The modern bibliography on the subject of the juridical basis of the persecutions of the Christians in the Roman Empire before 250 is vast, contentious—and in large part worthless. For no-one has yet attempted to gather together in a small compass and to scrutinize without preconceptions all the primary evidence for specific actions or legal enactments of the Senate or of emperors before Decius which directly concerned the Christians, or which were directly rendered necessary by them. Ulpian collected the imperial rescripts relating to the punishment of Christians in the seventh book of his De Officio Proconsulis. This chapter has left no discernible trace in the Digest commissioned by the Christian emperor Justinian. The evidence which remains, therefore, is scattered and often difficult to evaluate. What follows is an attempt to present clearly the primary evidence for the legal basis of the condemnation of Christians before 250 without the accretions of later hagiography or of modern interpretations.
1 For the main lines of the controversy see Sherwin-White, A. N., ‘The Early Persecutions and Roman Law Again’, JTS N.S. III (1952), 199 ff., reprinted with slight additions at The Letters of Pliny (1966), 772 ff.; Wlosok, A., ‘Die Rechtsgrundlagen der Christenverfolgungen der ersten zwei Jahrhunderte’, Gymnasium LXVI (1959), 14 ff. The clearest exposition of the problems is that of de Ste Croix, G. E. M., ‘Why were the early Christians persecuted?’, Past and Present XXVI (1963), 6 ff.
2 Lactantius, , Div. Inst. v, 11, 19: ‘Domitius de officio proconsulis libro septimo rescripta principum nefaria collegit, ut doceret quibus poenis adfici oporteret eos qui se cultores dei confiterentur’.
3 Vague references to a ‘νόμος/lex’ against the Christians (such as Athenagoras, Legatio 7; Tertullian, , Apol. 4, 4 ff.) will be disregarded: they show merely that Christianity was illegal, not how it came to be so.
4 Below, p. 35.
5 Volterra, E., ‘Di una decisione del Senato Romano ricordata di Tertulliano’, Scritti in onore di C. Ferrini pubblicati in occasione della sua beatificazione I (1947), 471 ff.; Cecchelli, C., ‘Un tentato riconoscimento imperiale del Cristo’, Studi in onore di A. Calderini e R. Paribeni I (1956), 351 ff.; Sordi, M., ‘I primi rapporti fra lo Stato Romano e il Cristianesimo’, Rendiconti Acc. Naz. Lincei8 XII (1957), 58 ff.; ‘Sui primi rapporti dell’ autorità romana con il Cristianesimo’, Studi Romani VIII (1960), 393 ff.; Il Cristianesimo e Roma (1965), 26, et al.
6 So M. Sordi, Il Cristianesimo e Roma (1965), 418; cf. ‘Un senatore cristiano dell’ età di Commodo’, Epigraphica XVII (1955), 104 ff.; ‘L'apologia del martire romano Apollonio’, Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia XVIII (1964), 169 ff.
7 GCS XLVII, 176 f.; Chronicon Paschale p. 430 f. Bonn.
8 For the universal dependence of later eastern writers on Eusebius see Haase, F., Altchristliche Kirchengeschichte nach orientalischen Quellen (1925), esp. 116 ff.
9 Urbina, I. Ortizde, Patrologia Syriaca (1958), 41 f.
10 Phillips, G., The Doctrine of Addai, the Apostle (1876), 36 f. (Eng. trans.).
11 As asserted by Volterra, o.c., 478 ff. Sordi, M., Rendiconti Acc. Naz. Lincei8 XII (1957), 81 f. adduces as proof of an independent tradition Moses of Chorene, , Hist. Armen. II, 33—which is both in dubitably no earlier than the ninth century (P-W, Suppl. VI, 534 ff.) and demonstrably based on the Doctrina Addai (R. A. Lipsius, Die edessenische Abgar-sage kritisch untersucht (1880), esp. 31 ff.).
12 For the rapid development of other legends concerning Abgar see von Gutschmid, A., ‘Untersuchungen über die Geschichte des Königreichs Osroëne’, Mém. Acad. Imp. St.-Pétersbourg7 XXXV, 1 (1887), 10 ff.; Kirsten, E., RAC IV, 588 ff. Already in the time of Eusebius the fictitious correspondence between Jesus and King Abgar was said to be in the official archives of Edessa, (HE I, 13, 5 ff.). The motive for these pious inventions is fully discussed by Koester, H., HTR LVIII (1965), 290 ff., esp. 305 f.
13 Gibson, M. D., ‘Apocrypha Sinaitica’, Studia Sinaitica V (1896), 52 ff., esp. 59. Another version of the same tale was published by Lewis, A. S., ‘Acta Mythologica Apostolorum’, Horae Semiticae III (1904): Arabic text; IV (1904), 210 ff.: Eng. trans.
14 Apol. 5, 3. Yet Frend, W. H. C., CR n.s. XVII (1967), 196, following Sordi, represents the passage as saying that Tiberius' communication with the Senate ‘resulted in a senatus consultum unfavourable to the new religion’.
15 e.g. Sordi, M., Studi Romani VIII (1960), 393 ff.
16 e.g. M. Sordi, Il Cristianesimo e Roma (1965), 59, etc.
