Imperial Persecution of Christians: Historical Evidence?

May 2011
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Thanks for the reference to Shaw's article, and to the list of evidence being discussed by those recent scholars.

I forgot to add the Thirteenth Sibylline Oracle, written between 262 and 268, which, like Eusebius, attributes Decius' persecution of the Christians to his antipathy towards Philip.
On Pagans, Jews and Christians: Arnaldo Momigliano, 1987

has this to say about the forgery of the Greek Sibylline oracles


p.138​
Jewish and Christian forgery of the Greek Sibylline oracles​
-----------------------------------------------------------​
"The Jews began writing Sibylline oracles in the 2nd century BCE".​
"The Jews stopped writing history after 100 CE and the Christians​
did not write political history before the fifth century. The​
Sibylline oracles filled a historiographic gap."​
p.139​
"The collection of Sibylline Oracles which has reached us​
contains both Jewish and Christian Sibylline oracles. The​
collection as it now stands was put together and transmitted​
by Christians. Here we find Christian forgers using Jewish​
forgeries and adding their own more or less for the same​
purposes: anti-Roman feeling, apocalyptic expectations, and​
general reflection on past history presented as future.​
Father of the Church (notably Lactantius) hurried to quote​
these texts, and of course the Christians went on composing​
their Sybilline texts (now also in Latin) throughout the​
Middle Ages.​


David Potter acknowledges an existing view that the mention of the persecution may be an interpolation, although he doesn't think this to be so.
Is Momigliano in his bibliography?

Do you happen to know any scholarship that addresses a reference to the persecution in the noncanonical Acts of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian in which the Emperor Domitian receives a complaint in the form of a book written by the Jews all about a new and strange nation of Christians.

And when Vespasian was dead, his son Domitian, having got possession of the kingdom, along with his other wrongful acts, set himself also to make a persecution against the righteous men. For, having learned that the city was filled with Jews, remembering the orders given by his father about them, he purposed casting them all out of the city of the Romans. And some of the Jews took courage, and gave Domitian a book, in which was written as follows:—​
O Domitian, Cæsar and king of all the world, as many of us as are Jews entreat thee, as suppliants we beseech of thy power not to banish us from thy divine and benignant countenance; for we are obedient to thee, and the customs, and laws, and practices, and policy, doing wrong in nothing, but being of the same mind with the Romans.
But there is a new and strange nation, neither agreeing with other nations nor consenting to the religious observances of the Jews, uncircumcised, inhuman, lawless, subverting whole houses, proclaiming a man as God, all assembling together [2435] under a strange name, that of Christian. These men reject God, paying no heed to the law given by Him, and proclaim to be the Son of God a man born of ourselves, Jesus by name, whose parents and brothers and all his family have been connected with the Hebrews; whom on account of his great blasphemy and his wicked fooleries we gave up to the cross.
And they add another blasphemous lie to their first one: him that was nailed up and buried, they glorify as having risen from the dead; and, more than this, they falsely assert that he has been taken up by [2436] clouds into the heavens.

At all this the king, being affected with rage, ordered the senate to publish a decree that they should put to death all who confessed themselves to be Christians. Those, then, who were found in the time of his rage, and who reaped the fruit of patience, and were crowned in the triumphant contest against the works of the devil, received the repose of incorruption.​

AFAIK the story is generally classed with the non canonical acts. It is late, and seems to have an authorship after Eusebius, because the phrase "new and strange nation [of Christians]" is characteristic of Eusebius. It may be a parody. Or satire. The Jews would hardly write a book to the Emperor complaining about a "new and strange nation [of Christians]"; admitting that they crucified Jesus for blasphemy; and complaining that the Christians falsely asserted that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended through the cloud banks above Jerusalem. It has the ring of a 4th century Monty Python sketch.
 
Thanks for the reference to Shaw's article, and to the list of evidence being discussed by those recent scholars.



