Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria
The Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria is an Oriental Orthodox Christian church based in Egypt and the Middle East. The head of the Church and the See of Alexandria is the Patriarch of Alexandria on the Holy See of Saint Mark, who carries the title of Coptic Pope; the See of Alexandria is titular, today the Coptic Pope presides from Saint Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in the Abbassia District in Cairo. The church follows the Alexandrian Rite for its liturgy and devotional patrimony. With 18–22 million members worldwide, whereof about 15 to 20 million are in Egypt, it is the country's largest Christian church. According to its tradition, the Coptic Church was established by Saint Mark, an apostle and evangelist, during the middle of the 1st century. Due to disputes concerning the nature of Christ, it split from the rest of the Christendom after the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451, resulting in a rivalry with the Byzantine Orthodox Church. In the 4–7th centuries the Coptic Church expanded due to the Christianization of the Aksumite empire and of two of the three Nubian kingdoms and Alodia, while the third Nubian kingdom, recognized the Coptic patriarch after being aligned to the Byzantine Orthodox Church.
After AD 639 Egypt was ruled by its Islamic conquerors from Arabia, the treatment of the Coptic Christians ranged from tolerance to open persecution. In the 12th century, the church relocated its seat from Alexandria to Cairo; the same century saw the Copts become a religious minority. During the 14th and 15th centuries, Nubian Christianity was supplanted by Islam. In 1959, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was granted independence; this was extended to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church in 1998 following the successful Eritrean War of Independence from Ethiopia. Since the Arab Spring in 2011, the Copts have been suffering increased religious discrimination and violence; the Egyptian Church is traditionally believed to be founded by St Mark at around AD 42, regards itself as the subject of many prophecies in the Old Testament. Isaiah the prophet, in Chapter 19, Verse 19 says "In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, a pillar to the LORD at its border".
The first Christians in Egypt were common people. There were Alexandrian Jewish people such as Theophilus, whom Saint Luke the Evangelist addresses in the introductory chapter of his gospel; when the church was founded by Saint Mark during the reign of the Roman emperor Nero, a great multitude of native Egyptians embraced the Christian faith. Christianity spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Saint Mark's arrival in Alexandria, as is clear from the New Testament writings found in Bahnasa, in Middle Egypt, which date around the year AD 200, a fragment of the Gospel of John, written in Coptic, found in Upper Egypt and can be dated to the first half of the 2nd century. In the 2nd century, Christianity began to spread to the rural areas, scriptures were translated into the local languages, namely Coptic; the Coptic language is a universal language used in Coptic churches in every country. It uses Greek letters. Many of the hymns in the liturgy have been passed down for several thousand years.
The language is used to preserve Egypt's original language, banned by the Arab invaders, who ordered Arabic to be used instead. Some examples of these hymns are Coptic: translit. Ep.ouro, lit.'The King',Coptic: Ⲉⲕⲥⲙⲁⲣⲱⲟⲩⲧ, translit. Ek.esmaro'oot, lit.' Blessed', Coptic: Ⲧⲁⲓϣⲟⲩⲣⲏ, translit. Tai.shouri, lit.'This Censer', many more. The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world. St. Jerome records. Around AD 190, under the leadership of the scholar Pantanaeus, the school of Alexandria became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as Athenagoras, Clement and the native Egyptian Origen, considered the father of theology and, active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. Many scholars such as Jerome visited the school of Alexandria to exchange ideas and to communicate directly with its scholars; the scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects. The question-and-answer method of commentary began there, 15 centuries before Braille, wood-carving techniques were in use there by blind scholars to read and write.
