One of the first to affiliate himself with the rising society was a Cypriote, named
Joseph Hallevi, or the Levite. Like the others, he sold his land and carried the price of
it to the feet of the Twelve. He was an intelligent man, with a devotion proof against
everything, and a fluent speaker. The apostles attached him closely to themselves and
called him Barnaba, that is to say, "the son of prophecy" or of
"preaching." He was accounted, in fact, of the number of the prophets, that is
to say, of the inspired preachers. Later on we shall see him play a capital part. Next
toSt. Paul, he was the most active missionary of the first century. A certain Mnason, his
countryman, was converted about the same time. Cyprus possessed many Jews. Barnabas and
Mnason were undoubtedly Jewish by race. The intimate and prolonged relations of Barnabas
with the Church at Jerusalem induces the belief that Syro-Chaldaic was familiar to him.
A conquest, almost as important as that of Barnabas, was that of one John, who bore the
Roman surname of Marcus. He was a cousin of Barnabas, and was circumcised. His mother,
Mary, enjoyed an easy competency; she was likewise converted, and her dwelling was more
than once made the rendezvous of the apostles. These two conversions appear to have been
the work of Peter.
The first flame was thus spread with great rapidity. The men, the most celebrated of
the apostolic century, were almost all gained over to the cause in two or three years, by a
sort of simultaneous attraction. It was a second Christian generation, similar to that
which had been formed five or six years previously, upon the shores of Lake Tiberias. This
second generation had not seen Jesus, and could not equal the first in authority. But it
was destined to surpass it in activity and in its love for distant missions. One of the
best known among the new converts was Stephen, who, before his conversion, appears to have
been only a simple proselyte. He was a man full of ardour and of passion. His faith was of
the most fervent, and he was considered to be favoured with all the gifts of the Spirit.
Philip, who, like Stephen, was a zealous deacon and evangelist, attached himself to the
community about the same time. He was often confounded with his namesake, the apostle.
Finally, there were converted at this epoch, Andronicus and Junia, probably husband and
wife, who, like Aquila and Priscilla, later on, were the model of an apostolic couple,
devoted to all the duties of missionary work. They were of the blood of Israel, and were in
the closest relations with the apostles.
The new converts, were all Jews by religion, but they belonged
to two very different classes of Jews. The one class was the Hebrews; that is to say, the
Jews of Palestine, speaking Hebrew or rather Armenian, reading the Bible in the Hebrew
text; the other class was "Hellenists," that is to say, Jews speaking Greek, and
reading the Bible in Greek. These last were further subdivided into two classes, the one of Jewish blood, the other being proselytes, that is to say, people of
non-Israelite ish origin, allied in divers degrees to Judaism. These Hellenists, who almost
all came from Syria, Asia Minor, Egypt, or Cyrene, lived at Jerusalem in distinct
quarters. They had their separate synagogues and formed thus little communities apart.
Jerusalem contained a great number of these special synagogues. It was in these that the
words of Jesus found the soil prepared to receive it and to make it fructify.
The primitive nucleus of the Church at Jerusalem had been composed wholly and
exclusively of Hebrews; the Aramaic dialect, which was the language of Jesus, was alone
known and employed there. But we see that from the second or third year after the death of
Jesus, Greek was introduced into the little community, where it soon became dominant. In
consequence of their daily relations with the new brethren, Peter, John, James, Jude, and
in general the Galilean disciples acquired the Greek with much more facility than if they
had already known something of it. The Palestinian dialect came to be
abandoned from the
day in which people dreamed of a widespread propaganda. A provincial
patois, which was
rarely written, and which was not spoken beyond Syria, was as little adapted as could be to
such an object. Greek, on the contrary, was necessarily imposed on Christianity. It was at
the time the universal language, at least for the eastern basin of the Mediterranean. It
was, in particular, the language of the Jews who were dispersed over the Roman Empire.
The conversions to Christianity became soon much more numerous among the
"Hellenists" than among the "Hebrews." The old Jews at Jerusalem were
but little drawn toward a sect of provincials, moderately advanced in the single science
that a Pharisee appreciated - the science of the law. The position of the little Church in
regard to Judaism was, as with Jesus himself, rather equivocal. But every religious or
political party carries in itself a force that dominates it, and obliges it, despite
itself, to revolve in its own orbit. The first Christians, whatever their apparent respect
for Judaism was, were in reality only Jews by birth or by exterior customs. The true
spirit of the sect came from another source. That which grew out of official Judaism was
the Talmud; but Christianity has no affinity with the Talmudic school.
This is why
Christianity found special favour among the parties the least Jewish belonging to Judaism.
The rigid orthodoxists took to it but little; it was the newcomers, people scarcely
catechized, who had not been to any of the great schools, free from routine, and not
initiated into the holy tongue, which lent an ear to the apostles and the disciples.
This family of simple and united brethren drew associates from every quarter. In return
for that which these brought, they obtained an assured future, the society of a congenial
brotherhood, and precious hopes. The general custom, before entering the sect, was for
each one to convert his fortune into specie. These fortunes ordinarily consisted of small
rural, semi-barren properties, and difficult of cultivation. It had one
advantage, especially for unmarried people: it enabled them to exchange these plots of land
against funds sunk in an assurance society, with a view to the Kingdom of God. Even some
married people came to the fore in that arrangement; and precautions were taken to insure
that the associates brought all that they really possessed, and did not retain anything
outside the common fund. Indeed, seeing that each one received out of the latter a share,
not in proportion to what one put in, but in proportion to one's needs, every reservation
of property was actually a theft made upon the community. The Christian communism had
religion for a basis, while modern socialism has nothing of the kind.
Under such a social constitution, the administrative difficulties were necessarily very
numerous, whatever might be the degree of fraternal feeling which prevailed. Between two
factions of a community, whose language was not the same, misapprehensions were
inevitable. It was difficult for well-descended Jews not to entertain some contempt for
their coreligionists who were less noble. In fact, it was not long before murmurs began to
be heard. The "Hellenists," who each day became more numerous, complained
because their widows were not so well treated at the distributions as those of the
"Hebrews." Till now, the apostles had presided over the affairs of the treasury.
But in face of these protestations they felt the necessity of delegating to others this
part of their powers. They proposed to the community to confide these administrative cares
to seven experienced and considerate men. The proposition was accepted. The seven chosen
were Stephanas, or Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicholas.
Stephen was the most important of the seven, and, in a sense, their chief.
To the administrators thus designated were given the Syriac name of Schammaschin. They
were also sometimes called "the Seven," to distinguish them from "the
Twelve." Such, then, was the origin of the diaconate, which is found to be the most
ancient ecclesiastical function, the most ancient of sacred orders. Later, all the
organized churches, in imitation of that of Jerusalem, had deacons. The growth of such an
institution was marvellous. It placed the claims of the poor on an equality with religious
services. It was a proclamation of the truth that social problems are the first which
should occupy the attention of mankind. It was the foundation of political
economy in the
religious sense. The deacons were the first preachers of Christianity. As organizers,
financiers, and administrators, they filled a yet more important part. These practical
men, in constant contact with the poor, the sick, the women, went everywhere, observed
everything, exhorted, and were most efficacious in converting people. They accomplished
more than the apostles, who remained on their seats of honour at Jerusalem. They were the
founders of Christianity, in respect of that which it possessed which was most solid and
At an early period women were admitted to this office. They were designated, as in our
day, by the name of "sisters." At first widows were selected; later, virgins
were preferred. The tact which guided the primitive Church in all this was admirable. The
grand idea of consecrating by a sort of religious character and of subjecting to a regular
discipline the women who were not in the bonds of marriage, is wholly Christian. The term
"widow" became synonymous with religious person, consecrated to God, and, by
consequence, a "deaconess." In those countries where the wife, at the age of
twenty-four, is already faded, where there is no middle state between the infant and the
old woman, it was a kind of new life, which was created for that portion of the human
species the most capable of devotion. These women, constantly going to and fro, were
admirable missionaries of the new religion.
The bishop and the priest, as we now know them, did not yet exist.
Still, the pastoral
ministry, that intimate familiarity of souls, not bound by ties of blood, had already been
established. This latter has ever been the special gift of Jesus, and a kind of heritage
from him. Jesus had often said that to everyone he was more than a father and a mother,
and that in order to follow him it was necessary to forsake those the most dear to us.
Christianity placed some things above family; it instituted brotherhood and spiritual
marriage. The ancient form of marriage, which placed the wife unreservedly in the
the husband, was pure slavery. The moral liberty of the woman began when the Church gave
to her in Jesus a guide and a confidant, who should advise and console her, listen always
to her, and on occasion counsel resistance on her part. Woman needs to be governed, and is
happy in so being; but it is necessary that she should love him who governs her. This is
what neither ancient societies nor Judaism nor Islamism have been able to do. Woman has
never had, up to the present time, a religious conscience, a moral individuality, an
opinion of her own, except in Christianity.
