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The Person Of Christ by Philip Schaff


Tacitus (who lived in the second half of the first and the first quarter of the second century), in giving an account of the Neronian persecution of the Christians at Rome, which occurred A.D.64, incidentally attests that Christ was put to death as a malefactor by Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius; that he was the founder of the Christian sect; that the latter took its rise in Judea, and spread, in spite of the ignominious death of Christ, and the hatred and contempt it encountered throughout the empire, so that a vast multitude (multitudo ingens) of them were most cruelly put to death in the city of Rome alone as early as the year 64. He also bears valuable testimony, in the fifth book of his History, together with Josephus, from whom he mainly, though not exclusively, takes his account, to the fulfillment of Christ's prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem, and the overthrow of the Jewish people.

Pliny the Younger, a cotemporary and friend of Tacitus and the Emperor Trajan, in his famous letter to Trajan, about 107, bears testimony to the rapid spread of Christianity in Asia Minor at that time among all ranks of society; the general moral purity and steadfastness of its professors amid cruel persecution; their mode and time of worship; their adoration of Christ as God; their observance of a |stated day,| which is undoubtedly Sunday; and other facts of importance in the early history of the Church. Trajan's rescript, in reply to Pliny's inquiry, furnishes evidence of the innocence of the Christians. He notices no charge against them except their disregard of the worship of the gods, and forbids them to be sought after.

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