group bore all the marks of conspiracy. First, they identified
themselves as followers of a man accused of magic
and executed for
that and for treason; second, they were "atheists," who denounced as
"demons" the gods who protected the fortunes of the Roman state—
(divine spirit) of the emperor himself; third, they
belonged to an illegal society. Besides these acts that police could
verify, rumor indicated that their secrecy concealed atrocities: their
enemies said that they ritually ate human flesh and drank human
blood, practices of which magicians were commonly The Passion of Christ
Although at this time no law specifically prohibited
conversion to Christianity, any magistrate who heard a person
accused of Christianity was required to investigate.
about how to treat such cases, Pliny, the governor of Bythynia (a
province in Asia Minor), wrote (c. 112) to Trajan, the emperor,
It is my custom, Lord Emperor, to refer to you all questions whereof I
am in doubt. Who can better guide me . . . ? I have never participated in
investigations of Christians; hence I do not know what is the crime
usually punished or investigated, or what allowances are made . . .
Meanwhile, this is the course I have taken with those who were accused
before me as Christians. I asked them whether they were Christians,
and I asked them a second and third time with threats of punishment.
If they kept to it, I ordered them taken off for execution, for
I had no
doubt that whatever it was they admitted, in any case they deserve to be punished
for obstinacy and unbending pertinacity . . . As for those who said they neither
were nor ever had been Christians, I thought it right to let them go,
recited a prayer to the gods at my dictation, and made supplication
with incense and wine to your statue, which I had ordered to be
brought into court for the purpose, and moreover, cursed Christ—
things which (so it is said) those who are really Christians cannot be
made to do.
[link to theknowledgeden.com