The Rise of Christianity in Jerusalem

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The rise of Christianity in Jerusalem brought about notable changes in the social, economic as well as political aspects of life in the urban setting in the period c. 300-400 AD. Before Christianity, urban space and general life in the city was bound and defined by the proximity from the synagogues which where the centers of worship (Chin and Schroeder, 2016). The pattern of worship in the religion of Judaism defined the social, economic and political attributes in urban Jerusalem. With the advent of Christianity, the notion of worship changed from a centralized location in the synagogue to the heart of believers (Green, 2018). The decentralized understanding of worship and approach to spiritual power caused a corresponding shift in social, economic as well as political space in the urban environment.

Changes to the Urban Social, Economic and Political Space in Jerusalem

Some of the most vivid ways in which Christianity transformed the urban social space include the involvement of women in the worship activities and Christian activism through martyrdom. Different from the social distance between men and worship in the pre-Christianity period, the rise of Christianity brought men and women closer to share in the universal promises of the new form of worship (Samman, 2015). The stream of execution of Christians by the Roman authorities also changed the, hitherto, male chauvinistic social space by bringing together men and women of the faith to testify to each other as a way of mutual motivation.

The economics of urban Jerusalem also underwent a vivid transformation with the Christian belief that there was more valuable treasure in the spiritual realms. The new spiritual focus on heavenly rewards as opposed to mere material possessions changed the perception on the physically poor, beggars and handicapped people in the streets of Jerusalem (Killebrew, 2015). Human value became a factor of spiritual dedication and connection to a higher spiritual power rather than earthly human authorities and wealthy people. That served to reduce conflict based on material possessions hence ushering in general tranquility and calm in the urban Jerusalem.

The urban political space in Jerusalem also shifted from concentration on earthy power to a more valuable spiritual reward in the afterlife. The rise of Christianity among the inhabitants of urban Jerusalem in the period c. 300-400 AD established an unprecedented level of submissiveness to the Roman authorities especially with the new focus on supreme extraterrestrial powers (Chin and Schroeder, 2016). The political space, therefore, shrank for Christian inhabitants and gave lee way for the Roman authorities to reign. The turn of events due to Christianity can be said to have brought relative stability and calm in urban Jerusalem during that period.


Killebrew, A.E., 2015. Jerusalem: Capital city created in stone and in imagination. In The Cambridge World History: Volume III: Early Cities in Comparative Perspective, 4000 BCE-1200 CE. Cambridge University Press.

Samman, K., 2015. Cities of God and nationalism: Rome, mecca, and Jerusalem as contested sacred world cities. Routledge.

Chin, C.M. and Schroeder, C.T., 2016. Melania: Early Christianity Through the Life of One Family. Univ of California Press.

Green, S.D., 2018. Christians and Jerusalem in the Fourth Century CE: A Study of Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Jerusalem, and the Bordeaux Pilgrim.

November 13, 2023

History Religion



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