Timeline,  from 501 until 1700 C.E.


Christianity becomes an established religion in which Church tradition dominates. The Great Schism sees the Roman church separate from the Eastern Orthodox. The dominance of the Rome is challenged by protestantism.

Selection of events

630 C.E.

At around this time the size of the library at Caesarea Maritima, in which Jerome (347-420 C.E.) places a rare copy of the Hebrew version of Matthew, is estimated to have been about 30,000 books (Murphy-O
Conner 1980
, 161)

632 C.E.

After the death of Mohammed ibn ‘Abdullāh (ca. 570/571 – 632), his successors, the Caliphs, began to wage war on surrounding nations. During the century that followed Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, North Africa, and the South of Spain came under attack, in particular from one dominant family, the Umayyads. One by one, Christian nations where overwhelmed by force as part of this empire-building. Mohammed saw Jesus as a prophet, but no more.

634-641 C.E.

In 634 Caesarea was attacked by a Muslim army and, after a protracted siege, it fell in 640 or 641 (Hohlfelder 1996, 801). At some point in this tumultuous period it appears that the great Christian library at Caesarea was lost, and with it many precious early manuscripts.

1054 C.E.

The Great Schism brought division between eastern Christianity and that in the west. However, the Sermon on the Mount continued to be influential in both sections of the Church.

The twelfth century

1181/82 C.E.

Birth of Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone, later to be canonized as St. Francis of Assisi. In one of the best loved incidents attached to St. Francis, that of him preaching to birds, he draws his text from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 6:26). He may have addressed the birds, but the message was pointedly intended for the followers who were with him.

Thirteenth Century

Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) published his Golden Chain, collecting together and making accessible a selection of the opinions of earlier commentators. The work covers all four of the Canonical Gospels. 

1300 C.E. 

Pope Boniface VIII (1235 – 1303 C.E.) celebrated the first jubilee for Christians, declaring that, in contradiction of the Hebrew Bible’s stated frequency of fifty years, the next would be in a hundred years. This incident is significant as it provides one of the many strands of evidence against the antiquity of the manuscript, purporting to be the Gospel of Barnabas as mentioned by the church fathers and re-discovered by Fra Marino Moro in the sixteenth century (Sox 1984, 9, 71-72). Cox recounts how, “the extant gospel [of Barnabas] was basically unknown in the Muslim world until 1734,” when it was mentioned in passing in the introduction and commentary of Georger Sale’s translation of the Koran (Sox 1984, 25). However, since then, the Gospel of Barnabas has been vigorously presented by some as the only true gospel, as when, in the 1940s, Professor Abu Zahra of Ciaro’s al-Azhar University announced “The most significant service to religion, and to humanity, would be for the Church to make an effort to study it [ the Gospel of Barnabas] and to refute it, and to bring to us the proofs on which it supports its refutation” (Sox 1984, 10-11). Hence it is appropriate to note a few of the issues with any earlier dating of this text: