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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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Why were the Early Christians Persecuted? * 1

Why were the Early Christians Persecuted? * 1

(p.105) 3 Why were the Early Christians Persecuted?* 1
Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy

G. E. M. De Ste. Croix

Oxford University Press

This chapter reprints Ste. Croix's 1963 Past and Present investigation of why Christians were persecuted in the first three centuries, together with a brief response in 1964 to criticisms by A.N. Sherwin-White. Ste. Croix's main objective was to counter Sherwin-White's theory that Christians fell foul of Roman provincial administration because of the obstinacy they displayed in adherence to their beliefs. Ste. Croix insisted that the main charge against Christians under Roman law was simply the name of Christian, which was sufficient to generate persecution unless the accused could clear themselves by a variety of relatively simple procedures. Careful scrutiny of the evidence for persecution, especially during the 2nd century, clarifies the mechanics of Roman administration and the application of imperial law.

Keywords:   Roman Law, Roman administration, obstinacy, Roman religion

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