Tuesday, 22 November 2011

"A most mischievous superstition”: Disparaging Christianity Is Not a Recent Invention

The Roman historian Tacitus thought Christianity was "a most mischievous superstition." Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

Disparaging Christianity is not a recent invention. Describing the fire that destroyed parts of Rome in AD 64, historian Cornelius Tacitus (AD 56 – ca. AD 117) characterised the early Roman followers of Christ in all but flattering terms in his book Annales:

Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.”

In our time, some atheists are walking in Tacitus’ footsteps. However, if they bothered to take a closer look at the Bible and its reliability, they might well change their mind.


Cornelius Tacitus: The Annals. Translated and edited by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb.