The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
When we look at a map of the ancient Mediterranean, of what do we in the West think
Given our overall cultural background and
our educational system, we would not be far
wide of the mark, were we to think first and
foremost of Greece – and with good reason.
But take a look at little Greece!
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
Some years ago a British scholar, at the beginning of a book he wrote, listed approximately twelve ancient cultures that were of
considerable significance – for instance:
1) Egyptian.
2) Sumerian.
3) Akkadian.
4) Babylonian.
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
Virtually all of these can be located on our
map – or an adjacent map.
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
At the University, at the outset of one of the
courses I teach, I present the students with
this list, and ask them. How many of these
cultures, significant cultures in their own
right, have directly influenced us, and still do,
most particularly in respect of our educational system? And I inform them – None!
By comparison, what about Greece?
The Ancient World - Christianity
I startle them by saying, “Do you realise that
virtually every Faculty, virtually every Department, virtually every discipline, virtually
every subject at a Canadian University
derives is name from Greek, alias, ancient
Greek? (or from Latin through Greek
One has only to cite a few examples:
The Ancient World - Christianity
φιλοσοΦία - philosophia
γηολογία - géologia
ζοολογία - zoologia
θεολογία - theologia
βιολογία - biologia
φιλολογία - philologia
ἄνθρωπολογία - anthropologia
ἀρχαιολογία - archaiologia
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ἱστορία - historia
γηογραφία - géographia
φαρμακεία - pharmakeia
φυσιοθεραπεία - physiotherapeia
κοσμολογία – kosmologia - cosmology
ἀστρονομία - astronomia
cosmonaut – ναυτής nautés = sailor
astronaut - ἄστρον – astron = star
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So there is little Greece in the gigantic
And one could simply go on adding to this
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
Exerting such profound influence on our
culture – down to this very day!
Who would have forecast that – from the
midst of all the former and contemporary
cultures at the time?
How do you explain this?
And when one looks at a map of Greece of
what does one think?
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
Perhaps one thinks of philosophy – and
Athens: and Plato.
But there was a lot of philosophy before
Plato – the Presocratics, most of whom were
at home in Ionia (the west coast of Asia
Indeed, from Thales (ca. 585 BC) to
Democritus and Speusippus (mid-fifth c.) the
Presocratics covered a lot of ground.
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
But let us return to Athens – and to Plato (ca.
429-347 BC), but before Plato to Pericles (ca.
495-429 BC) – Pericles identified with Athens
in the days of her greatest glories.
Athens - Agora
Athens - Plato
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Now Plato was an intellectual and philosophical giant – in the city where democracy was
born (about 80 years before Plato was born).
But in his Republic, Plato criticised all forms
of government, including democracy.
Indeed, he criticised many other things, not
least Homer and the gods in Homer.
He even created a new, theoretical state – to
The Ancient World - Christianity
be ruled by a ‘philosopher king’.
But when he attempted to inaugurate his
grand philosophical creation, it failed,
miserably (Dionysius of Syracuse – tyrannos).
While creating his own state, he criticised all
the other forms of government – and the
Greeks had already tried them all.
And by the time of Plato, the glory days of
Athens already lay well in the past.
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The unique form of Greek state – the πόλις
(polis), within the context of which virtually
all the great Greek accomplishments had
taken place, had run its course.
Nine years after Plato’s death occurred the
battle of Chaironeiea – which drove the last
nail into the coffin of the πόλις (polis).
A new power had emerged on the map – a
power that had come as if from nowhere.
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
After several centuries of back-woods nondescript history, Macedonia landed like a
bombshell in southern Greece.
This was due to Philip II (359-336 BC).
Three years into his reign Alexander the
Great was born (356).
His mother – (non-Macedonian) Olympias.
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
Alexander tutored by Aristotle (342-340)
Philip: ζῆν – zén: to live
Aristotle: εὖ ζῆν – eu zén: to live well
Battle of Chaironeia (338) – end of the polis
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
1. Assassination of Philip II – wedding: his
last marriage: Cleopatra.
2. Accession of Alexander: Balkan bloodbath
3. Alexander’s Conquest of Persian empire:
a) Battle of the Granicus (summer 334)
b) Battle of Issus (November 333)
c) Battle of Gaugamela (1 October 331)
4. Capture of Tyre (August 332)
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Possession of Egypt (late 332)
Founding of Alexandria (beginning 331)
Burning of Persepolis (spring 330)
Battles in East Iran (330-327)
Alexander’s Indian Campaign (327-325)
Return March to Babylon (325-324)
Death of Alexander (10 June, 323)
The Ancient World - Christianity
We have no information on precisely what it
was that Aristotle taught Alexander.
If, however, we go by what Aristotle wrote
(and he wrote on just about every subject),
and especially by what he wrote in his
Nicomachean Ethics, we would have to say
that in the end Alexander did not εὖ ζῆν – eu
zén: live well – probably one of the reasons
why he died at the young age of 33.
The Ancient World - Christianity
And yet, a great German scholar, W. Kolbe,
“As a creative statesman Alexander was far in
advance of his time and demonstrated an
originality of thought that has made him for
all generations one of the greatest
phenomena in world history”.
Hermann Bengtson found himself compelled
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to write in his monumental History of Greece
the following:
“Neither the Roman Empire nor the triumphal
march of Christianity, whose congregations at
the end of antiquity encompassed the vast
area from Ireland to India ... are conceivable
without the life-work of Alexander” (224).
The Ancient World - Christianity
It is time to turn to Rome!
It is an amazing story!
It is essentially from a village to the world.
There are important antecedents to the real
story -- but the real story begins with a small
settlement on the banks of the Tiber river.
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
The Ancient World - Christianity
Initially, “Rome was a loose aggregation of five
or more drab pioneer villages with different
languages and customs” – on the banks of the
Tiber river.
“One of these primitive settlements may have
been the original Rome – founded, according to
legend, in 753 BC” (50).
By 275 BC Rome had conquered the whole of
the Italian peninsula.
The Ancient World - Christianity
“Immediately after the conquest of the
greater part of the Italian peninsula, Rome
made her appearance upon the larger stage
of the Mediterranean and world affairs.
In size, strength and military capability she
was already a great power.
