Hallo!

Hallo to you! Get the essay up!~Steven
By the way, don't forget to add a few pictures...three or four will do.
Eilos, i will have the pictures up by tomorrow ...i believe this is it check over it to see if i messed up on anything.~mason


Introduction
The strength of a man with conviction in his beliefs can be one of the most powerful strengths known to mankind. When the Romans, for instance, were torturing and executing Christians for treason against the empire and rejection of the Roman gods, a certain man named Probius was arrested. He was commanded to renounce his faith in his God, Jesus, and instead sacrifice to the Roman gods. When he refused, he was scourged and imprisoned. A few days later, the Roman soldiers repeated their demands. This is what Probius said:“I have come better prepared than before, for what I have suffered has only strengthened me in my resolution. Employ your whole power upon me, and you shall find that neither you, nor the Emperor, nor the gods you serve, nor even the devil, who is your father, shall compel me to worship idols.” This was the strength of the martyrs: an unswerving devotion to their God and a courage that stood unbroken by trials and tortures. Even though innocent Christians were executed and punished brutally, they were not remembered for their submission, but instead for the powerful example they laid out for others and for the powerful impact they had on the world.

Reason for Persecution

The Christians were persecuted for several reasons. One reason the Christians were persecuted was that they were monotheistic. Almost all religions during the Roman Empire were polytheistic. The Christian doctrine of one God frightened and confused other Romans. Usually, Romans were tolerant of other beliefs; they all believed what they wished while still respecting other religions. The Christians, however, denounced the Roman gods and their power. The Romans feared that their gods would become angry because of the Christian disbelief. Also, because of their monotheistic beliefs, the Christians also refused to worship the other Romans saw the Christians as treasonous and antipatriotic. This leads into another cause for persecution: the Christians seemed to be disloyal to the Roman Empire. Since Christians believed in peace, they declined to serve in the army. They also did not run for government, since the Christians believed that with power came temptation and sin. Additionally, the Romans were confused by the Christian lifestyle. The way of life at the time was self-centered and extravagant. Romans lived to please themselves. However, the Christians gave all their money to the church and to the poor. They also disliked violence and disregarded the society’s hierarchies; the rich in the church consorted with the poor, where in Roman society there was a wide gap between the patricians and the plebeians. The Christians were also widely unpopular because many of them were poor or slaves. Romans were confused, too, by the terminology the Christians used; “born again”, “partaking of the flesh and blood of Christ”, and “love” were terms that were misunderstood by other Romans. Indeed, many Romans believed that the Christian worship service consisted of promiscuous sex and cannibalism. Additionally, Emperor Nero had burned down a section of Rome and blamed it on the Christians. Although the Christians were innocent, the emotions surrounding the incident made Romans suspicious of Jews. The reasons the Romans persecuted the Christians were fear and misunderstanding.
Not only were the Christians persecuted by the Romans, but also by their own race, the Jews. The Jews saw the Christians as heretics; they claimed Jesus was not God, and were appalled that the Christians stopped sacrificing to God and worshipping with other Jews. As a result, the Jews tried to get the Christians in trouble with Roman government, claiming they led wild sex lives, ate human flesh, and even murdered innocent people. The Jews did anything they could to get rid of the blasphemous Christians.
As a result, the Christians suffered in many ways, both at the hands of the Romans and the Jews.

Types of Persecution

During the time of Nero, for instance, Christians would often be torched; or, more specifically, become torches. Nero, who was quoted as saying that Rome was “a bunch of necks, waiting to be chopped”, would coat Christians with tar, hang them on poles, and set them aflame to light gladiatorial games, the city, and his garden. As he walked through the garden, he would occasionally whip out his sword and stab a still-breathing Christian in the groin, just for fun. Yet Christians continued to meet and worship their God.
Christians were also rounded up and used for entertainment in the gladiatorial games. However, the Romans soon found that even pitted against wild animals and other gladiators, the Christians would refuse to engage in violence. Another method of execution was crucifiction. The Romans would hang Christians by their arms and legs on giant wooden crosses until they suffocated to death. Instead of despairing, the Christians found great joy in being punished in the same manner as their savior, Jesus Christ.
To punish Christians, Romans also had them scourged and beaten. All throughout the beatings, the Romans would attempt to make the Christians renounce their faith. The Romans were surprised; instead of the Christians crying out or turning against Christ, the Christians would smile and sing. The Romans tried everything: boiling water, slicing with knives, stretching on the rack…the Christians’ devotion to their God was so great that they withstood the greatest pain and torture.
The Christians were also persecuted by their own countrymen, the Jews. Christians would be stoned by their own families, pushed off tall buildings by their own friends, and dragged through the city until all their skin had been ripped off. Yet the Christians were not discouraged; they continued to minister to their fellow Jews and to spread their doctrine.

