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lecture notes

6 pages33 viewsFall 2010

Course Code
Joseph Bryant

of 6
The Decian Persecution
Imperial edict demands universal sacrifices to the gods
leads to widespread apostasy in the Christian churches
across the empire
(the reason why the empire is going down is because the
empire has lost its way religiously, ie: sacrifices to
the gods. The Romans regarded their empire as a gift
from god. When a society goes under stress and trouble,
they think that these things are brought about because
they have lost tradition. Decian believes this and
starts to build more temples.. and sends a message all
other habitants of the empire must make sacrifices to
the gods and get a certificate that they have done
this. How do you think the Christian members of the
Roman empire handled this? They thought that this was
an offence, idolatry. Christians were called upon to
say that they were followers of Christ, they were not
supposed to hide it. * they made a distinction: the
ones that we not hard core followers were more likely
to break ( the state is trying to get them to ban
christianity; a superstition) they were regarded as
disloyal for not following the Roman Gods. The non
christian population, whenever a disaster struck they
thought the Christians were responsible. majority of
christians went down to the temples and made
sacrifices, and those whom had money bribed the
officials for a certificate. Decian then died in
battle, the persecutions then started to die out. The
heat came off the christians because they had more
problems with the empire( who will rule), the
christians that gave into the roman empire came running
back begging for forgiveness. Then the Catholics
( claiming to be the true christians) began to forgive
the sins of idolatry. This triggered, a separation of
two groups. the followers of hippolytus did not want to
go along with them because they should not forgive that
sin. Within the roman community themselves Novatian is
-> the Novatianist schism
presbyter Novatian rejects the moderate policy of
readmitting apostates and idolaters
The Catholic mainstream chooses to allow readmission,
so the mortal sins of apostasy/idolatry are forgivable
within the Church
across the Mediterranean world their were many
christianity splits into two groups, the mainstream
( catholic) and the group headed by Novatianist ( a
christian, considering themselves the pure, because
they did not give in when the romans forced them. )
they are a minority because the majority stayed with
the Catholic
The Great Persecution -> Melitianist and Donatist
divides the empire in half, eastern and western to
create stability
the roman state tried to grab the officials of the
church, not the ordinary followers. They demand that
the holy scriptures be handed to them. Some of the
christian leaders they refuse to hand over the
scriptures, but some give them over and give names
( break) a number of them run away and go into hiding.
basically: must priest remain pure? can sinful priests
still administer the sacraments effectively? Catholic
Christians distinguish “office” from “person” = the
church is holy, not all the members or clergy
-> Constantine and a Christian Empire:
*from persecution to patronage.. and to persecution of
pagans, heretics, schismatics
( they went from persecution to living in the roman
empire as christians.)
at this time only 10% was christian until after
Constantine came into power
once constantine becomes powerful and conquers the
western half and makes a deal of the eastern half,
the roman state shouldn’t be involved in telling what
people should worship
he is either a christian or a christian sympathizer. In
a dream he claims to see a cross, and the army draws a
cross on their shields.
now this causes more problem, Christians that ran away
originally come back ( or gave away the scripture) come
back for their positions. The battle line now is that
do priests need to be holly to stay in office?
or if they have committed sins can they be restored to
office, what happens when you receive baptism from a
polluted bishop.
Many christians believe that they must stay pure and if
they don’t their ritual acts are not pure. Here the
moderates are going to prevail again.
the majority came to the view that the power of
officials whatever they do in the name of christ,
therefore the bishop could have committed a sin but it
doesn’t matter because the power does not come from
them rather God. So they can still baptize you. Prior
to this they had to be holly like the sect and sinless.
But after the great persecution, the person is
irrelevant. This makes them successful.
the last people within the roman empire to convert were
the old roman empire, elite families,

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