Hello everyone. I have heard some claims that Christians were not being persecuted in the Roman Empire and that claims of persecution are fiction written by early Christians. I wonder if there are any non-Christian sources that explicitly state that Christians were indeed persecuted.
Look up the early christian martyrs.
They are historical evidence:
Their tombs, with historical evidence of their manner of death are historical
Also: there are saints that are incorrupt -God’s proof,
It’s common historical knowledge that the Christians were thrown to the lions in the Colloseum and that Nero blamed the burning of Rome on them, and had loads of them crucified.
Tacitus mentions it if you want a non-Christian text of what happened.
I wonder if such a source existed, how then would you prove your source is non-Christian? :shrug:
The persecution of early Christians is historic fact, but it is often exaggerated.
Early Christians were not continuously persecuted. Several Emperors simply ignored them. One Emperor (Diocletian) even married a Christian (Prisca), but later turned against the Church.
Many persecutions were regional, not Empire-wide.
There is no question that early Christians were persecuted, but not everywhere all the time.
Correct. Nero’s persecution only targeted Christians in Rome. While the Romans did not like Christians, most officials did not actively hunt them down but just considered them more of a minor nuisance (especially considering that some fanatical Christians so wanted to become martyrs that they deliberately did stuff that will get them arrested, to the annoyance of the officials). I’ll bet that many Christians, at least in the first two centuries, were more in danger of being discriminated against or lynched by mobs and by rival sects than they were to be sentenced guilty and condemned to death by the court.
The only persecution that was really on a huge, ‘Empire-wide’ scale would be the persecution of Diocletian (303-313). That was so horrible - so many Christians were martyred - that the Copts even decided to reckon years beginning from Diocletian’s reign! (The Anno martyrum system)
Why is it that the factual basis for so many secular historical events are taken for granted but proof is demanded for those having to do with Christianity? There is plenty of evidence that persecutions actually took place. All one has to do is Google it and a ton comes up…
Suetonius wrote about the tortures inflicted on Christians by Nero subsequent to the fire in Rome. Eusebius documents the persecution of Christians in France. Israeli archeologists found a mass grave containing the remains of over 500 martyred Christians in 1989. The list goes on and on yet many people find it easier to believe in aliens landing in Roswell NM than they do in the history of Christianity.
I for one am still waiting for proof that Winston Churchill wasn’t a fictitious character made up by the British government and portrayed by an actor subsequent to the embarrassment of Nevil Chamberlain.
This denial of history for political or secular agendas is happening today with more recent events of persecution. There are some now that are against a Jewish state (Israel), that deny that the ‘Holocaust’ ever occurred. Just imagine 100 years from now when a couple of more generations have passed by, how many deniers will be making that claim!
And, why is the testimony of Christian authors considered suspect?
The Emperor, Nero, is an interesting example. You’ve heard of Nero, right? He was the Emperor of the Roman Empire for 16 years. How many contemporary accounts of Nero survive? Answer: None. The “most” contemporary account of this Emperor of Rome was written 50 years after Nero’s death, by an author who was a young boy when Nero died. The next two most “contemporary” accounts were written 150 years after Nero died.
All three of these accounts were written by Romans who (like Nero) were members of the Senatorial Caste. And these accounts are afforded credibility which is denied to Christian authors of the Apostolic age and the near-Apostolic age.
There were the 40 children and St. Stephen - from the bible.
'here’s also St. James the Greater (Acts 12:2).
(Considering the population of Bethlehem at the time, I’d lower the number to probably six or seven. Hey, the ancient calendars give more exorbitant body counts, from 14,000 to 144,000.)
You can always go to Rome and look at the martyr’s tombs in the catacombs. The pastor at my parish has actually said mass in the catacombs, on the tombs of ancient martyrs, just as the early church did, and has continued to do for centuries.