On Pagans, Jews and Christians: Arnaldo Momigliano, 1987

has this to say about the forgery of the Greek Sibylline oracles


p.138​
Jewish and Christian forgery of the Greek Sibylline oracles​
-----------------------------------------------------------​
"The Jews began writing Sibylline oracles in the 2nd century BCE".​
"The Jews stopped writing history after 100 CE and the Christians​
did not write political history before the fifth century. The​
Sibylline oracles filled a historiographic gap."​
p.139​
"The collection of Sibylline Oracles which has reached us​
contains both Jewish and Christian Sibylline oracles. The​
collection as it now stands was put together and transmitted​
by Christians. Here we find Christian forgers using Jewish​
forgeries and adding their own more or less for the same​
purposes: anti-Roman feeling, apocalyptic expectations, and​
general reflection on past history presented as future.​
Father of the Church (notably Lactantius) hurried to quote​
these texts, and of course the Christians went on composing​
their Sybilline texts (now also in Latin) throughout the​
Middle Ages.​




Is Momigliano in his bibliography?

Do you happen to know any scholarship that addresses a reference to the persecution in the noncanonical Acts of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian in which the Emperor Domitian receives a complaint in the form of a book written by the Jews all about a new and strange nation of Christians.

And when Vespasian was dead, his son Domitian, having got possession of the kingdom, along with his other wrongful acts, set himself also to make a persecution against the righteous men. For, having learned that the city was filled with Jews, remembering the orders given by his father about them, he purposed casting them all out of the city of the Romans. And some of the Jews took courage, and gave Domitian a book, in which was written as follows:—​
O Domitian, Cæsar and king of all the world, as many of us as are Jews entreat thee, as suppliants we beseech of thy power not to banish us from thy divine and benignant countenance; for we are obedient to thee, and the customs, and laws, and practices, and policy, doing wrong in nothing, but being of the same mind with the Romans.
But there is a new and strange nation, neither agreeing with other nations nor consenting to the religious observances of the Jews, uncircumcised, inhuman, lawless, subverting whole houses, proclaiming a man as God, all assembling together [2435] under a strange name, that of Christian. These men reject God, paying no heed to the law given by Him, and proclaim to be the Son of God a man born of ourselves, Jesus by name, whose parents and brothers and all his family have been connected with the Hebrews; whom on account of his great blasphemy and his wicked fooleries we gave up to the cross.
And they add another blasphemous lie to their first one: him that was nailed up and buried, they glorify as having risen from the dead; and, more than this, they falsely assert that he has been taken up by [2436] clouds into the heavens.

At all this the king, being affected with rage, ordered the senate to publish a decree that they should put to death all who confessed themselves to be Christians. Those, then, who were found in the time of his rage, and who reaped the fruit of patience, and were crowned in the triumphant contest against the works of the devil, received the repose of incorruption.​

AFAIK the story is generally classed with the non canonical acts. It is late, and seems to have an authorship after Eusebius, because the phrase "new and strange nation [of Christians]" is characteristic of Eusebius. It may be a parody. Or satire. The Jews would hardly write a book to the Emperor complaining about a "new and strange nation [of Christians]"; admitting that they crucified Jesus for blasphemy; and complaining that the Christians falsely asserted that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended through the cloud banks above Jerusalem. It has the ring of a 4th century Monty Python sketch.
Regarding David Potter, he doesn't reference Momigliano in that particular chapter, but he makes his point in passing. The work to check would be David Potter's book on the 13th Sibylline Oracle, titled 'Prophecy and History in the Crisis of Roman Empire.' It's the only book out there whose sole focus is the 13th Oracle.

I've never come across this particular Domitian story before! It doesn't seem like a very believable thing to do, to be told to leave Rome but instead to give Domitian a book denouncing the Christians.
 
