In this section an attempt has been made to sketch some of the most important developments of the first five hundred years of Christian history. By the year 500 the Church had been for more than a century the only legal religious institution in what remained of the Western Roman Empire, whose subjects were thus, nominally at least, Christians. The Church was an essentially new institution in the Mediterranean World, one with which no previous tribe, polis, nation, or empire had had to come to terms. Because of the position which it enjoyed, the Church had called into existence a new problem, one which persists to this day in Western Civilization: the problem of church and state. From the Roman Empire the Western Church had borrowed the model for what was a large and effective organization, which had in the bishop a figure of great influence, both civil and religious, both real and potential; and in the bishop of Rome one whose claims to head the entire Church had already been advanced and in many ways supported. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "8. Jerusalem: Summary. Pt. I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 108-110.