The description of The Apostles
The first book of our History of the Origins of Christianity brought us down to the death and burial of Jesus; and we must now resume the subject at the point where we left it—that is to say, on Saturday, the fourth of April, in the year 33. The work will be for some time yet a sort of continuation of the life of Jesus. Next to the glad months, during which the great Founder laid the bases of a new order of things for humanity, these few succeeding years were the most decisive in the history of the world. It is still Jesus, who, by the holy fire kindled in the hearts of a few friends from the spark He himself has placed there, creates institutions of the highest originality, stirs and transforms souls, and impresses on everything His divine seal. It shall be ours to show how, under this influence, always active and victorious over death, the doctrines of faith in the resurrection, in the influence of the Holy Spirit, in the gift of tongues, and in the power of the Church, became firmly established. We shall describe the organization of the Church of Jerusalem, its first trials, and its first triumphs, and the earliest missions to which it gave birth. We shall follow Christianity in its rapid progress through Syria as far as Antioch, where it established a second capital in some respects more important than Jerusalem, and destined, even, to supplant the latter. In this new centre, where converted heathen were in the majority, we shall see Christianity separate itself definitively from Judaism, and receive a name of its own; and we shall note, above all, the birth of the grand idea of distant missions destined to carry the name of Jesus throughout the Gentile world. We shall pause at the solemn moment when Paul, Barnabas, and Mark depart to carry this great design into execution; and then, interrupting for a while our narrative, we shall cast a glance at the world which these brave missionaries sought to convert. We shall endeavor to give an account of the intellectual, political, moral, religious, and social condition of the Roman Empire at about the year 45, the probable date of the departure of St. Paul on his first mission.