(Personally I disagree with this, the pagan religions of Europe did so to a much larger
degree, but here we are supposedly concerned with history and not opinion.)
It was now about the year 36. Tiberius, at Caprea, has little idea of the enemy to the
empire which is growing up. In two or three years the sect had made surprising progress.
It numbered several thousand of the faithful. It was already easy to foresee that its
conquests would be effected chiefly among the Hellenists and proselytes. The Galilean
group which had listened to the Master, though preserving always its precedence, seemed as
if swamped by the floods of new-comers speaking Greek. One could already perceive that the
principal parts were to be played by the latter. At the time at which we are arrived no
pagan, that is to say, no man without some anterior connection with Judaism, had entered
into the Church. Proselytes, however, performed very important functions in it. The circle
de provenance of the disciples had likewise largely extended; it is no longer a simple
little college of Palestinians ; we can count in it people from Cyprus, Antioch, and
Cyrene, and from almost all the points of the eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, where
Jewish colonies had been established. Egypt alone was wanting in the primitive Church, and
for a long time continued to be so.
It was inevitable that the preaching's of the new sect, although delivered with so much
reserve, should revive the animosities which had accumulated against its Founder, and
eventually brought about his death. The Sadducee family of Hanan, who had caused the death
of Jesus, was still reigning. Joseph Caiaphas occupied, up to 36, the sovereign
pontificate, the effective power of which he gave over to his father-in-law Hanan, and to
his relatives, John and Alexander. These arrogant and pitiless men viewed with impatience
a troop of good and holy people, without official title, winning the
favour of the
multitude. Once or twice Peter, John, and the principal members of the apostolic college
were put in prison and condemned to flagellation. This was the chastisement inflicted on
heretics. The authorization of the Romans was not necessary in order to apply it. As we
might indeed suppose, these brutalities only served to inflame the ardour of the apostles.
They came forth from the Sanhedrim, where they had just undergone flagellation, rejoicing
that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Him whom they loved. Eternal puerility
of penal repressions applied to things of the soul! They were regarded no doubt, as men of
order, as models of prudence and wisdom; these blunderers, who seriously believed in the
year 36 to gain the upper hand of Christianity by means of a few strokes of a whip!
These outrages proceeded chiefly from the Sadducees, that is to say, from the upper
clergy, who crowded the Temple and derived from it immense profits. We do not find that the
Pharisees exhibited toward the sect the animosity they displayed to Jesus. The new
believers were strict and pious people, somewhat resembling in their manner of life the
Pharisees themselves. The rage which the latter manifested against the Founder arose from
the superiority of Jesus- a superiority which he was at no pains to dissimulate. His
delicate railleries, his wit, his charm, his contempt for hypocrites, had kindled a
ferocious hatred. The apostles, on the contrary, were devoid of wit; they never employed
irony. The Pharisees were at times favourable to them; many Pharisees had even become
Christians. The terrible anathemas of Jesus against Pharisaism had not yet been written,
and the accounts of the words of the Master were neither general nor uniform. These first
Christians were, besides, people so inoffensive that many persons of the Jewish
aristocracy, who did not exactly form part of the sect, were well disposed toward
them. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who had known Jesus, remained no doubt with the
Church in the bonds of brotherhood.
The most celebrated Jewish doctor of the age, Rabbi Gamaliel the elder, grandson of
Hillel, a man of broad and very tolerant ideas, spoke, it is said, in the Sanhedrim in
favour of permitting gospel preaching. The author of the Acts credits him with some
excellent reasoning, which ought to be the rule of conduct of governments on all occasions
when they find themselves confronted with novelties of an intellectual or moral order.
"If this work is frivolous," said he, "leave it alone - it will fall of
itself; if it is serious, how dare you resist the work of God? In any case, you will not
succeed in stopping it." Gamaliel's words were hardly listened to. Liberal minds in
the midst of opposing fanaticisms have no chance of succeeding.
