Persecution of Christians in the centuries I-II

The time of the early Christian Church
Before starting the actual issue is necessary to consider some historical details that will help us better understand the facts. According to the Gospel of Luke (2.2) the birth of Christ in Bethlehem had Logar under Emperor Caesar Augustus.According to the Gospel of Luke (2.2) the birth of Christ in Bethlehem had Logar under Emperor Caesar Augustus.
ImageCesar Augusto.
In the time of Jesus, the Jewish people were subjected to the Roman power that held sway through their solicitor or governor. The Roman authorities demanded personal and territorial taxes for Caesar, and in-kind contributions for the maintenance of its occupation troops. The first Christian communities lived in the Jewish-Roman world, or just pagan. It is useful to know this world to grasp the novelty of Jesus, his options and commitments inevitably hurtful character of his prophetic denunciation, the scope of its announcement: “the term is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God comes, Amend and have faith in the good news “(Mark 1: 15). The actions of Jesus of Nazareth affected in one way or another Palestinian life, its institutions, social groups, religious, political and then linked with religion. When the canonical gospels were written had been at least 35 to 60 years after the death of Jesus. The cultural environment in which the gospels were written has a conceptual and symbolic universe, and modes of expression very different to that of today.


Scribes of The Passion of Mel Gibson.

Jesus was against the “immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness” (Mark 7.20 to 23) that existed in Palestine. No approved the Romans oppress the Jewish people. But in those days, who were imposing heavier burdens to people and throwing desasistiéndolo to poverty, helplessness and hopelessness were the religious and political leaders of his people who, according to Jesus, instead of being shepherds were “thieves and bandits employees (Matthew 23 The Woes against the Pharisees). ” Jesus heard the cries of the marginalized by religion and society of his people, and chose them even at the cost of his life. In small territories conquered by the Roman armies, the emperor from Augustus, year 29 BC, appointed a Prefect or Governor as his representative to direct everything. From 6 to 41 years the Prefect of Judea was called Attorney. The Roman Procurator of Judea is the supreme military power, but depends on the Roman legate of Syria. It is also the fiscal agent of the Roman emperor, collects all the taxes that Jews have to pay the Roman imperial treasury. Under his command are the tax collectors, backed by his soldiers. The civilian judiciary is exercised by the council, but the Roman Procurator reserves implementing the death penalty.
Pontius Pilate The Passion.
Attorney living in Caesarea, but at parties go to Jerusalem and lives in the military citadel called Antonia Tower, built in the northeast corner of the Temple, where he usually resides Roman garrison (a cohort) of Jerusalem. It was a strategic location from where it was easy to control the crowds who came to the Temple. From 6 to 41 years Romano Attorney appointed eight times the High Priest. Roman Procurator Pontius Pilate was from 26 to 35. Attorney cold and hostile to the Jews unsympathetic to religious traditions led nonviolent resistance when introduced deceitfully in Jerusalem, holy city of the Jews, banners with the image of the emperor. He demanded the Jews being handed money from the Temple treasury to build an aqueduct to resolve the water problem in Jerusalem.
Again the Jews were raised, but Pilate, with the help of his soldiers, disguised and mixed with the crowd, unable to suppress the mutiny, clubbing and killing many, and complete the work. Luke 13:1 seems to allude to this fact by saying that Pilate had mingled the blood of some Galileans with victims they offered. Luke places his narrative in the context of the history of Palestine, by telling us that these events took place “in the days of Herod, king of Judea” (Luke 1:5).
            Religion in Jesus´s time
ImageThe territory of the biblical narrative was always troubled: At the middle of the two great trade routes linking Mesopotamia to Egypt. So I was in the middle of the empires that occurred in these two regions, from being held by one another, except in the glorious period of the Kingdom of David and Solomon, Israel was a nation where sovereign. An important development was the conquest of Alexander the entire region by the fourth century BC, to defeat the Persians, Alexander became master of Palestine. Alexander died in 323 BC, and then followed long years of political instability. Alexander had no obvious and legitimate heir. On his deathbed, his generals asked who would bequeath his kingdom. There is much debate what Alexander said some believe Krat’eroi said (‘the strongest’) and others said Krater’oi (‘a Craterus’). This is possible because the Greek pronunciation of “the stronger” and “Craterus” differ only by the position of the stressed syllable. Craterus was not present, and others may have chosen to hear Krat’eroi, ‘the strongest’. Whatever your answer, did not seem to crave Crátero office. Then, the empire was divided among his successors (the Diadochi).