The Theological college of the catechetical school was re-established in 1893. The new school has campuses in Ireland, New Jersey, Los Angeles, where Coptic priests-to-be and other qualified men and women are taught among other subjects Christian theology, the Coptic language and art – including chanting, music and tapestry. Many Egyptian Christians went to the desert during the 3rd century, remained there to pray and work and dedicate their lives to seclusion and worship of God; this was the beginning of the monastic movement, organized by Anthony the Great, Saint Paul of Thebes, the world's first anchorite, Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Pachomius the Cenobite in the 4th century. Christian monasticism was born in Egypt and was instrumental in the formation of the Coptic Orthodox Church character of submission and humility, thanks to the teachings and writings of the Great Fathers of Egypt's Deserts. By the end of the 5th century, the
Oriental Orthodoxy is the fourth largest communion of Christian churches, with about 76 million members worldwide. As one of the oldest religious institutions in the world, it has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Armenia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and parts of the Middle East and India. An Eastern Christian communion of autocephalous churches, its bishops are equal by virtue of episcopal ordination, its doctrines can be summarised in that the communion recognizes the validity of only the first three ecumenical councils; the Oriental Orthodox communion is composed of six autocephalous churches: the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Collectively, they consider themselves to be the One, Holy and Apostolic church founded by Jesus Christ in his Great Commission, that its bishops are the successors of Christ's apostles.
Most member churches are part of the World Council of Churches. All member churches share a identical theology, with the distinguishing feature being Miaphysitism. Three different rites are practiced in the communion: the western-influenced Armenian Rite, the West Syrian Rite of the two Syriac churches, the Alexandrian Rite of the Copts and Eritreans. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, the Oriental Orthodox churches separated from the Imperial Roman Church over differences in Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy developed distinctively under the Patriarchate of Alexandria in Egypt part of the Pentarchy, the only episcopal see besides the Holy See to maintain the title "Pope"; the majority of Oriental Orthodox Christians live in Egypt, Ethiopia and Armenia, with smaller Syriac communities living in the Middle East–decreasing due to persecution–and India. There are many in other parts of the world, formed through diaspora and missionary activity; the Oriental Orthodox churches are distinguished by their recognition of only the first three ecumenical councils during the period of the State church of the Roman Empire –the First Council of Nicaea in 325, the First Council of Constantinople in 381 and the Council of Ephesus in 431.
Oriental Orthodoxy shares much theology and many ecclesiastical traditions with the Eastern Orthodox Church. The primary theological difference between the two communions is the differing Christology. Oriental Orthodoxy rejects the Chalcedonian Definition, instead adopts the Miaphysite formula, believing that the human and divine natures of Christ are united; the early prelates of the Oriental Orthodox churches thought that the Chalcedonian Definition implied a possible repudiation of the Trinity or a concession to Nestorianism. Other differences include minor deviations in social teaching and different views on ecumenism. Oriental Orthodox churches are considered to be more conservative with regard to social issues as well more enthusiastic about ecumenical relations with non-Orthodox churches; the break in communion between the Imperial Roman and Oriental Orthodox churches did not occur but rather over 2-3 centuries following the Council of Chalcedon. The two communions developed separate institutions, the Oriental Orthodox did not participate in any of the ecumenical councils.
The Oriental Orthodox churches maintain their own ancient apostolic succession. The various churches are governed by holy synods, with a primus inter pares bishop serving as primate; the primates hold titles like patriarch and pope. Among these patriarchs, the Pope of Alexandria takes precedence, is sometimes considered the "face" of Oriental Orthodoxy; the Alexandrian Patriarchate, along with Rome and Antioch, was one of the most prominent sees of the early Christian Church, contains a majority population of Coptic Christians, unlike Antioch is still a major population center. That said, the Pope of Alexandria has no governing powers with respect to the non-Coptic churches. Oriental Orthodoxy does not have a magisterial leader like the Roman Catholic Church, nor does the communion have a leader who can convene ecumenical synods like the Eastern Orthodox Church; the schism between Oriental Orthodoxy and the adherents of Chalcedonian Christianity was based on differences in Christology. The First Council of Nicaea, in 325, declared that Jesus Christ is God, to say, "consubstantial" with the Father.