A terrible commotion was produced by the deacon Stephen. His preaching had, as it would
appear, great success. Multitudes flocked around him, and these gatherings resulted in
acrimonious quarrels. It was chiefly Hellenists, or proselytes, habitués of the synagogue,
called Libertini, people of Cyrene, of Alexandria, of Cilicia, of Ephesus, who took an
active part in these disputes. Stephen passionately maintained that Jesus was the Messiah,
that the priests had committed a crime in putting him to death, that the Jews were rebels,
sons of rebels, people who rejected evidence. The authorities resolved to despatch this
audacious preacher. Several witnesses were suborned to seize upon some words in his
discourses against Moses. Naturally they found that for which they sought. Stephen was
arrested and led into the presence of the Sanhedrim. The sentence with which they
reproached him was almost identical with the one which led to the condemnation of Jesus.
They accused him of saying that Jesus of Nazareth would destroy the Temple and change the
traditions attributed to Moses. It is quite possible, indeed, that Stephen had used such
language. A Christian of that epoch could not have had the idea of speaking directly
against the Law, in as much as all still observed it; as for traditions, however, Stephen
might combat them as Jesus had himself done; nevertheless, these traditions were foolishly
ascribed by the orthodox to Moses, and people attributed to them a value equal to that of
the written Law.
Stephen defended himself by expounding the Christian thesis, with a wealth of citations
from the written Law, from the Psalms, from the Prophets, and wound up by reproaching the
members of the Sanhedrim with the murder of Jesus. "Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised
in heart," said he to them, "you will then ever resist the Holy Ghost as your
fathers also have done. Which of the prophets have not your fathers prosecuted? They have
slain those who announced the coming of the Just One, whom you have betrayed, and of whom
you have been the murderers. This law that you have received from the mouth of angels you
have not kept." At these words a scream of rage interrupted him. Stephen, his
excitement increasing more and more, fell into one of those transports of enthusiasm which
were called the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. His eyes were fixed on high; he witnessed
the glory of God, and Jesus by the side of his Father, and cried out, "Behold, I see
the heavens opened, and the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of God." The whole
assembly stopped their ears and threw themselves upon him, gnashing their teeth. He was
dragged outside the city and stoned. The witnesses, who, according to the law, had to cast
the first stones, divested themselves of their garments and laid them at the feet of a
young fanatic named Saul, or Paul, who was thinking with secret joy of the renown he was
acquiring in participating in the death of a blasphemer.
In that epoch the persecutors of Christianity were not Romans; they were orthodox Jews.
The Romans preserved in the midst of this fanaticism a principle of tolerance and of
reason. If we can reproach the imperial authority with anything it is with being too
lenient, and with not having cut short with a stroke the civil consequences of a
sanguinary law which visited with death religious derelictions. But as yet the Roman
domination was not so complete as it became later.
As Stephen's death may have taken place at any time during the years 36, 37, 38, we
cannot, therefore, affirm whether Caiaphas ought to be held responsible for it. Caiaphas
was deposed by Lucius Vitellius, in the year 36, shortly after the time of Pilate; but the
change was inconsiderable. He had for a successor his brother-in-law, Jonathan, son of
Hanan. The latter, in turn, was succeeded by his brother Theophilus, son of Hanan, who
continued the pontificate in the house of Hanan till the year 42. Hanan was still
alive, and, possessed of the real power, maintained in his family the principles
severity, hatred against innovators, which were, so to speak, hereditary.
The death of Stephen produced a great impression. The proselytes solemnized his funeral
with tears and groanings. The separation of the new sectaries from Judaism was not yet
absolute. The proselytes and the Hellenists, less strict in regard to orthodoxy than the
pure Jews, considered that they ought to render public homage to a man who respected their
constitution, and whose peculiar beliefs did not put him without the pale of the law. Thus
began the era of Christian martyrs.
The murder of Stephen was not an isolated event. Taking advantage of the weakness of
the Roman functionaries, the Jews brought to bear upon the Church a real persecution. It
seems that the vexations pressed chiefly on the Hellenists and the proselytes, whose free
behaviour exasperated the orthodox. The Church of Jerusalem, though already strongly
organized, was compelled to disperse. The apostles, according to a principle which seems
to have seized strong hold of their minds, did not quit the city. It was probably so,
too, with the whole purely Jewish group, those who were denominated the
"Hebrews." But the great community with its common table, its diaconal services,
its varied exercises, ceased from that time, and was never reformed upon its
first model. It
had endured for three or four years. It was for nascent Christianity an unequalled good
fortune that its first attempts at association, essentially communistic, were so soon
broken up. Essays of this kind engender such shocking abuses that communistic
establishments are condemned to crumble away in a very short time or to ignore very soon
the principle upon which they are founded.
