Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Pliny the younger is today mostly know as a writer, foremost from his description of the Vesuvian eruption 79 Ad - he was however also among many other things a governor of Bithynia-Pontus for some time. Many of the letters that he wrote during his time there are preserved and below you'll find a passage where he ask the emperor (Trajanus) about how to deal with Christians. Notice that the crime discussed is not that some inhabitants in the area have been accused of being Christians but how they act as Christians.

An early Christian grave stone. It is not directly related to the passage below.

"Having never been present at any trials
concerning those who profess Christianity, I am unacquainted not
only with the nature of their crimes, or the measure of their
punishment, but how far it is proper to enter into an examination
concerning them. Whether, therefore, any difference is usually
made with respect to ages, or no distinction is to be observed
between the young and the adult; whether repentance entitles them
to a pardon; or if a man has been once a Christian, it avails nothing
to desist from his error; whether the very profession of
Christianity, unattended with any criminal act, or only the crimes
themselves inherent in the profession are punishable; on all these
points I am in great doubt."

Pliny the younger - Epistulae (letters)XCVII
Translated by Melmoth, W.

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