Results of Persecution

Though the punishments for being a Christian were harsh, more and more people became Christians. The magic of the persecutions was this: the attempts to crush Christianity only made more people come to Christ.
One reason is this: when Christians saw the courage of the martyrs, they were sparked into action. The bravery of other Christians inspired other Christians to share their doctrine, no matter the cost. As a result, more and more Christians sprung up within Rome.
And, conversely, there were the cowardice Christians, who, when hearing of the painful deaths of Christians, fled far from the Roman Empire into distant nations. Once safe, they would spread the Christian doctrine, making large churches far from Rome.
The persecution of Christians also affected Romans. Some Romans pitied the Christians. They felt sympathetic for the church, and began to talk to other Christians, who would lead the Romans into the church where they would become Christians. There were also the Romans in awe of the courage of the martyrs, and, curious, they would go to a church to find the answer.

Famous Martyrs

How powerful could a story be? Incredibly powerful. The stories of the martyrs were awe inspiring and inspirational.
Take, for example, the Thundering Legion, made all of Christians. The Thundering Legion, or Legio XII Fulminata, was a division in the Roman army serving under the emperor Marcus Aurelius himself. During a campaign against the Germans, the Roman army was trapped in the mountains without water and surrounded by the opposing army. In desperation, the leader of the army prayed and sacrificed to the Roman gods, but to no avail. The Thundering Legion then asked for permission to pray to the God of the Christians. Having received consent, they all knelt and prayed. Some time soon after, thunder clouds gathered over the mountain, striking the ground with lightning and showering the troops with torrents of rain. The lightning drove off the opposing army and the Roman soldiers drank water and rejoiced. Years passed, and a new emperor succeeded Marcus Aurelius. The emperor, a persecutor of Christians, commanded the forty remaining members of the Thundering Legion to sacrifice to the Roman gods. The Thundering Legion was offered money and fame, then tortures and death. The legion resolutely refused, and Camdidus, a soldier in the legion, gave the following response: “You offer us with money that remains behind and glory that fades away. You seek to make us friends of the Emperor, but alienate us from the true King…You threaten fearful torments and call our godliness a crime, but you will not find us fainthearted or attached to this life or easily stricken with terror. For the love of God, we are prepared to endure any kind of torture.” As a result, the emperor stripped the soldiers of their clothing and forced them into the middle of a frozen lake. If the soldiers renounced Christ, they would be allowed to return to the shores of the lake where heated baths awaited them. If they refused…then they would die a slow, torturous death. Amazingly, however, the legion stood firm. Only one man deserted, and he was promptly replaced by a man on the shore, who had become a Christian due to the legion’s show of courage.
An eighty-six year old Christian by the name of Polycarp was arrested for being a Christian. Standing trial in the middle of a gladitorial arena, a Roman governor threatened to execute Polycarp by fire and animals unless he recanted his beliefs. Polycarp responded thusly: “Bring on the beasts, or the fire, or whatever you choose; you shall not move me to deny Christ, my Lord and Savior.” The governor ordered him burned at the stake, but according to witnesses, he was “not as burning flesh but as gold and silver refined in a furnace.”
Perhaps, however, the most inspiring stories were those of Jesus’ closest followers, the apostles. Traveling the whole known world, the apostles raised churches and spread news of Jesus.
After several years of spreading the gospel, James (the brother of John) was arrested for being a leader of the Christian church. As he was sentenced, however, the man who arrested him was astounded by James’ courage in death, and quickly became a Christian. Both James and the man who arrested him were executed together.
Peter headed the Church after Jesus returned to Heaven, and continued teaching for over thirty years. When Nero put out an order for his arrest and execution, Peter willingly went with the Roman soldiers. He requested to be crucified upside-down, saying that he didn’t deserve to die in the same manner as Jesus.
Andrew, Peter’s brother, approached a Roman governor to try to put an end to Christian persecution. He was arrested and sentenced to death by crucifiction. For all three days he hung on the cross, he preached to the people around him.
Philip taught the gospel as he traveled through Turkey before he was brutally executed by idol-woshippers.
After writing his account of Jesus’ life, Matthew began his ministry in Africa. There he was arrested, pinned to the ground with spears, and decapitiated.
Jude traveled through the middle east, preaching and converting many men. Finally, non-Christian priests beat Jude to death for taking followers from the heathen temples.
Simon the Zealot traveled all throughout the Roman Empire, from England to Africa to the easternmost regions of Rome in India. There is controversy over whether he was crucified in Syria or in Great Britain.
James, Jesus’ younger brother, headed a church in Jerusalem and preached for over thirty years. When he was finally arrested to be executed by the Pharisees, he was brought to the roof of the temple. When the Pharisees demanded that James deny that Jesus was God, he instead began to preach to the gathered crowd. The Pharisees quickly pushed James from the roof, and after he survived the fall, they stoned him to death as he prayed.
Bartholomew preached througout Turkey, India, and finally Armenia. There, as he preached to the Armenian king himself, he was beaten, hung, and skinned. even as they tried to kill him, he continued to preach to the watching people. Finally, the king had a man behead Bartholomew.
Thomas preached throughout Africa and India until sun-worshipping priests killed him with fire and spears.
Paul originally was a persecuter of Christians, but was miraculously converted. He quickly became one of the most powerful Christian leaders, taking care of many of the churches around Rome and Greece. Every time he was arrested, God helped him escape. He was, however, beaten and scourged many times. In a letter to a church in Corinth, Greece, he writes this: “Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers, in hard work and toil, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing.” When he was finally arrested for good, he continued to send letters to the churches in the area and preach to his own guards. He was finally beheaded.

