Timeline of Church History (Nicene Era (325-451))
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The History of the Church is a vital part of the Orthodox Christian faith. Orthodox Christians are defined significantly by their continuity with all those who have gone before, those who first received and preached the truth of Jesus Christ to the world, those who helped to formulate the expression and worship of our faith, and those who continue to move forward in the unchanging yet ever-dynamic Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church.
Nicene era (325-451)
- 325 First Ecumenical Council held in Nicea, condemning Arianism, setting the Paschalion, and issuing the first version of the Nicene Creed.
- 326 Discovery of the True Cross by the Empress Helena; King Miraeus of Georgia becomes Christian.
- 328 Athanasius the Great becomes bishop of Alexandria (328-373).
- 329 Athanasius ordains Frumentius (Abba Selama) to priesthood and commissions him to evangelize Ethiopia.
- 330 Byzantium refounded as Constantinople / New Rome, Christian capital of the Roman Empire, and is dedicated to the Theotokos by Emperor Constantine; Amoun and Macarius the Great found monasteries in the Egyptian desert.
- 333 Constantine commissions Eusebius, to prepare 50 copies of the Bible for churches in the new capital.
- 335 Death of Sylvester, Pope of Rome.
- 336-338 Athanasius the Great goes into exile in Treves, telling Europeans about the monastic rule of Pachomius the Great, awakening interest in monasticism in Europe.
- 337 Death of Constantine.
- 339-346 Second exile of Athanasius.
- 340 Conversion of Wulfila to Arianism, subsequently missionizing the Goths with heretical doctrine; Council of Rome under Pope Julius where Athanasius and Marcellus are declared innocent and maintained in the communion of the western churches; Council of Gangra held.
- 340-570 Constantinople overtakes Rome as the largest city in the world by population.
- 341 Council of Antioch held; Emperor Constans bans pagan sacrifices and magic rituals under penalty of death.
- 345 Death of Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia.
- 347 Council of Sardica.
- 348 Death of Pachomius the Great; death of Spyridon of Trimythous.
- 350 Ninian establishes the church Candida Casa at Whithorn in Galloway, Scotland, beginning the missionary effort to the Picts.
- 351 Apparition of the Sign of the Cross over Jerusalem.
- 355 Death of Nina, Enlightener of Georgia.
- 356 Death of Anthony the Great.
- 357 The Council of Sirmium, the high point of Arianism, issues the Blasphemy of Sirmium.
- 358 Basil the Great founds monastery of Annesos in Pontus, the model for Eastern monasticism.
- 359 Councils of Seleucia in the east and Rimini in the west.
- 360 Martin of Tours founds first French monastery at Liguge; first church of Hagia Sophia inaugurated by Emperor Constantius II.
- 362 Synod of Alexandria; Antiochian schism (362-414).
- 361-63 Julian the Apostate becomes Roman emperor, attempting to restore paganism.
- 363 Emperor Jovian reestablished Christianity as the official religion of the Empire, stating that he preferred the Orthodox view, and that Athanasius was to be permitted to return to his see at Alexandria.
- 364 Council of Laodicea held.
- 365 Western Emperor Gratian relinquishes the pagan imperial title of Pontifex Maximus, bestowing the title on Pope Damasus I of Rome; it was not until the fifteenth century however that "Pontifex Maximus" became a regular title of honour for Popes.
- 365-66 Brief exile and final restoration of Athanasius of Alexandria.
- 367 Athanasius of Alexandria writes his Paschal letter, listing for the first time the canon of the New Testament of the Holy Scriptures, including all 27 New Testament Books; death of Hilary of Poitiers.
- 373 Death of Athanasius the Great; death of Ephrem the Syrian.
- 374 Election of Ambrose as bishop of Milan.
- 375 Basil the Great writes On the Holy Spirit, confirming the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
- 376 Visigoths convert to Arian Christianity.
- 378 Meletius returns to his see as bishop of Antioch; at Battle of Adrianople Emperor Valens defeated by the Visigoths, permanently weakening northern borders of the empire.
- 379 Death of Basil the Great; Emperor Gratian's rescript Ordinariorum Sententias extends power of Bishop of Rome by allowing him authority over bishops within his own jurisdiction.
- 380 Christianity established as the official faith of the Roman Empire by Emperor Theodosius the Great; Council of Saragossa condemns Priscillianism.
- 381 Second Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople, condemning Macedonianism/Pneumatomachianism and Appollinarianism, declaring the divinity of the Holy Spirit, confirming the previous Ecumenical Council, and completing the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed; Council of Aquileia led by Ambrose of Milan deposes Arian bishops.
- 382 Pope Siricius of Rome first to bear title Pontifex Maximus.
- 383 Death of Frumentius of Axum, bishop of Axum and Apostle to Ethiopia.
- 384 Council of Bordeaux condemns Priscillian.
- 385 Death of Gregory of Nyssa.
- 386 Panagia Soumela Monastery founded in Trebizond, Pontus, Asia Minor; death of Cyril of Jerusalem; Theodosius the Great begins to rebuild the present-day Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.
- 387 Augustine baptized at Pascha by Ambrose of Milan.
- 391 Death of Gregory the Theologian.
- 391-92 All non-Christian temples in the Empire closed; Theodosius the Great ends pagan Eleusinian Mysteries by decree and causes surviving pagan sacrifices at Alexandria and Rome to cease.
- 392 Death of Macarius the Great.
- 393 Council of Hippo publishes Biblical canon; Emperor Theodosius bans Olympic Games as a pagan festival.
- 394 Epiphanius of Salamis attacks teachings of Origen as heretical; Council of Constantinople held; Donatist Council of Bagai in Africa held with 310 bishops.
- 395 Augustine becomes bishop of Hippo in North Africa; the placing of the cincture (sash) of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Church of the Virgin in Halkoprateia-Constantinople (395-408).
- 395 Re-division of Empire with death of Emperor Theodosius the Great.
- 397 Council of Carthage publishes Biblical canon; death of Martin of Tours; death of Ambrose of Milan.
- 398 John Chrysostom becomes Archbishop of Constantinople.
- ca. 398 Martyrdom of 10,000 Fathers of the Scetis by Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria.
- 399 Anastasius of Rome and other bishops condemn doctrine of Origen.
- 401 Augustine of Hippo writes Confessions; Pope Innocent I of Rome supports John Chrysostom and condemns pelagianism.
- ca.400 Jerusalem Talmud completed.
- 402 Emperor Honorius transfers capital of the Western Empire from Milan to Ravenna; Porphyry of Gaza obtains imperial decree ordering closing of pagan temples in Gaza.
- 403 Abduction of Patrick to Ireland to serve as a slave; visit of Victricius of Rouen to Britain; Synod of the Oak held near Chalcedon, deposing and exiling John Chrysostom.
- 404 Martyrdom of Telemachus, resulting in Emperor Honorius' edict banning gladiator fights.
- 405 Translation of Holy Scriptures into Latin as the Vulgate by Jerome; martyrdom of Moses the Black.
- 406 Invasion of Gaul by Germanic tribes, severing contact between Rome and Britain.
- 407 Death of John Chrysostom in exile.
- 410 Fall of Rome to the Visigoths under Alaric I; escape of Patrick back to Britain; Emperor Honorius tells Britain to attend to its own affairs, effectively removing the Roman presence; Honoratus founds a monastery on island of Lerins.
- 410 Council of Seleucia declares Mesopotamian Nestorian bishops independent of Orthodox bishops.
- 411 Pelagius condemned at council in Carthage; Rabbula becomes bishop of Edessa.
- 412 Cyril succeeds his uncle Theophilus as Pope of Alexandria; Honorius outlaws Donatism; Lazarus, bishop of Aix-en-Provence, and Herod, bishop of Arles, expelled from sees on a charge of Manichaeism; Alexandrian Creation Era date finalized at 25 March, 5493 BC.
- 413 Martyrdom of Marcellinus of Carthage.
- 414 Resolution of the Antiochian division.
- 415 Pelagius cleared at a synod in Jerusalem and a provincial synod in Diospolis (Lydda); John Cassian founds convent at Marseilles.
- 416 Councils in Carthage and Milevis condemn Pelagius and convince Pope Innocent I of Rome to excommunicate him.
- 418 Foundation of the Arian Visigothic Kingdom, as Emperor Honorius rewards Visigoth federates by giving them land in Gallia Aquitania on which to settle.
- 418-24 Council in Carthage anathematizes Pelagianism by way of endorsing Augustinian anthropology.
- 425 Sanhedrin disbanded by the Roman Empire; University of Constantinople founded as the first university in the world.
- 426 Augustine of Hippo writes The City of God.
- 428 Nestorius becomes patriarch of Constantinople.
- 429 Pope Celestine I dispatches prominent Gallo-Roman Bishops Germanus of Auxerre and Lupus of Troyes to Britain as missionary bishops and to combat the Pelagian heresy; death of Sisoes the Great.
- ca. 430 Death of Nilus of Sinai.
- 430 Peter the Iberian founds Georgian monastery near Bethlehem.
- 431 Third Ecumenical Council held in Ephesus, condemning Nestorianism and Pelagianism, confirming the use of the term Theotokos to refer to the Virgin Mary, and confirming autocephaly of Church of Cyprus; Pope Celestine sends Palladius to Ireland.
- 432 Return of Patrick to Ireland to begin missionary work; death of Ninian, Apostle to the Picts.
- 433 Formulary of Peace completes the work of the Third Ecumenical Council by reconciling Cyril of Alexandria with John of Antioch.
- 435 Death of John Cassian; death of Acacius of Melitene; Nestorius exiled by Imperial edict to a monastery in a Sahara oasis.
- 438 Codex Theodosianus published.
- 439 Carthage falls to Vandals.
- 442 First Council of Vasio (Vaison-la-Romaine), November 13, (Consilium Vasense I), which dealt with the question of the unity of the Three Persons of the Holy Trinity, attended by Nectarius Bp. of Vienne who played an active role in defending Orthodoxy against Arianism.
- 444 Death of Cyril of Alexandria; Pope Leo the Great abolishes Gallican vicariate.
- 445 Founding of monastery at Armagh in northern Ireland; Emperor Valentinian III issues decree recognizing primacy of the bishop of Rome.
- 447 Earthquake in Constantinople, when a boy was lifted up to heaven and heard the Trisagion.
- 449 Robber Synod of Ephesus, presided over by Dioscorus of Alexandria, with an order from the emperor to acquit Eutyches the Monophysite.
- 450 First monasteries established in Wales; Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britian; death of Peter Chrysologus.
- Some of these dates are necessarily a bit vague, as records for some periods are particularly difficult to piece together accurately.
- The division of Church History into separate eras as done here will always be to some extent arbitrary, though it was attempted to group periods according to major watershed events.
- This timeline is necessarily biased toward the history of the Orthodox Church, though a number of non-Orthodox or purely political events are mentioned for their importance in history related to Orthodoxy or for reference.
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The following are published writings that provide an overview of Church history:
From an Orthodox perspective
- Schmemann, Alexander. The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy.
- Ware, Timothy. The Orthodox Church: New Edition. (ISBN 0140146563)
- Dr. Kathryn Tsai. A Timeline of Eastern Church History. Divine Ascent Press, CA, 2004. ISBN 0971413924
From a Heterodox perspective
- Boer, Harry R. A Short History of the Early Church. (ISBN 0802813399)
- Cairns, Earle E. Christianity Through the Centuries: A History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0310208122)
- Chadwick, Henry. The Early Church. (ISBN 0140231994)
- Eusebius Pamphilus; Cruse, C.F. (translator). Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. (ISBN 1565633717)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 1: From the Beginnings to the Council of Chalcedon. (ISBN 0687171822)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. A History of Christian Thought, Volume 2: From Augustine to the Eve of the Reformation. (ISBN 0687171830)
- Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity, Volume 1: The Early Church to the Reformation. (ISBN 0060633158)
- Hall, Stuart G. Doctrine and Practice in the Early Church. (ISBN 0802806295)
- Hastings, Adrian, ed. A World History of Christianity. (ISBN 0802848753)
- Hussey, J. M. The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire: Oxford History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 0198264569)
- Jones, Timothy P. Christian History Made Easy. (ISBN 1890947105)
- Noll, Mark A. Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity. (ISBN 080106211X)
- Pelikan, Jaroslav. The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 1: The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition (100-600). (ISBN 0226653714)
- Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church. (ISBN 156563196X)
- Wace, Henry; Piercy, William C., ed. A Dictionary of Christian Biography: Literature to the End of the Sixth Century A.D. With an Account of the Principal Sects and Heresies. (ISBN 1565630572)
- Walton, Robert C. Chronological and Background Charts of Church History. (ISBN 0310362814)
- History of Orthodox Christianity (QuickTime movies)
- Timeline of Patriarchal History. Order of St. Andrew the Apostle. Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. (Pop-up Video Presentation, in Sections)