Tag Archives: religious persecution

Remembrance

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. I’m going to pause retelling the story of Babylonian exile until tomorrow. 

“The international day remembers the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi persecution.

The Holocaust, also known as the Shoah – which means “destruction” in Hebrew – took place between 1941 and 1945.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/13856203/when-is-holocaust-memorial-day-2021/

The new religion

The Roman Empire became so enormous that it was too huge for one emperor. The Empire got split into East and West. Rome was still the capital city of the western half. Byzantium became the capital city of the eastern half. Within both halves of the Empire was a growing movement, a new religion—people who worshiped Jesus Christ. This was a problem, because—just like the Egyptians and pharaoh—Romans were expected to worship their emperor as a god. Christians had to worship in secret. Whenever they were found, Christians were rounded up, punished and even executed in grisly spectacles at the Colosseum where they were put in an arena with abused, starved lions. People bought tickets to watch. Human beings can be horrible, gang.

https://johnmanders.wordpress.com/2019/08/12/being-a-christian-in-the-roman-empire/
https://johnmanders.wordpress.com/2019/08/15/those-rotten-romans/
https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/issues/issue-27/persecution-in-early-church-did-you-know.html (requires subscription)
https://christian-apologist.com/2018/04/15/early-christian-martyrdoms-persecution-in-the-roman-empire/

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Constantine dreams

Persecution means to target and punish a particular person or group of people. Christians who lived in the Roman Empire suffered persecution. They weren’t allowed to worship God and were arrested and punished for not worshiping the Roman gods. Yet despite being persecuted, the followers of Christ grew in number. You can grab a bible and read all about it in The Acts of the Apostles and Saint Paul’s letters (in the New Testament).

For the Christians, a big change happened when Emperor Constantine was about to fight the Battle of Milvian Bridge in ad 312. This battle was part of a civil war—Romans fighting Romans. Constantine had been a worshiper of Apollo, the Sun god. The night before the big battle, Constantine had a dream. In his dream, he saw the sun (Apollo’s symbol)—but with a cross in front, blotting it out. Beneath the cross a Latin inscription read, “In hoc signo vinces*”—“Under this sign, you will win.” Early the next morning, Constantine ordered his troops to paint crosses on their shields. Constantine won the battle and became the sole emperor of Rome. Out of gratitude he became a Christian and issued the Edict of Milan in 313, which allowed everyone in the empire to follow whatever religion they chose without being persecuted.

The Battle o the Milvian bridge seems ideal for a rousing climactic scene in a sword & sandals movie—the hopeless odds, the clever general, a lightning strike at the enemy’s vulnerable spot, the victory as the enemy retreats in confusion. You can read about it here.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space

http://www.ushistory.org/civ/6f.asp

The Growth of Christianity in the Roman Empire


https://www.britannica.com/topic/Battle-of-the-Milvian-Bridge

*EEN HOKE SEEN-yo WEEN-kays, for you pronunciation purists.

Those rotten Romans

I’ve been thinking about that last post—about the early Christian martyrs who were executed by being thrown to the lions. And it’s been bothering me.

For an image, I drew a fearsome-looking lion. I had drawn another picture which includes the condemned Christians, but my jokey style made it look like I were laughing at them, so I didn’t post it. The subject is too awful to look at, or draw, directly.

Let’s face it, the Romans built an awe-inspiring civilization—with a flowering of art, literature, architecture—but they were still barbarian enough that they condemned human beings to be torn apart by animals. They even made a show of the awfulness; they held the executions in an arena for entertainment and sold tickets. When you see historic pictures of these executions, the lions are always big and powerful. If you think about it, their keepers must have abused and starved the poor animals so that they’d be crazed enough to attack people.

This is something I didn’t expect to write about for this little history. I thought to trick you into reading my blog by keeping it light-hearted and fun. But, it’s not a bad thing to remind ourselves every so often: humankind is capable of great inhumanity. The Romans could be downright rotten and so can we. The only thing that keeps us from slipping into barbarism is our humanity, our empathy for our fellow creatures. Jesus encouraged His followers to ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’

Wouldn’t it have been fantastic if His followers brought the Roman Empire around to that way of thinking?

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.