According to medieval traditions, Christianity arrived in Britain in the 1st or 2nd century. Gildas’s 6th-century account dated its arrival to the latter part of the reign of the Roman emperor Tiberius: an account of the seventy disciples discovered at Mount Athos in 1854 lists Aristobulus as “bishop of Britain”. Medieval accounts of King Lucius, Fagan and Deruvian, and Joseph of Arimathea, however, are now usually accounted as pious frauds.
The earliest certain historical evidence of Christianity among the Britons is found in the writings of such early Christian Fathers as Tertullian and Origen in the first years of the 3rd century, although the first Christian communities probably were established at least some decades earlier. [ ]
Celtic Christianity or Insular Christianity refers broadly to certain features of Christianity that were common, or held to be common, across the Celtic-speaking world during the Early Middle Ages. “Celtic Christianity” has been conceived of with differing levels of specificity: some writers have described a distinct “Celtic Church” uniting the Celtic peoples and distinguishing them from the “Roman” Catholic Church, while others classify it as simply a set of distinctive practices occurring in those areas. Scholars now reject the former notion, but note that there were certain traditions and practices used in both the Irish and British churches but not in the wider Christian world. These include a distinctive system for determining the dating of Easter, a style of monastic tonsure, a unique system of penance, and the popularity of going into “exile for Christ”. Additionally, there were other practices that developed in certain parts of Britain or Ireland, but which are not known to have spread beyond a particular region. The term therefore denotes regional practices among the insular churches and their associates, rather than actual theological differences.
The term “Celtic Church” is deprecated by…[ ]
Eschatology of the quartodeciman Paschal celebration
In his study The Eucharistic Words of Jesus, the Lutheran scriptural scholar Joachim Jeremias made a compelling argument that the Quartodecimans (Celtic Christian Theology)preserved the original understanding and character of the Christian Easter (Passover) celebration. He states that in Jewish tradition four major themes are associated with Passover, i.e., the creation of the world, the Akedah or binding of Isaac, the redemption of Israel from Egypt (both the passing over of the First-born during the Passover meal and Israel’s passagethrough the Red Sea) and the coming of the Messiah (announced by the Prophet Elijah). For Christians, the central events of the Paschal Mystery of Christ, i.e., his passion, death and resurrection, also are obviously associated with Passover. Thus it was inevitable that the very earliest Christians expected the imminent return of Christ to also occur during their Passover celebrations. Jeremias notes that Quartodecimans began their Christian Passover celebrations by reading the appropriate readings from the Hebrew Scriptures, i.e., the twelve readings from the Hebrew Scriptures that still are read at the Easter Vigil in the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Armenian traditions. At midnight, when Christ had not reappeared to inaugurate the great eschatological banquet, the Christians would celebrate the Paschal Eucharist in anticipation of that final act of the drama of the redemption of Christ.
As this original eschatological fervor began to die down, and as Christianity became an increasingly Gentile movement, this original eschatological orientation of the Christian Passover celebration was lost; and with the development of the practice of baptizing catechumens during the twelve readings so they would share the Eucharist for the first time with the Christian community at the conclusion of the Paschal Vigil, the baptismal themes came to dominate the celebrations of the Paschal Vigil, as they do again in those churches which have begun again to baptize its adult converts during the Easter Vigil. Major liturgical scholars such as Louis Bouyer and Alexander Schmemann concur with Jeremias’ essential position and one has only to examine the Christian liturgical texts for Paschal Vigil to see evidence of this. E.g., the Eucharistic Preface for the Easter Vigil in the Roman, Lutheran and Anglican/Episcopalian traditions, which state: “…on this night when Christ became our Passover sacrifice” or the Eastern Orthodox Troparion for Great and Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which warns the Christian community “Behold the Bridegroom comes in the middle of the night and blessed are those servants he shall find awake…” In short, no one knows when Christ will appear at the end of time, but given other central events of redemption which occurred during Passover, the earliest Christians assumed that Christ would probably appear during the Paschal Eucharist, just as he first appeared to his original disciples during their meal on the first Easter Sunday.[a]