Thanks to the persecution of the year 37, the cenobitic Church of Jerusalem was saved
from the test of time. It was nipped in the bud before interior difficulties had
undermined it. It remained like a splendid dream, the memory of which animated in their
life of trial all those who had formed part of it, like an ideal to which Christianity
incessantly aspires without ever succeeding in reaching its goal.
The leading part in the persecution we have just related belonged to that young Saul,
whom we have above found abetting, as far as in him lay, the murder of Stephen. This
hot-headed youth, furnished with a permission from the priests, entered houses suspected of
harbouring Christians, laid violent hold on men and women, and dragged them to prison or
before the tribunals. Saul boasted that there was no one of his generation so zealous as
himself for the traditions. True it is that often the gentleness and the resignation
victims astonished him; he experienced a kind of remorse; he fancied he
heard these pious
women, whom, hoping for the Kingdom of God, he had cast into prison, saying during the
night, in a sweet voice, "Why persecutest thou us?"The blood of Stephen, which
had almost smothered him, sometimes troubled his vision. Many things that he had heard said
of Jesus went to his heart. This superhuman being, in his ethereal life, whence he
sometimes emerged, revealing himself in brief apparitions, haunted him like a spectre. But
Saul shrunk with horror from such thoughts; he confirmed himself with a sort of frenzy in
the faith of his traditions, and meditated new cruelties against those who
attacked him. His
name had become a terror to the faithful; they dreaded at his hands the most atrocious
outrages and the most sanguinary treacheries.
The persecution of the year 37 had for its result, as is always the
case, the spread of
the doctrine which it was wished to arrest. Till now the Christian preaching had not
extended far beyond Jerusalem; no mission had been undertaken; enclosed within its exalted
but narrow communion, the mother Church had spread no halos around herself nor formed any
branches. The dispersion of the little circle scattered the good seed to the four winds
of heaven. The members of the Church of Jerusalem, driven violently from
spread them selves over every part of Judea and Samaria, and preached everywhere the
Kingdom of God. The deacons, in particular, freed from their administrative functions by
the destruction of the community, became excellent evangelists.
The scene of the first missions, which was soon to embrace the whole basin of the
Mediterranean, was the region about Jerusalem; within a radius of two or three days'
journey. Philip the Deacon was the hero of this first holy expedition. He evangelized
Samaria most successfully. Peter and John, after confirming the Church of Sebaste,
departed again for Jerusalem, evangelizing on their way the villages of the country of
Samaria. Philip the Deacon continued his evangelizing journeys, directing his steps toward
the south, into the ancient country of the Philistines.
Azote and the Gaza route were the limits of the first evangelical preachings toward the
south. Beyond were the desert and the nomadic life upon which Christianity has never taken
much hold. From Azote Philip the Deacon turned toward the north and evangelized all the
coast as far as Caesarea, where he settled and founded an important church. Caesarea was a
new city and the most considerable of Judea. It was in a kind of way the port of
Christianity, the point by which the Church of Jerusalem communicated with
Many other missions, the history of which is unknown to us, were conducted
simultaneously with that of Philip. The very rapidity with which this first preaching was
done was the reason of its success. In the year 38,five years after the death of Jesus,
and probably one year after the death of Stephen, all this side of Jordan had heard the
glad tidings from the mouths of missionaries hailing from Jerusalem. Galilee, on its part,
guarded the holy seed and probably scattered it around her, although we know of no
missions issuing from that quarter. Perhaps the city of Damascus, from the period at which
we now are, had also some Christians, who received the faith from Galilean preachers.
The year 38 is marked in the history of the nascent Church by a much more important
conquest. During that year we may safely place the conversion of that Saul whom we
witnessed participating in the stoning of Stephen, and as a principal agent in the
persecution of 37, but who now, by a mysterious act of grace, becomes the most ardent of
the disciples of Jesus.
From the year 38 to the year 44 no persecution seems to have been directed against the
Church. The faithful were, no doubt, far more prudent than before the death of Stephen,
and avoided speaking in public. Perhaps, too, the troubles of the Jews who, during all the
second part of the reign of Caligula, were at variance with that prince, contributed to
favour the nascent sect.