17 Pp. 46–48.
18 PIR 2 J 757, after E. Groag, Die römischen Reichsbeamten von Achaea (1939), 34 f.
19 Acts 18, 14 ff.
20 The date can only be inferred from the disputed chronology of Acts: P-W II A, 1716 f.
21 Acts 13, 6 ff. Whatever the implausibility of the story to the sceptical, there is hardly a conversion in Acts which is not occasioned by some display of supernatural powers: for the ancient writer, as for the modern believer, ‘it is as one inspired by the (Holy) Spirit that Paul defeats the false prophet’ (G. W. H. Lampe, Peake's Commentary on the Bible (1962), 788h).
22 Acts 21, 27 ff., esp 23, 26 ff. (the letter).
23 Acts 23, 33 ff., esp. 24, 26 (Felix' hope of a bribe); 24, 27; 25, 9 (Festus' desire to please the Jews).
24 Acts 25, 25. For Paul's so-called ‘appeal’ to the emperor, see the convincing exposition of Garnsey, P. D. A., JRS LVI (1966), 182 ff.
25 cf. Nero 19, 3.
26 R. Syme, Tacitus (1958), 553, n. 5, justly observes that ‘Tacitus reproduces the mixed character of the situation itself’. At the time of writing, the latest discussion is by Koestermann, E., ‘Ein folgenschwerer Irrtum des Tacitus (Ann. 15, 44, 2 ff.) ?’, Historia XVI (1967), 456 ff.
27 Pliny, , Epp. X, 96/7. The opposite inference is drawn by Keresztes, P., VChr XVIII (1964), 204; but see n. 48.
28 Indeed, Keresztes, ibid., goes so far as to claim that ‘there is today an almost general agreement that the Christians, under normal circumstances, were not tried on the basis of either the ius coercitionis or the general criminal law, but on the basis of a special law introduced during Nero's rule, proscribing Christians as such’.
29 The quotations of Tertullian are all taken from Corpus Christianorum, Series hatina I/II.
30 E. Renan, Marc-Aurèle (1882), 284, quotes Melito and observes ‘le système des apologistes, si chaudement soutenu par Tertullien (Apol. 5), d'après lequel les bons empereurs ont favorisé le christianisme et les mauvais empereurs l'ont persécuté, était déjà complètement éclos’. But he failed to see the relevance of Tertullian's two successive versions of Melito's argument for the institutum Neronianum. A similar blindness led J. Zeiller, Miscellanea G. Mercati V (Studi e Testi CXXV, 1946), 3 to state that the phrase also occurs in the Apologeticum.
31 Eusebius, , HE IV, 26, 7 ff.
32 So, e.g., W. H. C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church (1965), 286 f.
33 The sequence of the two works has been demonstrated beyond possible doubt by C. Becker, Tertullians Apologeticum: Werden und Leistung (1954).
34 Apol. 5, 2; cf. 21, 24. Although Tertullian is the earliest evidence for Pilate's letter to Tiberius (above, pp. 32 f.) Justin, (Apol. I, 35; 48) appeals to ‘τὰ ἐπὶ Ποντίου Πιλάτου γενόμενα ἄκτα’ to establish the facts concerning the crucifixion of Jesus. But the public records of the province of Judaea were burnt in 66 (Josephus, , BJ II, 427). (On the apocryphal Pilate-literature which is still extant, see O'Ceallaigh, G. C., HTR LVI (1963), 21 ff.).
35 J. Moreau, Die Christenverfolgung im römischen Reich 2 (1961), 64 holds that Tertullian is citing Suetonius, and that ‘das institutum Tertullians stammt also aus Sueton’. But Suetonius does not explicitly state either that the executions occurred in Rome or that Christianity was at that time just beginning to gain a hold in the capital: both facts, however, appear in Tacitus, , Ann. XV, 44.
36 Borleffs, J. W. P., ‘Institutum Neronianum’, VChr VI (1952), 129 ff.
37 Eusebius, , Chronicon, GCS XX, 216; HE II, 25, 5 assigns the deaths of Peter and Paul to the time of the first persecution, that of Nero, as does Jerome, , GCS XLVII, 185. Both, however, put the persecution four years after the fire, an error which Sulpicius Severus was able to avoid through his knowledge of Tacitus.
38 Chronica II, 31, 2.
39 PIR 2B 159. Perhaps the Christians are misreporting an account of the victims of Domitian by Bruttius Praesens (ib. 164).
40 Dio LXVII, 14.
41 Domitilla is mentioned only because the murderer of Domitian was ‘Stephanus, Domitillae procurator’ (Dom. 17, 1).
42 The same factors lie behind the progressive exaltation of the status of the martyr Apollonius: Eusebius calls him ‘ἄνδρα τῶν τότε πιοτῶν ἐπὶ παιδείᾳ καὶ φιλοσοφίᾳ βεβοημένον’ (HE V, 21, 2); Jerome a ‘Romanae urbis senator’ (De Viris Illustribus 42).
43 Syncellus, p. 650 Bonn.
44 See further Smallwood, E. M., ‘Domitian's Attitude toward the Jews and Judaism’, CP LI (1956), 1 ff.
45 For commentary on these two letters see Sherwin-White, A. N., The Letters of Pliny (1966), 691 ff.; R. Freudenberger, Das Verhalten der römischen Behörden gegen die Christen im 2. Jahrhundert (Münchener Beiträge zur Papyrusforschung und antiken Rechtsgeschichte LII, 1967). The date of the letters is probably autumn 110 (Sherwin-White, o.c, 80 f.; 693), not 112 (as Freudenberger, o.c. 17, implies).
