Sunday, January 3, 2016

Roman Emperors, Persecution, and Modern Reconstructionists

I was reading an older entry from Larry Hurtado's blog, and it just confirms why I don't take modern reconstructionist "scholarship" seriously as a historical discipline. 

 I don't trust what they say about Nero or Domitian either. I think it's clear that the sources we have indicate that Nero, and his persecutions, were just as bad as reported in works such as Seutonius' history. The same goes for Domitian. The man revives the imperial cult, is interested in the daily religious lives of all citizens of the Empire, puts any thought to undermine Roman well-being to death or exile, calls himself "Lord and God," and puts to death anyone involved in incest (something early Christians were falsely accused of by Romans). There is no way there was not a massive persecution of Christians, who violated all of these things, did not take place as Eusebius chronicles later. 

Sources are often ignored or minimized by an ideology that argues that opponents are so biased, they make up things of rulers they don't like to the degree of giving a completely false picture of them. I don't buy that. I think such bias dwells on the negative, but it in no way means that it makes it up. Nero really did declare himself a god, as did Caligula and Domitian, and with each, terror ensues; and often that terror landed directly in the lap of early Christians.

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