The third ecumenical council, the Council of Ephesus, declared that Jesus Christ, though divine as well as human, is only one being, or person. Thus, the Council of Ephesus explicitly rejected Nestorianism, the Christological doctrine that Christ was two distinct beings, one divine and one human, who happened to inhabit the same body; the churches that became Oriental Orthodoxy were anti-Nestorian, therefore supported the decisions made at Ephesus. Twenty years after Ephesus, the Council of Chalcedon reaffirmed the view that Jesus Christ was a single person, but at the same time declared that this one person existed "in two complete natures", one human and one divine; those who opposed Chalcedon saw this as a concession to Nestorianism, or as a conspiracy to convert the Church to Nestorianism by stealth. As a result, over the following decades, they separated from communion with those who accepted the Council of Chalcedon, formed the body, today called Oriental Orthodoxy. At times, Chalcedonian Christians have referre
The Maccabees spelled Machabees, were a group of Jewish rebel warriors who took control of Judea, which at the time was part of the Seleucid Empire. They founded the Hasmonean dynasty, which ruled from 167 BCE to 37 BCE, being a independent kingdom from about 110 to 63 BCE, they reasserted the Jewish religion by forced conversion, expanded the boundaries of Judea by conquest and reduced the influence of Hellenism and Hellenistic Judaism. The name Maccabee is used as a synonym for the entire Hasmonean dynasty, but the Maccabees proper were Judah Maccabee and his four brothers; the name Maccabee was a personal epithet of Judah, the generations were not his direct descendants. One explanation of the name's origins is that it derives from the Aramaic maqqəḇa, "the hammer", in recognition of Judah's ferocity in battle; the traditional Jewish explanation is that Maccabee is an acronym for the Torah verse, the battle-cry of the Maccabees, "Mi chamocha ba'elim YHWH", "Who is like You among the heavenly powers, Lord!", as well as an acronym for "Matityahu haKohen ben Yochanan.
The correlating Torah verse Exodus 15:11, The song of Moses and the Children of Israel by the Sea, makes a reference to elim, with a mundane notion of natural forces, heavenly might and governmental powers. The scholar and poet Aaron Kaminka argues that the name is a corruption of Machbanai, a leading commando in the army of King David. In the 2nd century BCE, Judea lay between the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Seleucid empire, monarchies which had formed following the death of Alexander the Great. Judea had come under Ptolemaic rule, but fell to the Seleucids around 200 BCE. Judea at that time had been affected by the Hellenization initiated by Alexander the Great; some Jews those of the urban upper class, notably the Tobiad family, wished to dispense with Jewish law and to adopt a Greek lifestyle. According to the historian Victor Tcherikover, the main motive for the Tobiads' Hellenism was economic and political; the Hellenizing Jews built a gymnasium in Jerusalem, competed in international Greek games, "removed their marks of circumcision and repudiated the holy covenant".
When Antiochus IV Epiphanes became ruler of the Seleucid Empire in 175 BCE, Onias III held the office of High Priest in Jerusalem. To Antiochus, the High Priest was a local governor within his realm, a man whom he could appoint or dismiss at will, while orthodox Jews saw the holder of the High Priesthood as divinely appointed. Jason, the brother of Onias, bribed Antiochus to make him High Priest instead of Onias. Jason abolished the traditional theocracy and "received from Antiochus permission to convert Jerusalem into a Greek polis called Antioch". In turn, Menelaus bribed Antiochus and was appointed High Priest in place of Jason. Menelaus had Onias assassinated. Menelaus' brother Lysimachus stole holy vessels from the Temple. Menelaus was arrested for Onias' murder, was arraigned before Antiochus, but he bribed his way out of trouble. Jason subsequently became High Priest again. Antiochus pillaged the Temple, attacked Jerusalem and "led captive the women and children". From this point onwards, Antiochus pursued a zealous Hellenizing policy in the Seleucid satrapies of Coele Syria and Phoenicia.
The author of the First Book of Maccabees regarded the Maccabean revolt as a rising of pious Jews against the Seleucid king and against the Jews who supported him. The author of the Second Book of Maccabees presented the conflict as a struggle between "Judaism" and "Hellenism", concepts which he coined. Most modern scholars argue that King Antiochus reacted to a civil war between traditionalist Jews in the Judean countryside and Hellenized Jews in Jerusalem, though the king's response of persecuting the religious traditionalists was unusual in antiquity, was the immediate provocation for the revolt. According to Joseph P. Schultz, modern scholarship "considers the Maccabean revolt less as an uprising against foreign oppression than as a civil war between the orthodox and reformist parties in the Jewish camp", but John J. Collins writes that while the civil war between Jewish leaders led to the king's new policies, it is wrong to see the revolt as a conflict between Hellenism and Judaism, since "he revolt was not provoked by the introduction of Greek customs but by the persecution of people who observed the Torah by having their children circumcised and refusing to eat pork."
