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Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy$
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Geoffrey de Ste. Croix, Michael Whitby, and Joseph Streeter

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278121

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278121.001.0001

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Aspects of the ‘Great’ Persecution * †

Aspects of the ‘Great’ Persecution * †

(p.35) 1 Aspects of the ‘Great’ Persecution*
Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy

G. E. M. De Ste. Croix

Oxford University Press

This chapter reprints Ste. Croix's 1954 Harvard Theological Review article on the ‘Great’ Persecution of the early 4th century, when Diocletian and his imperial colleagues issued four edicts of persecution between 303 and 304. The thrust of these edicts was to reverse a generation of toleration which the Church had enjoyed, but their enforcement was patchy and needs to be understood within the context of the operation of Roman imperial administration, which depended to an extent upon the preferences of individual governors for the implementation of imperial legislation. The contrasting implementation of the edicts between the eastern and western halves of the empire is investigated, with particular reference to the evidence from North Africa and Eusebius' account of the Palestinian martyrs.

Keywords:   Great Persecution, Edicts of Persecution, enforcement, administration, Eusebius, Palestinian martyrs

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