I Am A Christian: Authentic Accounts of Christian Martyrdom and Persecution from the Ancient Sources (Paperback)
"Jesus never existed."
"The Bible is a book of fairy tales."
"Accounts of Christian persecution are fables."
Christians of today face accusations of this type on a regular basis. These charges gain traction in the modern world because the average person has practically no knowledge of the Church's ancient past. I Am A Christian: Authentic Accounts of Christian Martyrdom and Persecution from the Ancient Sources aims to remedy this deficiency by providing a collection of the earliest and most trustworthy eye-witness accounts from Roman antiquity.
When Christianity began to spread throughout the Roman world, an insatiable demand erupted for literature relating to Christ, the Apostles and the earliest saints. Fascinated by their new faith, the catechumens wanted details about their predecessors who had suffered and died decades or centuries before. To obtain this information, legal records--which the Romans meticulously kept --were investigated. In several cases, the transcripts of the actual trials of the martyrs were discovered and included within the written acts and deeds of the saints. It is these types of records which form the core of this book.
The works collected in this little book are especially valuable because they are survivors. During the last great Roman persecution in the early 4th century AD, the emperor Diocletian decreed that all Christian literature be burned--Sacred Scripture, theological works, lives of the saints, everything. What remains to us are the relatively few ancient works that slipped through the persecutor's grasp. These include numerous obscure but fascinating works that even the most informed Christians know little about, such as the Apology and Acts of Apollonius, the passion of Saint Saturninus, the poems of Prudentius, the epitaphs of Damasus, and many, many others.
Taken together, these works form a glorious record of early Christian zeal and fortitude in the face of aggressive state persecution. When reading them, one notices a common refrain: when questioned, the accused would cry out: "I am a Christian," which was the equivalent of saying, "I am guilty as charged." In an era when such an admission carried a death sentence, these authentic testimonies provide a convincing answer to the modern skeptics who will find them as baffling as did the ancient Roman emperors, proconsuls and magistrates of nearly two millennia ago.