Emperors and author certainly did twist facts, exaggerate and invent things, and occasionally punished well-known critics, but the invention you're proposing goes beyond what Momigliano had in mind, and the evidence doesn't suggest an impenetrable control over narrative, since dissenting opinions (and Christian responses to now-lost dissenting opinions) have slipped through the cracks. Totalitarianism is not possible prior to industrialization. But I've already made this point, so we don't need to go on in circles.

But the fact that Socrates, Sozomen, Rufinus and Jerome chose to continue the works of Eusebius does not mean that they would have bought what he sold them hook, line and sinker. Indeed, they disagreed with him on theological matters. There is also Athanasius, Augustine, Philostorgius, the other works of Jerome, the now-lost fourth-century source(s) used by Zonaras, all works who acknowledge the existence of the persecution without being continuators of Eusebius.

Certainly, there was a Christian revolution, but the vehemence of the Christian writers Eusebius and Lactantius makes complete sense if there was a persecution, and requires considerable explanation if there wasn't (that should have been point 10 in my list of objections).

Actually, a point 11: Constantine did not need to lie about persecution to overthrow his rivals and strengthen the position of Christianity. He did not justify his war with Maxentius through Christianity, but through the age-old excuse of 'I'm overthrowing a tyrant and liberating the city of Rome', in spite of the fact that Maxentius was quite popular. During the campaign he had his personal turn towards Christianity, and used that to explain why he won, but not to justify why he overthrew Maxentius. Roman history shows that religious pretexts were never needed for a military strongman to achieve his goals, and as the emperor Constantine did not need to pretend that Christianity had been persecuted to justify his support for a God who he believed had helped him in battle.

Also, point 12: In 313 Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, a call for religious liberty for people of all beliefs, and proceeded to establish incentives for becoming a bishop. Only after he overthrew Licinius in 324 did he become a lot more aggressive in his promotion of Christianity. It was after this time that certain temples were destroyed (in particular, those that were linked to the persecution or containing cult practices that were particularly offensive to Christians, like temple prostitution), certain temple riches were looted for Constantinople, and blood sacrifice banned. These things happened mostly in the East rather than the West, which did not undergo similar treatment until the reign of Constans. So, this all happened well after the first edition of Eusebius' Church History (c. 313) and Lactantius' De Mortibus Persecutorum, (313/4) which were published around the time of the strikingly liberal Edict of Milan. They were published at a time when Constantine was not gunning for the pagans in the way that he later would, and even so, his later activity was still limited to the East.

Also, point 13: Lactantius' Institutiones Divinae was written c. 309, before Constantine's turn towards Christianity, and it makes references to the persecution. It is an apologetical work that is partly directed towards pagan readers, and in one part argues that should the Christians ever enjoy power over the pagans, they ought not force them into their way of thinking, in contrast with how certain persecuting emperors were at that time acting.

Also, point 14: Why would the Christians falsely claim that their persecution happened/was still happening in contemporary times, and thus make their claims more vulnerable? If it strengthened their case in moving against pagans, see points 11-13.

Also, point 15: The degree of fabrication being proposed goes further than any accusation levelled against any other ancient writer.

Essentially, as I see it, you are suspicious that all later writers have fallen into a trap set by Constantine, Eusebius and Lactantius, three men who, I have argued, were in some major respects not in tune with one another and with different interests. If you don't mind, I'd like to know the following:

