The letters of Pliny the Younger to the Roman Emperor Trajan serve as an important witness to the practices of early Christianity
In the first article on this topic, we saw how the writings of Tacitus corroborate the details of Christ’s death. In this post, rather than extra-Biblical attestation of Christ we will explore some historical evidence for the early practices of Christian worshipers.
Pliny the Younger
Pliny the Younger was governor of Pontus/Bithynia from 111-113 AD. He wrote many letters, including ones to the Roman Emperor Trajan, who reigned from 98–117 AD. In what is classified as Letters 10.96-97, we read:
Pliny to the Emperor Trajan It is my practice, my lord, to refer to you all matters concerning which I am in doubt. For who can better give guidance to my hesitation or inform my ignorance? I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent. And I have been not a little hesitant as to whether there should be any distinction on account of age or no difference between the very young and the more mature; whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished.