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.
- 337-379 The Persian Church faced several severe persecutions, notably during the reign of Shapur II (309–79), from the Zoroastrian majority who accused it of Roman leanings.
- 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.
- 342 Death of Hieromartyr Sadoc (Sadoth/Shahdost), Bishop of Persia, and 128 martyrs with him.
- 345 Death of Nicholas, Archbishop of Myra in Lycia.
- 347 Council of Sardica.
- 348 Death of Pachomius the Great; death of Spyridon of Trimythous; death of Abramius of Arbela, Bp. of Arbela in Assyria, tortured and later beheaded under Shapur II.
- 350 Bp. Jacob of Nisibis protected the city of Nisibis by his prayers during the Persian siege of Sapor II; 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.
- 354 Theophilos the Indian was sent by Emperor Constantius II on a mission to south Asia via Arabia, where he is said to have converted the Himyarites and built three churches in southwest Arabia; he is also said to have found Christians in India, along the Malabar Coast, as recorded by the Anomoean (Arian) Church historian Philostorgius.
- 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.
- 361-63 Julian the Apostate becomes Roman emperor, attempting to restore paganism.
- 362 Synod of Alexandria; Antiochian schism (362-414); death of Greatmartyr Artemius at Antioch; martyrdom of Roman soldier Eusignius, who converted to Christianity at the age of 110.
- 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; martyrdom of Dometius of Persia and two disciples.
- 364 Council of Laodicea held.
- 365-66 Brief exile and final restoration of Athanasius of Alexandria.
- 366 Death of Abramius the Recluse.
- 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.
- 372 Death of Hilarion the Great of Palestine.
- 373 Death of Athanasius the Great; death of Ephrem the Syrian.
- 374 Election of Ambrose as bishop of Milan; death of Nonna of Nazianzus, mother of St Gregory the Theologian.
- ca. 375 Emperor Gratian relinquishes the pagan imperial title of Pontifex Maximus, bestowing the title on Pope Damasus I of Rome (although it was not until the fifteenth century that "Pontifex Maximus" became a regular title of honour for Popes).
- 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.
- 379-402 Continuation of the Great Persecution of the Persian church.
- 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 Apollinarianism, 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.
- 390 Death of Horus of the Thebaid.
- 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; Death of Evagrius Ponticus
- 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.
- 409 Permission was formally given by the Zoroastrian King Yezdegerd to Christians to worship openly and rebuild destroyed churches, though they were not allowed to proselytize (some historians call this decree the Edict of Milan for the Assyrian Christian church).
- 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 The Council of Seleucia-Ctesiphon (Council of Mar Isaac) met in Seleucia-Ctesiphon, capitol of the Sassanid Empire of Persia, extending official recognition to the Empire's Christian community, (known as the Church of the East after 431 AD), and established the Bp. of Seleucia-Ctesiphon as its Catholicos, or leader, declaring him to be supreme among the Bps. of the East, independent of other Orthodox Bps; this established a hierarchical Christian Church in Iran, with a patriarchate at Ctesiphon and metropolitans in the capitals of five Persian provinces; it also declared its adherence to the decisions of the Council of Nicea and subscribed to the Nicene Creed.
- 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.
- 424 Formal separation of the Assyrian Church of the East ("East Syrian Church", "Persian Church", "Chaldean Syrian Church", or "Nestorian Church"), from the See of Antioch: the Synod of Dadyeshu met in Markabata of the Arabs, under the presidency of Mar Dadyeshu, proclaiming the independence of the Iranian Church from Byzantium, deciding that the Catholicos should be the sole head of the Church of the East and that no ecclesiastical authority should be acknowledged above him, referring to him for the first time as Patriarch, answerable to God alone (thus also reassuring the Sassandid monarchy that Persian Christians were not influenced by the Roman enemy).
- 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; translation of the relics of the Apostle Stephen the Protomartyr, found incorrupt, together with the relics of Sts. Nicodemus the Righteous, Gamaliel, and his son Abibus, from Jerusalem to Constantinople on August 2.
- 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.
- 437 Seven Sleepers of Ephesus awakened to prove resurrection of the dead.
- 438 Codex Theodosianus published.
- 439 Carthage falls to Vandals.
- 442 First Council of Vasio (Consilium Vasense I, modern Vaison-la-Romaine), November 13, 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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- Timeline of Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic relations
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
- Nina Heiska. The Economy and Livelihoods of the Early Christian Monasteries in Palestine. Master of Arts Thesis. University of Helsinki: Institute for Cultural Studies, Archaeology. November 2003 (Period covered: AD 324-636)
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)
- Liebeschuetz, John Hugo Wolfgang Gideon. Barbarians and Bishops: Army, Church, and State in the Age of Arcadius and Chrysostom. Clarendon Press, 1990. ISBN 0198148860
- 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)
- Merrill, Elmer Truesdell (Professor). The Church in the Fourth Century. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. Vol.50, 1919. pp.101-121.
- Rapp, Claudia. Holy Bishops in Late Antiquity: The Nature of Christian Leadership in an Age of Transition. University of California Press, 2005. 346pp. ISBN 9780520242968
- 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)