All relatives and heirs, both his mother Olympias, his wife Roxane, his son Alexander, her lover and her son Barsine Heracles, were sent by Cassander murder, which led to the extinction of the dynasty argéada. Despite attempts to maintain unified Macedonian Empire, it would eventually be divided into several independent kingdoms founded their dynasties:
· Ptolemaic Dynasty: Ptolemy was converted from a first time ruler of Egypt and remained isolated and stable from the beginning.
· Dynasty Antigonid: center in Macedonia and the son of Antigonus Monoftalmos, Demetrio as king this dynasty conquered his kingdom and occupied Cassander also Greece.
· Seleucid Dynasty: Based in Mesopotamia and Syria, Seleucus dominated after a wider territory, as it took over Asia that was held by Antigonus.
Lysimachus received Thrace and Asia Minor but failed to found a dynasty and consolidate their domains. After a while, they began the rivalry between Egypt and Syria, fighting permanently the territory now known as Palestinian. Alexander The purpose was not simply to conquer the world, but unite all humanity under one markedly hue Greek civilization, a clear attempt to establish a “New World Order”: Hellenism.
As part of the Hellenistic ideology consisted syncretize local pagan religions and fuse with Greek religion, the Jews saw him as a serious threat to Hellenism faith in the one God of Israel. Therefore, the history of Palestine from Alexander’s conquest until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD can be seen as the constant conflict between the pressures of Hellenism on the one hand and the loyalty of the Jews to their God and their traditions on the other. To study and understand this part of the history of Palestine, it is necessary to read the books of Maccabees I and II [1]. The Maccabees fought to Hellenism until 63 in that General Pompey conquered the region for Rome. While the Romans were tolerant of the religions of the conquered (them care about the political order, the collection of taxes and military support for their campaigns) there is a factor that greatly annoyed Judaism: Jews refused to God accept as his Caesar. For Christians, the rejection was even greater than that of the Jews. This for the Romans was simply political subversion and was treated as high treason: Convicts fit them the death penalty.
When Jesus was a Jewish child ethnarch rebelled against Archelaus, who had to resort to the Roman troops. These troops, under General Varo, destroyed the city of Sepphoris, the capital of neighboring Galilee and Nazareth and crucified 2000 Jews. Another great rebellion against Rome held the Zealots in 66 years. This time the Jewish revolt was crushed by General Titus in 70 AD According to Josephus this time almost 1,000,000 Jews died (Rome was intended to “Remove from the face of the earth the Jewish problem”)
In this destruction Jesus referred in his prophecy against Jerusalem:
1. Jesus left the temple and when he left, his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple.
Two. But he answered them, “Do you see all this? I assure you will not be left here one stone upon another that will be destroyed [2]. “Matthew 24.1 – 2 Jerusalem Bible.
Faced with all these situations (invasions, political oppression, economic, military and religious) can be understood ultraconservative position of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the party of the people, who did not enjoy the material advantages carried by Roman rule and Hellenism. For them it was important to make sure to keep the Law even in the tough times they were living.
            Jewish sects 
The Pharisees (from the Hebrew perushim of parash, “separate”) was a Jewish community that existed until the second century of the present era. Emerged in the Babylonian captivity (587 a. C.-536. C.). Some trace its origin during the Persian domination or considered successors of the Hasidim (devotees). Were defined as a party during the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid invaders (167-165 a. C.). Contemporaries were Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots. This group is quoted numerous times in the New Testament Gospels.
The Sadducees (Hebrew tsedduqim), also known as Zadokites, are the descendants of the High Priest Zadok, one of Solomon’s time. The name Zadok means “justice” or “righteousness”, so quesaduceos be interpreted as just or righteous.
Genesis could be placed as a political party in the second century. C. and disappears sometime after the first century. C. It is said of their rivals, the Pharisees, which originated in the same period, but later survived as clusters of Rabbinic Judaism. Caiaphas was a Sadducee. From his position of high priest was responsible, according to the New Testament, the prosecution and sentencing of Jesus Christ.
The Essenes (from the Greek “Εσσηνοι”) was a Jewish movement, established probably from the middle of the second century BC, after the Maccabean revolt and whose existence until the first century is documented by several sources. Its immediate antecedents could be on the move hasideo. Surgiemiento is believed that this group was schism between the Pharisees. On the origin of the word Essenes have woven several hypotheses can come from the word “holy” in Greek “ὅσιος» ossa, or be a reference to “the pious” hasidei, hese Aramaic. Arab Writings comomagaritas refer to them, “the caves”.