But she had not yet actually moved into the
The Ancient World
mainstream of Hellenistic civilisation – which
then dominated the political, economic and
spiritual life of the world from the Himalayas
in the East to the Adriatic seaboard in the
It was not Egypt, Syria, Macedonia or any of
the other heirs of the vast conquests of
Alexander the Great that compelled Rome to
emerge from isolation but Carthage -- the
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mighty north African empire of the West:
though never conquered by Alexander the
Great nor an inheritor of any part of his
conquests, was economically and militarily a
great Hellenistic power” (110-111).
The Ancient World - Rome
The Punic Wars:
1) First Punic War (264-241).
2) Peace Terms (241).
3) Illyrian Wars (229-228).
4) Second Punic War (218-202). Hannibal!
The Ancient World - Rome
Into the Hellenistic Greek World!
“No sooner had Rome conquered Carthage
and won dominion over the Western
Mediterranean than she was drawn into
conflict with the Hellenistic powers of the
Balkans and the Middle East.
Since she had no vital interests or obligations
in that area, and since not one of the
Hellenistic powers had ever attacked, injured
The Ancient World - Rome
or threatened her in any way, modern
historians have been at a loss to explain why
she carried on unprovoked and aggressive
war against them” (138).
The Romans landed in Illyria in the fall of 200.
Battle of Cynoscephalae (197).
War with Antiochus III the Great (192-189).
Battle of Pydna (168 BC): Lucius Aemilius
The Ancient World - Rome
Although there was still work of consolidation
and there were many vicissitudes, for all intents and purposes the Romans had become
the masters of the Mediterranean world.
Eventually, the empire stretched from Scotland in the NW to the Euphrates (never really
beyond the Euphrates) in the East, and from
Central and Northern Europe to the whole of
North Africa.
The Ancient World - Rome
It became a colossal political entity.
It incorporated many subjects with enormous
ethnic, political, social, economic, religious
and cultural differences.
And yet, out of this vast conglomerate a
number of diagnostic features arose –
features that were to be of great significance
for the spread of the Christian gospel.
The Ancient World - Rome
But at the same time, there were massive
factors that weighed mightily against any
prospect of the Christian message making
any inroads whatsoever.
The Ancient World
Factors Weighing against Christianity:
1) Religion: This was doubtless the most
formidable of all.
Two instances will suffice to illustrate the
a) Athens: When we think of Athens, we
probably think first and foremost of the
quintessence of intellectual activity.
The Ancient World - Religion
“And Paul stood up in the midst of the
Areopagus and said,
‘Men of Athens, I observe that you are very
religious [δεισιδαιμονεστέρους – deisidaimonesterous – only here in NT] in all
respects’ (Ac 17:22).
‘... they say that Athens is most pious
towards the gods’ (Sophocles, Oedipus at
Colonus 260); ‘... the Athenians ... are
The Ancient World - Religion
affirmed by all men ... to be the most religious
of the Greeks (Josephus, Against Apion ii.11);
‘The Greeks ... venerate the gods more than
other men’ (Pausanias, Description of Greece
‘For while I was passing through and examining
the objects of your worship [τὰ σεβάσματα – ta
sebasmata] [cf. II Thes 2:4), I also found an altar
with this inscription, « TO AN UNKNOWN GOD »
‘ (17:23a).
The Ancient World - Religion
“In addition to the twelve Olympian gods and
innumerable lesser deities, the ancient
Greeks worshiped a deity they called
‘Unkown’ – and dedicated to this god, and
very often the Athenians would swear ‘in the
name of the Unknown god’.
Apollodorus, Philotratus and Pausanias also
wrote about the Unknown god.
At Athens there are “altars of gods called
The Ancient World - Religion
‘unknown’” (Pausanias, Description of Greece
i.1.4); “At Athens, where even unknown
divinities have altars erected to them”
(Philostratus, Life of Apollonius vi.3.5).
The Unknown god was not so much a specific
The Ancient World - Religion
deity, but a ‘placeholder’ for whatever god or
gods actually existed, but whose name and
nature were not revealed to the Athenians or
the Hellenised world at large.
According to a story told by Diogenes Laertius, Athens was once hit by a plague, and
desperate to appease the gods by means of
appropriate sacrifices. Accordingly, Epimenides gathered a flock of sheep to the Acropolis
The Ancient World - Religion
and released them. The sheep roamed about
Athens and the surrounding hills. On Epimenides’ suggestion, wherever a sheep stopped
and lay down, a sacrifice was made to the
local god of that place.
Many of the gardens and buildings of Athens
were indeed associated with a specific god or
goddess – and so an appropriate altar was
built and sacrifice carried out.
The Ancient World - Religion
But at least one, if not several, sheep led the
Athenians to a spot which did not have any
god associated with it. Accordingly, an altar
was built there – without the god’s name
inscribed” (FFB).
The Ancient World - Religion
The Ancient World - Religion
“Whatever may have been the original
circumstances or intention of the inscription
which Paul took as his text, he takes it as a
confession of ignorance regarding the divine
nature, and says that the purpose of his
coming is to dispel that ignorance” (FFB).
The Ancient World - Religion
“What therefore you worship [εὐσεβεῖτε –
eusebeite - εὐσεβέω – eusebeo: to reverence,
show piety towards] [only here in NT] in ignorance, this I proclaim [katangello] to you .
The God who made the world and all things in it,
since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not
dwell in temples made with hands, neither is He
served by human hands, as though He needed
anything, since He Himself gives to all life and
breath and all things;
The Ancient World - Religion
and He made from one, every nation of
mankind to live on the face of the earth,
having determined [their] appointed times,
and the boundaries of their habitation, that
they should seek God, if perhaps they could
grope for Him and find Him, though He is not
far from each one of us; for in Him we live
and move and exist, as even some of your
own poets have said ...
The Ancient World – Religion Ephesuss
b) Ephesus:
Another centre that illustrates the force of
religion and at the same time magic in the
first century is Ephesus – on the continent of
Asia, and the most important cultural centre
in Asia Minor.
The most illustrious of the Greek cities was
Ephesus – at the mouth of the Cayster.
The Ancient World – Religion Ephesus
The Ancient World – Religion Ephesus
There had been a Carian settlement here
before the Ionian Greeks came (c. 1050 BC) .
The Carians were one of the non-Greek
populations of SW Asia Minor.
The Carians (or Carites of II Ki 11:4,19)(related
to the Philistines) were probably so called
The Ancient World – Religion Ephesus
because they came from there.
The Carians venerated the great Anatolian
mother-goddess in her local manifestation.
She was given a variety of names throughout
Anatolia -- Ma, in Cappadocia; Cybele or the
Great Mother, in Pessinus; Cybebe, in Lydia.
The Greeks called her Artemis.
More on Artemis in a moment.
The Ancient World – Religion:
Ephesus was a great seaport in NT times.
But today it is about 12 km from the sea –
thanks to the silt carried down by the Cayster
Pergamum remained the titular capital of the
province – but Ephesus was the greatest and
most populous city (there were 42 in Asia).
According to Strabo, it was the greatest
trading centre west of the Taurus.
Ancient World – Religion - Ephesus
According to Rackman, ‘at Ephesus,
Hellenistic culture and philosophy
had made a disastrous union with
oriental superstition’.
The result was a city preoccupied with magic.
Paul must have deplored their superstition –
and yet the very interest of the Ephesians in
magic gave the gospel an entry” (DJW).
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
One of the chief aspects of ancient Ephesus
was the practice of the magical arts.
Exorcism was a specific part of the magical
arts, but they were much broader and much
more pervasive.
This has been well captured by Shakespeare.
In his Comedy of Errors, e.g., Antipholus of
Syracuse [on the SE coast of Sicily] comes
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
to Ephesus, a centre for the learning and
practice of magical arts:
‘They say this town is full of cozenage,
As, nimble jugglers that deceive the eye,
Dark-working sorcerers that change the mind
Soul-killing witches that deform the body,
Disguised cheaters, prating mountebanks,
And many such-like liberties of sin (Act 1, Scene
2, lines 97 ff.).
Ancient World – Religionb: Ephesus
“Its reputation in this respect is indicated by
the fact that the phrase ‘Ephesian writings’
[’Εφησία γράμματα – Ephésia grammata]
was commonly used in antiquity for documents containing spells and formulae like the
lengthy magical papyri in the London, Paris
and Leiden collections, or small amulets (like
the mottoes in Christmas crackers) to be
rolled up and placed in cylinders or lockets
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
worn around the neck or elsewhere about
the person.
One of the latter, in the Princeton University
collection of papyri, begins with an odd
series of letters arranged in a special pattern:
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
This is followed immediately by the petition:
‘Sovereign and good angels, deliver ... the
son of Sophia from the fever which has him
in its grip, this present day, this very hour,
now, now, quickly, quickly’.
The carefully arranged pattern with which
the amulet begins may represent an effort to
express the name of some divinity or demon.
The great magical papyri are full of such real
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
or imagined names.
These documents have come down to us
from all over the Near East, but Ephesus
was specially renowned for them.
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
“And about that time there arose no small
disturbance concerning the Way.
For a certain man named Demetrius, a
silversmith, who made silver shrines of
Artemis, was bringing no little business to the
craftsmen” (Ac 19:23-24).
Note not silver statues of Artemis, but silver
temples – a much more complex enterprise.
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
“Demetrius ... competing in the very lucrative
trade that Ephesus had in such things (cf. Dio
Cassius, Roman History 39.20; Ammianus
Marcellinus, History 22.13).
Examples of model temples in terra-cotta
and marble abound – but not surprisingly,
none have been found in silver” (DJW).
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
The temple of Artemis at Ephesus had a long
An earlier version was destroyed by fire in
356 BC – according to tradition, on the day
that Alexander the Great was born.
It was allegedly due to an act of arson – by a
young man, writes Plutarch, who claimed to
have carried out the mischief simply to
perpetuate his name in history.
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
As a matter of fact, his name, Herostratus, is
known to us only from this vile act of arson.
A new temple, considerably more magnificent than the former was built soon thereafter – thanks in no small measure to funds
provided by Alexander the Great.
It was of enormous size – four times as large
as the Parthenon in Athens.
It had a surrounding colonnade of 127
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
columns – each one 60 feet high.
It was adorned by relief sculpture by none
other than Praxiteles, as well as other
So magnificent was it that it was acclaimed
as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient
Models of this temple in silver must have
been something to behold – and expensive!
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Ancient World – Religion: Epehsus
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Demetrius must have been in the business of
making silver models of the Artemision in a
big way.
But there is a possible additional factor for
his taking the lead at this moment:
he may have been the Master of the Guild of
Silversmiths for the year.
“His object was to involve all the related
trades in a protest against the Christians”.
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
“... bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the
workmen of similar trades, and said,
‘Men – you know that our prosperity
depends upon this business. And you see
and hear that not in Ephesus, but in almost
all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned
a considerable number of people, saying that
gods made with hands are no gods at all.
Ancient World – Reliogion: Ephesus
And not only is there danger that this trade
of ours fall into disrepute, but also that the
temple of the great goddess Artemis
regarded as worthless and that she whom all
Asia and the world worship should even be
dethroned from her magnificence’ (19:2527).
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
“The time of this disturbance may have been
the great festival – the Artemisia” (DJW).
The city would have been thronged with
visitors , and religious and national feeling
would have been running high.
A meeting was called – with tumultuous
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
“And when they heard this and were filled with
rage, they [began] crying out [ἔκραζον –
ekrazon], saying,
‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’’
Demetrius knew how to work a crowd!
“And the city was filled with confusion.
And they rushed with one accord into the
theatre – dragging along Gaius and
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Aristarchus, Paul’s travel companions from
Macedonia” (19:28-29).
“They may have been meeting in a hall
belonging to one of the guilds –
but now we must picture them as spilling
into the street and fanning out through the
city, still shouting and gathering more people
as they went.
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
The theatre was their objective – the usual
place for public meetings in most towns
(Josephus, War 7.43-53; Tacitus, Hist. 2.80).
The theatre was well located for further
ruckus – in full view of the temple of Artemis.
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
The theatre had a capacity of about 25,000!
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
“And when Paul wanted to go into the
assembly, the disciples would not let him.
And some of the Asiarchs, who were friends
of his, sent to him and repeatedly urged him
not to venture into the theatre” (19:30-31).
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
But the Ephesian Christians, in alarm, forcibly
prevented him from doing what to them
seem such a mad thing.
The chief citizens of the place also sent a
message urging him not to run such a risk.
These chief citizens are called ‘Asiarchs’.
This was a title given to the foremost men in
the cities of the province.
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
“So then, some were shouting one thing and
some another – for the assembly [ekklésia]
was in confusion,
and the majority did not know for what
cause they had come together.
And some of the crowd concluded it was
since the Jews had put him forward” (19:3233a).
Ancient World – Religion:Ephesus
“There was complete disorder, for the
majority of the crowd had no idea why they
were there – a remark which reveals Luke’s
sense of humour.
