• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Outline the Roman Empire's attitude to Christianity until the end of the first century.

Extracts from this document...


Q: Outline the Roman Empire's attitude to Christianity until the end of the first century. The Christian church from its outset has faced many challenges as a result of external influences; one of the most important of these influences was the persecution of the Christian people by the Roman Empire. From the year 64AD onwards the church was persecuted by the Roman authorities in an intermittent and sporadic manner, not on account of their beliefs, but was a result of chance and circumstance. Christianity was born out of Judaism and appeared as an entity after the death of Christ. Of course Jews of the time felt threatened by the emergence of Christianity as a faith, and so the earliest persecutions of Christians occurred at the hands of Jewish Sadducees, who branded Christians 'blasphemous'. Indeed it is clear that the Jews played a part in persecution of Christians as late on as AD156 in the persecution of Polycarp. The persecution of Christians in the first century by Jews however were minimal in comparison to the much more widespread and systematic persecutions by the Roman authorities from the year AD64 onwards. ...read more.


Yet other critics have also suggested that the fire may well have been started by Christian extremists, anxious to fulfil apocalyptic prophecies. The first persecuted Christians were charged with arson and as Tacitus tells us, immense in number, this charge apparently changed to a charge of 'hatred for the human race'. This in itself indicates the immense suspicion of the Roman population towards Christianity and the ability of Roman authorities to exploit this. Wand indicates to us the state of Roman perceptions of Christianity after Nero's reign: 'By the end of the reign of Nero the state had settled down to an attitude of suspicion towards the church.' The persecutions themselves were reported to be gruesome and perverse in nature by Tacitus among others. They were deliberately devised to create amusement for the public as well as humiliate the incumbent. Accounts included victims being covered with the hides of dogs and beasts and set upon by dogs, being crucified and being used as streetlights to 'illuminate the darkness'. Even Tacitus the most ardent of anti Christian writers, could not help but feel pity for them. ...read more.


However it still remains in dispute whether Domitian persecuted Christians at all. The early church writer Dio Cassius, wrote from Bythinia, a strong Christian province and yet he never mentions any of Domitian's victims as Christians. Furthermore, Pliny, a lawyer working in Rome at the time of Domitian's reign tells Trajan many years later that he had never been involved in a Christian trial. This indicates at least that Domitian's persecution was not exactly widespread or for reaching, if it existed at all. There is little doubt of the immense impact the early persecutions had on the growth of the Christian church. While some argue that it has helped the church in its growth, others claim that it has actually hindered the churches growth. Tertullian observes 'the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church'. I believe that because of the limited nature of early persecutions they did not seriously slow down the expansion of Christianity. What is certain though is that the persecutions at the hands of Nero and Domitian set a precedent for future Christian persecution. Niall Dumigan R.E. Essay ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Christianity section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Christianity essays

  1. What is Christianity? Throughout the history of the world there has never been such ...

    Moreover, we find that another condition of faith is that faith does not rely on materialistic or physical facts to prove or approve belief in such faith. For example, in the letter to the Hebrews chapter 11, verse 6, it reads, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him,

  2. Explain the reasons for the spread of Christianity in the first three centuries.

    Paul spread the Christian message North-West through Antioch, Asia Minor (modern Turkey) and Greece, and even as far as Albania and Spain (Romans 15, 19, 24), thus showing what a major part he played in the spread of the early Christian church.

  1. Explain the beliefs Christians hold about their responsibility for those at the beginning and ...

    There are also some extreme exceptions for Catholics. The principal of double effect in the Roman Catholic church if in some complex situations like if the mother was likely to die would allow an abortion to take place, and

  2. What is Christianity

    In religious practices the commandments perform several aspects in the life of those who practice them. For instance, one of these commandments, in the book of Exodus, chapter 20, verse 3 reads, "You shall have no other gods before me."

  1. Christian perspectives on personal, social and world issues

    'Serpents' (snakes) were made to crawl on their 'belly' because the one in the story tempted Eve to eat the 'forbidden fruit'. As Eve took the apple all women suffer pain when giving birth. Christians believe that people are made to suffer because of what happened in 'The fall'.

  2. Examine a key issue that was faced by the New Testament Church (Prostitution) - ...

    In one passage, a priests daughter "who plays the harlot" is condemned to be burned for having "profaned" her father (Leviticus 21:9). One may think that she is part of her father's household, either as not yet married or as a divorced or widowed woman.

  1. Canons of Christianity

    This covenant was solidified through the law. Jesus stated that he came to abolish the old law. Jewish faith believes that following the law is what leads to eternal redemption. Abolishing this set of laws would negate the entire foundation of the Jewish faith.

  2. ''What is boasted of at the present time as the revival of religion is ...

    and the bible; this information quickly can harden in the public's minds as mere 'dead dogma'. This 'dead dogma' may not be questioned, and toleration of opposing opinions is non-existent. The opinion 'continues to be felt in undiminished strength, and is perhaps brought out into even fuller consciousness, so long

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work