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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Numismatic and History Discussions  |  History and Archeology (Moderator: David Atherton)  |  Topic: Roman Persecution of early Christians 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Roman Persecution of early Christians  (Read 21407 times)
hannibal2
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« Reply #100 on: July 06, 2009, 06:52:56 am »

Hello,

In post No 97 Robert has given me a second chance to ask a question that was meant to be made earlier before Maffeo partly answered in a roundabout way:

In the above posts, what is meant by pagans and paganism ?
A):   the ancient agrarian lore/beliefs that were essentially agrarian knowledge ‘embroidered’ into myths?
Or
B):   old practices that were later seen as ‘abominations’ ?

In a) above, this lore appears to have been assimilated not replaced (in fact I wonder who/what really assimilated who).

There is a move to rediscover this lore. SIEF (society of Ethnology and folklore) had their first conference “The ritual Year” in 2005. Some papers in the proceedings make very interesting reading.

Thanks to all for a very interesting thread.

Br   cr
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Robert_Brenchley
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« Reply #101 on: July 06, 2009, 12:12:30 pm »

There was also the spring festival of Cybele, which ended with Hilaria on March 25th celebrating the resurrection of Attis, which may have something to do with how passover morphed into a celebration of resurrection.

Ben

I wouldn't have thought so. It used to be thought that early Christianity was heavily influenced by Greece, but it's now clear that it was essentially Jewish. The Jews, of course, were pretty Hellenised themselves, and Christianity evolved into a Hellenistic religion via Hellenised Jews. But the roots of it lie in Jewish tradition, and the cult of Cybele, or any other Greek deity, would have been anathema.

Many, probably most, Jews expected the righeous dead to be resurrected on the last day, and some of Jesus' followers claimed to have seen him risen from the dead at Passover. That's where it starts. Passover was a celebration of liberation from captivity, and once the church spiritualised the idea of the Messiah, and started thinking in terms of Jesus' death and resurrection liberating the community from sin, the parallel is pretty obvious. Unfortunately we don't know the details of how they got to that point!
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« Reply #102 on: July 06, 2009, 02:25:29 pm »

I wasn't thinking of the church exactly embracing the parallel - but maybe taking advantage of it in much the same way as they did at Christmas. I have to wonder if it would have been so successful if the church had chosen a holiday other than the (re)birth of Sol Invictus to subsume as a celebration of the birth of Christ. I assume the parallel is largely why they chose that particular holiday. Similarly, I'd have to think that in changing  passover into a celebration of resurrection that the existing seasonal parallels may have helped, and it would have anyways been unavoidable that there'd have been transference in the minds of some (to whom Christianity may well have been just as abstract and impenetrable a mystery religion as those it was replacing). It would have been one thing for people to accept Jesus as the "lamb of god" sacrificed at passover, but the resurrection would have been a tougher sell.

Incidentally, do we know when the Christian passover really started to differentiate itself in terms of practice from the Jewish one? The way Constantine talks about it it's not apparent that it's any different at that date. I recall reading one very early English harmony (I seem to recall it's held at one of the Cambridge colleges - maybe Magdalene), that included some gospel elements possibly now lost, that had Jesus celebrating "Eostr" which I thought interesting - it could be taken to imply that the nature of Christianized Eostr at that time was no different to the Jewish passover, unless "passover" wouldn't have been widely understood by an early English audience.

Ben
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Maffeo
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« Reply #103 on: July 06, 2009, 03:09:19 pm »

Congius,
What Xians refer to as The Last Supper was the Passover meal (seder meal commemorating the Exodus) held by Jesus with his disciples before the crucifixion. According to the Gospel accounts, Jesus transformed the seder meal by pivoting it on his own body and blood and then instructing the disciples to continue doing so in his memory.  Xians continue the practice with the celebration of the the Lord's Supper/Mass/Eucharist ("he gave thanks...") which is, accordingly, in continuity with the Jewish Passover meal albeit radically transformed (the material continuity can be seen for example, at least in the practice of the Western Church, in the use of unleavened bread). The earliest accounts that we still have of the Xian celebration of the Eucharist (references in the Pauline epistels and earliest description in the Sheperd of Hermas - turn of the 1st century) shows that it was quite different from the Jewish rite from the earliest period of Xstianity.
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« Reply #104 on: July 07, 2009, 03:01:00 pm »

It wouldn't have been different from the first, as the church began as a Jewish sect which would already have been celebrating Passover with everyone else. They probably added Jesus' resurrection to their own celebration, and eventually lost contact with the Jewish festival. There were many Christian communities scattered about in the 1st Century, they were probably very diverse (all the churches mentioned in the New Testament are different), and it would be a mistake to assume they were all doing the same thing. According to a letter written to the church of Alexandria from the Council of Nicea (325), some churches had celebrated Ease Gospel story, uisr on the same date as the passover, and henceforth they were all to change to the dating adopted by Rome. So clearly there was a dispute. I'm trying to think what I might have that would go into the history of it, but I'm not sure. My library's a bit short on the patristic era.

'Eostre' was the British name, adopted from the name of a local goddess. I'm not sure which harmony you're referring to, but they were basically rewritings of the Gospel story, using the four canonical Gospels and sometimes other sources. This one is probably going to be an English work which assimilates the story to English culture. The best comparison is with the traditional Christmas story, which conflates Matthew and Luke, adds material from the Infancy Gospels, and manages to be untrue to all its sources. The main reason why they were popular was the sheer expense of books before the age of printing. Even a set of the four Gospels would have been beyond all but the richest of kings. A complete Bible would have been around seven years work for a skilled copyist, and the price would have been astronomical. As a comparison, I've been told that a complete Torah scroll, containing the first five books of the Old Testament, as used in synagogues, is a year's work for a scribe, and is worth around 30 000 pounds Sterling.
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« Reply #105 on: July 09, 2009, 12:17:47 am »

I’m with the ancient Greeks in this.  You Don’t kill family.  You don’t forget your debts.  You don’t betray friends and you don’t refuse hospitality.
  One might do all sorts of nasty, shameful things around these principles, but they are inviolable.
  Of course he was Roman and no Greek.  And christianesque …


Are they really inviolable?  I personally think the literature, myths, etc of a culture are exaggerated forms of the truth of that culture.  In the case of the Greeks, these principles are just something nice to preach and perhaps keep the populace high minded.  I very much doubt the actually political leaders(mind you, no better or worse than any other cultures) were so caring about those trivial things known to rest of us as morals Wink

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« Reply #106 on: July 09, 2009, 12:21:26 am »


         It was born in blood and is bathed in blood.  

but prior to Constantine, it was the blood of Christians that was spilt.  Again, I would like to know was there any persecutions by Christians to others prior to Constantine?

 
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« Reply #107 on: July 09, 2009, 09:48:24 am »

*
 
   Hi Ecoli!
 
  ( Welcome back! )
 
  “Are they really inviolable?
 
  Smiley ..Of course it depends how we mean ‘inviolable’ in context.  As ‘inviolable’ as the holder of a Curule Office.
  In the end, not even gravity is ‘inviolable.’
 
  “In the case of the Greeks, these principles are just something nice to preach and perhaps keep the populace high minded.
 
  Of course.  As with all ‘moral codes’ everywhere – regardless.  In the case of the Greeks (and Pre-Constantinian Romans) however, the emphasis was placed on the ‘aristocratic.’

  “I very much doubt the actually political leaders(mind you, no better or worse than any other cultures) were so caring about those trivial things known to rest of us as morals.
 
  Smiley  Fair enough.
  I, on the other hand, think they cared more than one might well suspect – and for numerous reasons.
  That plenty-enough cared little or nothing about them when drachmae or power were weighed against virtù, I have no doubt either.
 
  “..but prior to Constantine, it was the blood of Christians that was spilt.
 
  Ecoli!  What an odd little prejudice!  Smiley
  Prior to Constantine, it was the blood of Everyone that was spilled – including all-too-many a good, noble, virtuous Roman pagan – and many more good, noble pagan barbarii.
 
  “Again, I would like to know was there any persecutions by Christians to others prior to Constantine?
 