The resentment against those who paid no
honour to the great goddess was as much
anti-Jewish as anti-Christian.
And this alarmed the Jews of Ephesus!
They judged it necessary to dissociate
Ancient world – Religion: Ephesus
themselves from Paul and the other
missionaries – and put up Alexander” (FFB).
“But when they recognised that he was a Jew
a single outcry arose from them all as they
shouted for about two hours:
‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians’!
‘Great Artemis of the Ephesians!’
Ancient World – Religion: Ephesus
Ancient World - Religion
The instances of Athens in Europe and
Ephesus in Asia could be repeated a
thousand times over and illustrate graphically
the deeply ingrained power that pagan
religion had over vast swaths of people –
from the most eminent intellectually elite to
the humblest peasants.
How could Christianity make any impact on
any ancient culture?
The Ancient World Christianity
The Ancient World - Christiantiy
The Ancient World - Christianity
After Paul’s conversion, the first major
impact of Christianity on ancient culture took
place in Anatolia (Asia Minor) – in a place
one would surely not have predicted:
Antioch in Pisidia.
Pul’s First Missionary Journey (AD 47-48).
“Antioch lay on the lower slopes of the
mountain now called Sultan Dagh, on the
banks of the river Anthius – a commanding
position well protected by natural defences.
This it needed to be, for in earlier days this
had been the borderland of Pisidia and
Antioch was a Phrygian city (Strabo
Geography 12.557).
“During the reign of Claudius (AD 41-54)
Antioch reached its greatest height of
Throughout the period the Romanisation of
both the city and the region moved apace.
New roads were built – radiating out from
the city to the SW and the SE.
The road to the SE became a link in a
southern loop of the road from Ephesus.
These roads were primarily for military
purposes – but before long they would serve
to carry the gospel:
‘And the word of the Lord was being spread
through the whole region’ (Ac 13:49).
Antioch had a mixed population of mostly
Romans, Greeks and Phrygians.
But the Seleucid kings had settled many Jews
throughout this area” (DJW).
“Pisidian Antioch was a Seleucid foundation
(early third century BC) – though the site was
inhabited long before Seleucid times.
The position was well chosen by the
Seleucids – to serve as a border fortress.
And the same strategic advantages probably
moved Augustus in 6 BC to give the city the
status of a Roman colony – under the new
name of Colonia Caesarea.
Army veterans were settled among the local
The city became the military centre for the
surrounding territory” (FFB)
It was at (Pisidian) Antioch that Luke records
Paul’s first sermon.
“The speech is given at length – so that on
other occasions Luke needed only to say that
Paul ‘proclaimed the word of God in the
Jewish synagogues’ (13:5; 14:1; etc.).
It is possible to see in the pattern of ministry
outlined in this passage a parallel between
Jesus and Paul.
“... they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on
the Sabbath day they went into the
synagogue and sat down” (Ac 13:14).
“The synagogue in the Disapora necessarily
played a far more important part in Jewish
life than did the synagogue in Judaea.
It was the general meetinghouse and community hub, the schoolhouse, the courthouse
and the archive, as well as the locus of
religious education and worship.
It was to the synagogue that Paul and his
colleagues went whenever they came to a
new town.
There were three more or less distinct groups
of people to be found there: 1) Jews by birth;
2) proselytes; 3) God-fearers – a ‘providentially prepared bridgehead into the Gentile
world’ – for these ‘God-fearers’ were an
informed audience familiar with the
Scriptures and the messianic hope of the
But at the same time they were profoundly
aware that they were themselves excluded
from that hope as long as they remained as
they were.
These ‘God-fearers’ always remained secondclass citizens.
Proselytes were buried in Jewish cemeteries
in Jerusalem and Rome and elsewhere ... But
not ‘God-fearers’.
From an official point of view, despite their
visits to synagogue worship and their partial
observance of the law, the ‘God-fearers’ continued to be regarded as Gentiles, unless they
went over to Judaism completely through
circumcision and ritual baptism’ (Hengel).
It is hardly surprising, then, when they were
told that ‘the messianic hope had come alive
in Jesus, that in Him the old distinction between Jew and Gentile had been abolished,
that the fullest blessings of God’s saving
grace were as readily available to Gentiles as
to Jews, many of this class embraced the
Good News’ (FFB).
They formed the nucleus of many of the early
congregations (along with a scattering of
Jews), and through them the church had
entry into the Gentile world that lay beyond
the ambit of the synagogue” (DJW).
“... they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on
the Sabbath day they went into the
synagogue and sat down.
And after the reading of the Law and the
Prophets, the synagogue officials sent to
them, saying, ‘if you have any word of
exhortation/ encouragement [παρακλήσεως
– parakléseos] (‘And Joseph, a Levite of
Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas
by the apostles, which, translated, means Son
of Encouragement [παρακλήσεως – parakléseos][Ac 4:36]’) for the people, say it’.
And Paul stood up, and motioning with his
hand, said:
‘Men of Israel, and you who fear God [οἱ
φοβούμενοι τὸν θεόν – hoi phoboumenoi ton
theon] [‘God-fearers’], listen:
The God of this people Israel chose our Fathers,
and made the people great during their stay
in the land of Egypt, and with an uplifted arm
He led them out from it. And for a period of
about forty years He put up with them in the
wilderness/ bore them up in His arms as a
nurse in the wilderness [ἐτροποφόρήσεν –
etropophorésen]. And when He had
destroyed seven nations in the land of
Canaan, He distributed their land as an
inheritance – [all of which took] about 450
years. And after these things He gave them
judges until Samuel the prophet. And then
they asked for a king, and God gave them
Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of
Benjamin, for 40 years. And after He had
removed him, He raised up David to be their
king, concerning whom He also testified and
said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a
man after My own heart, who will do
will’. From the offspring of this man,
according to promise, God has brought to
Israel a Saviour – Jesus – after John had
proclaimed before His coming a baptism of
repentance to all the people of Israel. And
while John was completing his course, he
kept saying. ‘What do you suppose that I am?
I am not [He]. But behold, one is coming
after me, the sandals of whose feet I am not
worth to untie’. Brethren, sons of Abraham’s
family, and those among you who fear God,
to us the word of this salvation is sent out.