46 This was a common, perhaps the normal, procedure: Millar, F. G. B., JRS LVI (1966), 159; P. D. A. Garnsey, ibid. 181 f.
47 cf. Freudenberger, o.c. 203 ff.
48 Epp. x, 96, 1–3: ‘cognitionibus d e Christianis interfui numquam: ideo nescio quid et quatenus aut puniri soleat aut quaeri. nec mediocriter haesitavi, sitne aliquod discrimen aetatum …; nomen ipsum, si flagitiis careat, an flagitia cohaerentia nomini puniantur. interim … hunc sum secutus modum. interrogavi ipsos an essent Christiani. confitentes iterum ac tertio interrogavi supplicium minatus: perseverantes duci iussi. neque enim dubitabam, qualecumque esset quod faterentur, pertinaciam certe et inflexibilem obstinationem debere puniri’. These words surely disprove the inference of Keresztes, P., VChr XVIII (1964), 204: ‘It is clear from the well-known correspondence of Pliny and Trajan that before and at the time of this correspondence there was a law proscribing Christianity as such’. Keresztes appears to rely on the assumption ‘nullum crimen sine lege’—which is false for Roman law (de Ste Croix, o.c. (n. 1), 12).
49 That this is the main point of the letter was realized by E. G. Hardy, Plinii Epistulae ad Traianum (1889), 65, and can be securely deduced from three facts: Pliny places his suggestion in an emphatic position, at the very end; he constructs the argument of the letter to build up to it; and he stresses how large a number are still in custody (9: ‘visa est enim mihi res digna consultatione, maxime propter periclitantium numerum’).
50 de Ste Croix, o.c. 19 f.
51 Pliny, , Epp. x, 96, 2; Justin, , Apol. 1, 4; etc.
52 Apol. 2, 17.
53 Eusebius, , HE V, 1, 14; 1, 25 ff.; 1, 33 ff.
54 The year is fixed by AÉ 1957, 17.
55 In the MS. of Justin the original Latin has been supplanted by Eusebius’ Greek translation. The Latin which stands at Rufinus, , HE IV, 9, is no more than a retranslation of Eusebius’ Greek (Schanz-Hosius, Gesch. der röm. Litt. III3(1922), 250 f.).
56 PIR 1L 170; A. Degrassi,Fasti Consolari(1952), 32.
57 Mart. Polyc. 3, etc.
58 Compare the constant employment of the charge of maiestas against senators at Rome in the reign of Tiberius.
59 E. Groag, P-W XIII, 462 f.; Schmid, W., ‘The Christian Re-interpretation of the Rescript of Hadrian’, Maia VII (1955), 5 ff.; Keresztes, P., ‘The Emperor Hadrian's Rescript to Minicius Fundanus’, Latomus XXVI (1967), 54 ff. = Phoenix XXI (1967), 119 ff.; Freudenberger, o.c. 216 ff. Hadrian and the Christians had different views of what was meant by ‘εἴ τις δείκνυσίν τι παρὰ τοὺς νόμους πράττοντας’. The latter took the clause to prohibit condemnation for the nomen alone, whereas Hadrian was in fact here mainly considering the case of those who were falsely accused of Christianity ‘συκοφαντίας χάριν’.
60 See L-S-J, s.v.
61 Compare ‘μηδὲ μόναις βοαῖς’ in Hadrian's rescript to Fundanus.
62 PIR 2A 1513.
63 PIR 2A 697.
64 Harnack, A., ‘Das Edikt des Antoninus Pius’, Texte u. Unters. XIII, 4 (1895), 56 ff. was, however, possibly correct in maintaining that the Christian who composed the letter styled the emperor quite simply ‘Ἀντωνīνος’, and that a later hand produced what stands in Eusebius, while ‘der nicht ungelehrte Redaktor B’ produced what is in Cod.Par.Gr. 450 to remove the discrepancy in Eusebius.
65 XLIX, 38 ff. Keil.
66 e.g. Hüttl, W., Antoninus Pius II (1933), 48 f.; Degrassi, o.c. (n. 56), 38; cf. PIR 2A 810.
67 Ramsay, W. M., JÖAI XXVII (1932), Beiblatt 245 ff.; followed (for the date of the earthquakes) by Frend, o.c. (n. 32), 240.
68 Bowersock, G. W., ‘The Proconsulate of Albus’, HSCP LXXII (1967), 289 ff., arguing from the in- scriptions at JÖAI XLIV (1959), 143 ( = SEG XIX, 684); JÖAI XLIV (1959), Beiblatt 257 ff.
69 cf. Bowersock, o.c. 292: ‘the rescript has a genuine historical context, and that is why, bogus as it probably is, it can oscillate between two emperors in the year 161‘.
70 For letters from emperors to provincial councils on the subject of criminals liable to capital punishmen t compare Dig. XLVII, 14, 1 (Hadrian to the concilium Baeticae: about rustlers); P. Ox. 2104, of of which Dig. XLIX, 1, 25 preserves the first part (Alexander to the κοινόν of Bithynia: abou t appeals, some on capital charges).
71 Dodd, C. H., Num. Chr.4 XI (1911), 209 ff.
72 Eusebius, , HE IV, 26, 10. Since the Apology is addressed to one emperor alone (ibid. 6 ff.), it was presumably composed between the death of Lucius Verus in the winter of 168/9 and Commodus’ investiture as Augustus in 177.
