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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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Heresy, Schism, and Persecution in the Later Roman Empire

Heresy, Schism, and Persecution in the Later Roman Empire

(p.201) 5 Heresy, Schism, and Persecution in the Later Roman Empire
Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy

G. E. M. De Ste. Croix

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses how the Church, after enduring persecution during its first three centuries, emerged as a triumphant and highly effective persecuting force during the next three centuries, with pagans, Jews, Manichees, and Christian heretics as its victims. In contrast to the pre-Christian Roman Empire, which was remarkably willing to accept most new religions, Christianity was a jealous religion and quickly used the privileges secured through Constantine's conversion to involve the Roman state in enforcing its wishes. The conflict in North Africa between Donatists and Catholics provided the trigger, but also demonstrated the problems of enforcing imperial wishes on groups whose earlier experience of persecution had stiffened their resolve. The evidence for the rigour of the Church's views on the persecution of heresy is analysed, before an editorial appendix considers the wider issue of religious toleration in classical antiquity and how the triumph of Christianity affected this.

Keywords:   the Church, Donatists, toleration, Catholics, Christian heretics

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