For those who live in Jerusalem, and their
rulers, recognising neither Him nor the
utterances of the prophets which are read
every Sabbath, fulfilled [these] by
condemning [Him]. And though they found
no ground for [putting Him] to death, they
asked Pilate that He be executed. And when
they had carried out all that was written
concerning Him, they took Him down from
the cross and laid Him in a tomb. But God
raised Him from among the
dead; and for many days He appeared to
those who came up with Him from Galilee to
Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His
witnesses to the people. And we preach to
you the good news of the promise made
to the fathers, that God has fulfilled this
[promise] to our children in that He
up Jesus, as it is also written in the second
[as for the fact] that He
raised Him
from the dead, no more to decay,
He has spoken in this way, ‘I WILL GIVE YOU THE
HOLY and SURE [blessings] OF DAVID’. Therefore
He also says in another [Psalm], ‘THOU WILT NOT
after he had served the purpose of God in his
own generation, fell asleep and was laid
among his fathers and underwent decay; but
He whom God raised did not undergo
decay. Therefore, let it be known to you,
brethren, through Him, forgiveness of
sins is proclaimed to you, and through
Him, everyone who believes is freed from
all things, from which you could not be freed
through the Law of Moses.
Take heed, therefore, so that the thing
spoken of in the prophets may not come
upon you:
“And as Paul and Barnabas were going out,
the people kept begging that these things
might be spoken to them the next Sabbath.
Now when [the meeting of] the synagogue
was broken up, many of the Jews and of the
God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and
Barnabas, who, speaking to them, were
urging them to continue in the grace of God”
“And the next Sabbath nearly the whole city
assembled to hear the word of God.
BUT when the Jews saw the crowds, they
were filled with jealousy, and [began]
contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and
were blaspheming.
And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, and
said, ‘it was necessary that the word of God
should be spoken to you first; since you
repudiate it, and judge yourselves unworthy
of eternal life, behold, we
to the Gentiles.
are turning
For thus the Lord has
commanded us,
EARTH [Is 49:6).
And when the Gentiles heard this, they
[began] rejoicing and glorifying the word of
the Lord; and as many as had been appointed
to eternal life believed (13:44-48).
“And the word of the Lord was being spread
through the whole region” (49).
“BUT the Jews aroused the devout women of
prominence and the leading men of the city,
and instigated a persecution against Paul and
Barnabas, and drove them out of their
But they shook off the dust of their feet [in
protest] against them, and went to
Iconium” (13:50-51).
“The God-fearers in the congregation were
especially attracted by Paul’s message, and
spread the news abroad among their fellowGentiles.
The result was that a week later there were
more Gentiles than Jews present at the
synagogue service.
The leaders of the Jewish community were
displeased and visited their displeasure on
the two missionaries.
But many of the Gentiles accepted the
salvation through faith in Christ which the
missionaries proclaimed and formed a
Christian group in separation from the
synagogue – the first of the churches of
Galatia” (FFB).
Christianity - Paul
Here it is pertinent to pause to look a little
more closely at the man who played such a
significant role in the impact which
Christianity made on the ancient world.
One of the ways of doing this is by considering the various roles in which Paul functioned
– but not only that he functioned in these
roles, rather also how he functioned.
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Proportionate contribution to the NT
Greek text = 657 pp
157 = 24%
Hb: 30 = 4.5% - 28.5%
Ac: 57 = 8.2% - 36.7%
Matthew: 84 = 12.78%
53 = 8%
Luke (G): 92 = 14%
Christianity - Paul
Luke (A): 94 = 14.3% -- Luke: 28.3%
John (G): 66 = 10%
John (E): 12 = 01.8%
John (R): 45 = 06.8% -- John: 18.6%
Hebrews: 30 = 4.5%
14 = .02%
9 = .01%
3 = .045%
Christianity - Paul
“Of all the New Testament authors, Paul is the
one who has stamped his personality
unmistakably on his writings. It is for this
reason that he has his secure place among
the great letter-writers in world literature ...
because they express so spontaneously and
therefore so eloquently his mind and his
message” (FFB).
Bruce then cites one of the leading classical
Christianity - Paul
philologists of his day, Gilbert Murray:
“He [Paul] is one of the great figures in Greek
Bruce goes on:
“... and a greater Hellenist even than Murray,
Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff,
described him [Paul] as ‘a classic of
Paul, he said, did not directly take over any of
Christianity - Paul
the elements of Greek education, yet he not
only writes Greek but thinks Greek; without
realising it, he serves as the executor of
Alexander the Great’s testament by carrying
the gospel to the Greeks”.
Here it is apt to cite the following words:
“Neither the Roman Empire nor the
triumphal march of Christianity, whose
congregations at the end of antiquity
Christianity - Paul
encompassed the vast area from Ireland to
India, nor the Byzantine Empire nor Arabic
civilisation are conceivable without the lifework of Alexander” (Hermann Bengtson).
Wilamowitz went on to say:
“At last, at last, someone speaks Greek out of
a fresh inward experience of life. That
experience is his faith, which makes him sure
Christianity - Paul
Adds Bruce:
“No mean tribute from a Hellenist of
Hellenists to a Hebrew of Hebrews!”
It cannot get better than that.
Christianity - Paul
Christianity - Paul
9) Visionary
10) Writer
11) Human being
12) Pastor/ Shepherd
Christianity - Paul
As a second example, we can choose Paul’s
initial foray into Europe – namely at Philippi.
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
Christianity - Paul - Philippi
Paul and Silas and Timothy and Luke
followed the Via Egnatia for about 16 km in a
NW direction – then came upon Philippi.
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
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Christianity - Paul - Philippi
“... to Philippi, which is a leading city of the
district of Macedonia, a [Roman] colony ...”
Philippi was founded by Philip II of Macedonia
(father of Alexander the Great) in 356 BC (he
reigned 359-336) – on the foundation of an
earlier town, Krenides.
It was the first city named after an individual.
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
“There does not seem to have been a
synagogue in Philippi – presumably because
there does not appear to have been a Jewish
community of any size” (FFB).
“And we were staying in this city for some
days: (Ac 16:12b).
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
• “And on the Sabbath day we went outside
the gate to a riverside, where we were
supposing that there would be a place of
prayer ...” (16:13a).
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
“The Greek text has them simply going ‘out
of the gate,’ and as long as we understand
‘the gate’ to be that of the city.
But another identification is possible.
About 2 km to the west of the city, on the Via
Egnatia, stood a Roman arch – now in ruins.
And a little beyond this ran the river Gangites
-- a tributary of the Strymon.
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
The Jews may therefore have been obliged to
hold their meetings at this distance – beyond
the gate.
Here the missionaries expected to find their
‘place of prayer’.
