How did Christianity begin—and develop?

Grading will based upon:

1. Accurate and knowledgeable use of sources, both primary and secondary (IMPORTANT: DO cite the sources and passages to which you refer, e.g. Mk 14:2—but do not quote at length, lest the quotations look like “filler” instead of analysis!)
2. Your own clearly, well thought out answers (with a suggestion from our experience; revising always makes writing better!)

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Question : How did Christianity begin—and develop?

Using historical imagination — that is, imagination based on evidence – answer the following question:

If you were making a movie about how Christianity changed from being an illegal movement to a world religion, what major scenes would you include, and what point would you want each scene, and your film as a whole, to make?

Here are steps we suggest for getting started as you write your description of your screenplay:

1. First, consider what you’d want to show in at least three major scenes (or more, if you wish). In the process, think out what characters you’d use to show how the movement began, grew, encountered conflict, developed.

2. Select at least four Christian characters from our sources to show how each responds to such outsiders—and about the same number of outsiders– Roman judges, governors, or emperors; crowds of townspeople, non-Christian family members, persecutors. What would you want to show about their interaction, and how those on each side interpret conflict between them? (Note: in some cases, the same sources may be used for both pagan and Christian characters. For the purposes of your movie, and what you want to show, these need not be people who actually interacted with one another—for example, Justin talking with Marcus Aurelius—artistic license!)

3. Third: what do you think would surprise members of your audience about the early Christian movement?
4. Finally, as you conclude, consider an entirely optional, but intriguing–question:

If you were to cast yourself in your movie, what part would you take:
Apostles like Peter, Mary Magdalene, Paul? Pilate? Justin? Trypho? Celsus? Rusticus? magistrates? Marcus Aurelius? Lucretius? Apuleius? Thecla? Trypho? Perpetua? Perpetua’s father? Crowds or spectators? Origen? Anthony? Athanasius?

For sources, the primary sources most useful:
Letters of Pliny and Trajan, Justin’s writings, Acts of the Martyrs, Athanasius and Constantine’s Letters, edicts, and other writings.

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