THE AGE OF MARTYRS by Giuseppe Ricciotti
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The last and most cruel of Roman persecutions against the Christians occurred during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian. Hence the appellation, ""The Age of Martyrs"" to refer to the period from Diocletian to Constantine. It is with this period in the history of Christianity that the present work deals. It considers more than the persecutions, however, going into the political and cultural background of the times and, as far as Christianity is concerned, also devoting considerable space to the Donatist and Arian heresies. It aims to give an over-all account of the period with complete scientific objectivity. The author, a renowned Italian Scripture scholar and Church historian, calls his work a critical narrative. As such, it is eminently successful. The complexities of personalities and events unfold with remarkable lucidity, masking the laborious and erudite efforts required for such an accurate and objective presentation. The personalities of Diocletian, Constantine and other important Roman rulers are analyzed impartially, and the Christian scene is depicted as it truly was. The situation was by no means the simple one of a Church of saints being persecuted by the cohorts of the devil. Fictitious martyrs and fictional anecdotes are labelled as such in this book. Corruption as well as sanctity, traitors and weak Christians as well as holy confessors are all brought into the author's picture. The book is intended for historians and generally informed people. No footnotes are employed, but an annotated list of sources is included. It is clear that only the most reliable documents have been drawn on. For a work involving such scholarship and requiring the exercise of great critical acumen, the whole proves to be both intensely interesting and readable. The orderly arrangement of the copious and complex material is deserving of the highest praise.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1959
Publisher: Bruce