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.