When Hollywood takes on a historical story, it often embellishes the history to make things better or worse than they really were. This sensationalism tends to buy more movie tickets; after all, most movie goers want to be entertained, not educated.
But Hollywood depicts Ancient Rome, it usually gets this culture right. The Roman Empire was a very corrupt world. Everybody used everybody else. Everyone — from Emperor to slave — was playing a game to increase his or her own personal advantage. There was little virtue and love in this culture. Nobody did anything out of the goodness of their heart. If there was an act of kindness somewhere, there was usually a favor attached to it somehow.
The early Christians broke this culture. From of these early communities, we find love, compassion, helpfulness, trustworthiness, and many more other humanistic virtues. People who could see the corruptness of the Roman and Pharisee worlds found the Christian communities a welcome relief from mainstream society. There, they need not play those games to increase advantage. Instead they just enjoyed the positive fellowship of being around positive, caring people. That is what attracted people to join.
We can argue how much of Christian theology played in these early Christians. Despite many Christian communities developing a culture of humanity, they were not so united in their theology. There were all sorts of interpretations regarding the nature of man, God, and Jesus. Eventually the Council of Nicea in 325 AD brought theology under one umbrella. The written works that were to constitute the New Testament were decided. Theological concepts such as original sin, atonement for that sin, the Trinity, and Satan all became standardized at this council or shortly after.
This brings us to an important point. Because this version of Christianity was standardized three hundred years after Christ’s death, does this mean that these earlier Christian communities were wrong?
If they were so wrong in their theology, then why did Christianity spread as it did?
Again, the answer lies in the culture of humanity that these Christians had created — in the midst a mainstream culture that was not very humanistic. Just imagine if all those early Christian teachers had the “correct” theology yet were trying to take all your disposable money, seduce your teenage daughters, and get into fights at the local pub. Without that culture of humanity, this early Faith could not have gone anywhere.
Christianity often mentions the Resurrection of Jesus as a cornerstone of its Faith. Maybe this resurrection has been misinterpreted. Maybe it is the resurrection of the people from a corrupt, debilitating way of thinking is what is far more important.