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Old December 13th, 2012, 02:27 PM   #31

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Unfortunately I know little about it.
Drat . . . neither do I.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 05:21 PM   #32

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Btw motorbike, is your avatar Janosik?

Sure is Arras, but I knew the name as Janicko. Takes me back to my zbojnicki dancing days.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 05:41 PM   #33

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The burning of Rome was blamed on Christians, and Nero is said to have persecuted a large number of Christians and is credited with putting Paul and Peter to death.
Roman historians blamed Nero for the Fire of Rome, pointing out that the Christians were merely a convenient scapegoat. Even during Nero's lifetime, many Romans refused to accept the story that Christians had started the fire, and accused Nero instead.

Tacitus writes:

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To get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace.

Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but, even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.

Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.

Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired.
Annals, XV.44.

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Hard to imagine why the Romans would so thoroughly condemn a non-revolutionary sect.
There is no evidence of any revolutionary behaviour by the early Christians. Even their worst enemies never accused them of being revolutionaries.

Motives for Roman antagonism against Christians included:
  • Christians refused to pay the Jewish tax (1st Century Christians were often viewed as Jews because they kept similar customs)
  • Christians were considered atheists due to their strict monotheism
  • Civil disobedience: Christians refused to swear oaths, serve in military, burn incense to emperor
  • Christians evangelised vigorously, unlike the Jews and pagans
  • Christians were believed to have caused Rome to lose favour with the gods, resulting in natural disasters and other calamities
  • Christianity was a new religion with no antiquity

Tertullian (a 2nd Century apologist) noted that Christians were soon blamed for anything and everything:

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If the Tiber rises so high it floods the walls, or the Nile so low it doesn't flood the fields, if the earth opens, or the heavens don't, if there is famine, if there is plague, instantly the howl goes up, 'The Christians to the lion!' What, all of them? To a single lion?
Apologeticum, 40.

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So there you go, supplanting the fundamental order of the culture.
No, merely refusing to conform. Christians had no capacity to supplant the fundamental order of the culture; their numbers were too small. At the time of Nero's persecution, Christians represented 0.0126% of the entire Greco-Roman population. That is not a significant figure. It is certainly not large enough to comprise a 'revolutionary' threat.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 05:48 PM   #34

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I don't think christianity was some sort of coherent body of thought and action in Constantine's time. The Council of Nicea was instigated to bring about some acceptance of common beliefs by quite divergent parties. The Nicene Creed reads like a closing communique from a modern-day high level international forum. Constantine's focus was to end the divisiveness within the Roman Empire that was undermining it. Belief systems were just one of the areas he was imposing some sort of structure.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 06:28 PM   #35

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Originally Posted by Sankari View Post
Roman historians blamed Nero for the Fire of Rome, pointing out that the Christians were merely a convenient scapegoat. Even during Nero's lifetime, many Romans refused to accept the story that Christians had started the fire, and accused Nero instead.

Tacitus writes:



Annals, XV.44.



There is no evidence of any revolutionary behaviour by the early Christians. Even their worst enemies never accused them of being revolutionaries.

Motives for Roman antagonism against Christians included:
  • Christians refused to pay the Jewish tax (1st Century Christians were often viewed as Jews because they kept similar customs)
  • Christians were considered atheists due to their strict monotheism
  • Civil disobedience: Christians refused to swear oaths, serve in military, burn incense to emperor
  • Christians evangelised vigorously, unlike the Jews and pagans
  • Christians were believed to have caused Rome to lose favour with the gods, resulting in natural disasters and other calamities
  • Christianity was a new religion with no antiquity

Tertullian (a 2nd Century apologist) noted that Christians were soon blamed for anything and everything:



Apologeticum, 40.



No, merely refusing to conform. Christians had no capacity to supplant the fundamental order of the culture; their numbers were too small. At the time of Nero's persecution, Christians represented 0.0126% of the entire Greco-Roman population. That is not a significant figure. It is certainly not large enough to comprise a 'revolutionary' threat.
Thanks for the sources and info, good post. I wasn't thinking literally revolutionary, but I can see that is what you meant. I meant revolutionary in their practice or thinking so that they stood out.

Were any other religious groups that were viewed as mischievous by the Romans?
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Old December 13th, 2012, 06:52 PM   #36

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I don't think christianity was some sort of coherent body of thought and action in Constantine's time.
It was a coherent body of thought with a number of disagreements on minor issues and significant disagreement on a single major issue (the nature and identity of Jesus Christ).

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The Council of Nicea was instigated to bring about some acceptance of common beliefs by quite divergent parties.
Not really. The agenda at Nicaea was as follows:
  • Settle the Arian controversy
  • Agree on annual date for Easter celebration
  • Resolve disputes concerning the Lapsi (Christians who had lapsed under persecution)

As you can see, only one doctrine was addressed at Nicaea.

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The Nicene Creed reads like a closing communique from a modern-day high level international forum.
That's exactly what it was.

