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Chronology of Early & New Testament Christianity

Christian History Timeline 40 BCE - 95 CE

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• Christianity Timelines
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Below is chronology of events and people who appear in writing of the Bible. Reliable information is scanty, so dates are necessarily approximate. Generally, the date given is the latest likely. There are four different types of color-coded dates:

  • Dates of probable events in the New Testament
  • Dates in the composition of New Testament books
  • Other events important in Early Christianity
  • Other dates in history for comparison & context

See also:

Words in red are linked to our glossary - so clicking on them will take you to much more information than can be included in brief chronology like this.

New Testament
40 BCE Herod the Great was appointed King of Judea by Marc Antony in Rome.
30 BCE Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide because, in the previous year, Cleoptra's forces lead by Antony were defeated by the Roman general Octavian in the Battle of Actium. Herod, like many others, quickly shifted his allegiance to Octavian.
27 BCE The Roman Empire was founded by Octavian and the last vestiges of the old Republic were swept away. Renamed Augustus Caesar, he ruled for 41 years and became a significant influence on the development of the Mediterranean world.
20 BCE Herod began to rebuild the Great Temple in Jerusalem in an attempt to restore it to its former splendor.
c. 8 BCE Jesus of Nazareth born in Roman Palestine (by some estimates).
6 Herod the Great deposed by Augustus.
14 - 37 Tiberius I, stepson of Augustus, became emperor of Rome (b. 42 BCE).
18 Roman poet Ovid died.
18 Caiaphas became high priest in Jerusalem (until 36).
c. 24 - 26 Jesus is believed to have begun his ministry.
26 - 36 Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea.
27 - 28 John the Baptist wandered and preached. Jesus would have been baptized. [Luke 3:1-2] (15th year of Tiberius).
28 John the Baptist was executed on orders from Herod Antipas.
c. 30 Jesus of Nazareth is believed to have been crucified in Jerusalem.
c. 31 Saint Stephen became the first Christian martyr when he was stoned to death for blasphemy. One of those present at his execution was the Pharisee Saul.
c. 34-35 Saul of Tarsus, formerly a rabbi and enemy of Christianity, converts to the new Christian faith and became known as Paul. [Acts 9].
c. 37-40 Paul first visited Jerusalem as a Christian.
37 - 41 Gaius Caligula, nephew of Tiberius, became emperor of Rome and declared himself a god. In the year 41 he would be assassinated and Claudius, a crippled son of Tiberius, would take command.
40 Paul went to Jerusalem to consult with Peter [Gal 1, 18-20].
c. 40 - 51 Paul traveled to Asia Minor and Cyprus, establishing churches and writing the earliest epistles which would became part of the New Testament canon.
43 Romans under Aulus Plautius invaded Britain. London was founded.
44 James, brother of John, was executed by Herod Agrippa I [Acts 12, 1-3].
47 First recorded use of the term "Christian" occurred in Antioch, Syria, home of one of the earliest Christian churches .
47 - 48 Paul and Barnabas were on Cyprus [Acts 13, 4-12].
48 - 49 Council of Jerusalem, 1st Christian Council, doctrines on circumcision and dietary law was agreed to by apostles and presbyters, written in a letter addressed to "the brothers of Gentile origin in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia" [Acts 15]
c. 49 Paul composed his epistle to the Thessalonians - the earliest known New Testament writing
49 Emperor Claudius ordered all Jewish Christians expelled from Rome.
c. 51 Paul wrote epistle to the Galatians.
54 Empress Agrippina had Emperor Claudius murdered and installed her 16-year-old son Nero as the new emperor.
c. 55 Paul wrote epistles to the Corinthians.
c. 55 Peter traveled to Rome where his leadership over the church of Rome established the tradition of the papacy. He has come to be regarded as the first bishop of Rome (pope).
57 Paul's last visit to Jerusalem [Acts 21].
58 Paul was arrested and imprisoned in Caesarea [Acts 25:4].
58 Emperor Ming-Ti of China introduced Buddhism into his country.
c. 60 Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans.
61 Human sacrifices in religious celebrations were prohibited by Roman law.
62 Paul was held under house arrest in Rome, but then was allowed to resume his travels.
64 Roman emperor Nero (37 - 68) accused the Christians of having started the fire which destroyed large sections of Rome, initiating widespread persecution.
65 Famous and influential Roman philosopher Seneca committed suicide on orders from Emperor Nero.
c. 65 Q was possibly written, (German: Quelle, meaning "source") a hypothetical Greek text used in writing of Matthew and Luke.
66 Jews revolted against Roman government (through 70).
c. 67 Nero ordered the execution of both Peter and Paul.
68 Qumran (Essenes?) community was destroyed by Rome. The site of their "Dead Sea Scrolls" would be found in 1949.
69 Vespian, a Roman general, attacked to Rome in order to quell a Jewish uprising. A coup by other generals causes him to be made emperor.
70 Titus, son of Roman emperor Vespasian, captured and destroyed Jerusalem and suppressed a Jewish revolt, destroying the Temple in the process.
c. 70 Mark, earliest known gospel, was probably composed.
73 Masada, last remaining stronghold of Jewish Zealots, fell to Roman assault.
79 Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae.
c. 85 - 95 Gospel of Luke and Book of Acts were probably composed.
c. 90 Old Testament books, called "The Writings," were established as part of Christian canon: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, and Chronicles.
