Ch.5&6 AO (1).docx - Ch.5 Challenges to Christianity...

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Ch.5 Challenges to Christianity from Roman Culture The religious movements of the early empire included a wide range of options: Cults Staid philosophical groups wrestling with religious issues The imperial cult offering emperors divine honors to small and large gatherings of devotees of various deities. The Imperial Cult With the official bestowing of divinity upon Julius Caesar after his death, there was a growing outlook to treat the emperors of Rome as manifestations of the divine, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean where the tradition of the divinity of kings goes back into ancient times. In this role, the ruler of the empire became the symbol of truth and righteousness, and his function was seen to be that of bringing universal light to is subjects The emperors built grand structures in Rome and throughout the empire to symbolize this “universal authority” and to provide the setting for formal assemblies of the peoples of the Roman realms to link the power of the state with the cosmic Gods. Because there was a decline in the worshipping of the Gods, and also in performing rituals and animal sacrifices, Pliny’s inquiry and Trajan’s reply have both been well-kept- up. The governor had found nothing evil or subversive about the practices, worship or food of the Christians, or even that they were engaged in any illegal political activities. Because of this, when members of the group refused to repeat an invocation to the Roman Gods, to offer adoration, with wine and frankincense to the image of the emperor and to curse Christ, they were put to death Pliny’s policy was that Christians are not to be sought out or seized without proper evidence, but when they were exposed and persisted in “a depraved and excessive superstition” they were put to death. Christians, by identifying themselves with another community- the people of the covenant- and by refusing to honor either the Gods who had blessed the Roman state or the agent they had designated to preside over it, demonstrated that they were it mortal enemies. Popular Associations and Cults In the ethnically, geographically, socially, and culturally complex world of the Roman Empire, people with similar interests banded together in voluntary associations to preserve a sense of identity. They met in homes, taverns or club rooms Drawn mostly from the lower classes, they would designate some deity or deities as their patrons and honor these Gods in formal ways as their protectors and helpers. Their meeting places were called Scholae. Here, the members shared their common concerns and ate common meals.
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