Christian legend holds that the religion had already reached northern Europe by the first century. Historical study indicates that the second or third century is a more likely date. And by the year 600, when the narrative of this book begins, Christianity was firmly established in some areas of Europe but virtually unknown elsewhere. One of Pope Gregory the Great's goals was to spread Christianity to those who were not Christian and to regulate Christian practice among those who were. Gregory the Great believed that a strategy of conciliation with the pagans was useful for successful mission work. The makers of the insular gospel books included traditional Anglo-Saxon forms in an attempt to put Gregory's doctrine into practice. A final aspect of the words in the Lindisfarne Gospels, their role in defining space, deserves notice because it has implications for much early medieval art.