  I don’t think you’re asking me, but just to say it – not that I know of – excepting any christian-christian ‘persecutions.’
  For such, I’d most wish to hear and accept in good faith the views and thoughts of Mr. Brenchly.
  Personally, I have a good bit of ambivalence for the term ‘persecution’ in such sense.  What really constitutes a ‘persecution?’
  Does it need an ideological element?
 
  Best,
  Tia
 
*
 
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« Reply #108 on: July 09, 2009, 02:08:43 pm »

but prior to Constantine, it was the blood of Christians that was spilt.  Again, I would like to know was there any persecutions by Christians to others prior to Constantine

No, because in order to persecute, you need political power.
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« Reply #109 on: July 09, 2009, 02:44:52 pm »

but prior to Constantine, it was the blood of Christians that was spilt.  Again, I would like to know was there any persecutions by Christians to others prior to Constantine

No, because in order to persecute, you need political power.

Thank you, that is what I was trying to point at with the sword of conquest comment.  Prior to Constantine, how did Christianity spread despite not having any political power?
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« Reply #110 on: July 09, 2009, 08:10:35 pm »

but prior to Constantine, it was the blood of Christians that was spilt.  Again, I would like to know was there any persecutions by Christians to others prior to Constantine

No, because in order to persecute, you need political power.

Thank you, that is what I was trying to point at with the sword of conquest comment.  Prior to Constantine, how did Christianity spread despite not having any political power?

The essence of Christianity caters to the destitute, the empoverished, the broken, and every other category of people that feel some sort of social injustice, emotional distress, and/or degradation in life.  It gave hope to the hopeless...and so on.  Afterall, Jesus "hung out" with the outcasts and "repulsive" people.  That is why the Pharisees hated him.  He brushed them off.  It spread through word of mouth... It is a powerful thing to believe that you will spend eternity in paradise for a little bit of pain and suffering in this life.  Forgive the comparison, but that is why the terrorists in the world today are so effective; they are not afraid of the consequences of their actions because they truly believe that what they are doing is right...that it will "land" them in a paradise.  It seems impossible to stop...political or no political power.  Christians just believed...and acted accordingly...they felt they had no choice.  People who are willing to martyr themselves command attention.  This in and of itself helps spread a belief since many are bound to question "why would someone do this?"


Best, Noah 
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« Reply #111 on: July 09, 2009, 09:46:03 pm »

Prior to Constantine, how did Christianity spread despite not having any political power?

One way that Christianity spread was through Gentile "God-fearers" who were deeply enamored of Judaism. In fact, it was often these wealthy Gentiles who provided funds for the building of synagogues in the Greek cities of the Jewish diaspora. Christianity, especially the version the apostle Paul preached in those very synagogues (targeting not his fellow Jews, but the "God-fearers"), enabled these hangers-on to be "grafted" onto the vine of Judaism without undergoing actual surgery and without the encumberance of following the Mosaic Law, both of which would be required of converts to traditional Judaism.

 
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« Reply #112 on: July 10, 2009, 03:00:32 pm »

It provided an 'easy' form of Judaism, without a painful operation or inconvenient rules. I think the old paganism was gradually losing credibility, with new cults coming in, and a drift towards monotheism. It fitted the times, and eventually proved to be politically convenient for an alliance with the state, once attitudeas began to change on both sides. Growth was slow until it was effectively legalised by Gallienus, by which time it was organised across the empire, and in a position to take advantage.
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« Reply #113 on: January 30, 2012, 11:32:26 am »

Hello friends,

I am definitely NOT trying to resurrect this thread!

I somehow stumbled upon it, and was fascinated by the debate, and just wanted to recommend it as a  "must" read to anyone fairly new like myself who hasn't seen it. (apparently this was a tangential thread that was split)

The importance of the Pagan/Christian scenario in ancient Roman times is obviously of paramount importance in the study of the corresponding numismatic output.

I was so impressed by the depth and breadth of knowledge in this thread along with the passion expressed in sharing it.

I hope others will enjoy it, learn from it, and be inspired by it, as I have.

Regards,

-Kurt
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