The Zealots or Zealots were political-nationalist movement in first century Israel founded by Judas the Galilean Jesus shortly after birth. The name (Hebrew qanaim, “celar”) refers to the zeal for Yahweh saved by its members. The Emmanuels were the most violent faction of Judaism of his day, often face other factions like the Pharisees or Sadducees, whom they accused of having “zeal for the money.” The word zealot has become synonymous in many languages ​​of intransigence or militant radicalism.
Judaism in the dispersion
The Diaspora or dispersion of the Jews began two centuries before Christ. The Jews were scattered throughout the region of Persia and Mesopotamia. There were also important Jewish colony in Alexandria (Egypt) and in several major cities of the Roman Empire, in almost all Mediterranean cities was a synagogue. The empire tolerated quite well to these communities. It is important to note that Paul during his missions, he always began his preaching in the synagogues. The Jews of the diaspora were those that dealt with the translation of A. T. the Greek. This Judaism was distinguished from its congener in Palestine mainly by two features: the use of the Greek language, and inevitably greater contact with Hellenistic culture. In the first century there were many Jews, even in Palestine, and not using the ancient Hebrew language. While Palestinian Aramaic was spoken in the diaspora current language was Greek. The early Christians also used this “lingua franca” for the spread of Christianity. The Bible used by early Christians was the Septuagint or LXX. The Christians did use this version was just as effective that Jews were forced to produce new versions-like Aquila and leave the Christians in possession of the LXX.

Persecution in the early church.
The first persecution suffered by the church of Christ was in Palestine at the hands of the Pharisees. 
The Martyrdom of Stephen. Acts 6.8 to 8.1

It is clear that the complaint against Stephen was made because of envy they had religious Jews favor of God upon him, of the powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the love that people felt for Stephen. They accused him before the Sanhedrin for blasphemy against Moses and the Law Chapter VII Stephen makes his defense, which is fine until he rebukes religious religiosity:
48 "However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says:
49 "'Heaven is my throne,
51 "Stubborn, hard-hearted and clumsy ears, [l] You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit! 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? They killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, and now you have betrayed and murdered 53 you who received the law through angels and have not kept it.
Death of Stephen
54 On hearing this, grinding his teeth were furious against him. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
56 - I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears and everyone rushed at him, 58 dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. The witnesses laid their clothes at a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed.
-Lord Jesus, he said, receive my spirit.
60 Then he fell on his knees and cried:
- Lord, lay not this sin! 
When he had said this, he died. NIV

Because of this persecution, the gospel spread outside of Israel.
If we look at the book of Acts, we see clearly that the weight of the missionary activity of the church moved out of Palestine, first the “province of Asia” of the Roman Empire (now Turkey). In this region, plus Cyprus and Greece developed the missionary work of Paul. 


A. The First Persecution
1 First persecution by Rome, first century:
In the year 67, under Nero, the sixth emperor of Rome. This monarch reigned for the space of five years in a tolerable, but then gave way to larger and more egregious debauchery atrocities. It is believed that he ordered that the city of Rome was burned. According to tradition, while the imperial city was in flames, climbed the tower of Maecenas, fiddling and singing the song of the burning of Troy, and openly declared that he “wished the ruin of all things before his death.” In addition to the great building of the Circus, many other palaces and houses were destroyed, several thousand people perished in the flames, or drowned in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins. Most Roma houses were of wood, so that the fire became uncontrollable and razed entire neighborhoods. The fire lasted six full days. Other sources say that spanned nine days. Guilt was thrown to the Christians this was the cause of the first persecution. Punishments and brutalities committed against Christians were so terrible that they even moved the Romans to compassion. Nero even refined his cruelties and invented all kinds of punishments against Christians who could invent the most infernal imagination. In particular, caused some skins were sewn into wild animals, antojándolos the dogs until they expired; others were dressed in shirts stiffened with wax and tie them to poles, and lit them in their gardens, to enlighten. This persecution was general throughout the Roman Empire, but rather increased than diminished the spirit of Christianity. It was during this persecution that Paul and Peter were martyred. Other martyrs of this persecution:
· Erastus, the treasurer of Corinth
· Aristarchus, the Macedonian
· Trophimus the Ephesian, converted by St. Paul.
· Josephs, commonly called Barsabás.
· Ananias, bishop of Damascus.
