Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire - Wikipedia
Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire occurred intermittently over a period of over two Persecution of the early church had occurred sporadically and in localised areas since its beginning. The first persecution of Christians organised by the Roman government took place under the emperor Nero in 64 AD after the. The story of Christianity's rise to prominence is a remarkable one, but of Polycarp, officials begged Polycarp to say 'Caesar is Lord', and to offer As well as this lack of stability at the head of the empire, social relations were in turmoil, and . Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church: a Study of a. Our view of Christians in the Roman Empire during their first three hundred church, he used his prestige, his authority, and a good deal of publicly-funded largesse see this as early as the late first century, when Matthew's Jesus, in the . This family connection between gods and their humans could be expressed or .
The emperor Decius reigned — issued an edict requiring all citizens to offer sacrifice to the emperor and to obtain from commissioners a certificate witnessing to the act.Early Christian Persecution
Many of these certificates have survived. The requirement created an issue of conscienceespecially because certificates could be bought. The great bishop-theologian Cyprian of Carthage was martyred during the next great wave of persecutions —which were aimed at eradicating the leaders of the church. The persecuting emperor Valerianhowever, became a Persian prisoner of warand his son Gallienus issued an edict of toleration restoring confiscated churches and cemeteries.
Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire
Beginning in Februaryunder the co-emperors Diocletian and Galerius the church faced the worst of all persecutions. Galerius died shortly after ending the persecution. Diocletian's tetrarchyStatue of Diocletian's tetrarchy, red porphyry, c. In the joint emperors Constantine and Licinius issued the Edict of Milana manifesto of toleration, which, among other things, granted Christians full legal rights. The persecutions had two lasting consequences.
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Although the blood of the martyrsas contemporaries declared, had helped the church to grow, schism eventually arose with those who had yielded to imperial pressure. Groups such as the Donatists in North Africafor example, refused to recognize as Christians those who had sacrificed to the emperor or turned over holy books during the persecutions.
Christianity and Classical culture The attitude of the earliest Christians toward paganism and the imperial government was complicated by their close association with Greco-Roman literary and artistic culture: Nevertheless, the Christian opinion of other religions except Judaism was generally very negative.
- Christianity in the Roman Empire
- Christianity and the Roman Empire
All forms of paganism—the Oriental mystery salvational religions of IsisAttisAdonisand Mithra as well as the traditional Greco-Roman polytheisms and the cult of the emperor—were regarded as the worship of evil spirits.
Like the Jews, the Christians unless they were gnostic were opposed to syncretism. With the exception of the notion of baptism as a rebirth, Christians generally and significantly avoided the characteristic vocabularies of the mystery religions.
Many Christians also rejected the literary traditions of the Classical world, denouncing the immoral and unethical behaviour of the deities and heroes of ancient myth and literature. Paul could quote such pagan poets as AratusMenanderand Epimenides. Clement of Rome cited the dramatists Sophocles and Euripides.
Educated Christians shared this literary tradition with educated pagans. The defenders of Christianity against pagan attack especially St. Justin Martyr and St. Clement of Alexandria in the 2nd century welcomed Classical philosophy and literature. They wished only to reject all polytheistic myth and cult and all metaphysical and ethical doctrines irreconcilable with Christian belief e. Clement of Alexandriathe second known head of the catechetical school at Alexandriapossessed a wide erudition in the main classics and knew the works of Plato and Homer intimately.
According to Tacitus, Nero used Christians as human torches There are no references to the persecution of Christians by the Roman state prior to Nero, who according to Tacitus and later Christian tradition, blamed Christians for the Great Fire of Rome in 64, : Tacitus records Annals Suetonius mentions that Christians were killed under Nero's reignbut does not say anything about the fire Nero However, it has been argued that in context, the institutum Neronianum merely describes the anti-Christian activities; it does not provide a legal basis for them.
Furthermore, no known writers show knowledge of a law against Christians.
Eusebius wrote that Flavia Domitilla was banished because she was a Christian. However, in Cassius Dio 's account In one of his letters Letter Some who admitted that they had formerly been Christians but proved, by passing the test, that they were no longer Christian, declared that Christians did not commit the crimes attributed to them, a declaration confirmed under torture by two slave women who were called deaconesses.
Pliny therefore asked the emperor whether ceasing to be a Christian was enough to secure pardon for having been one, and whether punishment was merited just for being a Christian "the name itself" or only for the crimes associated with the name. Trajan responded that the problem could only be dealt with case by case. The authorities were not to seek Christians out, but people who were denounced and found guilty were to be punished unless, by worshiping the Roman gods, they proved they were not Christians having denied Christ and so obtained pardon.
Anonymous denunciations were to be ignored. Hadrian stated that merely being a Christian was not enough for action against them to be taken, they must also have committed some illegal act.
History of Christianity in Rome
In addition, "slanderous attacks" against Christians were not to be tolerated, meaning that anyone who brought an action against Christians but failed would face punishment themselves. The pole in the arena is a memorial to the people killed during this persecution. Sporadic bouts of anti-Christian activity occurred during the period from the reign of Marcus Aurelius to that of Maximinus. Governors continued to play a more important role than emperors in persecutions during this period.
It was pressure from below, rather than imperial initiative, that gave rise to troubles, breaching the generally prevailing but nevertheless fragile, limits of Roman tolerance: