Persecution in the Early Church

Main Persecutions of the Early Church

Jewish Persecutions (described in the Book of Acts)

The Persecution of Nero (64 AD)

Domitian (c.90-96)

Trajan (98-117)

Hadrian (117-138)

Marcus Aurelius (161-181)

Septimus Severus (202-211)

Maximus the Thracian (235-251)

Decius (249-251)

Valerian (257-260)

Diocletian / Galerius (303-311)

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Primary Sources

Book or monograph Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs
Book or monograph Cyprian, Letters 11.1; 24; 55.14; 67.1; 75.10; 77-80.
Book or monograph Cyprian, To Fortunatus.
Book or monograph Cyprian, To the Lapsed 8; 25; 27
Book or monograph Eusebius, Church History 2.10, 22-23, 25; 3.12, 17-19, 32-33, 36; 4.9, 12-17; 5.1-5, 21; 6.1-2, 4-5, 28, 39-42; 7.1-4, 10-13, 15, 30; 8.1-10.5.14.
Book or monograph Eusebius, Life of Constantine 1.27-32; 2.34, 53.
Book or monograph Eusebius, Martyrs of Palestine 3.1; 4-6; 8.1.5-13; 9.2-11.31
Book or monograph Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.195-203.
Book or monograph Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 68.
Book or monograph Justin Martyr, 2 Apology 2.
Book or monograph Lactantius. On the Deaths of the Persecutors 6; 10-13; 15.6; 16.4; 48.2-12
Book or monograph Martydom of Polycarp.
Book or monograph H. Musurillo, editor & translator. The Acts of he Christian Martyrs. Oxford: Clarendon, 1972. pp. lxxiii + 377.
Book or monograph Origen, Exhortation to Martyrdom.
Book or monograph Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas.
Book or monograph Pliny the Younger, Letters 10.96, 97.
Book or monograph Pseudo-Cyprian, Glory of Martyrdom.
Book or monograph Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars (Claudius 25, Nero 16, Domitian 15)
Book or monograph Tacitus, Annals 15.44.
Book or monograph Tertullian, Apology 1-5.
Book or monograph Tertullian, Crown 1.1
Book or monograph Tertullian, To The Heathen 1.6-7.
Book or monograph Tertullian, To the Martyrs.

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Secondary Sources

Article Timothy D. Barnes, "Legislation Against the Christians," Journal of Roman Studies, Vol. 58 (1968): 32-50.
Article Timothy D. Barnes, "The Pre-Decian Acta Martyrum," Journal of Theological Studies 19 (1968): 509-531.
Article Carlin Barton, "The Scandal of the Arena," Representations 27 (Summer 1989): 1-36.
Article N.H. Baynes, "The Great Persecution," Cambridge Ancient History, Vol. 12. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1939. pp.646-677.
Article A.R. Birley, "Magnus Maximus and the Persecution of Heresy," Bulletin John Rylands Library 66.1 (1983): 13-43.
Article A.R. Birley, "Voluntary Martyrs in the Early Christian Church: Heroes or Heretics?" Cristianesimo nella Storia 27.1 (2006): 99-127.
On-line Resource E.M. Blaiklock, The Christian in Pagan Society, 2nd edn. London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1956. Pbk. pp.30.
Book or monograph Gary A. Bisbee, Pre-Decian Acts of Martyrs and Commentary. Harvard Dissertations in Religion No. 22. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988. Pbk. ISBN: 0800670744. pp.xv + 187. {}
Article Daniel Boyarin, "Martyrdom and the Making of Christianity and Judaism," Journal of Early Christian Studies 6.4 (1998): 577-627.
Article Peter Brunt, "Marcus Aurelius and te Christians," C. Deroux, ed. Studies in Latin Literature and Roman History. Brussels: Collection Latomus no. 164, 1 (1979): 483-520.
Article R.W. Burgess, "The Date of the Persecution of Christians in the Army," Journal of Theological Studies 47.1 (1996): 157-158.
Article W.M. Calder, "Some Movements of the Great Persecution," Bulletin of the John Ryland Library 8 (1924): 345-64.
Book or monograph Leon Hardy Canfield, The Early Persecutions of the Christians. Columbia University Studies in Social Sciences 136. New York: Columbia Univesity Press, 1913. Reprint. New York: AMS, 1968. Hbk. ISBN: 0404511368. {}
Article Christian History 9:3 (1990).
Article Kate M. Coleman, "Fatal Charades: Roman Executions Staged as Mythological Enactments," Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990): 44-73.
Article P.S. Davies, "The Origin and Purpose of the Persecution of AD 303," Journal of Theological Studies 40.1 (1989): 66-94.
Book or monograph Arthur Droge & J. Tabor, A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom: Among Ancient Jews, Christians, Greeks and Romans. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1992. Hbk. ISBN: 0060620951. {}
Article John Ensminger, "The Sadducean Persecution of the Christians in Rome and Jerusalem A.D. 58 to 65," Southwestern Journal of Theology 30.3 (1988): 9-13.
Article A. Falcetta, "From Jesus to Polycarp: Reflections on the Origins of Christian Martyrdom," Cristianesimo nella Storia 27.1 (2006): 67-98.
Book or monograph Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians. New York: Alfred & Knopf, 1987. Pbk. Repinted: HarperCollins / Pengion Books, 1988. Pbk. ISBN: 0060628529. pp. 419-492. {}
Article W.H.C. Frend, "The Persecutions: Some Links Between Judaism and the Early Church," The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 9.2 (1958): 141-158.
Article W.H.C. Frend, "The Failure of the Persecutions in the Roman Empire," Past & Present 8 (1959): 10-27.
Book or monograph W.H.C. Frend, Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church. Oxford: Blackwell, 1965. Repinted: Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981. Pbk. ISBN: 0801035023. {}
Article W.H.C. Frend, "Prelude to the Great Persecution: The Propaganda War," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 38.1 (1987): 118.
Book or monograph John G. Gager, Kingdom and Community: The Social World of Early Christianity. Longman Higher Education, 1975. Pbk. ISBN: 0135162033. pp.158. {}
Article Mart Galli, "Is Persecution Good for the Church?" Christianity Today 41.6 (1997): 16-19.
Book or monograph Peter Garnsey, Social Status and Legal Privilege in the Roman Empire. Oxford: Clarendon, 1970. pp. xiii + 320.
Book or monograph Robert M. Grant, The Sword and the Cross. New York: Macmillan, 1955.
Article Christopher J. Haas, "Imperial Religious Policy and Valerian's Persecution of the Church, AD 257-260," Church History 52.2 (1983): 133-144.
Book or monograph Keith Hopkins, Death and Renewal: Sociological Studies in Roman History 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983. ISBN: 0521249910. pp. xx + 276. {}
Book or monograph Edelhard L. Hummel, The Concept of Martyrdom according to St. Cyprian of Carthage. Catholic University of America Studies in Christian Antiquity 9. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1946. pp. xviii + 199.
