The Greco-Roman Society

1247 Words5 Pages
Ricky O’Connor

Assess the difficulties faced by early Christians living in a largely pagan society. Why did the Christian movement attract such suspicion from the wider society?

Since the beginning of Christianity, Christians have always been subject to various persecutions. Some organised by states or groups, others more just random persecution by various people. In this essay I will talk about why the Christians were viewed with suspicion by the Romans and how this led to their persecution. The world into which the Christian faith was spread at first was a very different world than which we find today. The Greco-Roman world was a world of polytheism which had an interwoven religious and political system. This state religion was
…show more content…
This weird little Jewish sect who were quite a bit different to the regular Jews that Romans were used to. These Christians for some reason would not accept the societal norms in which they lived. They were a very intolerant people. The roman society worked on the basis of pleasing the gods, performing sacrifices to them to get some kind of benefit. The more people that sacrificed the better the chance of benefitting. These Christians refused to sacrifice to the gods. They had some strange belief that they were forbidden to do this. This was a huge social upheaval. Roman society worked by everyone submitting to the emperor and sacrificing to the gods. That these Christians would not accept societal norms must have been infuriating for many romans, and is the starting point of their hatred towards the Christians. The roman religion which saw seeing forgiveness as performing a set of rituals had no interest in some morality or a set of dos and don’ts, which the Christians lived by. This was considered to be the realm of philosophy. There was no great concern for the afterlife here, and Polytheism with its acceptance of an unlimited number of gods meant that the society that practiced it was adaptable to change. Therefore, Christianity with its moral absolutes and concern for the poor was a huge…show more content…
There was also no official state persecution before the third century. Christians were also given every opportunity to sacrifice and honour the gods. It served Rome no purpose in executing them all. In fact it was avoided as this would make the Christians martyrs and immortalise them. I’m sure they did not want another Spartacus. Here however the romans actually tried not to kill Christians, which was easier said than done. Christians were only too willing to be martyred as it was the quickest way to heaven. “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in Heaven…” Rome was not stupid. It wanted to avoid making martyrs. Why kill people who when dead can’t pay tax? For the Christian however martyrdom was the quickest and surest way to heaven, most were only too happy to be thrown to the
Open Document