Roman Influence on the Birth of Christianity

The Term “Gospel”

  • The term gospel is an old-English form of “good news,” which stems from the Greek word evangelion.

  • Prior to the Middle Ages, the term gospel didn’t exist. The Greek term evangelion is of importance here (root term for the modern-day “evangelical”).

  • Prior to Christianity, the term evangelion had as much or more meaning and emotion in Roman culture as gospel has in Christianity today.

  • The Romans proclaimed evangelion to announce a new Caesar or a birth of a divine heir to the throne.[1]

  • The earliest Christian writings (the first three Gospels in their original translations) used the term in nearly identical fashion to the Roman use:

    • Mark 1:1 states, “The beginning of the evangel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

    • In Luke 1:19 an angel proclaims evangel announcing the birth of John the Baptist to his father.

    • In Luke 2:10 an angel proclaims evangel announcing the birth of Jesus to shepherds.

  • Evangelion appears almost 80 times in New Testament writings, but it never appears in the prior Jewish religious writings of the Old Testament.

[1] Chaim Potak, Wanderings, Chaim Potaks’s History of the Jews, Alfred Knopf, New York, 1978, pg 280.


Historical Discussion
In Depth

Historical Context

Dating the Gospels

I Was a Sunday-School Spy

The Crucifixion (animation)

Post Appearance of Jesus

Who Did Jesus Curse-Praise

Taxes to Rome

Submissiveness to Oppression

John the Baptist

Admirable and Amazing Works


Jewish Judgment

Pilate's Defense (animation)

Roman Soldiers at the Tomb

Migration of Christianity to Rome

Irony of Faith

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