Article L.F. Janssen, "'Superstitio' and the Persecution of the Christians," Vigiliae Christianae 33.2 (1979): 131-59.
Book or monograph James S. Jeffers, Conflict in Rome: Social Order and Hierarchy in Early Christianity. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress, 1991. Pbk. ISBN: 0800624696. pp.215. {}
Article P. Keresztes, "Marcus Aurelius a Persecutor?" Harvard Theological Review 61 (1968): 321-41.
Article Paul Keresztes, "The Imperial Roman Government and the Christian Church, I. From Nero to the Severi," and "II. From Gallienus to the Great Persecution," H. Temporini & W. Haase, eds. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt, Vol. 2.23.1. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979. pp.247-315, 375-386.
Article Paul Keresztes, "From the Great Persecution to the Peace of Galerius," Vigiliae Christianae 37.4 (1983): 379-399.
Article Frederick C. Klawiter, "The Role of Matyrdom and Persecution in Developing the Priestly Authority of Women in Early Christianity: A Case Study of Montanism," Church History 49.3 (1980): 251-261.
Article Ramsey MacMullen, "Judicial Savagery in the Roman Empire," Chiron 16 (1986): 147-66.
On-line Resource Martyrs of the Early Church
On-line Resource Elmer Truesdale Merrill [1860-1936], Essays in Early Christian History. London: MacMillan & Co., Ltd., 1924. Hbk. pp.334. [This material is in the Public Domain]
Article Fergus Millar, "Condemnation to Hard Labour in the Roman Empire, from the Julio-Claudians to Constantine," Papers of the British School at Rome 52 (1984): 124-47.
Article O. Nicholson, "Flight from Persecution as Imitation of Christ," Journal of Theological Studies 40 (1989): 48-65.
Book or monograph D.W. Riddle, The Martyrs: A Study in Social Control. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931.
Article James Rives, "The Piety of a Persecutor," Journal of Early Christian Studies 4.1 (1996): 1-25.
Book or monograph Alfred C. Rush, Death and Burial in Christian Antiquity. Catholic University of Maerica Studies in Christian Antiquity 1. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1941. pp. xxviii + 282.
On-line Resource Roman Persecution of the Early Church (Adrian Russell)
Book or monograph David Seeley, The Noble Death: Graco-Roman Martyrology and Paul's Concept of Salvation. .Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplements 28. Sheffield: JSOT, 1990. Hbk. ISBN: 1850751854. pp.170. {}
Article Brent D. Shaw, "The Passion of Perpetua," Past & Present 139 (1993): 3-45.
Article A.N. Sherwin-White, "The Early Persecutions and Roman Law Again," Journal of Theological Studies, n.s., Vol. 3 (1952): 199-213.
Article A.N. Sherwin-White, "Why were the Early Christians Persecuted? An Amendment," Past & Present 27 (1964): 23-27.
Article E.M. Smallwood, "The Legislation of Hadrian and Antoninus Pius Against Circumcision," Latomus, Vol. 18 (1959): 334-347.
Article Geoffrey E.M. de Ste. Croix, "Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted?" Past and Present, Vol. 26 (1963): 6-38.
Article Geoffrey E.M. de Ste. Croix, "Why Were the Early Christians Persecuted? A Rejoiner," Past & Present 27 (1964): 28-33.
Article W. Tabbernee, "Early Montanism and Voluntary Martyrdom," Colloqium, Vol. 17 (1985): 33-44.
Article William Tabbernee, "Eusebius' Theology of Persecution: As Seen in the Various Editions of His Church History," Journal of Early Christian Studies 5.3 (1997): 319-334.
Article Justin Taylor, "'The Love of Many Will Grow Cold': Matt. 24:9-13 and the Neronian Persecution," Revue Biblique 96.3 (1989): 352-357.
Article U.C. von Wahlde, "The Theological Assessment of the First Christian Persecution: The Apostles' Prayer and Its Consequences in Acts 4:24-31," Biblica 76.4 (1995): 523-531.
On-line Resource Persecution in the Early Church (Rick Wade)
On-line Resource Why were the Early Christians Persecuted? (Stephen Walton)
Book or monograph William C. Weinrich, Spirit and Martyrdom: A Study of the Work of the Holy Spirit in Contexts of Persecution and Martyrdom in the New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1981. Hbk. ISBN: 0819116556. pp.334. {}
Article David Woods, "Two Notes on the Great Persecution," Journal of Theological Studies 43.1 (1992): 128-134.
Book or monograph Herbert Brook Workman, Persecution in the Early Church: A Chapter in the History of Renunciation, 4th edn. London: Epworth, 1923. pp.382. Reprinted: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Pbk. ISBN: 0192830252. {}
Article Andrzej Wypustek, "Magic, Montanism, Perpetua, and the Severan Persecution," Vigiliae Christianae 51.3 (1997): 276-297.

Related Subjects
Judaism | Persecution | Roman Empire

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