The notion of a successful state or historical period is always revolving around a variety of related factors that somehow contribute to their development and establishment whatsoever. One of the central concepts considered as inseparable with the emergence of a nation or era is the phenomenon of culture and its stages of development within the given timeframe. In fact, no period in the context of the diachronic world evolution might be described without any mention of cultural influence on its formation. However, when it comes to culture itself, its constituents are characterized as something that exists beyond any timeline, creating a separate transcendent semantic universe. Despite the centuries of this notion’s existence in society, there is still no opportunity to define the word culture in a universally accepted manner, claiming the lexeme to bear definitions peculiar to each individual (Wallner). However, regardless of the lexical component of the concept of culture, religion has always been an integral part of it, claiming the genesis of some most powerful nations in world history.
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Besides being a full-scale pillar of culture formation, religion serves as one of the most influential contributors to a specific culture emergence in the first place. The vast majority of individuals acquainted with the notion of sociology considers that nation and historical period as concepts could not be considered as such without explicit cultural intervention in the process. In its turn, religion, being one of the formation fundamentals, shapes people’s relations within the nation, making them united for a specific reason. For this reason, the following thesis is aimed at researching the reasons standing behind the emergence of such religion as Christianity and its ability to exist beyond any formal perceptions. Specifically speaking, the attention will be paid to the peculiarities of Christianity development within the context of Western thought and its transformation from the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages.
The Emergence and Influence of Christianity
Being the largest religion in the world for more than two thousand years, Christianity has lived through a variety of historical eras and a series of severe socio-economic changes that eventually led to significant modifications in the context of religious perception. As a result of the many changes that appeared in the course of world history, the factual timeline of historical events is generally examined apart from the so-called “divine” timeline. The major argument for such a decision is primarily concerned with the idea that these aspects are to be looked into from various scientific branches, which, when overlapped, night confuse the general outcome of a historical event (Schaff). As a result, the act of neglecting divine history in the context of events that took place in terms of a certain timeframe has led to some major misconceptions in the field of nation-shaping factors and world peace establishment as a whole.
One of the most vivid examples of religious influence on historical events and the lifetime of a nation is the relationship between Christianity and the Roman Empire. Thus, founded in 27 BC by Augustus Caesar, the Roman Empire overcame a series of severe social challenges throughout its existence. Moreover, the life cycle of the Roman Empire is an example of how the nation-shaping and governmental aspects of a state deal with the rapid development of society and its major values. Since the very emergence of the empire, state leaders realized that their fellow citizens needed a specific factor that would unite them besides plain geographical distribution. At first, this aspect was justified by some basic human instincts, including the desire to survive and find basic resources for human existence. Such a position was then winning for the government, as they needed their residents to take an active part in the military actions related to the preservations of the country’s sovereignty.
However, with the time passing, the people’s expectations from the government and its social politics changed significantly due to their cognitive development and emergence of some basic moral values. At the time, the early genesis of Christianity was commenced in the region in Judea, professing the belief in Jesus Christ and its sacrifice to help humankind find the true meaning of life and existence on Earth. At first, like every new wind blowing among state residents, Christianity was not welcomed by the state leaders, as in the fair of being faced with uncertainty, they persecuted individuals who were not likely everyone else in the empire. A few years later, however, the Roman Empire’s state legislature came to realize that a common religion was the key to consolidate the nation in order to secure its thriving and integrity, as well as to reinforce the state’s influence on the world stage. As a result, the fundamentals of Christianity were embraced by the Roman Empire, making it one of the central social aspects in terms of its development.
On the one hand, embracing Christianity became a salvation for fellow residents as the ideas promoted by it concerned the establishment of proper moral values and basics of then education and overall cognitive development of an individual. It was Christianity that established the genesis of public education, and the very first educational facilities were encouraged by the Church’s promotion, as they were positive about using the facilities to start schools and seminaries for fellow residents with no significant financial income or social status. As a result, the people of the Roman Empire developed a strong bond with the Christian beliefs and values, following its canons in the hope of a brighter future.
On the other hand, however, the Roman Empire, especially the Western part of the state with the capital in Constantinople, perceived the emergence of Christianity as a national faith as a significant tool in terms of the state ruling and order establishment within the nation (González). Thus, people’s close affiliation to the Christian church was beneficial for the state in terms of socio-economic development and preserving the territorial integrity of the Roman Empire. Contributing many resources to the enhancement of the Church’s influence in the area, state leaders eventually lost track of the actual influence religion had on people, gradually shifting away from being a plain consolidation tool. As a result, with the Roman Empire’s strategic failure and subsequent dissolvement, Christianity’s power among the population remained unchanged, proving the religion’s transcendent existence beyond time and historical precedents.
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Christianity and Middle Ages Shift
The fall of the Western Roman Empire eventually led to some major modifications in terms of the new territories’ autonomy and predominating values among their residents. However, the one thing that was in common for all the newly formed states was the desire to achieve the former eEmpire’sscope of sociocultural development and achievements in the spheres of science and military (González). As Christianity had already become an integral part of that development at the time, it became obvious that the barbarian people would embrace a certain religious form in order to secure further development.
In the following context, Christianity seemed to be, by all means, the best possible option due to its relative open-mindedness. Moreover, the very form and shape of the Christian belief could be adjusted to the sociohistorical development of its devotees. As a result, Christianity in the Middle Ages was marked by its splitting into a variety of branches with four leading religious dimensions. Moreover, the established universal model of Christianity managed to gain a major advantage over the legislative aspects by providing people from all over the world with the opportunity to be united when deprived of home and specific national affiliation (Gomes). Thus, being able to make even more people advocate for the belief in Jesus Christ, the religion claimed itself to be even more independent from the sociopolitical prerequisites of certain nations, become a culture maker instead.
When considering such sophisticated and multilayer aspects as religion and its role within the nation-shaping process, it should be outlined that there are no specific answers to the following question due to the scope of information and human diversity. Thus, while the role of Christianity within the culture-making aspect during the Middle Ages, its ability to leverage Western identity, and outlive the Roman Empire might be explained from the sociological perspective, the explanation itself will never be exhaustive. In terms of the following paper, an attempt was made to take a closer look at the peculiarities of Christianity development through its major historical eras of the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages. As a result, it was estimated that the primary asset of the following religion was its transcendence in terms of ethics, national, or any affiliation whatsoever.
Gomes, Catherine. “Christianity: A Culture of Transnational Mobility.” Transient Mobility and Middle Class Identity, Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp.185-208.
González, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 1. HarperCollins, 2014.
Schaff, Philip. The History of the Christian Church: Vol. 1-8: The Account of the Christianity from the Apostles to the Reformation. e-artnow, 2019.
Wallner, Jozef, editor. Capacity and Resources for Sustainable Development: The Role of Economics, Business, Management and Related Disciplines, 17-19 April 2018, Bratislava, Slovak Republic. The University of Economics in Bratislava: Vydavateľstvo EKONÓM, 2018.