Christianity in Third-Century Alexandria

Larry Hurtado's Blog

A gem of an essay not often noted today on Christianity in third-century Alexandria: Aline Rousselle, “La persécution des chrétiens à Alexandrie au IIIe siècle,” Revue historique de droit français et étranger 52 (1974): 222-51.

Rousselle considers the references to how Christians were treated, with particular focus on the difficulties experienced in response to imperial edicts in 202 (Septimius Severus), 250 (Decius), and 257 (Valerian).  She highlights the different punishments meted out to various Christians, and proposes that they reflect Roman judicial policy, in which distinctions were made between Roman citizens, Alexandrian citizens, and mere (!) Egyptians.  This means that we can identify the social ranks of the various Christians by looking at the punishments they were given.  Some, especially among the higher clergy it seems, suffered punishments that correspond with higher “honourable” social levels.  This tallies with other indications that by the third century (and likely well before that)…

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