Two. The Second Persecution, Under Domitian, AD 81
The emperor Domitian, of naturally inclined to cruelty, first slew his brother, and then raised the second persecution against the Christians. In his rage he killed some Roman senators, some through malice, and others to confiscate their estates. Then he brought all belonging to the lineage of David be executed. Among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution were:
· Simeon, bishop of Jerusalem, who was crucified.
· San Juan, which was torurado, and then banished to Patmos.
Flavia, the daughter of a Roman senator, was likewise banished to Pontus, and a law was passed saying, “That no Christian, once brought before a court, should be exempted from punishment without renouncing its religion.” What was sought was the apostasy of believers.
During this reign were written several stories invented, in order to harm Christians. Such was the infatuation of the pagans, if any famine, epidemic or earthquake ravaged any of the Roman provinces, was blamed on Christians. These persecutions against Christians increased the number of informers and many, motivated by greed, testified falsely against the lives of the innocent.
Another difficulty was that when any Christians were brought before the courts, they were subjected to a test oath, and if they refused to take it, they were sentenced to death, while if they confessed Christians, the sentence was the same.
The following were the most remarkable among the numerous martyrs who suffered during this persecution:
Dionysius, the Areopagite, was an Athenian by birth, and was educated in all the useful and aesthetic literature of Greece. He became Bishop of Athens.
Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian’s persecution.
Protasio and Gervasio were martyred at Milan.
Timothy, the celebrated disciple of St. Paul, bishop of Ephesus. Died beaten by a mob in 97 A.D.
Three. The Third Persecution, Under Trajan, 108 A.D. Century II
 In the third persecution Pliny the Younger, scholar and famous man, wrote a complaint letter to Trajan, for the thousands of Christians who were killed daily, who had done nothing contrary to the laws of Rome, so they did not deserve persecution. Hadrian, Trajan’s successor, continued this third persecution with as much severity as his predecessor. Around this time were martyred:
· Ignacio, who had been appointed to the bishopric of Antioch, following Peter in succession. Some say that being sent from Syria to Rome, because he professed Christ, was given to the beasts to be devoured.
· Alexander, bishop of Rome, and his two deacons and Hermes Quirino also with their families.
· Zeno, a Roman nobleman, and about ten thousand other Christians.
· Eustace, a brave Roman commander, with many military successes, received orders from the emperor to join in an idolatrous sacrifice to celebrate some of his own victories. But his faith (being a Christian in his heart) was so much greater than his vanity, that he nobly refused. Enraged at the denial, the ungrateful emperor forgot the service of this skilful commander, and ordered his martyrdom and his entire family.
· In the martyrdom of Faustines and Jovitas, who were brothers and citizens of Brescia, their torments were so many, and their patience so great, that the Calocerio, a pagan, contemplating, became absorbed in admiration, and exclaimed, in a fit: ” Great is the God of the Christians! “, for which he was apprehended as he was suffering lucky couple.
· The defense of the faith: Many other cruelties and rigors Christians had to suffer until Quadratus, bishop of Athens, made a learned apology in their favor before the emperor, who was then present, and Aristides, a philosopher of the same city, wrote an elegant epistle, which led to Adriano to reduce its severity and yield in favor of them. Adriano, dying in AD 138, was succeeded by Antoninus Pius, one of the most amiable monarchs that ever sapped, and stopped the persecution of Christians.
4. The Fourth Persecution, Under Marcus Aurelius, 162 AD
ImageMarcus Aurelius succeeded to the throne in the year 161 of our Lord, was a man of a more rigid and severe, and even commendable in the study of philosophy and government activity was hard and fierce against Christians, and triggered fourth chase. The cruelties executed in this persecution were such that many of the spectators shuddered with horror at the sight, and were astonished at the value of suffering. Some of the martyrs were obliged to pass, with their already wounded feet, over thorns, nails, sharpened shells, etc.., Peak positions, others were beaten until they were in sight your tendons and veins, and, after having suffered the most excruciating tortures that could invent, were destroyed by the most terrible deaths.
· Germanicus, a young man, but true Christian, being delivered to the wild beasts on account of his faith, behaved with such astonishing courage that several pagans were converted to the faith which inspired such bravery.
