in old English to “good news”. A Martyr is a person who oofs (dies) for their beliefs. There were 12 Apostles who were all Jesus’s closest friends. Apostle in Greek translates to “one who is sent off” and they were the ones who spread Christianity. The Roman emperor Theodosius made Christianity the main religion of Rome.
Jesus grew up during the reign of Augustus/the first emperor of Pax Romana/Peace of Rome. According to Romans, Augustus or Octavian, (I’m saying “or” because he had changed his name from Octavian to Augustus) was apparently also the son of god. So, who is the real son of god? I have the answer, because Augustus was the adopted son of Julius Caesar, and Caesar was considered a god by the Roman people, so Augustus was, to the Roman people, a demigod, or a child of the gods. There were a lot of similarities like, both of them were called sons of god; both were supposed to save the world from never-ceasing fear, but one ruled the largest empire in the world and the other believed that empire, and the world needed to change rapidly.
Some facts about Rome in the time of the rise of Christianity are: 1/3 of the population of every place that Rome had conquered was enslaved (26,000,000). The Roman empire spanned about 20,000,000 square miles. the phrase “all roads lead to Rome” was related to this fact. By the time that Christianity became big, there were already 1,000,000 people living in Rome itself. An emperor named Constantine stopped the prosecutions of Christians by the Edict of Milan.
So why did the less wealthy and famous son of god become more influential? Three possible historical reasons are: the romans continued to make things hard for the Jews and the situation only got worse from there because the Jews launched a revolt in 66-73 CE which did not go well at all. By the time the dust settled, the Romans had already destroyed the temple and barred the Jews from Judea, beginning what we know now as the Jewish Diaspora. And with no temple or geographic unity, the Jews had to solidify what it meant to be a Jew and what the basic rules of the religion were. This forced the followers of Jesus to make a decision, were they going to be Jews following stricter laws set by rabbis, or were they going to be something else.
The decision to open their religion up to non-Jews, people who weren’t part of the covenant, is the central reason that Christianity has become a world religion instead of just a section of Judaism. And it probably didn’t hurt that the main proponent of sticking with Judaism was James, Jesus’s brother who was killed by the Romans.
A Roman by the name of Saul (yes! ONE Roman who converted to Judaism and helped to spread it! … SAY YAY… now) having received a vision on the road to Damascus, Saul Became Paul and started visiting and sending letters to Jesus-followers throughout the Mediterranean, and it was Paul who emphatically declared that Jesus-followers did not have to be Jews or keep to Jewish laws or anything like that. This opened the locks for thousands of people to join this religion. Another thing to remember about Paul, is that he was a roman citizen which meant that he could travel freely throughout the Roman Empire. This allowed him to make his case to lots of different people and facilitated the geographic spread of Christianity.
And lastly, Christianity was born and flourished in an empire with a common language that allowed for its spread. And crucially, it was also an empire in decline. Even by the first century CE Rome was already on its way down. And for the average person and even for some elites, things weren’t as good as they had been, in fact they were getting worse so fast you might have thought the end of the world was coming. And roman religion had no promise of an afterlife like Christianity did, and a bunch of fighting whiny gods (sorry if I offended roman religion… I got that sentence from John Green… BLAME HIM NOT ME). Even though early Christians were persecuted by the Roman empire and sometimes fed to the lions and other predatory creatures, the religion started to grow albeit slowly. And then as the roman decline continued, emperor Constantine allowed the worship of Jesus and then eventually converted to Christianity himself. And then the religion really took off. Rome was not what it used to be, but everybody wanted to be like the emperor. And soon enough, there was a new son of god on coins. Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God who embraced all people and appealed to the poor, because he said it is easier to get a camel through a needle than get a rich man to heaven.