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Period I The Apostolic Age To C

The period in the Church before the clash with Gnosticism and the rise of
an apologetic literature comprises the apostolic and the post-apostolic
ages. These names have become traditional. The so-called apostolic age, or
to circa 100, is that in which the Apostles lived, though the best
tradition makes John the only surviving Apostle for the last quarter of a

The principal sources for the history of the Church in this period are the
books of the New Testament, and only to a slight degree the works of
contemporaneous Jewish and heathen writers. It is hardly necessary to
reproduce New Testament passages here. The Jewish references of importance
will be found in the works on the life of Christ and of St. Paul. As the
treatment of this period commonly falls under a different branch of study,
New Testament exegesis, it is not necessary in Church history to enter
into any detail. There are, however, a few references to events in this
period which are to be found only outside the New Testament, and are of
importance to the student of Church history. These are the Neronian
persecution ( 1), the death of the Apostles ( 2, 3), and the
persecution under Domitian ( 4). The paucity of references to
Christianity in the first century is due chiefly to the fact that
Christianity appeared to the men of the times as merely a very small
Oriental religion, struggling for recognition, and contending with many
others coming from the same region. It had not yet made any great advance
either in numbers or social importance.

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