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«Impulsore Chresto»

Opposition to Christianity in the Roman Empire c. 50-250 AD


Jakob Engberg

Impulsore Chresto reassesses opposition to Christianity AD 50-250. The Roman authorities‘ persecutions have caught the attention of both the public, intrigued by martyrs, and scholars, arguing that executions were relatively rare. This is not challenged, but the executions are placed in context as the most dramatic aspect of a spectrum of opposition including rumors, polemic, harassment and accusations. Such opposition was taken for granted and rarely described. When studying the preserved texts on trials against Christians, however, it appears that even here relatives, plaintiffs, spectators or local officials played crucial roles. There were as many reasons for opposition as opponents, but some motives reappear in clusters: Christians were perceived as superstitious and ungodly, as endangering peace with the gods and social order.
Contents: Pagan, convert, Jew, Christian – Church: imagined community – Formalism, substantivism – Spectrum of opposition, opponents: persecution, plaintiff, harassment, polemic – Motives, realistic, xenophobic, chimerical hostility – Roman Empire – Early Christian texts, martyr-narratives, pagan authors on Christians, apologetics.