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Unlike most religions in the Roman Empire, Christianity required its adherents to renounce all other gods, a practice adopted from Judaism, see Idolatry.

Christians' refusal to join pagan celebrations meant they were unable to participate in much of public life, which caused non-Christians–including government authorities–to fear that the Christians were angering the gods and thereby threatening the peace and prosperity of the Empire.

The history of the Catholic Church begins with the teachings of Jesus Christ (c. AD 30), who lived in the Herodian Tetrarchy (later formed into the Roman province of Judea (Roman province) by the Roman Empire).

Christianity spread throughout the early Roman Empire, despite persecutions due to conflicts with the pagan state religion.

All residents were ordered to give sacrifices or be punished.

Relations between the Church and the Empire were not consistent: "Tiberius wanted to have Christ placed in the Pantheon and refused first of all to persecute the Christians. [-] How are we to explain the fact that men like Trajan and above all Marcus Aurelius should have so relentlessly persecuted the Christians?

The fourth crusade, and the sacking of Constantinople by renegade crusaders proved the final breach.The government had encouraged inhabitants, especially those in urban areas, to learn Greek, and the common language allowed ideas to be more easily expressed and understood.At first, Christians continued to worship alongside Jewish believers, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity, but within twenty years of Jesus's death, Sunday was being regarded as the primary day of worship.Brown says that, while it is anachronistic to speak of Peter in terms of local bishop of Rome, Christians of that period would have looked on Peter as having "roles that would contribute in an essential way to the development of the role of the papacy in the subsequent church".These roles, Brown says, "contributed enormously to seeing the bishop of Rome, the bishop of the city where Peter died, and where Paul witnessed to the truth of Christ, as the successor of Peter in care for the church universal".

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