Church’s Task Under the Roman Empire by Charles Bigg


This is a series of four lectures on the Church’s task of evangelising the Roman Empire. Charles Bigg [1840-1908] was Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Oxford. This title is in the public domain.

Charles Bigg [1840-1908], The Church’s Task under the Roman Empire. Four Lectures with Preface, Notes and an Excursus. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1905. Hbk. pp.136. [Click to visit the main download page]


  • Preface
  1. Education Under the Empire
  2. Religion Under the Empire
  3. Religion Under the Empire (Continued)
  4. Moral and Social Condition of the Empire
  • Excursus on Lecture IV


These four Lectures, delivered in the Oxford Schools in the Michaelmas Term of 1904, are an attempt to sketch in broad outlines the nature of the task which lay before the Church when she set out in obedience to the divine call to evangelize the Graeco-Roman world, and the degree in which she was enabled to fulfil that task within the compass of the first five centuries.

It is far too large a subject for so small a volume. On very many points I have only been able to indicate the quarters where information is to be found, and the problems that court further investigation. When I have ventured to give my own opinion it has been done, not without consideration, but briefly and rather too much ex cathedra. The reader must allow for all this. I shall be quite content if the Lectures are found to promote in any degree what is in fact their main object. [Click to visit the main download page]

William Ramsay’s The Church in the Roman Empire

William M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170William M. Ramsay’s book, The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170 is now available for free download in PDF. The map facing p.472 of the Lycus Valley in particularly useful and is reproduced at various resolutions.

This work will be of help to anyone studying Roman persecutions of the church before AD 170 and the background of Paul’s letter the Galatians and of the book of Acts.

William M. Ramsay [1851-1939], The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170, 8th edn. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1904. Hbk. pp.510. Download in PDF [8.9MB]

Map of the Lycus Valley from William M. Ramsay, The Church in the Roman Empire Before AD 170

Download at 300dpi

Download at 600dpi [right-click and “save as” if using Windows]

Table of Contents

Part I. – Earliest Stage: St. Paul In Asia Minor

Chapter I – General

  1. Plan of the Work
  2. The Travel-Document
  3. The Churches of Galatia
  4. Social Condition of Asia Minor, A. D. 50-60

Chapter II – Localities of The First Journey

  1. Pamphylia
  2. Pisidia and Ayo Paulo
  3. Pisidian Antioch
  4. Route From Antioch to Iconium
  5. Iconium
  6. Lystra
  7. Derbe
  8. Character of Lycaonia in the First Century

Chapter Ill – The First Journey as a Narrative of Travel

Chapter IV – The Second Journey

Chapter V – The Third Journey

Chapter VI – The Epistle To The Galatians

  1. Arguments Founded on the Epistle
  2. St. Paul’s Feelings Towards the Galatian Churches
  3. Arguments for the North-Gaiatian Theory
  4. Analogy of I Peter
  5. Change in the Meaning of the Name Galatia

Chapter VII – St. Paul at Ephesus

  1. Demetrius the Neopoios
  2. Acts XIX.23-41
  3. Demetrius the Neopoios and Demetrius the Silversmith
  4. Action of the Priests of Artemis
  5. Shrines of Artemis
  6. Attitude of the Ephesian Officials Towards Paul
  7. Fate of the Silver Shrines
  8. Great Artemis
  9. Text of Acts XIX.23-41
  10. Historical Character of the Narrative Acts XIX.23-41

Chapter VIII – The Original Authority for St. Paul’s Journeys: Value and Text

  1. Rapid Spread of Christianity in Asia Minor
  2. Distinction of Authorship
  3. Text of Codex. Bezae: Asia Minor
  4. Text of Codex Bezae: Europe
  5. Codex Bezae Founded on a Catholic Recension
  6. Postscript: Spitta’s Apostelgeschichte

Part II – A.D. 64-170 – Being Lectures At Mansfield College, Oxford, May & June, 1892

Chapter IX – Subject and Method

  1. Aspect of History Here Treated
  2. Connexion Between Church History and the Life of the Period
  3. The Authorities: Date
  4. The Authorities: Trustworthiness
  5. Results of Separating Church History from Imperial History
  6. The Point of View

Chapter X – Pliny’s Report and Trajan’s Rescript

  1. Preliminary Considerations
  2. The Religious Question in Bithynia-Pontus
  3. First and Second Stage of the Trials
  4. Pliny’s Attitude Towards the Christians
  5. The Case was Administrative, Not Legal
  6. Pliny’s Questions and Trajan’s Reply
  7. The Christians Were Not Punished as a Sodalitas
  8. Procedure
  9. Additional Details
  10. Recapitulation
  11. Topography

Chapter XI – The Action of Nero Towards the Christians

  1. Tacitus Annals XV.44
  2. The Evidence of Suetonius
  3. First Stage in Nero’s Action
  4. Second Stage: Charge of hostility to Society
  5. Crime Which the Christians Confessed
  6. Character, Duration, and Extent of the Neronian Persecution
  7. Principle of Nero’s Action
  8. Evidence of Christian Documents

Chapter XII – The Flavian Policy Towards the Church

  1. Tacitus’ Conception of The Flavian Policy
  2. Confirmation of Nero’s Policy by Vespasian
  3. The Persecution of Domitian
  4. Bias of Dion Cassius
  5. Difference of Policy Towards Jews and Christians
  6. The Executions of A.D. 95 An Incident of the General Policy
  7. The Evidence of Suetonius About the Executions Of A.D. 95-271
  8. The Flavian Action Was Political in Character

Chapter XIII – Christian Authorities for the Flavian Period

  1. The First Epistle of Peter
  2. Later Date Assigned to I Peter
  3. Official Action Implied in I Peter
  4. The Evidence of the Apocalypse
  5. The First Epistle of John
  6. Hebrews and Barnabas
  7. The Epistle of Clement
  8. The Letters of Ignatius

Chapter XIV – The Policy of Hadrian, Pius, and Marcus

  1. Hadrian
  2. Pius
  3. Marcus Aurelius
  4. The Apologists

Chapter XV – Cause and Extent of Persecution

  1. Popular Hatred of the Christians
  2. Real Cause of State Persecution
  3. Organisation of the Church

Chapter XVI – The Acta of Paul and Thekla

  1. The Acta in Their Extant Form
  2. Queen Tryphaena
  3. Localities·of the Tale of Thekla
  4. The Trials at Iconium
  5. The Trial of Thekla at Antioch
  6. Punishment and Escape of Thekla
  7. The Original Tale of Thekla
  8. Revision of the Tale of Thekla, A. D. 130-50
  9. The Iconian Legend of Thekla

Chapter XVII – The Church From I20 To 170 A.D.

Chapter XVIII – Glycerius the Deacon

Chapter XIX – The Miracle at Khonai

Addenda to the Fourth Edition