This period of peace was fruitful in interior developments. The nascent Church was
divided into three provinces, Judea, Samaria, Galilee, to which Damascus was no doubt
attached. The primacy of Jerusalem was uncontested. The Church of this city, which had
been dispersed after the death of Stephen, was quickly reconstituted. The apostles had
never quitted the city. The brothers of the Lord continued to reside there and to wield a
Peter undertook frequent apostolical journeys in the environs of Jerusalem. He had
always a great reputation as a thaumaturgist. At Lydda in particular he was reputed to
have cured a paralytic named Aeneas, a miracle which is said to have led to numerous
conversions in the plain of Saron. From Lydda he repaired to Joppa, a city which appears to
have been a centre for Christianity. Peter made a long sojourn at Joppa, at the house of a
tanner named Simon, who dwelt near the sea. The organization of works of charity was soon
actively entered upon.
The germ of those associations of women, which are one of the glories of Christianity,
existed in the first churches of Judea. At Jaffa commenced those societies of veiled women,
clothed in linen, who were destined to continue through centuries the tradition of
charitable secrets. Tabitha was the mother of a family which will have no end as long as
there are miseries to be relieved and feminine instincts to be gratified.
The Church of Jerusalem was still exclusively composed of Jews and of proselytes. The
Holy Ghost being shed upon the uncircumcised before baptism, appeared an extraordinary
fact. It is probable that there existed thence forward a party opposed in principle to the
admission of Gentiles, and that all did not accept the explanations of Peter. The author of
the Acts would have us believe that the approbation was unanimous. But in a few years we
shall see the question revived with much greater intensity. This matter of
centurion was, perhaps, like that of the Ethiopian eunuch, accepted as an exceptional case,
justified by a revelation and an express order from God. Still the matter was far from
being settled. This was the first controversy which had taken place in the bosom of the
Church; the paradise of interior peace had lasted for six or seven years.
About the year 40 the great question upon which depended all the future of Christianity
appears thus to have been propounded. Peter and Philip took a very just view of what was
the true solution, and baptized pagans.
The new faith was spread from place to place with marvellous rapidity. The members of
the Church of Jerusalem, who had been dispersed immediately after the death of Stephen,
pushing their conquests along the coast of Phoenicia, reached Cyprus and Antioch. They
were at first guided by the sole principle of preaching the Gospel to the Jews only.
Antioch, "the metropolis of the East," the third city of the world, was the
centre of this Christian movement in Northern Syria. It was a city with a population of
more than five hundred thousand souls, and the residence of the imperial legate of Syria.
Suddenly advanced to a high degree of splendour by the Seleucidae, it reaped great benefit
from the Roman occupation. Antioch, from its foundation, had been wholly a Grecian city.
The Macedonians of Antigone and Seleucus had brought with them into that country of the
Lower Orontes their most lively recollections, their worship, and the names of their
country. The Grecian mythology was there adopted as it were in a second home; they
pretended to show in the country a crowd of "holy places" forming part of this
mythology. The city was full of the worship of Apollo and of the nymphs.The degradation of
the people was awful. The peculiarity of these centres of moral putrefaction is to reduce
all the race of mankind to the same level. The depravity of certain Levantine cities, which
are dominated by the spirit of intrigue and delivered up entirely to low cunning, can
scarcely give us anidea of the degree of corruption reached by the human race at Antioch.
It was an inconceivable medley of mountebanks, quacks, buffoons, magicians,
miracle-mongers, sorcerers, false priests; a city of races, games, dances, processions,
fetes, revels, of unbridled luxury, of all the follies of the East, of the most unhealthy
superstitions, and of the fanaticism of the orgy. The city was very literary, but literary
only in the literature of rhetoricians. The beauty of works of art and the infinite charm
of nature prevented this moral degradation from sinking entirely into hideousness and
The Church of Antioch owed its foundation to some believers originally from Cyprus and
Cyrene, who had already been much engaged in preaching. Up to this time they had only
addressed themselves to the Jews. But in a city where pure Jews - Jews who were
proselytes, "people fearing God" - or half-Jewish pagans and pure pagans, lived
together, exclusive preaching restricted to agroup of houses became impossible. That
feeling of religious aristocracy on which the Jews of Jerusalem so much prided themselves
did not exist in those large cities, where civilization was altogether of the profane
sort, where the scope was greater, and where prejudices were less firmly rooted. The
Cypriot and Cyrenian missionaries were then constrained to depart from their
preached to the Jews and to the Greeks indifferently.