1. Why are you so suspicious of Eusebius and Lactantius?

2. Why might your scenario be more believable than the usual narrative? Or, if you don't think it more believable, why do you think it a tempting possibility?
I have a point 16: Papyrological evidence for Diocletian's first persecution edict. To quote Corcoran (2000: The Empire of the Tetrarchs, 2nd ed.) p. 180: 'Some of the effects of the edict can be seen in papyri, such as the necessity for sacrificing in court (P. Oxy. 2601) and the surrender of church property (P. Oxy. 2673 (Feb. 304)).' Potter quotes the second document in The Roman Empire at Bay AD 180-395 (2nd ed., 2014), p. 331:
"Whereas you gave me orders in accordance with what was written by Aurelius
Athanasius, procurator privatae, in virtue of a command of the most illustrious
magister privatae, Neratius Apollonides, concerning the surrender of all the goods
in the said former church and whereas I reported that the said church had neither
gold nor silver nor money nor clothes nor beasts nor slaves nor lands nor property
either from grants or bequests, excepting only the unworked bronze which was
found and delivered to the logistes to be carried down to the most glorious Alexandria
in accordance with what was written by our most illustrious prefect Clodius Culcianus,
I also swear by the genius of our lords the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, the
Augusti, and Constantius and Galerius, the most noble Caesars, that these things
are so and that I have falsified nothing, or may I be liable to the divine oath."
 
May 2011
2,940
Rural Australia
Thanks DiocletianIsBetterThanYou for presentation and discussion of evidence ...

I have a point 16: Papyrological evidence for Diocletian's first persecution edict. To quote Corcoran (2000: The Empire of the Tetrarchs, 2nd ed.) p. 180: 'Some of the effects of the edict can be seen in papyri, such as the necessity for sacrificing in court (P. Oxy. 2601)
There is no specific reference to Christians here. The inference here is that Christians would have been persecuted for not abiding by this edict. However this inference, although it is sound, is not evidence of Diocletian's persecution of Christians.


and the surrender of church property (P. Oxy. 2673 (Feb. 304)).' Potter quotes the second document in The Roman Empire at Bay AD 180-395 (2nd ed., 2014), p. 331:
"Whereas you gave me orders in accordance with what was written by Aurelius
Athanasius, procurator privatae, in virtue of a command of the most illustrious
magister privatae, Neratius Apollonides, concerning the surrender of all the goods
in the said former church and whereas I reported that the said church had neither
gold nor silver nor money nor clothes nor beasts nor slaves nor lands nor property
either from grants or bequests, excepting only the unworked bronze which was
found and delivered to the logistes to be carried down to the most glorious Alexandria
in accordance with what was written by our most illustrious prefect Clodius Culcianus,
I also swear by the genius of our lords the emperors Diocletian and Maximian, the
Augusti, and Constantius and Galerius, the most noble Caesars, that these things
are so and that I have falsified nothing, or may I be liable to the divine oath."
Thanks very much for mentioning this document. There is no doubt it mentions an "ecclesia" (a gathering, a church, an assembly) however it is my understanding that there were many examples of such "assemblies" at the beginning of the 4th century. Why should this document be viewed as being related to a specifically Christian assembly (i.e. a Christian church)?
 
Thanks DiocletianIsBetterThanYou for presentation and discussion of evidence ...



There is no specific reference to Christians here. The inference here is that Christians would have been persecuted for not abiding by this edict. However this inference, although it is sound, is not evidence of Diocletian's persecution of Christians.
It is as good a piece of evidence for Diocletian's persecution as the libelli are for that of Decius, although I acknowledge that we disagree on the importance of the libelli as evidence.




Thanks very much for mentioning this document. There is no doubt it mentions an "ecclesia" (a gathering, a church, an assembly) however it is my understanding that there were many examples of such "assemblies" at the beginning of the 4th century. Why should this document be viewed as being related to a specifically Christian assembly (i.e. a Christian church)?
Such an interpretation makes the most sense in the context of valuable goods being confiscated from an ecclesia in the year 304.
 
May 2011
2,940
Rural Australia
Such an interpretation makes the most sense in the context of valuable goods being confiscated from an ecclesia in the year 304.
I have read through the English translation of the papyrii again. It mentions that there was an order "concerning the surrender of all the goods in the said former church". [To be interpretted as a former "assembly" or "gathering" of citizens] The document then states that "I reported that the said church had neither gold nor silver nor money nor clothes nor beasts nor slaves nor lands nor property either from grants or bequests, excepting only the unworked bronze which was found and delivered"

How might this be any different from any general political tax on the property of any other existing "assembly" in Egypt at that time by the imperial regime. The author admits that he has already told the authorities that his "former gathering" had no gold or silver etc, etc, etc, and he has already sent the only possession, a bronze statue, to Alexandria. I'd be inclined to suggest that there is nothing uncommon about the Roman state taxing any "gatherings", or "assemblies" of its Egyptian citizens either in 304 or anytime during the entire Roman Empire.

