I have an idea that the first Christians realized almost immediately that the death and resurrection of Jesus could replace the Roman-dominated temple sacrifice system, and free them from that aspect of imperialism. Do you know of any resources that discuss the temple in early Christianity that could either support or refute my idea?
Hmmm. A Unitarian who asks about the Early Church. That’s something you don’t see every day.
The Early Church was not concerned with Roman imperialism, except to the extent that Roman law made it a capital crime to be a Christian. The Apostles and almost all early converts were Jews, and Jews had lived under Roman imperial rule for a long time, and had arrived at an understanding that both accepted. The earliest Christians attended Synagogue on Saturday and Mass on Sunday, without seeing any conflict.
As the Christian message became more distinct from its Jewish roots, it seems that the Gentiles were the catalyst for opposition. The Apostle Paul went to Ephesus, the site of the Temple of Artemis (a Greek goddess) to preach the Gospel. He was opposed by those whose businesses depended on pilgrims to Artemis (especially the silversmith Demetrius, who sold silver figures of the goddess, typically represented as a woman with MANY breasts surrounding her torso). This is recorded in Acts 19.
King Agrippa persecuted Paul, but, after hearing his testimony, would have set him free, except that Paul had appealed to Caesar, removing jurisdiction from him [Acts 26:32].
Christians were tortured and burned in the Roman Empire. They were fed to the lions, and covered in tar and crucified, and then the tar was set afire (these were called “Nero’s torches”).
It has been said that the Church was fertilized by the blood of the martyrs.
There have been LOTS of martyred religions, NONE of which exist today. In less than 300 years, religious persecution (of ANY faith) was ended in the Roman Empire, and the Emperor himself (the ruler of the WORLD) became Christian.
Are you seriously asking if the Apostles “realized almost immediately” that such a victory was possible, when it had NEVER happened before, and it would NEVER happen again? A victory by an illegal “cult” against the greatest Empire the earth has ever known???
The Apostles “immediately realized” that the might be soon killed by the mob that killed Jesus [John 20:19]. There is a pretty vast gap between realizing that they might immediately die, and “realizing” that their teaching would conquer the greatest empire on earth.