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Constantine's focus was to end the divisiveness within the Roman Empire that was undermining it. Belief systems were just one of the areas he was imposing some sort of structure.
Agreed, although he had personal reasons for promoting Christianity.

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Originally Posted by Rasta View Post
Thanks for the sources and info, good post.
My pleasure.

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Were any other religious groups that were viewed as mischievous by the Romans?
The Jews were originally considered highly troublesome, but over time they developed an uneasy working relationship with the Romans.

This did not stop a number of Jewish radicals attempting to start civil wars and revolutions (e.g. Simon of Peraea; Athronges; Theudas; Judas of Galilee; Menahem ben Judah) yet their support was generally localised, they did not speak for the majority, and their revolts were swiftly put down.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 10:39 PM   #37

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Sure is Arras, but I knew the name as Janicko. Takes me back to my zbojnicki dancing days.
Are you of Polish or Slovak heritage by chance?

I never heard him called "Janicko", where does it originate? His full name was "Juraj Janosik" (Juraj Jnok) bye the way.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 10:52 PM   #38

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Originally Posted by Sankari View Post
Tertullian (a 2nd Century apologist) noted that Christians were soon blamed for anything and everything:
Later Christians also tended to exaggerate a little bit extend of persecution. When emperors ordered persecution of Christians, response from provinces was often: Who are Christians? And why should we persecute them?

But generally I agree with you. Biggest problem Romans had with Christians was that they distributed "Pax Deorum" and did not show respect to Imperial cult. There were few things which residents of Roman empire had in common and homage to Imperial cult was considered important building stone of imperial power. It was symbolic act of recognising Roman and imperial power. Disturbing gods was seen as dangerous because it could have brought misery on whole community.
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Old December 13th, 2012, 11:13 PM   #39

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When emperors ordered persecution of Christians, response from provinces was often: Who are Christians? And why should we persecute them?
Was it? I'd like to see evidence of that please.

Correspondence between the emperor Trajan and Pliny the Younger (a local magistrate) shows that regional officials were already aware of Christians, and dealt with them independently. Pliny only requests guidance on matters of administration and process.

Quote:
Pliny:
It is my practice, my lord, to refer to you all matters concerning which I am in doubt. For who can better give guidance to my hesitation or inform my ignorance?

I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offences it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent. And I have been not a little hesitant as to whether there should be any distinction on account of age or no difference between the very young and the more mature; whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished.

Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed.

For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome.

Soon accusations spread, as usually happens, because of the proceedings going on, and several incidents occurred. An anonymous document was published containing the names of many persons.

Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ--none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do--these I thought should be discharged.

Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.

They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so.

When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food--but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations.

Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive superstition.

I therefore postponed the investigation and hastened to consult you. For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved.

For many persons of every age, every rank, and also of both sexes are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this superstition has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it.

It is certainly quite clear that the temples, which had been almost deserted, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, long neglected, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now very few purchasers could be found.

Hence it is easy to imagine what a multitude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded.
Quote:
Emperor Trajan:
You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard.

They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it--that is, by worshiping our gods--even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance.

But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age.
(Source).

Quote:
But generally I agree with you. Biggest problem Romans had with Christians was that they distributed "Pax Deorum" and did not show respect to Imperial cult. There were few things which residents of Roman empire had in common and homage to Imperial cult was considered important building stone of imperial power. It was symbolic act of recognising Roman and imperial power. Disturbing gods was seen as dangerous because it could have brought misery on whole community.
Agreed.
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Old December 14th, 2012, 03:13 AM   #40

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A big thanks to Sankari and others for informative posts!

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For this story I highly recommend The Barbarian Conversion by Richard Fletcher, published 1997, ISBN 0-8050-2763-7. (Amazon and I don't get along, but if you are interested, just google the ISBN number or name of the book and you can find it along with reviews, etc.
As the book is only 20 E in local e-shop I guess I'll just order this too but history seems to be a really dangerous thing to get interested for people that read slowly and with no educational background in it. Even to get some coherent general picture only about this topic (Christians vs. paganism in Europe) it seems I have to read some general history of Europe, Rome, Midde-ages, Baltic / Nordic crusades, pagan tribes, history of Christianity and whatever else. I am unemployed but I still feel I don't have enough time. Not that I am complaining, though, because more you know the more you want to know...


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You are welcome. Considering you are pretty close to the Baltic Lands right now I am surprised that you were not aware about this interesting bit of History.

You never step into the same river twice, remember
I have just been interested in history for 1-2 years and in contrary what the popular press is saying about Finnish school system, it sucks (or at least sucked back in 80s and 90's). I do not remember anything but some vague details about history etc. from school. I did know, though, that Baltic region and Northern Europe were about the last place in Europe to convert to Christianity.

Last edited by Omar Giggle; December 14th, 2012 at 03:28 AM.
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