If this assembly were in fact a "Christian church" then what was the bronze statue they sent to Alexandria?
 
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I have read through the English translation of the papyrii again. It mentions that there was an order "concerning the surrender of all the goods in the said former church". The document then states that "I reported that the said church had neither gold nor silver nor money nor clothes nor beasts nor slaves nor lands nor property either from grants or bequests, excepting only the unworked bronze which was found and delivered"

How might this be any different from any general political tax on the property of any other existing "assembly" in Egypt at that time by the imperial regime. The author admits that he has already told the authorities that his "gathering" has no gold or silver etc, etc, etc, and has already sent the only possession, a bronze statue, to Alexandria. I'd be inclined to suggest that there is nothing uncommon about the Roman state taxing any "gatherings", or "assemblies" of its citizens either in 304 or anytime.

If this assembly were in fact a "Christian church" then what was the bronze statue they sent to Alexandria?
To surrender all the goods of an ecclesia would not be a mere tax, but the complete gutting of a property's/organization's wealth. Such would be punitive. A possible alternative in other circumstances might be the necessity of war, but there was no major war being fought at this time, and since 297 Diocletian had implemented measures to ensure that no property/organization would be unfairly targeted by tax requirements, per the Optatus Edict (what we are seeing here would be well beyond extortionate in tax circumstances). Also, note that it is a former ecclesia. No former ecclesia should be expected to leave their precious metal resources lying around except under extraordinary circumstances. As it happened, the ecclesia was either not as wealthy as authorities were led to believe, or, more likely, the members had hidden most of their wealth in advance/taken it into the countryside. After all, we know of bishops who fled into the countryside to avoid persecution, including Alexander of Alexandria (terrible name, I know). What was left behind was not a bronze statue, but unworked bronze. I would interpret this as raw wealth, perhaps originally extracted from a copper mine in the possession of a church official (we know, after all, that even before Constantine there were bishops high up in society and with expansive business interests, as the Council of Elvira, for instance, demonstrates, as does the easy recognition of third-century bishops like Cyprian and Dionysius by Roman officials).

It's also worth noting that, as far as I'm aware, it probably cannot be a reference to a political assembly or a 'pagan' temple. Citizen assembles were simply the coming together of people/tribes to vote. It makes little sense to expect to extract property from what amounts to a political process. 'Pagan' temples are not referred to as ecclesiai, probably because congregations were less important in the 'pagan' context. Jewish congregations can be referred to as ecclesiai, but there is no evidence for a persecution of the Jews under Diocletian.
 
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caldrail

Ad Honorem
Feb 2012
5,303
In 303, the EmperorsDiocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors (Galerius with the Edict of Serdica in 311) at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.
Diocletianic Persecution - Wikipedia
 
May 2011
2,940
Rural Australia
To surrender all the goods of an ecclesia would not be a mere tax, but the complete gutting of a property's/organization's wealth. Such would be punitive. A possible alternative in other circumstances might be the necessity of war, but there was no major war being fought at this time, and since 297 Diocletian had implemented measures to ensure that no property/organization would be unfairly targeted by tax requirements, per the Optatus Edict (what we are seeing here would be well beyond extortionate in tax circumstances). Also, note that it is a former ecclesia.
The author of the document states that it a former ecclesia. Isn't it also reasonable to assume that when an ecclesia. (gathering or assembly of people) ceases to function, it may have had a financial obligation to the state to return all assets to the state?