The Greek has only the one word, προσευχήν
– proseuchén, which can mean either an act
of praying or the place in which it is done – in
the latter sense sometimes denoting a build-
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ing (e.g., a synagogue).
But Luke’s use of the word here probably
means that there was no building – just a
regular meeting spot in the open.
When Jews were obliged to meet in this way,
as far as possible they would do so near a
river or the sea - to facilitate their ceremonial
washings: and so at Philippi, it would seem.
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Christianity – Paul - Philippi
Here Paul and his companions found some
The absence of men may explain the lack of a
synagogue – since at least ten men were
needed before a synagogue could be
They ‘sat down’ – the usual posture for
teaching among Jews, though in this case it
may simply indicate informality” (DJW).
Christianiy – Paul - Philippi
And a certain woman named Lydia, from
the city of Thyatira ...” (Ac 16:13b-14a).
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Christianity – Paul - Philippi
Lydia: « Her name was Lydia, and that was
also the name of her country – though it no
longer existed independently [it was
conquered by Cyrus the Great in 546 BC], but
had long since been absorbed into the
province of Asia » (DJW).
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Christianity – Paul - Philippi
• “Lydia ... Thyatira ... a seller of purple fabrics,
a worshiper of God [σεβομένη τὸν θεόν –
sebomené ton theon], was listening [ἤκουεν
– ékouen] … » (14).
Christianity – Paul – Phiippi
Purple fabrics: “Dyeing was one of the stable
industries of Thyatira – and it was probably
from here that Lydia bought [brought] her
purple cloth.
It was a luxury trade, and Lydia must have
been a relatively wealthy woman to be
engaged in it” (DJW).
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
A God-fearer: “... It may have been at
Thyatira that she had been introduced to the
Jewish faith.
There is evidence that the Jews of Thyatira
were especially involved in the dyeing trade.
Thus the way had been prepared in her for
the gospel” (DJW).
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
«… was listening [ἤκουεν – ékouen … »
(16:14b): « The imperfect tense of the verb
‘to hear’ suggests that she heard the
missionaries on more than one occasion »
Being an intelligent woman, she must have
reflected much and seriously on what she
had heard!
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
« … and the Lord opened her heart to
respond to the things spoken by Paul »
« Luke attributes her readiness to respond to
something more than her background. The
Lord ‘opened her heart’. This must always be
the case. Without in any way diminishing the
importance of repentance and faith and of
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preaching the faith of Christ, there can be no
life in Christ unless the gospel comes, ‘not
simply with words, but also with power, with
the Holy Spirit’ (I Thes 1:5; cf. Eph 1:18)”
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
“It is noticeable that in the three
Macedonian towns, Philippi, Thessalonica
and Beroea, women are mentioned
especially as influenced by the gospel.
This corresponds to the considerable
freedom and social influence enjoyed by
Macedonian women, who were hardly less
active than men in public affairs” (DJW).
But remember that Lydia was not a ‘native’!
Christianity – Paul - Phiippi
“And she prevailed upon us [παρ-εβιάσατο –
par-ebiasato] » (16:14-15). [παραβιάζομαι –
para-biazomai: this word is used only by Luke
in the NT, and only in one other instance – the
two disciples with Jesus on the road to
Emmaus: « And they urged Him < παρεβιάσαντο – para-ebiasanto> saying, ‘Stay
with us, for it is getting towards evening, and
the day is now nearly over’. And He went in to
stay with them » <Lk 24:29>].
Christianity – Paul - Philippi
What a pearl was the first convert to
Christianity on the European continent!
A woman of noble disposition and character.
Intelligent. Thoughtful. Dynamic. Sensitive.
Enterprising. Cordial. Warm-hearted.
Strong-minded. Generous. Influential.
Persuasive. Hospitable. Caring.
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
This took place early in Paul’s Paul’s Second
Missionary Journey (50-52).
There is of course also the instance of the
Philippian jailor, and Thessalonica, and
Boerea, and Athens – but those are for
another day.
On to Corinth!
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
“And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a
‘Do not be afraid [any longer], but go on
speaking and do not be silent; for I am with
you, and no man will attack you in order to
harm you, for I have many people in this city’.
And he settled [there] a year and six months,
teaching the word of God among them”
(18:9-11). And how they needed teaching!
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
“But while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia,
the Jews with one accord rose up against
Paul, and brought him before the judgement
seat [bema], saying,
‘This man persuades men to worship [σέβασθαι – sebasthai -- σέβομαι – sebomai: to
stand in awe, venerate, reverence, worship,
adore] contrary to the law’.
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
“But when Paul was about to open his
mouth, Gallio said to the Jews,
‘If it were a matter of wrong or vicious crime,
O Jews, it would be reasonable for me to put
up with you; but if there are questions about
words and names and your own law, look
after it yourselves; I am unwilling to be a
judge of these matters’.
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
And he drove them away from the
judgement seat [bema].
And they all took hold of Sosthenes, the
leader of the synagogue, and began beating
him in front of the bema.
And Gallio was not concerned about any of
these things” (18:12-17).
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
“On this occasion [Paul’s] Jewish opponents,
instead of stirring up the city rabble against
him or accusing him before the civic
magistrates, approached the Roman
administration of the province.
Any decision that civic magistrates, such as
the politarchs at Thessalonica, might take
would be valid only within their own civic
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By contrast, the verdict of a Roman governor
would not only be effective within his
province, but would be followed as a
precedent by the governors of other
Had the proconsul of Achaia pronounced a
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verdict unfavourable to Paul, the story of the
progress of Christianity during the next decade
or so would have been very different from what
it actually was” (FFB).
Gallio was an exceptional individual!
He was the son of the elder Seneca.
Lucius Seneca – born of an equestrian family at
Corduba in Spain ca. 55 BC. Elder Seneca.
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Writer of rhetoric (ca. 55 BC – ca. AD 40).
Was in Rome as a young man and later.
He amassed a considerable fortune, and may
have held an official post in Spain, or engaged
in trade.
By his marriage with Helvia, he had 3 sons:
1) Annaeus Novatus – adopted by L. Junius
Gallio, and later became governor of Achaia.
2) L. Annaeus Seneca – the philosopher.
3) M. Annaeus Mela – the father of Lucan.
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
His original name, Marcus Annaeus Novatus,
but was adopted by the senator Lucius Junius
Gallio – by which name he was then known.
Brother of Seneca the philosopher (ca. 3 BC –
AD 65).