Conclusion

Because of the sacrifices of the martyrs, the Christian church lives on today. In fact, were it not for the martyrs, Christianity might have dropped into insignificance. Instead, it is one of today’s dominant religions.
Perhaps, the strength of the martyrs and the growth of Christianity in such harsh conditions shows that Christianity is the true religion. The manner in which Christianity flourished during a period of trials and the steadfast courage of the martyrs both may be called miracles. In Second Corinthians, a letter from Paul to the church in Corinth, Paul writes that God has told him this: “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” The strength of the martyrs was not only the power of a man defending his beliefs; it was the power of God holding up a weak man.
The legacy of the martyrs still awes many Christians today. However, many Christians miss the point of the stories. The role of the Christian is not to simply learn and sit complacently; it is to minister to others so flambuoyantly that others will notice. And if this lifestyle leads to death, so be it. Perhaps the spirit of the martyrs can be summed up in the words of Paul: “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”

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Bibliography


Primary Sources

The Holy Bible, NET Bible Version. 1996. Biblical Studies Press, 2005. 15 Jan.2007 <http://www.bible.org>. This source provided first-person accounts of the persecution of the Christians, and the Christian ideas and philosophies born from and regarding the persecution.

The Voice of the Martyrs, et al. Jesus Freaks. Vol. 1. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1999. This source provided the stories of many martyrs, as well as quotes from the martyrs themselves.

The Voice of the Martyrs, et al. Jesus Freaks. Vol. 2. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 2002. This source provided the stories of many martyrs, as well as quotes from the martyrs themselves.

Secondary Sources

Adkins, Lesley, and Roy Adkins. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome. 1994. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. This source provided the stories of certain martyrs.

Boatwright, Mary T, Daniel J Gargola, and Richard J.A. Talbert. The Romans: From Village to Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. This source provided the Roman side of the persecution, which was useful in seeing both sides of the issue.

John, Kirby T. Roman Republic and Empire, 264 B.C.E.-476 C.E. World Eras 3. Detroit: Gale Group, 2001. This source provided the Roman side of the persecution, as well as a complete letter to Trajan regarding the persecutions.

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Christian Martyr Project—Process Paper
Steven Leong

The idea of writing about Christian martyrs during the Roman Empire came to mind while walking home from church one day. I had been thinking on the subject, since it had been spoken on at church, when I realized that it would work perfectly for the project. The Christians had been tragically persecuted, but the many conversions that led from the persecutions were triumphs. Triumph and tragedy! I immediately began thinking about how to organize the essay.
As soon as I could, I headed to the library to begin my research. I soon found that there weren’t many books written on the specific subject of Christian martyrs—the closest I could find were the few church history books that touched on the subject. I decided to try searching under a different subject—Roman society after the death of Jesus. This yielded enough sources for me to get a good idea of what kinds of persecutions were going on and when they occurred. I also found a new side to the story—the Roman side. I had only thought about the Christian point of view before conducting research. This led me to change the outline of my essay to include the Roman perspective and their thoughts on Christianity.
The Christian perspective came from some books I already had at home: two collections of documentation of martyrs from the Roman Empire to present day, and, of course, the Bible.
Having gathered and read these resources, I quickly wrote the original paper.
The idea to submit the paper in the form of a webpage came from my teacher, who thought that including images would help convey the ideas of my paper, and also wanted me to work with another student.