....... It's also worth noting that, as far as I'm aware, it probably cannot be a reference to a political assembly or a 'pagan' temple. Citizen assembles were simply the coming together of people/tribes to vote. It makes little sense to expect to extract property from what amounts to a political process. 'Pagan' temples are not referred to as ecclesiai, probably because congregations were less important in the 'pagan' context. Jewish congregations can be referred to as ecclesiai, but there is no evidence for a persecution of the Jews under Diocletian.
I am aware of its more ancient Athenian usage, however It would be interesting to know more about the useage of this word "ecclesia" at the turn of the 4th century, but in a non Christian context.


Ecclesia: ἐκκλησία). The assembly of the people, which in Greek cities had the power of final decision in public affairs. (Athenian context)
Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898), E, E, Ecclesia

Word frequency information for ἐκκλησία
Word Frequency Information

I would be interested in looking at how the non christian authors use this word. For example from the 3rd century: Cassius Dio, Philostratus, Aelius Aristides.

The problem is that I cannot read the Greek. How do these three authors for example use this word "ecclesia"?

Many thanks.
 
May 2011
2,940
Rural Australia
"Stories that never happened can be infinitely more powerful than stories that did".


In 303, the EmperorsDiocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors (Galerius with the Edict of Serdica in 311) at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.
Diocletianic Persecution - Wikipedia
I'd like to discuss the ancient sources underpinning the reports of Diocletian's persecution.

Diocletianic Persecution - Wikipedia

Ancient sources
  • Arnobius. Adversus Nationes (Against the Heathen) ca. 295–300.
    • Bryce, Hamilton, and Hugh Campbell, trans. Against the Heathen. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Accessed June 9, 2009.
  • Dessau, Hermann. Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae (Berlin: Weidmann, 1892–1916)
  • Eusebius of Caesarea. Historia Ecclesiastica (Church History) first seven books ca. 300, eighth and ninth book ca. 313, tenth book ca. 315, epilogue ca. 325. Books Eight and Nine.
    • Williamson, G.A., trans. The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine. London: Penguin, 1989. ISBN 0-14-044535-8
  • Eusebius of Caesarea. De Martyribus Palestinae (On the Martyrs of Palestine).
  • Eusebius of Caesarea. Vita Constantini (The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine) ca. 336–39.
    • Richardson, Ernest Cushing, trans. Life of Constantine. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 1. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1890. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Accessed June 9, 2009.
  • Lactantius. Divinae Institutiones (The Divine Institutes) ca. 303–311.
    • Fletcher, William, trans. The Divine Institutes. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Accessed June 9, 2009.
  • Lactantius. De Ira Dei (On the Wrath of God) ca. 313.
    • Fletcher, William, trans. On the Anger of God. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Accessed June 9, 2009.
  • Lactantius. Liber De Mortibus Persecutorum (Book on the Deaths of the Persecutors) ca. 313–15.
    • Fletcher, William, trans. Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886. Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Accessed June 9, 2009.
  • Musurillo, Herbert, trans. The Acts of the Christian Martyrs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972.
  • Optatus. Contra Parmenianum Donatistam (Against the Donatists) ca. 366–367.
  • Porphyry. Fragments.
  • Tertullian. Apologeticus (Apology) 197.
    • Thelwall, S., trans. Apology. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. Accessed June 16, 2009.
  • Tilley, Maureen A, trans. Donatist Martyr Stories: The Church in Conflict in Roman North Africa. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1996.

Some questions and comments regarding the contention of the persecution by Diocletian:


(1) What is the evidence provided by Dessau, Hermann. Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae ?

(2) Eusebius and Lactantius provide the bulk of the evidence. Is this any reason for concern?

(3) Is it not a common political practice that the propaganda of the new regime demonises the old regime?

(4) To what extent are these early persecution stories either late and/or fictional?

(5) What do you consider to be strongest source of evidence that supports the contention that the early persecution stories reflect hisorical events?