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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Europe

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the smallest, but also the most highly civilized and most populous of the three great divisions of the old continent.

I. It is separated from America on the west and north-west by the Atlantic; from Africa on the south by the Mediterranean; and from Asia by the Archipelago, Sea of Marmora, Black Sea, Caucasian ridge, Caspian Sea, Ural River and Mountains, and the Kara River. It is in the form of a huge peninsula, projecting from the north-west of Asia. Its extent from Cape St. Vincent on the south-west to the mouth of the Kara River on the north- east is 3400 miles; and from Cape Nordkun, the most northerly point of the Scandinavian main land, to Cape Matapan, the southmost point of Greece, 2400 miles. The continent of Europe, irrespective of islands, lies within lat. 360 1'-71° 6' N., and long. 9° 30' W. 68° 30' E. Its area is estimated at nearly 3,800,000 square miles; and its coastline, more extensive in proportion to its size than that of any other great natural division of the globe, is estimated at 19,500 miles, giving a proportion of 1 linear mile of coast for every 190 square miles of surface. It had in 1888 a population of 330,000,000, which 'gives an average of about 87 for every square mile.

II. Church History. Europe early received the seed of Christianity from the apostles themselves. The territory embraced in what is now Turkey, Greece, and Italy was for many years the scene of the apostolic labors of Paul, who founded a number of churches, and wrote epistles to the Romans, Corinthians, and Thessalonians. Whether he visited Spain, England, and other countries of Europe, as has been asserted by some writers, is doubtful. Peter is claimed by the Roman Catholic Church to have been for twenty-five years bishop of Rome. The fact of his having been in Rome, and having presided for several years over the Church there, is generally recognized by most of the historians. The share of the other apostles in the Christianization of Europe is doubtful, and the accounts of their missionary labors rest more on legends than historic documents (see the articles on each of the apostles, and each of the European countries); but it is a well-established fact that, even before the close of the first century, numerous churches were established in Turkey, Greece, Malta, Italy, France, Spain, and Southern and Western Germany. The growing authority of the bishops of Rome, (See ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH) soon made Europe the center of the Christian world. When Constantine became a Christian, the Christianization of all that portion of Europe which belonged to the Roman empire made rapid progress, and was soon completed. In the fifth and sixth centuries, Spain, France, Scotland, England, and several German tribes became Christian. Christianity steadily advanced in all directions, but it was not until the sixteenth century that every pagan people of Europe had adopted the Christian doctrine. In the mean while, however, part of the Christian territory in Southern Europe had been conquered by the Mohammedans, who at one time even hoped for the conquest of all Europe. They lost, however, in the course of the following centuries, most of their conquests, retaining only the control of one empire in Eastern Europe. Thus Europe has been for many centuries a predominantly Christian division of the world, while of both Asia and Africa only small sections became Christian. The schism between the Greek and the Latin churches became complete in the ninth century, and the ecclesiastical connection between Eastern and Western Europe has been interrupted ever since. Still greater became the alienation between the countries which adhered to the Reformation of the sixteenth century and those over which the Church of Rome retained, control, and more than one destructive war grew out of this division. (See REFORMATION); (See PROTESTANTISM).

III. Ecclesiastical Statistics. The following tabular statement of the statistics of the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern churches, prepared by Prof. A.J. Schem, is taken from the American Year-book for 1869.

It will be seen from the above table that the Eastern churches (or, more particularly, the Greek Church) prevail in Russia, Turkey, and Greece. In Turkey the government is Mohammedan, but the majority of the population belong to the Greek Church. The Roman Catholic Church prevails in Portugal, Spain, France, the South German States, Austria, Italy (inclusive of the Papal States, San Marino and Monaco), and Belgium, while Protestantism is the prevailing religion in the North German Confederation, Switzerland, Holland, Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. (A.J.S.)

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Europe'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/e/europe.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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