73 6/7: .
74 Eusebius, , HE V, 1, 47. (On the date, JTS n.s. XIX (1968), 518.)
75 ibid, IV, 26. Also by Athenagoras, Legatio 1 ff.
76 Acta Just. 4 f. (short recension). Sentence is, however, passed in the following words: ‘οἱ μή βουληθέντες ἐπιθῦσαι τοῖς θεοῖς, φραγελλωθέντες ἀπαχθήτωσαν τῇ τῶν νόμων ἀκολουθίᾳ’ (ibid. 5).
77 As attempted by Harnack, o.c; Freudenberger, R., ‘Christenreskript: ein umstrittenes Reskript des Antoninus Pius’, Zeitschr. für Kirchengesch. LXXVIII (1967), 1 ff.
78 Vita 66.
79 e.g. that Lucius Verus returned from Syria to Ephesus to marry Marcus' daughter (Vita 45, cf. JRS LVII (1967), 72).
80 Vita I. The province of Phrygia Salutaris is certainly no older than the Diocletianic reforms, and its formation may be even later: see Jones, A. H. M., ‘The Date and Value of the Verona List’, JRS XLIV (1954), 21 ff.
81 For the terms of these edicts see, respectively, Knipfing, J. R., ‘The Libelli of the Decian Persecution’, HTR XVI (1923), 345 ff.; de Ste Croix, G. E. M., ‘Aspects of the “Great” Persecution’, HTR XLVII (1954), 75 ff.
82 Luke 2, 1. The decree is, nonetheless, accepted as authentic by Sordi, M., ‘I “nuovi decreti” di Marco Aurelio contro i Cristiani’, Studi Romani IX (1961), 365 ff.
83 Perhaps most effectively by J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers Part II. S. Ignatius. S. Polycarp, I2 (1889), 488 ff.
84 Sordi, M., ‘Le polemiche intorno al Cristianesimo del II secolo’, Rivista di Storia della Chiesa in Italia XVI (1962), 19 ff.; o.c. (n. 16), 193 ff.
85 Eusebius, , HE V, 21, 3, it is true, states that the accuser of Apollonius was executed: but see below, pp. 46-48.
86 So, most recently, Sordi, o.c. (n. 82); Frend, o.c. (n. 32), 268 f.
87 Grégoire, H.—Orgels, P., Bull. Ac. Roy. Belg. XXXVIII (1952), 44 f. = Les Persécutions dans l'empire romain 2 (1964), 174 f.; de Ste Croix, G. E. M., JTS n.s. XVIII (1967), 219.
88 For an indication of the problems surrounding the provincial edict see Chalon, G., L'Édit de Tiberius Julius Alexander (1964), 72 ff. Sherwin-White, o.c. (n. 45) gives no annotation on Pliny's edict in Bithynia (Epp. X, 96, 7), merely referring to its ‘routine publication’ (o.c. 583).
89 Grégoire—Orgels, l.c., argue that the decrees come from the cities of Asia. But the cities ought not (at this date) to concern themselves with a capital offence; and the view in the text perhaps accords better with the words ‘εἰ δὲ καὶ παρὰ σοῦ μὴ εἴη ἡ βουλὴ αῦτη καὶ τὸ καινὸν τοῦτο διάταγμα’ (Eusebius, , HE IV, 26, 6 fin.).
90 For the date, and the possibility that the emperor is not Marcus, see JTS n.s. XIX (1968), 518.
91 (a Roman citizen) raises a problem. It describes a particular mode of execution (D. M. Macdowell, Athenian Homicide Law (1963), 111 ff.). But the context here seems to require a vague word for execution in general; and it must not be forgotten that Marcus will have written to the governor in Latin.
92 It is not here relevant that Pliny sent the citizens to Rome whereas the governor of Lugdunensis did not: cf. Garnsey, l.c. (n. 46).
93 For the punishment see P- W IV, 1731; TLL IV, 1246 f. Eusebius, l.c., and Acta Apoll. 45 (Greek) surely demonstrate that crurifragium was a form of execution.
94 Eusebius does not identify this decree with the alleged measure of Marcus Aurelius recorded at HE v 5, 6.
95 Geffcken, J., Hermes XLV (1910), 486. The edict of Constantine de accusationibus (Bruns, Fortes 7 no. 94 = FIRA 2 1, no. 94), though adduced by Th. Mommsen, ‘Der Prozess des Christen Apollonius unter Commodus’, S-B Berlin 1894, 497 ff. = Ges. Schr. III (1907), 447 ff., offers no parallel: there slaves or freedmen who accuse their master or patrons are to be crucified ‘denegata audientia’.
96 Th. Mommsen, Römisches Strafrecht (1899), 414 f., who also shows that such evidence was becoming acceptable in an ever-increasing number of cases.
98 The normal practice when hearing the evidence of slaves and freedmen: ibid. 416 ff.
99 See further below, pp. 46–48.
100 Acta Apoll. 1/2 (Greek); Eusebius, , HE V, 21, 4; cf. below, pp. 46, 47.
101 Elag. 3, 4/5; Alex. 22, 4 (both discussed below); Quad. Tyr. 8, 6 f.; cf. Syme, R., ‘Ipse ille patriarcha’, Bonner Historia-Augusta-Colloquium 1966–67 (1968), 119 ff.; Ammianus and the Historia Augusta (1968), 61 ff.
102 Juster, J., Les Juifs dans l'Empire romain I (1914), 226, 258; M. Avi-Yonah, Geschichte der Juden im Zeitalter des Talmud (1962), 45. Historical interpretation of the actions of Septimius Severus has for too long been vitiated by the assumption that he was anti-Roman (e.g. Avi-Yonah, o.c. 38): for a refutation see Historia XVI (1967), 87 ff.
103 See the long list given by Schwarte, K. H., Historia XII (1963), 189 ff. Since then the argument has been repeated by Frend, o.c. (n. 32), 320 ff. On the other hand, H. Grégoire, Les Persécutions dans l'empire romain 2 (1964), 36 uses the edict as evidence of Severus' favouring Christianity.
104 Pass. Perp. 6.
105 See Hasebroek, J., Untersuchungen zur Geschichte des Septimius Severus (1921), 118 ff. For Severus' stay in Egypt, W. L. Westermann—A. A. Schiller, Apokrimata: Decisions of Septimius Severus on Legal Matters (1954); Youtie, H. C.—Schiller, A. A., Chronique d'Égypte XXX (1955), 327 ff.
106 CIG 5973 = CIL VI, 1603; also printed by G. J. Murphy, The Reign of the Emperor L. Septimius Severus from the Evidence of the Inscriptions (1945), 28 f.
107 van Beek, C.J.M.J., Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis I (1936), 162* ff.
108 HE VI, 2, 2. It has not yet been proved that Eusebius always dates events in Egypt by the official Egyptian regnal years (as A. Stein, Die Präfekten von Ägypten (1950), 111 ). Nor is it by any means certain that the Ecclesiastical History, following the scheme of the Chronicon, always reckons an emperor's regnal years from September to September (as Lawlor, H. J.—Oulton, J. E. L., Eusebius II (1928), 37 f.). However, the length of Philip's reign is given as seven years (HE VI, 39, 1)—a figure which must come from Egyptian regnal years (see PIR 2 J 461).
109 Eusebius, , HE VI, 3, 3; 5, 2.
110 The earliest evidence is P. Ox. 1100 (October/November, 206). Claudius Julianus is now attested as prefect from 203 until at least the end of 204: see Rea, J., ‘The Prefecture of Claudius Julianus’, La Parola del Passato XXII (1967), 48 ff.; Barnes, T. D., JTS n.s. XIX (1968), 526 f.
111 Hippolytus' Commentary on Daniel, though often adduced, offers no support at all to the view here criticized: see below, pp. 42 f.
112 It is worth noting that A. Wirth, Quaestiones Severianae (1888), 34, argued ‘a. 200 verus persecutionis annus putandus est’. The difficulty which he saw is too often evaded: thus Frend, o.c. 321, blithely speaks of ‘the edict of 202’.
113 Schwarte, K. H., ‘Das angebliche Christengesetz des Septimius Severus’, Historia XII (1963), 185 ff. Frend, o.c. 341, n. 144, rejects Schwarte's cogent arguments with the peculiar and irrelevant observation ‘the victims of the outbreak would hardly thank Dr. Schwarte for telling them that the Severan decree against the Christians was an “Erfindung”’.
114 Scap. 4, 5.
115 HE, VI, 1, 1.
116 Butler, O. F., ‘Studies in the Life of Heliogabalus’, Univ. of Michigan Studies, Humanistic Series IV (1910), 1 ff., at 75 ff.
117 Nevertheless, it is still accepted as historical by many: e.g. Avi-Yonah, o.c. 41; Sordi, o.c. (n. 16), 238; and (with some hesitation) Frend, o.c. 328; 344, n. 207.
118 Compare the same technique at Alex. 24, 4 (‘habuit in animo’), where an imitation of Victor, Aurelius, Caes. 28, 6 f. (on Philip) has been detected by Chastagnol, A., Bonner Historia-Augusta-Colloquium 1964–1965 (1966), 55 f.
119 G. Wissowa, Religion und Kultus der Römer 2 (1912), 366.
120 Dessau, H., ‘Die Samaritaner bei den S.H.A.’, Janus I (1921), 124 ff.
121 See the analyses by K. Hönn, Quellenuntersuchungen zu den Viten des Heliogabalus und des Severus Alexander im Corpus der S.H.A. (1911), 33 ff.; N. H. Baynes, The Historia Augusta. Its date and purpose (1926), 118 ff.
122 Momigliano, A. D., Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes XVII (1954), 40 f. = Secondo Contributo alla Storia degli Studi Classici (1960), 129 ff. = Studies in Historiography (1966), 163 f.
123 Syme, l.c. (n. 101).
124 R. Syme, Ammianus and the Historia Augusta (1968), 61; 138.
125 It is particularly significant that K. Bihlmeyer, Die ‘syrischen’ Kaiser zu Rom (211–235) und das Christentum (1916), 111 ff. could find none, though he wished to accept as many of the six as possible.
126 As Frend, o.c. 329.
127 No less weak, in the case of the Historia Augusta, is the argument from plausibility: e.g. Bihlmeyer, o.c. 101; Avi-Yonah, o.c. 41. But what seems plausible to the modern scholar may have been invented by the ancient romancer precisely because it seemed plausible to him too.
128 In Dan. I, 1, etc.
129 Dan. 13, 1 ff. (Vulgate), esp. 13, 20/1.
130 The explicit internal evidence from which a date is prima facie to be deduced is stated succinctly by A. Bonwetsch, GCS I, xx: ‘Die Abfassung liegt später als die von De Antichristo, nicht zu lange nach einer heftigen Verfolgung, während Ein Kaiser zu herrschen scheint’. Elsewhere, however, Bonwetsch produced other reasons for putting the In Danielem among Hippolytus' earlier works (Studien zu den Kommentaren Hippolyts (1897), 81 ff.).
131 So, e.g., Harnack, A., Die Chronologie der altchristlichen Litteratur bis Eusebius II (1904), 249 f.; Bardy, G., Hippolyte: Commentaire sur Daniel (Sources Chrétiennes XIV, 1947), 12 f.; M. Lefèvre, ibid., 111; Frend, o.c. 375; 387, n. 219; B. Altaner-A. Stuiber, Patrologie 7 (1966), 166 f.
132 Above, pp. 40 f.
133 Apol. 4, 4; 4, 5; 5, 1.
134 Acts 17, 7. Noted by Bonwetsch, A., GCS I, 32.
135 Clarke, G. W., ‘Some Victims of the Persecution of Maximinus Thrax’, Historia XV (1966), 445 ff.
136 Hence claimed as the first Christian emperor by Grégoire, o.c. (n. 103), 9 ff. The development of Christian views of Philip is of some interest. The contemporary Dionysius refers to his sympathy (Eusebius, , HE VI, 41, 9), and Eusebius in the Chronicon implies it (GCS XX, 226; cf. HE VI, 39, 1). In the Ecclesiastical History, however, Eusebius goes further and represents Philip as a convinced Christian (VI, 34), a statement which Jerome inserts into his edition of the Chronicon (GCS XLVII, 217). Would such a story have been invented before there was a Christian emperor? If not, his statements about Philip are relevant to the problems raised by the various versions of Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. (Suspiciously similar is the story which Philostorgius, HE VII, 8 (GCS XXI, 89 f.), reports about the hostility to the Christians of either Numerian or Decius.)
137 Eusebius, , HE VI, 41, 1: ὁ δέ αὐτὸς (sc. Dionysius) ἐν ἐπιστολῇ … τῶν κατὰ Δέκιον μαρτυρησάντων ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ τοὺς ἀγῶνας τοῦτον ἱστοπεἴ τὸν τρόπον οὐκ ἀπὸ τοῦ βασιλικοῦ προστάγματος ὁ διωγμὸς παρ᾿ ἡμῖν ἤρξατο, ἀλλὰ γὰρ ὅλον ἐνιαυτὸν προύλαβεν.
138 The year ought perhaps to be counted, not from the promulgation of the edict in Rome (winter 249/50: P-W XV, 1281), or even in Alexandria, but rather from the date fixed in Egypt for compliance with its terms.
139 Knipfing, o.c. (n. 81).
140 PIR 2 J 461. Note especially the Alexandrian coins of Philip's seventh year, minted after 29th August, 249.
141 Claud. 25, 4.
142 So A.D.Momigliano, Claudius 2 (1961), 32 f.; 99.
143 See now Judge, E. A.—Thomas, G. S. R., ‘The Origin of the Church at Rome: A New Solution?’, Reformed Theological Review XXV (Melbourne, 1966), 81 ff.
144 Suetonius, , Domit. 12, 2.
145 See, in general, Smallwood, o.c. (n. 44).
146 Dig. XLVIII, 19, 30.
147 Sent. Pauli V, 21, 2.
148 Re-edited by Oliver, J. H.—Palmer, R. E. A., ‘Minutes of an Act of the Roman Senate’, Hesperia XXIV (1955). 320 ff.
149 JTS N.S. XIX (1968), 518 f.
150 As appears to be conjectured by A. Birley, Marcus Aurelius (1966), 329. But the ‘new decrees’ seem to have mentioned the Christians in particular, not just criminals in general (see Eusebius, , HE IV, 26, 5).
151 Similarly, the theory that Christians were punished for their contumacia towards the magistrate tried them (Sherwin-White, o.c. 780 ff.) fails to explain why they were haled into court to appear before him.
152 See, e.g., Neumann, K. J., Der römische Staat und die allgemeine Kirche bis auf Diocletian I (1890), 274 ff.
153 See Barnes, T. D., ‘Pre-Decian Acta Martyrum’, JTS n.s. XIX (1968), 509 ff. Acta Martyrum are quoted here from R. Knopf—G. Krüger—G. Ruhbach, Ausgewählte Martyrerakten 4 (1965), except where otherwise stated.
154 The importance of this type of evidence is rightly emphasized by Lieberman, S., ‘Roman Legal Institutions in Early Rabbinics and in the Acta Martyrum’, JQR XXXV (1944–1945), 1 ff.
155 Mart. Polyc. 10, 1; Acta Scill. 3; 5; also Acta Apoll. 3.
156 Acta Scill. 3; Pass. Perp. 6, 2; cf. Pliny, , Epp. X, 96, 6.
157 Acta Scill. 2 ff.; cf. Acta Apoll. 6; 8 f. (Apollonius tries to rebut the suspicion of disloyalty).
158 Acta Scill. 1.
159 2 (Latin); 4; 11; 45 (Greek).
160 H. Lietzmann, ‘Die älteste Gestalt der Passio SS. Carpi, Papylae et Agathonikes’, Festgabe für K. Müller (1922), 46 ff. = Kl. Schr. I (Texte u. Unters. LXVII, 1958), 239 ff.
161 M. Simonetti, Studi agiografici (1955), 105 ff.
162 JTS n.s. XIX (1968), 514 f., arguing from the question ‘principals es ?/βονλευτὴς εί; that the Decian date is the more probable of the two.
163 HE IV, 15, 48: ἑξῆς δὲ καὶ ἄλλων ἐν Περγάμῳ πόλει τῆς Ἀσίας ὑπομνήματα μεμαρτυρηκότων φέρεται, Κάρπου… .
164 ibid. 47: τῶν γε μὲν τότε περιβόητος μάρτυς εἷς τις ἐγνωρίζετο Πιόνιος. On the date of Pionius' martyrdom, see now JTS n.s. XIX (1968), 529 ff.
165 So, e.g., Lietzmann, H., CAH XII (1939), 521: ‘there began under the emperor Decius the first systematic Christian persecution, organized for the whole empire by imperial command’.
166 PIR 2 J 814 gives the evidence relevant to the date.
167 All three are to be found together at G. Lazzati, Gli sviluppi della letteratura sui martiri nei primi quattro secoli (1956), 119 ff.
168 The translation given here is a rendering into modern English of that by F. C. Conybeare, Monuments of Early Christianity (1894), 35 ff. O. von Gebhardt, Ausgewählte Märtyreracten (1902), 44 ff. conveniently prints a German translation of the Armenian beneath the Greek text.
169 See Grosso, F., La lotta politica al tempo di Commodo (1964), 139 ff.; 190 ff.
170 Acts 18, 24 f.: Ἰουδαῖος δέ τις ᾿Απολλῶς όνόματι, ᾿Αλεξανδρεὺς τῷ γένει, ἀνὴρ λόγιος > Acta Apoll. pref. (Greek): ᾿Απολλὼς δὲ ὁ ἀπόστολος, ἀνὴρ ὤν εὐλαβής, ᾿Αλεξανδρεὺς τῷ γένει.
171 P-W I, 1863.
172 HE V, 21, 4; cf. above, p. 40.
173 ibid. 5.
174 See Knopf—Krüger—Ruhbach, o.c. 35.
175 E. Gabba, ‘Il processo di Apollonio’, Mélanges offerts à J. Carcopino (1966), 397 ff. Cf. Rufinus, , HE V, 21, 4: ‘turn deinde exoratur beatus Apollonius martyr, uti defensionem pro fide sua, quam audiente senatu atque omni populo luculenter et splendide habuerat, ederet scriptam’.
176 yet Harnack, A., Deutsche Literaturzeitung XXV (1904), 2464 ff. had no difficulty in showing that the argument from apologetic motifs is not by itself sufficient.
177 HE II, 2, 4; cf. V, 5, 5.
178 J.Geffcken, ‘Die Acta Apollonii’, Gött. Gel. Nachr., Phil.-hist. Kl. 1904, 262 ff.; Zwei Griechische Apologeten (1907), 246 ff.; Hermes XLV (1910), 486 ff.
179 Note the attitude of Dio, which is doubtless typical: F. Millar, A Study of Cassius Dio (1964), 115 f. Significantly, Mommsen, o.c. (n. 95), 499 = 449 felt compelled to conjecture that Apollonius was actually brought before the Senate, not by Perennis, but by the consuls.
180 Modern scholars often evade the difficulty and improve on Eusebius, who did not consider Apollonius to be a senator (above, n. 42). Thus L. L. Howe, The Pretorian Prefect from Commodus to Diocletian (A.D. 180–305) (1942), 96 f. cites the trial as ‘an illustration of the procedure which must generally have been followed in trying Senators’; and Beaujeu, J., La religion romaine à l'apogée de l'Empire I (1955), 393 states ‘à Rome même, un personnage de rang sénatorial nommé Apollonius fut jugé et condamné à la décapitation par le Sénat’.
181 Acta Apoll. I/2.
182 ibid. I; 11 ff.
183 Griffe, E., ‘Les Actes du martyr Apollonius et le problème de la base juridique des persécutions’, Bull. litt. eccl. LIII/LXXII (1952), 65 ff. is surely mistaken in translating ‘τὸ δόγμα τῆς συγκλήτου’ as merely ‘la volonté du sénat’. Zeiller, J., Mélanges J. Lebreton II (Rech. sci. rel. XL, 1952), 155 f. takes the wavering as proof that Christianity was originally outlawed by the joint action of emperor and Senate.
184 HE V, 21, 4: κεφαλικῇ κολάσει ὡς ἄν ἀπὸ δόγματος συγκλήτου τελειοῦται, μηδ᾿ ἄλλως ἀφεῖσθαι τοὺς ἅπαξ εἰς δικαστήριον παριόντας καὶ μηδαμῶς τῆς προθέσεως μεταβαλλομένους ἀρχαίου παρ᾿ αὐτοῖς νόμου κεκρατηκότος.
185 HE V, 21, 5: ‘et post hoc secundum senatus consultum capite plexus est. ita namqu e a prioribus lex iniquissime promulgata censebat’.
186 Compare the senatus consultum in the Talmudic Deut. Rabba 2, 24 (quoted by Baer, Y., Scripta Hierosolymitana VIII (1961), 84, n. 14).
