3rd Century

Because of problems from within and attacks from outside, this was the Century when the Roman Empire was divided in two in order to make it easier to govern. In those tense times, internal unrest was dealt with swiftly and harshly. This did not bode well for the Christians who refused to offer sacrifices to Roman gods. When brought before Roman judges, some, at the last minute, would recant; but many preferred to follow their Savior to the bitter end — meekly accepting the sharp sword of Roman justice. These acts of extreme devotion had their impact upon the Empire, resulting in the hearts of many being turned against the Emperor's brutal treatment of Christians.


Tertullian writes  his "Apology".  In this book he refutes many rumors and falsehoods about Christianity. [Read It ... if you dare] Tertullian, who lived at Carthage in northern Africa, had strong moral feelings and wrote tracts on numerous subjects — on avoiding the Roman games, on never wearing a crown, on avoiding the the Roman religion, and against heretics in general. It is believed that Tertullian lived to a great age.    [Read more ...]


Alban becomes  the 1st Martyr in Britain.  Alban, a high ranking Roman soldier, gave refuge to a Christian priest who was fleeing persecution. So impressed was he with the love and dedication of his fugitive guest, that Alban converted to Christianity. When the governor learned that Alban was harboring a Christian fugitive, he sent soldiers to haul them both in. And after rejecting all attempts for them to renounce their faith, they were beheaded. Tradition has it that Alban's judge was so moved by these events that he ordered the persecution in Britain to stop.    [Read more ...]


Origen Begins  to Write.  This man was the most important theologian, author and biblical scholar of the early Greek church. His greatest work is the Hexapla, which is a comparison of six versions of the Old Testament. These massive volumes took 20 years to complete and may have filled as many as 7,000 pages, each having six columns of parallel text.    [Read more ...]


The remains of Hippolytus  are returned to Rome for burial.  Hippolytus was both an important theologian at the Church in Rome, and a thorn in its side. He publicly opposed bishops that softened the Church's penitential system to accommodate the large number of new pagan converts. This put him at odds with the Pope, who wanted as many converts as possible. As a result Hippolytus was exiled to Sardinia in 235, where he probably slaved in the mines until his death the next year. Before he died, he must have reconciled with the Church, because they brought his body back home and gave him an honorable burial.    [Read more ...]


Most churches  have the same idea of which books  are Scripture.  Most Christian theologians of the time were probably using the same 27 books found in modern New Testament editions. There were still disputes over some books, but just a few. A document of the period shows that there existed a set of Christian writings somewhat similar to what is now the New Testament. Thus, while there was a good measure of debate in the Early Church over the New Testament canon, most major writings were accepted by most Christian Churches by the middle of the 3rd century.    [Read more ...]


Cyprian is  beheaded during Emperor Valerian's  persecution.  Cyprian was bishop of Carthage (in northern Africa) and an important Early Christian writer. Not long after his baptism he was ordained a deacon, and soon thereafter was chosen as bishop of the Church in Carthage. Not the best job choice. Roman officials soon demanded that all citizens sacrifice to the pagan gods, and Church bishops were especially targeted. Cyprian chose to go into hiding rather than face potential execution. When the Roman Governor died, Cyprian decided to return to Carthage — another bad idea. He was seized by the new governor and condemned to death.    [Read more ...]


St. Valentine is  executed in Rome.  Tradition says that Valentine was a young man with a tender heart who aided Christians who were undergoing martyrdom. He was not even a Christian at the time. Arrested for his activities, he converted to Christianity while in prison and refused to renounce it. Knowing he would be executed because of his conversion, he wrote letters to his friends saying "Remember your Valentine". He was executed on February 14th — yep, we celebrate on the date of his execution!    [Read more ...]


Diocletian divides  the Roman Empire into East and West.  When Diocletian became Emperor in 284, he saw that his vast empire was more than one person could govern. So he split the empire in half and created two equal emperors to rule under the title of Augustus. This created what would become the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. Separate Emperors remained the norm until Constantine reunited the Empire under his sole rule. [See 324]    [Read more ...]