Online Lent Group – The Persecution of Early Christians in the Roman Empire

AN ONLINE LENT READING GROUP, for 3 Thursday evenings in March, will consider the real evidence of Persecution of Christians in the Early Church and their responses.

Oliver Nicholson will introduce the subject and facilitate discussion, with the meetings hosted by Curate Ash Leighton Plom. Links to short online documents for reading will also be provided.

Do join us from 19:00 – 20:00 on Thursdays 4th, 11th and 18th March 2021.

Meeting ID: 826 3083 1936            Passcode: 841383

  • March 4th
    “The Destroyers of our Gods”:  pagan motives and their consequences

The Romans were not in general intolerant of strange religions, so why did they persecute the Christians ?  What did the Christians do to deserve it ?  Or was it what they did not do ?

1. Pliny the Younger Letters X, 96-7
2. Emperor Maximinus Daza: Rescript to the City of Tyre of 312 AD (in Eusebius HE IX, 7,2-15 = 283-85

  • March 11th
    Fear, Apostasy, Flight and Defiance:  the range of Christian reaction

Our idea of the persecutions is dominated by the passions of individual martyrs, but many of these are fiction. Even the authentic passions record only the last stages of the martyr’s trial and execution; it is as if all we had of Hamlet was the pile of bodies at the end of the final Act.  A more rounded picture of Christian experience under persecution, especially of the fear that it engendered, can be gleaned from reading a wider range of sources.

1. Letters of Dionysius Patriarch of Alexandria (HE VI, 40-42 + Eusebius HE 205-10)
2. Peter, Patriarch of Alexandria Canons of Easter 306 

  • March 18th:
    The inspirata patientia of the Martyrs, their ‘inspired endurance’, aroused admiration.
    Where did the inspiration come from ?

1. Extracts from Alexandrian Christianity VOL II; “Origen, The Exhortation to Martyrdom”, pages 393-429 can be found via this free resource
2. The Passion of Polycarp


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