The imposition of "correct belief," religious uniformity, and an institutional framework that enforced orthodoxy were both consolidating and stifling. Uncovering the difficulties in establishing the Christian church, the relationship with Judaism, Gnosticism, Greek philosophy and Greco-Roman society would be examined.
Christianity not only made history but was modified and shaped by history. No genetic study of Christianity will ever explain Christianity, yet ignorance of its antecedents and of the contemporary spiritual forces and mentality renders a true appreciation impossible. There is a more excellent way of magnifying Christianity than by ignoring or decrying Paganism, or disparaging the rival systems which Christianity overcame and laid under tribute.
Hellenistic-Oriental syncretism cannot be overlooked by students of the history and evolution of Christianity. The Christian Ecclesia is best appreciated when observed at work in an intensely religious world in competition with the Synagogues of the Dispersion, the Guilds of the Mystery-Religions, and the Schools of Greek philosophy.