Branches of Christianity Chart | Student Handouts
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Branches of Christianity
World History > World Religions > World Religions Pictures and Maps
Chart illustrating the primary branches of the Christian religion.
This chart offers a simple way to understand the diversity of Christian beliefs throughout the world.

The earliest Christians were the Jewish followers of Jesus during and immediately after his lifetime, notably his twelve disciples. After the crucifixion, beliefs about Jesus spread throughout the Roman Empire. By the time of Rome's fall (476 C.E.), Jesus-based beliefs in different parts of the empire were notably different.

In Egypt, Coptic Christianity dominated. Despite the later spread of Islam, there are still Coptic Christians practicing in Egypt. Notably, it was in part thanks to a congregation of exiled Egyptian Coptics living in France that Jean-Francois Champollion was able to translate ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics (since the liturgical language of Coptics is primarily ancient Egyptian). Although Ethiopian Christians trace their faith to the biblical Queen of Sheba, most historians believe that the Ethiopians were converted to Christianity through the efforts of Egyptian Coptics.

In the Eastern Roman Empire, centered at Constantinople, Eastern Orthodoxy began to develop. The largest Orthodox churches today are the Greek Orthodox and the Russian Orthodox.

In the Western Roman Empire, Roman Catholicism dominated. This Catholicism eventually spread throughout Europe, from Ireland in the west to Poland in the east, and from Italy and Spain in the south to Scandinavia in the north.

After the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation exploded in Europe, largely through the work of Germany's Martin Luther. The Protestants are so called because their faiths began as "protests" against the Roman Catholic Church. The number of Protestant groups operating today is innumerable, but some denominations include the Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Evangelicals, and Mormons.

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