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decidedly hostile

The first Roman writers to notice the Christians, from early in the 2nd century AD, are far from complimentary. The following comments, in sequence, are by Tacitus, Suetonius, Celsus, Lucian and Pliny the Younger:

'There is a group, hated for their abominations, called Christians by the people. Christus, from whom the name comes, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our officials, Pontius Pilate.'

'The Christians are a class of men given to a new and wicked superstition.'

'They worship to an extravagant degree this man who appeared recently. They are like frogs holding a symposium round a swamp, debating which of them is the most sinful.'

'The poor wretches have convinced themselves that they are going to be immortal and live for all time, by worshipping that crucified sophist and living under his laws. Therefore, they despise the things of this world, and consider them common property. They receive these doctrines by tradition, without any definite evidence.'

'It is their habit, on a fixed day, to assemble before daylight and to recite by turns a form of words to Christ as a god. The contagion of this perverse and extravagant superstition has penetrated not the cities only, but the villages and the country. Yet it seems possible to stop it and set it right.'

Quoted Bamber Gascoigne The Christians, Cape 1977, page 12

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