PLINY THE YOUNGER
Pliny the Younger, who lived from 61 to 113 AD, served as a governor under Emperor Trajan. He wrote hundreds of letters that still exist today. Pliny the Younger’s letters have furthered our understanding of Roman society and history. His letters also confirm Jesus’s life and that His followers believed He was God from the beginning of the Christian movement.
Pliny the Younger’s writings provide one of the first non-biblical texts to address early Christians and Rome’s response to them. He confirmed that Christianity was growing rapidly and holding to specific beliefs. Pliny the Younger stated that Christians prayed to Jesus like God. He also wrote: “They [the Christians] were in the habit of meeting on a certain fixed day before it was light, when they sang in alternate verses a hymn to Christ, as to a god, and bound themselves by solemn oath, not to any wicked deeds, but never to commit any fraud, theft or adultery, never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then reassemble to partake of food—but food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
Pliny the Younger expressed uncertainty about what to do with these Christians who did not worship Roman gods, but their God alone, thus rejecting Roman rule. As a governor, he asked Emperor Trajan how he should deal with them if they disobeyed Roman authority and religious practices. Pliny the Younger did not actively seek out Christians to persecute them, but if they were presented to him, he would kill them for remaining faithful to their Christian beliefs over Roman rule.