“He appears to have been a man of considerable personal charm – ‘no mortal,’ said his
brother Seneca [the philosopher], ‘is so
pleasant to any one person as Gallio is to
Christianity – Paul - Corinth
to everybody’ (Natural Questions iv a;
Dio Cassius refers to his wit (History lxi.35).
After holding the praetorship [next rung up
to the consulship], he was appointed
proconsul of Achaia.
From an inscription at Delphi in Central
Greece, recording a proclamation made by
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the Emperor Claudius between the end of 51
and August of 52, it can be inferred, Gallio
entered upon his proconsulship in July 51.
(The inscription, which mentions Gallio as
proconsul of Achaia, is datable by its
reference to Claudius having been acclaimed
imperator for the 26th time; the evidence of
other inscriptions indicates that the period
during which Claudius could be so described
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covers the first seven months of AD 52. As a
proconsul entered on his term of office
[nominally] on July 1, it is just possible that
Gallio became proconsul on July 1, AD 52, but
much more probable that he did so on that
date in the year 51 [Deissmann, Lake])” (FFB).
Gallio’s proconsulship is the anchor date for
NT chronology. His handling of the situation
was of cardinal importance for Christianity.
Christianity – Paul - Ephesus
Paul’s Third Missionary Journey (AD 5255)
“... reasoning daily in the scholé of Tyrannus.
And this took place for two years, so that all
who lived in Asia heard the word of
the Lord – both Jews and Greeks” (Ac
Christianity - Ephesus
“Luke tells us little of Paul’s years at Ephesus,
but the little he does tell shows how great an
impact Paul had on the city” (DJW).
This is enormous when one considers the
history and character of the city.
It reveals Paul as a colossal, towering figure.
“At the same time, it portrays accurately the
religious and moral atmosphere of the place.
Christianity – Paul - Ephesus
According to Rackman, ‘at Ephesus,
Hellenistic culture and philosophy
had made a disastrous union with
oriental superstition’.
The result was a city preoccupied with magic.
Paul must have deplored their superstition –
and yet the very interest of the Ephesians in
magic gave the gospel an entry” (DJW).
Christianity – Paul - Ephesus
“Many of those who had believed kept
coming, confessing and disclosing their
And many of those who practised magic
brought their books together and [began]
burning them in the sight of all;
and they counted up the price of them and
found it fifty thousand pieces of silver”
Christianity – Paul - Ephesus
“So the word of the Lord was growing
mightily and prevailing” (19:20).
The effects of evangelism “were being
increasingly felt in both Ephesus itself and in
the province” (DJW).
Christianity – Wider Circle
“And they [Paul and Silas on Paul’s Second
Missionary Journey – AD 50-51] passed
through the Phrygian and Galatian region,
having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to
speak the word in Asia [Roman province of
Asia], and when they came to Mysia, they
were trying to go into Bithynia and the Spirit
of Jesus did not permit them” (Ac 16:6-7).
Christianity – Wider Circle
Christianity – Wider Circle
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those
who reside as aliens, scattered throughout
Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and
Bithynia ...” (I Peter 1:1).
These represent districts in which Paul was
not active – at least not in northern Galatia.
Christianity – Wider Circle
Christianity – Wider Circle
Christianity – Bithynia
Christianity - Bithynia
If the First Epistle of Peter was written by
Peter, and there are good grounds for
thinking that it was, and Peter’s death is to
be put in the middle of the 60s, how were
the vast regions covered by his letter
evangelised, and evangelised so early?
This raises major, intriguing questions.
The subject is all the more intriguing for five
Christianity - Bithynia
1) We have information from one of these
regions – Bithynia.
2) Bithynia is comparatively remote.
3) The information is from a non-Christian
4) The source is of the highest quality.
5) The information is highly illuminating.
Christianity - Bithynia
Pliny the Younger (AD 61 or 62 – ca. 114)
Nephew of Pliny the Elder
He showed talent at an early age, and
received and excellent education.
He trained as an advocatus -- lawyer.
He began a distinguished legal career at the
age of 18.
Christianity - Bithynia
He succeeded in navigating unscathed
through the reign of terror of Domitian (AD
81-96). (Domitian had insisted on being
addressed as ‘’Dominus et Deus - Lord and
In AD 100 he addressed to Trajan (98-117)
the customary gratiarum actio – ‘address of
thanks,’ and then produced his Panegyricus.
Christianity - Bithynia
His most notable success also took place in
AD 100 – prosecution of Marius Priscus.
In AD 104 and 106 he acted as counsel for the
defence of two senatorial ex-governors
accused of maladministration in Bithynia.
Christianity - Bithynia
The experience and knowledge thus acquired
as well as in finance made Pliny an obvious
choice when the emperor Trajan (AD 98-117)
decided to place Bithynia under an imperial
legatus (legate) with special powers to overhaul its finances – probably in AD 110-111.
We know that Pliny spent at least two years
in Bithynia and that his time there overlapped C. Macer, governor of Moesia in 112.
Christianity - Bithynia
Pliny to Trajan:
“Among the chief features of Amastris (Greek
city on the south coast of the Black Sea), Sir,
a city which is well built and laid out, is a long
street of great beauty. But throughout the
length of it there runs what is called a stream
[flumen] that is in fact a filthy sewer, a
disgusting eyesore which gives off a noxious
stench. The health and appearance alike of
Christianity - Bithynia
the city will benefit if it is covered in, and
with your permission this shall be done. I
shall see that money is not lacking for a largescale work of such importance” (X. 98).
From the above we see that Pliny was a
highly civlised individual – something to be
noted in what follows a little below.
Christianity - Bithynia
Trajan to Pliny:
“There is every reason, my dear Pliny, to
cover the water which you say flows through
the city of Amastris, if it is a danger to health
while it remains uncovered. I am sure you
will be active as always to ensure that there
is no lack of money for this work” (X. 99).
(Note Trajan’s emphasis on health – a very
Roman touch.)
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
“It is my custom to refer all my difficulties to
you, Sir, for no one is better able to resolve
my doubts and to inform my ignorance.
I have never been present at an
examination of Christians. Consequently, I do
not know the nature or the extent of the
punishments usually meted out to them, nor
the grounds for starting an investigation and
how far it should be pressed. Nor am I at all
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
sure whether any distinction should be made
between them on the grounds of age, or if
young people and adults should be treated
alike; whether a pardon ought to be granted
to anyone retracting his beliefs, or if he has
once professed Christianity, he shall gain
nothing by renouncing it; and whether it is
the mere name of Christian which is
punishable, even if innocent of crime, or
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
rather the crimes associated with the name.
