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Christian History Home > 1990 > Issue 27 > Persecution in the Early Church: A Christian History Timeline

Persecution in the Early Church: A Christian History Timeline
posted 7/01/1990 12:00AM

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Many dates are approximate

Persecution in the Early Church

35 Stephen martyred; Paul converted

42 Apostle James beheaded by Herod Agrippa I

49 Jews expelled from Rome (for disturbances with Christians?)

64 Nero launches persecution

65 Peter and Paul executed

80s Domitian develops emperor worship

95 Domitian executes or exiles several family members on charges of "atheism"

107 Simeon, cousin of Jesus and bishop of Jerusalem, killed for political (anti-Semitic) reasons

110 Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, martyred in Rome

112 Pliny inquires of Trajan how to treat Christians

155 (166?) Polycarp martyred

155, 160 Justin writes First and Second Apology

165 Justin martyred

177 Pogrom in Lyons and Vienne: 48 killed

178 Celsus’s True Discourse against Christians

180 12 from Scilli (N. Africa) killed

197 Tertullian writes his Apology

202 Emperor Septimius Severus forbids conversions to Christianity Judaism)

203 Origen’s father and Perpetua and Felicitas martyred, among others

211–213 North African hostilities

235–36 Emperor Maximin Thrax persecutes church leaders, including Hippolylus

248 Origen writes Against Celsus; persecutions in Alexandna

250 Emperor Decius orders universal sacrifice; church leaders arrested; Origen jailed and tortured; Pope Fabian martyred, as are bishops of Antioch and Jerusalem; Cyprian, bishop of Carthage, and Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, flee

251 Decius dies; Cyprian returns to Carthage and deals with lapsed Christians; Novationist schism

252–53 Emperor Callus revives persecutions of Decius

254 Origen, weakened from torture, dies

257–60 Emperor Valerian hounds clergy; Cyprian, Pope Sixtus II, and others martyred

261 Emperor Gallienus issues rescript ordering toleration

270s Emperor Aurelian establishes state cult of the Unconquerable Sun (birthday, Dec. 25) and threatens persecution

275 Porphyry writes Against the Christians

298–302 Christians in army forced to resign

303 Great Persecution begins February 23. Four edicts call for church buildings to be destroyed, sacred writings burned, Christians to lose civil rights, clergy to be imprisoned and forced to sacrifice, and (in 304) all people to sacrifice on pain of death

305 Diocletian and Maximian abdicate; hiatus in persecution

306 Constantine named Augustus by troops; in the East, Maximinus II renews persecution (through 310); Council of Elvira, in Spain, passes severe penalties for apostates

311 On death bed, Galerius issues edict of toleration; Maximinus II continues persecution in Egypt; Donatist schism begins

312 Constantine defeats Maxentius to take control of Western Empire

313 Constantine and Licinius meet at Milan; resulting “Edict” of Milan grants toleration of Christianity

324 Constantine defeats Licinius to become sole Roman emperor

Significant Social, Religious, and Political Events

18 Caiaphas becomes high priest

26 Pontius Pilate appointed prefect of Judea

30 Crucifixion of Jesus

39 Herod Antipas dies

43 Rome invades Britain; London founded

46–58 Paul’s missionary journeys

48 Jerusalem Council

64 Great fire in Rome

66 Jewish War begins

70 Jerusalem taken by Romans

74 Masada captured

79 Mt. Vesuvius erupts, destroying Pompeii

95? John exiled to Patmos; Book of Revelation written

101–102, 105–6 The Dacian Wars; Empire reaches greatest extent

132 Second Jewish War led by bar Kokhba (through 135)

140–160 Heretic Marcion and Gnostic teacher Valentinus active

164 Fifteen-year plague breaks out

172 Montanism, an apocalyptic movement later condemned, begins in church

195 Theological writer Tertullian converts to Montanism

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