· Polycarp, the venerable bishop of Smyrna, hid when they heard that they were looking for, but was discovered by a child. After giving a meal to the guards that he had set, he asked an hour of prayer, which allowed him and prayed with such fervor that he had been arrested guards felt I did. However, he was brought before the proconsul, and was condemned and burned at the market square. The proconsul urged him, saying, “Swear, and I will give you freedom: blasphemies against Christ.” Polycarp replied, “For eighty-six years have I served, and never did me any harm: how am I going to blaspheme my King who saved me? “At stake was only tied, not nailed as usual, because they said he was going to stay still, to light the fire, the flames surrounding his body, like an arch, without touching , then they ordered the executioner to pierce him with a sword, which flowed so much blood that quenched the fire. But order was given, at the instigation of the enemies of the Gospel, especially Jews, his body was consumed by fire, and the request of his friends, who wanted a Christian burial, rejected. However, collected his bones and as much of its members as they could, and did decently interred.
· Metrodorus, a minister who preached boldly, and Pionius, who made several excellent apologies for the Christian faith, were also burned. Carpo and Papilo, two worthy Christians, and Agatonica, a pious woman, suffered martyrdom in Pergamópolis in Asia.
· Felicitate, an illustrious Roman lady, of a family of good position, and very virtuous, was a devout Christian. He had seven sons, whom she had educated with the most exemplary piety.
· January, the eldest, was scourged, and pressed to death with weights; Felix and Philip, who followed him in age, were mindless with clubs, Silvanus, the fourth, was murdered being thrown off a cliff, and the three younger sons, Alexander , Vital and Martial, were beheaded. The mother was then beheaded with the same sword as the other three.
· Justin, the celebrated philosopher, died a martyr in this persecution. He was from napolis, in Sarnaria, and was born AD 103 It was a great lover of truth and universal scholar; investigated the Stoic and Peripatetic philosophy, and proved the Pythagorean, but, disliking the conduct of one of his teachers, investigated the Platonic, in which he found great delight. Around March 13, at thirty, he converted to Christianity, and then, for the first time, perceived the real nature of truth. Justin had an important literary production:
a. Epistle to the Gentiles, which threw light on the verdade in Christian worship.
b. Treaty to refute heresies.
c. 1 Apology
d. 2nd Apology, against Crescens. This work displeased the Emperor, who ordered his beheading.
May. The fifth persecution under Septimius Severus
During his rule, persecutory policies against Christians had continuity. When someone was accused of being a Christian, that person should curse Jesus and make an offering to the Roman gods, or be executed. Moreover, with the desire to promote peace by spreading religious harmony derived from syncretism, Severus tried to limit the spread of the two religious groups who refused to yield to syncretism to consider you a conversion from Christianity to Judaism. Meanwhile, officials made use of existing laws to proceed with rigor against the Christians.
Many fell martyrs in Alexandria, and were also cruel persecution that took place in Africa, which seemed to start at 197/8. In Africa fell a large number of Christians as martyrs Madaura [3]. In 202/3 died Felicitas and Perpetua. The persecution flourished again in the provinces of Numidia and Mauritania in 211. Later he was in Gaul, especially in Lugdunum, where Christians were persecuted more cruel. Generally, one can say that the position of Christians during the reign of Severus was the same as under the Antonine emperors, though the law of this Emperor misleadingly demonstrates that the rescript of Trajan had failed in its purpose.
Santa Perpetua and Felicity are two Carthaginian martyrs, whose martyrdom is related in the Passio et Felicitatis Perpetuae. In the year 202, during the persecution of Emperor Septimius Severus, a young 22 year old rich woman named Perpetua, was arrested and charged with allegedly by Christianity along with his slave Happiness, and 3 more. When he refused to worship pagan gods, were sentenced to death in the circus.
Perpetua came from a rich and influential family that had begun Carthaginian in the Christian religion by a deacon, called Saturus. With it also became their slaves: Happiness, Revocato, Saturnino and Second.
In the year 202 the Emperor Severus ordered a harsh crackdown against Christians, and the imperial police arrested all believers Perpetua Family, including her. The judges tried to convince the family for them to return to paganism, but when he refused they decided to leave them in prison until the Games be organized. Using the right to a farewell dinner, they all shared the Eucharist the night before his martyrdom. The three slaves were thrown to the lions along with the deacon, who had succeeded in converting to Christianity to one of the guards, while women were beheaded.
The story of his martyrdom was immensely popular in the IV and V centuries: St. Augustine says that the Passio is frequently read in churches and meetings, to the great advantage of believers.
[2] # ixzz2UQpENT5p
[3] Madaura or Madaurus was a city and a former diocese of the Catholic Church in the former Roman province of Numidia.


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