For the moment this is the line I have
taken with all persons brought before me on
the charge of being Christians. I have asked
them in person if they are Christians, and if
they admit it, I repeat the question a second
and third time, with a warning of the
punishment awaiting them. If they persist, I
order them to be led away for execution;
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
for whatever the nature of their admission, I
am convinced that their stubbornness and
unshakeable obstinacy ought not to go
unpunished. There have been others
similarly fanatical who are Roman citizens. I
have entered them on the list of persons to
be sent to Rome for trial. [It is not clear
whether Pliny was obliged to do this,
whether or not those charged had (like Paul)
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
exercised their right to appeal, but it was
probably the custom to do so.]
Now that I have begun to deal with this
problem, as so often happens, the charges
are becoming more widespread and
increasing in variety. An anonymous
pamphlet has been circulated which contains
the names of a number of accused persons.
Among these I considered that I should
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
dismiss any who denied that they were or
ever had been Christians when they had
repeated after me a formula of invocation to
the gods and had made offerings of wine and
incense to your statue (which I had ordered
to be brought into court for this purpose
along with the images of the gods), and
furthermore had reviled the name of Christ:
none of which things, I understand, any
genuine Christian can be induced to do.
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
Others, whose names were given to me by
an informer, first admitted the charge and
then denied it; they said that they had
ceased to be Christians two or more years
previously, and some of them even twenty
years ago. They all did reverence to your
statue and the images of the gods in the
same way as the others, and reviled the
name of Christ. They also declared that the
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
sum total of their guilt or error amounted to
no more than this: they had met regularly
before dawn on a fixed day to chant verses to
a god, and also bind themselves by oath, not
for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from
theft, robbery and adultery, to commit no
breach of trust and not to deny a deposit
when called upon to restore it. After this
ceremony it had been their custom to
disperse and reassemble later to take food of
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
an ordinary, harmless kind; but they had in
fact given up this practice since my edict,
issued on your instructions, which banned all
political societies. This made me decide it
was all the more necessary to extract the
truth by torture from two slave-women,
whom they call deaconesses. I found nothing
but a degenerate sort of cult [superstitionem
pravam] carried to extravagant lengths.
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
I have therefore postponed any further
examination and hastened to consult you.
The question seems to me to be worthy of
your consideration, especially in view of the
number of persons endangered; for a great
many individuals of every age and class, both
men and women, are being brought to trial,
and this is likely to continue. It is not only
the towns, but villages and rural districts too
which are infected through contact with this
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
wretched cult. I think though that it is still
possible for it to be checked and directed to
better ends, for there is no doubt that the
people have begun to throng the temples
which had been almost entirely deserted for
a long time; the sacred rites which had been
allowed to lapse are being performed again,
and flesh of sacrificial victims is on sale
everywhere, though up till recently scarcely
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan
anyone could be found to buy it. It is easy to
infer from this that a great many people
could be reformed if they were given an
opportunity to repent” (Letters X. 96).
Trajan to Pliny
“You have followed the right course of
procedure, my dear Pliny, in your
examination of the cases of persons charged
with being Christians, for it is impossible to
lay down a general rule to a fixed formula.
These people must not be hunted out; if they
are brought before you and the charge
against them is proved, they must be
punished, but in the case of anyone who
Trajan to Pliny
denies that he is a Christian, and makes it
clear that he is not by offering prayers to our
gods, he is to be pardoned as a result of his
repentance however suspect his past may be.
But pamphlets circulated anonymously must
play no part in any accusation. They create
the worst sort of precedent and are quite out
of keeping with the spirit of our age” (X. 97).
Trajan to Pliny
denies that he is a Christian, and makes it
clear that he is not by offering prayers to our
gods, he is to be pardoned as a result of his
repentance however suspect his past may be.
But pamphlets circulated anonymously must
play no part in any accusation. They create
the worst sort of precedent and are quite out
of keeping with the spirit of our age” (X. 97).
Christianity – Wider Circle
The picture which emerges here in Bithynia
was doubtless duplicated in many other parts
of Asia Minor.
Indeed, the whole of this land mass became
more or less saturated with the spread of the
Much the same was true on the continent of
Christianity – Wider Circle
It is also significant that it was in Asia Minor
where some of the most basic doctrines of
Christianity were hammered out.
The various discussions culminated in
numerous Church Councils, one of the
earliestand most important was the Council
of Nicaea in AD 325 – located, interestingly,
in Bithynia, and summoned by Constantine
(20 May).
Christianity – Wider Circle
Christianity profoundly impacted virtually
every aspect of culture – including the
political realm.
Diagnostic in this respect was the role of the
Emperor Constantine the Great.
It may be noted in passing that Constantine’s
mother came from Bithynia and he himself
grew up in Nicomedeia – in Bithynia.
Christianity – Wider Circle
Constantine bowed to the impacting power
of Christianity by declaring it the official
religion – in the Edict of Milan (AD 313):
granting complete freedom of religion and
recognising the Christian Church or rather
each separate local church as a legal ‘person’.
Christianity – Wider Circle
The impact of Christianity also found expression in architecture – especially in churches.
The early climax was certainly the Hagia
Sophia in Constantinople.
It was first dedicated on 15 February, 360.
It was later expanded – between 532 and 537
on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor,
Christianity – Wider Circle
It is an architectural marvel.
It is said to have “changed the history of
It was the largest cathedral in the world for
almost 1000 years.
Architects: Isidore of Miletus (physicist).
Anthemius of Tralles (mathematician)
Christianity – Wider Circle
Length: 269’
Width: 240’
Height: 180’
It became the model for many other
churches and for many Ottoman mosques.
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Christianity – the Mega-Story
“But when the fullness of the
time came, God sent forth His
Son, born of a woman, born
under the Law” (Gal 4:4).
Christianity – the Mega-Story
The confluence of numerous streams:
1) The events of the OT – the chosen Jews.
2) The early Greek culture of the polis.
3) Alexander the Great.
4) Hellenistic culture – from the Indus to
5) The Greek language.
Christianity – the Mega-Story
Roman imperium – Roman empire.
Roman administration.
Pax Romana – Roman Peace.
Roman Law.
Roman roads.
Christianity – the Mega-Story
“But when the fullness of the
time came, God sent forth His
Son, born of a woman, born
under the Law” (Gal 4:4).
Christianity – the Mega-Story