187 Above, p. 40.
188 Cf. Acta Still. 14: ‘Speratum … et ceteros ritu Christiano se vivere confessos, quoniam oblata sibi facilitate ad Romanorum morem redeundi obstinanter perseveraverunt, gladio animadverti placet’.
189 Millar, F. G. B., JRS LVI (1966), 166.
190 Contrast J. A. Crook, Law and Life of Rome (1967), 279: ‘The equation “Christian = man to be punished” can only have been established by government directive’.
191 Epp. X, 92 is written from Amisus, 98 from Amastris. Cf. Sherwin-White, o.c. 693 f.
192 Note Pliny's words, Epp. X, 96, 3: ‘perseverantes duci iussi. neque enim dubitabam, qualecumque esset quod faterentur, pertinaciam certe et inflexibilem obstinationem debere puniri’.
193 Acts 17, 5 ff.
194 Acts 16, 16 ff.
195 Mommsen, o.c. (n. 96), 639 ff.; R. MacMullen, Enemies of the Roman Order (1966), 124 ff.
196 Momigliano, o.c. (n. 142), 29 ff.
197 A. N. Sherwin-White, Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament (1963), 82 f. comments ‘had the case not been abandoned, the next step would have been the dispatch and arraignment of the prisoner before the proconsul, either at the capital of the province, or at the nearest assize city’.
198 For the social and economic background see Baldwin, B., ‘Lucian as Social Satirist’, CQ n.s. XI (1961), 199 ff.
199 Compare, for a later period, Ulpian, , Dig. I, 18, 13: ‘congruit bono et gravi praesidi curare, ut pacata atque quieta provincia sit quam regit’.
200 Acts 13, 50.
201 Acts 14, 3 ff.
202 Acts 14, 8 ff.
203 I hope to justify the interpretation advanced here in JTS n.s. XX (1969).
204 Acts 17, 16 ff. The episode receives no mention whatever from Sherwin-White, o.c, in his chapter entitled ‘Paul and the Cities’.
205 Acts 19, 23 ff., esp. 27 f.; 34; 37. Sentence of death for a religious offence happens to be attested at Ephesus at an earlier period: Sokolowski, F., HTR LVIII (1965), 427 ff.
206 Nock, A. D., ‘The Augustan Restoration’, CR XXXIX (1925), 60 ff.; CAH X (1934), 465 ff.; Pleket, H. W., HTR LVIII (1965), 331 ff.
207 For the traditional character of Decius' requirement see Liesering, E., Untersuchungen zur Christenverfolgung des Kaisers Decius (1933), 33 ff.; Andreotti, R., ‘Religione ufficiale e culto dell' Imperatore nei “libelli” di Decio’, Studi in onore di A. Calderini e R. Paribeni I (1956), 369 ff. There is no proof that the edict applied only to Roman citizens, even though one of the Egyptian libelli which seemed to constitute a prima facie proof that it did not (Knipfing, o.c. (n. 81), 385, no. 35) has been re-read (see Youtie, H. C., ‘The Textual Criticism of Documentary Papyri: Prolegomena’, Bull. Lond. Inst. Cl. St., Supp. VI (1958), 16 f.).
208 Ada Scill. 5: ‘initianti tibi mala de sacris nostris aures non praebebo’.
209 Epp. X, 96, 9/10.
210 E. Le Blant, Les Persécuteurs et les martyrs (1893), 67 ff. For example, the instructions to the consuls in 186 B.C. imply a religious as well as a moral objection to the Bacchic rites: these are to be rooted out ‘exstrad quam sei quid ibei sacri est’ (SC de Bacchanalibus, line 28)/‘extra quam si qua ibi vetusta ara aut signum consecratum esset’ (Livy XXXIX, 18, 7). Permission for Bacchanalia can only be given to those who claim a prior religious obligation to celebrate them (SC, line 4; Livy XXXIX, 18, 8).
211 As Last, H., ‘The Study of the Persecutions’, JRS XXVII (1937), 80 ff.
212 As Mommsen, o.c. (n. 96), 567 ff.
213 Wissowa, o.c. (n. 119), 317 ff.
214 See Cicero, , Leg. II, 18 ff. One of the laws of Cicero's ideal state is: ‘separatim nemo habessit deos neve novos neve advenas nisi publice adscitos; privatim colunto, quos rite a patribus < cultos acceperint >’ (19). The context implies that this proposal was not regarded as a break with tradition. The enunciation of the religious laws of the ideal state is greeted with the comment ‘non multum discrepat ista constitutio religionum a legibus Numae nostrisque moribus’ (23). Unfortunately, the full justification advanced for the specific proposal just quoted is probably lost in a lacuna (25 f.). But the same attitude was later expressed by Dio (LII, 36), and seems to lie behind the actions of Decius (Andreotti, o.c. 376).
215 Tacitus, , Ann. XIII, 32.
216 Mommsen, Th., ‘Der Religionsfrevel nach römischem Recht’, Hist. Zeitschr. LXIV (1890), 389 ff. = Ges. Schr. III (1907), 389 ff.
* Many have helped in the composition of this paper. Lack of space prevents me from acknowledging by name all of those to whom I am grateful, but I must single out for mention Professor H. Chadwick, Professor R. Syme, Mr. G. E. M. de Ste Croix and Dr. F. G. B. Millar. To the last-named in particular both form and content owe much.
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