* An AP survey in 1997 revealed that 24% of American adults expect to be still alive when Jesus returns. They probably believe that they will never experience death. This percentage has probably declined in recent years, because the massive Year 2000 disruption expected by many Americans fizzled, and the percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christians has been declining. However, it might increase somewhat as the end of 2012 approaches and the widely expected disasters associated with the Winter Soltice that year also fizzle.
The Christian religion experienced heavy persacution in the
Roman Empire. The great fire in . 64 burned more than half of the city of
Rome. Emperor Nero blamed the Christians for the fire and began to persecute
any who held to the Christian beliefs. For the next two hundred years, Christians
suffered massive persecution from the Roman government until the reign of Constantine
(. 324-337). Constantine issued the Edict of Toleration, which gave the Christians
the rights to worship as they chose. Constantine converted to Christianity and
made it the official religion of the empire.
The Bible in Ancient Christianity series examines how the Scriptures were interpreted in ancient Christianity, particularly as Scripture functioned in liturgy, in exposition, homilies, in art, in spirituality, and in social issues. The chronological parameters for the series are the first through the fifth centuries. Questions of how Scripture functions will include both, for example, how Augustine interpreted Romans , as well as how Romans was interpreted among various writers. The geographic and chronological breadth of the series means that Eastern as well as Western Christian authorities will be examined. Although the focus will be on widely accepted canonical texts (within these two traditions), the series will not restrict itself to only “orthodox” readings of the texts. Thus, the series might include manuscripts concerning the Gospel of Thomas; and the series might examine how so-called heterodox personalities (., Montanists) used the Bible. Nonetheless the principle aim will be to look at how canonical texts functioned in ancient Christianity.