This video is part of a series of 4 animated maps.

View series: History of Christianity

An example of an animated map

The first Christian communities (1st century)

This map is part of a series of 4 animated maps showing the history of History of Christianity.

After the death of Jesus, the first groups of Christians were established in Jerusalem and Galilee.

Later, some of their members began to travel further afield in order to spread Christ’s message to Jewish communities, first in Antioch and Damascus and then to the Mesopotamian Diaspora. Christian communities were probably established in Babylon and perhaps in Armenia and Georgia.

This message was also carried to Asia Minor and across the Anatolian Plateau to the Greek cities along the coast, such as Ephesus. Christian communities were established in Macedonia and on the Greek peninsula.

The regions administered by Alexandria also received news of Christ’s message: Egypt and the north coast of Africa towards Cyrene.

The new religion also became known to the Jewish communities in Rome before 50 AD. Christianity then radiated out from the Empire’s capital to reach its western provinces.   

In Palestine around 44 AD, these groups were led by James the Less who was living in Jerusalem. The first communities were called Judeo-Christians because Christianity at that time was still merely a Jewish ‘sect’ or school amongst many others.

Around this time, dissensions emerged between the Greek or Hellenistic Jews and the Hebraic Jews, known as the Hebrews.

In 48 or 49 AD, in Jerusalem, there was a debate between the Hellenist, Paul, and the Hebrew, James the Less, whether non-Jews should be admitted.  Paul thought that one could become a Christian without having to accept Jewish religious obligations, such as circumcision. James agreed but ruled that all converted Christians must give up pagan sacrifices.

In 66 AD, Jewish zealots rebelled against the Roman Empire. In 70, following a long siege, the Imperial Army captured Jerusalem.  The Temple, cornerstone of the Jewish faith, was burnt to the ground.

The various Jewish sects disappeared, apart from the Pharisees who established the Rabbinic School.

Between 132 and 135 AD, Palestine was once again a battlefield.

The resulting devastation of Jerusalem and the expulsion of the Jews were interpreted by Christian scholars as a divine punishment for the death of Jesus.

By now, the two sects had become definitively divided into separate religions.