c. 95 Book of Revelations was probably composed.
c. 95 Clement of Rome (c. 30 - 100), one of the earliest popes, wrote a letter arguing that church leaders possess a divine authority inherited from Christ and his apostles.
c. 95- 105 Composition of the "Pastoral Epistles," falsely attributed to Paul: Hebrews, I and II Timothy, Titus, and I Peter.
c. 80 - 100 Gospel of Matthew was probably composed.
98 - 116 Trajan was emperor of Rome. Around this time the Roman empire reached maximum size.
c. 100 Christian churches were established in Greece, North Africa, Italy, and Asia Minor.
c. 100 - 125 Gospel of John was probably composed.
100 - 165 St. Justin Martyr lived and was one of the first Christian apologists to offer a defense of Christianity.
c. 100 The Romans built the first London Bridge across the Thames.
122 Roman emperor Hadrian visited Britain and began construction of a wall and fortifications between northern England and Scotland.
132 Shimeon Bar-Kokhba and Rabbi Akiba Ben-Joseph led Jews in a revolt against Roman rule. They captured Jerusalem and created an independent state of Israel.
135 Julius Severus, formerly governor of Britain, crushed a revolt in Palestine. Final Diaspora (dispersion) of the Jews occurs.
c. 140 Shepherd of Hermas was written, describing a highly developed system of bishops, deacons, and priests.
c. 144 Marcion founded an influential Christian sect which argued for the existence of two gods (one good, one evil) and for the rejection of the Old Testament.
c. 150 The four "canonical" gospels were collected together.
c. 150 The School of Alexandria was founded in Egypt, quickly becoming a major center for both Christian theology and Greek philosophy. Among its prominent teachers were the theologians Clement and Origen.
166 Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius sent gifts to Chinese Emperor Huan Ti.
c. 180 Irenaeus (125 - c. 202), Catholic theologian, wrote Against Heresies in an attempt to fight the spread of Gnosticism. He claimed that "every church must agree" with the church of Rome because of its apostolic authority.
180 First African Christians were martyred at Scillium.
190 Christian council established "official" date of Easter.
197 First recorded usage of the term "catholic" appeared in the writings of Apollonius in reference to 1 John.
200 New Testament canon was mostly fixed in currently known form.
268 Goths sacked Athens, Corinth, and Sparta.
286 Emperor Diocletian divided the empire - he ruled the east and Maximilian ruled the west.
301 Armenia became the first country to make Christianity its state religion.
303 Diocletian ordered a general persecution of all Christians.
312 Constantine, emperor of the Eastern Empire defeated and kills Maxentius, emperor of the Western Empire. Constantine converted to Christianity after being inspired by a vision of a cross in the sky and the words: In hoc signo vinces.
325 First Ecumenical Council of Nicea was convened by emperor Constantine: established the Nicene Creed as the fundamental statement of Christian faith.
336 Arius, priest at Alexandria and founder of Arianism, died. Arianism was one of the most widespread and divisive heresies in the history of Christianity.
350 Christianity first reached Ethiopia.
351 Emperor Julian attempted to reintroduce paganism in the place of Christianity.
367 Festal Epistle of St. Athanasius offered earliest known list of the New Testament canon in its current form.
372 Buddhism was introduced into Korea.
380 Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire under the reign of Theodosius I.
381 First Council of Constantinople. Convened by Theodosius I, then emperor of the East and a recent convert, to confirm the victory over Arianism, the council drew up a dogmatic statement on the Trinity and defined Holy Spirit as having the same divinity expressed for the Son by the Council of Nicaea 56 years earlier.
395 The Roman Empire was divided again between East and West, setting the stage for the eventual division of the Christian Church. Latin Christianity was based in Rome under the leadership of the popes, while Eastern Orthodoxy develops in the east in Constantinople under the leadership of patriarchs.
401 Innocent I became Pope (until 417) and claims universal jurisdiction over the Roman Church.
c. 405 St. Jerome completed the Vulgate - a Latin translation of both the Old and New Testaments. This remains the Latin Bible of the Roman Catholic Church.
410 Lead by Alaric, the Goths sacked Rome.
418 British monk Pelagius was excommunicated. Pelagius denied original sin and the need for baptism, asserting that if God asked men to do good, then they must be capable of doing good on their own. He was condemned by Augustine.
431 Ecumenical Council of Ephesus denounced the teachings of Nestorius (d. 451), who argued that Christ had completely separate human and divine natures.
433 Attila became ruler of the Huns (until 453).
451 Attila invaded Gaul but was repulsed by joint forces of Franks, Alemanni and Romans at battle of Chalons. Attila invaded Italy the next year.
c. 1380 John Wycliffe began the first English translation of the Bible.
1520 Martin Luther created his German translation of the New Testament.
1526 William Tyndale created his English version of the Pentateuch.
1560 The Geneva Bible was created. This version was the one used by Shakespeare and also by the Pilgrims who came to the United States on the Mayflower.
1582 Douay Version of the New Testament (English translation) was completed. After the Old Testament translation was completed in 1610, this became the first English translation of the Bible authorized by and for Roman Catholics
1604 King James (1566 - 1625) of England commissioned the "King James" translation of the Bible

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