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How did Christians stir Roman opposition to their religion?


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2008-05-10 08:24:54
2008-05-10 08:24:54

The Romans were very relaxed about different religions. They recognised that one peoples' high god was the same as other peoples' including their own. When Pompey captured Jerusalem he immediately went up to the Temple and sacrificed to the Jewish high god. What they were not relaxed about was revolution. Revolutionaries had a habit of binding themselves in conspriacies with a mutual act of sacrilege, which carried the death penalty, so that none of them could chicken out, turn state's evidence and avoid punishment. When Roman administrations noted that the early Christians met in private houses and were reputed to drink blood and eat flesh, this rang alarm bells, and their meetings were prohibited. Also, they were still part of the Jewish congregation, and the more orthodox Jews were prone to denouncing these clandestine meeters in an attempt to distance themselves from retribution along with the Christian sect. Pliny, Roman governor of Bythinia in Asia Minor early in the 2nd Century CE mentions his problems with Christians, the imperial ban on them, and people denouncing them in his letters to emperor Trajan. It is plain in them that the problem is political not religious - in another letter Pliny asks for permission to form a fire brigade in Nicomedia. Trajan forbade it also on the same grounds - Greeks who band together plot revolution.

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