From Arthur Rowe's book The Essence of Jesus and his discussion of orthodoxy, what does orthodoxy mean for this period of Christianity? How (by what means, what efforts) did early Christianity work to determine and establish its orthodox beliefs in the 4th and 5th centuries CE?

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According to Rowe, an orthodox set of Christian beliefs began to emerge in the 2nd century. At this time, the orthodox Christians focused on the four bibilical gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John that would later be included in the authorized Bible, as well as the letters of Paul that we still read today. These orthodox Christians were called the Great Church and distinguished themselves from small sects that followed leaders with different, and sometimes odd, ideas about who Jesus was. But between the 2nd and 5th century many nagging questions about Jesus remained, even in Orthodox circles, and became sources of deep controversy. These included problems such as "could God suffer?" According to this line of thought, if Jesus was a God, how could he have suffered on the cross? Other questions regarded monotheism: how could two separate entities, God and Jesus, both be divine? How was it possible for Jesus to be both God and a human being? How did the different parts of the trinity, father, son, and holy spirit, relate to one another? Was the physical world evil and the spiritual world the only good? 

Emperor Constantine called the first council to hash out theological issues at Nicea in 325 and more would follow. A series of councils in different places continued after Christianity became the state religion in the Roman Empire in 380 CE, as emperors sought to receive definitive answers to divisive questions. The councils drew the best theological minds together from all over the empire and these men hammered out the issues. The result is the orthodox Christianity we have today. It includes such concepts as that God and Jesus share the same divine nature (Jesus is not a "creature" like humans), that Jesus did experience pain on the cross, the Jesus has two natures, one human and divine,  and that the material world is not evil but good,

Finally, Rowe discusses how pictures of Jesus had changed by the 5th century. While early paintings and wall mosaics showed Jesus among the people of the earth, later images increasingly depicted him topped by a halo and in heaven, fully established as divine. This reflects how the church's understanding of Jesus changed to focus more on his Godlike rather than his human qualities.

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