04.15.09.Martyrs.Persecution

04.15.09.Martyrs.Persecution - P ersecution and the Growing...

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Persecution and the Growing Church
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Resistance from Traditional Mediterranean Religion Christianity posed a threat to traditional Mediterranean practices. Emphasis on proselytizing and the spread of Christianity throughout urban centers of the Roman Empire often provoked conflict Sometimes state actions, but also actions from the populace of different cities.
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An Example of the Latter (Acts 19) The Apostle Paul after having preached for some time in Ephesus was driven out by a mob instigated by a Demetrius who made shrines to Artemis. His objections (verses 25-27): “ 25 These he gathered together, with the workers of the same trade, and said, ‘Men, you know that we get our wealth from this business. 26 You also see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost the whole of Asia this Paul has persuaded and drawn away a considerable number of people by saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27 And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but als o that the temple of the great goddes s Artemis will be s corned, and s he will be deprived of her majes ty that brought all As ia and the world to wors hip her.’
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Roman Responses Pliny in 112 CE – per Trajan, only ask them to sacrifice, execute them if they don’t – BUT don’t pursue them, either. This rescript from Trajan (which held force of law) generally maintained. People accused of being Christian were still subject to execution if denounced and did not recant (see RR, p. 180-1): Polycarp, Christians persecuted in Gaul Allegations of sexual and other improprieties, too.
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As a result… Christianity spent its formative years either in danger of persecution or under it – though some
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04.15.09.Martyrs.Persecution - P ersecution and the Growing...

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