In the conflict over the office of High Priest, traditionalists with Hebrew/Aramaic names like Onias contested with Hellenizers with Greek names like Jason and Menelaus. Some scholars point to economic factors in the conflict. What began as a civil war took on the character of an invasion when the Hellenistic kingdom of Syria sided with the Hellenizing Jews against the traditionalists; as the conflict escalated, Antiochus prohibited the practices of the traditionalists, thereby, in a departure from usual Seleucid practice, banning the religion of an entire people. The motives of Antiochus remain unclear: he may have been incensed at the overthrow of his appointee, Menelaus, or - encouraged by a group of radical Hellenizers among the Jews, he may have been responding to an orthodox Jewish revolt that drew on the Temple and the Torah for its strength. Other scholars argue that, while the rising began as a religious rebellion, it was transformed into a war of national liberation. According to 1 Maccabees, Antiochus bann
Hellenization or Hellenisation is the historical spread of ancient Greek culture, religion and, to a lesser extent, over foreign peoples conquered by Greeks or brought into their sphere of influence during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BC. The result of Hellenization was that elements of Greek origin combined in various forms and degrees with local elements. In modern times, Hellenization has been associated with the adoption of modern Greek culture and the ethnic and cultural homogenization of Greece; the first known use of verb "to Hellenize" is by Thucydides, who wrote that the Amphilochian Argives were linguistically Hellenized by the Ambraciots. It is used in 2 Maccabees and the Book of Acts The precise meaning is disputed but scholars believe the meaning of the word was not limited to "Greek-speaking". By the 4th century BC the process of Hellenization had started in southwestern Anatolia's Lycia and Pisidia regions.. When it was advantageous to do so, places like Side and Aspendos invented Greek-themed origin myths.
Like the Argeads, the Antigonids claimed descent from Heracles, the Seleucids from Apollo, the Ptolemies from Dionysus. The Seuthopolis inscription was influential in the modern study of Thrace; the inscription mentions Dionysus and some Samothracian gods. Scholars have interpreted the inscription as evidence of Hellenization in inland Thrace during the early Hellenisitc, but this has been challenged by recent scholarship. Hellenization, had its limitations. For example, areas of southern Syria that were affected by Greek culture entailed Seleucid urban centres, where Greek was spoken; the countryside, on the other hand, was unaffected, with most of its inhabitants speaking Syriac and clinging to their native traditions. Archaeological evidence alone gives only an incomplete picture of Hellenization. Thus, literary sources are used to help researchers interpret archaeological findings. In 1909, a commission appointed by the Greek government reported that a third of the villages of Greece should have their names changed because of their non-Greek origin.
In other instances, names were changed from a contemporary name of Greek origin to the ancient Greek name. Some village names were formed from a Greek root word with a foreign vice versa. Most of the name changes took place in areas populated by ethnic Greeks in which a strata of foreign or divergent toponyms had accumulated over the centuries. However, in some parts of northern Greece, the population was not Greek-speaking, many of the former toponyms had reflected the diverse ethnic and linguistic origins of their inhabitants; the process of the change of toponyms in modern Greece has been described as a process of Hellenization. A modern use is in connection with policies pursuing "cultural harmonization and education of the linguistic minorities resident within the modern Greek state": the Hellenization of minority groups in modern Greece; the term Hellenisation is used in the context of Greek opposition to the use of the Macedonian language in the Greek province of MacedoniaIn 1870, the Greek government abolished all Italian schools in the Ionian islands, annexed to Greece six years earlier.
That led to the diminution of the community of Corfiot Italians, which had lived in Corfu since the Middle Ages. Hellenization reached Pisidia and Lycia sometime in the 4th century BC, but the interior remained unaffected for several more centuries until it came under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. Ionian and Doric settlers along Anatolia's Western coast seemed to have remained culturally Greek and some of their city-states date back to the Archaic Period. On the other hand, Greeks who settled in the southwestern region of Pisidia and Pamphylia seem to have been assimilated by the local culture. Panticapaeum was one of the early Greek colonies in Crimea, it was founded by Miletus around 600 BC on a site with good terrain for a defensive acropolis. By the time the Cimmerian colonies had organized into the Bosporan Kingdom around much of the local native population had been Hellenized. Most scholars date the establishment of the kingdom to 480 BC, when the Archaeanactid dynasty assumed control of Panticapaeum, but classical archaeologist Gocha R. Tsetskhladze has dated the kingdom's founding to 436 BC, when the Spartocid dynasty replaced the ruling Archaeanactids.
The Hellenistic Seleucid and Ptolemaic kingdoms that formed after Alexander's death were relevant to the history of Judaism. Located between the two kingdoms, Israel experienced long periods of instability. Judea fell under Seleucid control in 198 BC. By the time Antiochus IV Epiphanes became king of Judea in 175 BC, Jerusalem was somewhat Hellenized. In 170 BC, both claimants to the High Priesthood and Menelaus, bore Greek names. Jason had established institutions of Greek education and in years J
Pontius Pilate was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from AD 26/27 to 36/37. He is known for adjudicating on the crucifixion of Jesus. Among the sources for Pilate's life are an inscription known as the Pilate Stone, which confirms his historicity and establishes his title as prefect. Based on these sources, it appears that Pilate was an equestrian of the Pontii family, succeeded Valerius Gratus as prefect of Judaea in AD 26. Once in his post he offended the religious sensibilities of his subjects, leading to harsh criticism from Philo. Josephus wrote around AD 93 that after harshly suppressing a Samaritan movement, Pilate was deposed by Lucius Vitellius and sent to Rome, where he arrived just after the death of Tiberius, which occurred on 16 March, 37. In Judea, Pilate was replaced by Marcellus. Christian religious sources about Pilate include the four canonical gospels. In all four canonical gospel accounts, Pilate lobbies for Jesus to be spared his eventual fate of execution, acquiesces only when the crowd refuses to relent.
He thus seeks to avoid personal responsibility for the death of Jesus. In the Gospel of Matthew, Pilate washes his hands to show that he is not responsible for the execution of Jesus and reluctantly sends him to his death; the Gospel of Mark, depicting Jesus as innocent of plotting against the Roman Empire, portrays Pilate as reluctant to execute him. In the Gospel of Luke, not only does Pilate agree that Jesus had not conspired against Rome, but Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee finds nothing treasonable in Jesus' actions. In the Gospel of John, Pilate states "I find no guilt in him", he asks the Jews if Jesus should be released from custody. Scholars have long debated; the wider significance and context of the Pilate Stone, an artifact discovered in 1961 and bearing a preserved inscription that names Pontius Pilate and his title, is debated by scholars. One of the few pieces of physical, archaeological evidence that confirms the existence of Pilate is the Latin inscription found on a limestone block relating Pilate's tribute to Tiberius.
The artifact, sometimes known as the Pilate Stone, was discovered in 1961 by an archaeological team led by Antonio Frova. It was found as a reused block within a staircase located in a semicircular structure behind the stage house of the Roman theatre at Caesarea, the city that served as Rome's administrative centre in the province of Judaea. Roman governors were based in Caesarea and only visited Jerusalem on special occasions, or in times of unrest; the artifact is a fragment of the dedicatory inscriptions of a building a temple, constructed in honour of the emperor Tiberius, dating to 26–36 AD. The dedication states that Pilate was prefect of Judaea, read praefectus Iudaeae; the early governors of Judaea were of prefect rank, the were of procurator rank, beginning with Cuspius Fadus in 44 AD. The artifact is housed in the Israel Museum, while a replica stands at Caesarea; the remaining text states: S TIBERIÉUM NTIUS PILATUS ECTUS IUDAE EThe translation from Latin to English for the inscription states: To the Divine Augusti Tiberieum...
Pontius Pilate...prefect of Judea...made dedicated In November 2018, it was reported that archaeologists in Israel had discovered a thin copper-alloy sealing ring that might be related to Pilate. The ring had been unearthed 50 years earlier by Professor Gideon Foerster during excavations at the Herodium fortress in the Judean Desert, but its Greek inscription, which reads ΠΙΛΑΤΟ, "for Pilate", was only discovered by using modern reflectance transformation imaging photography technology. Researchers commented that the cheap ring would not be worn by a person of Pilate's position, that the inscription would rather indicate that it was worn by a clerk sending goods to the governor; the inscription surrounds the image of a common Jewish motif in Judaea at that time. Altogether, it seems possible that the ring would have belonged to somebody in Pilate's administration, either Jewish or pagan. Pilatus was an unusual name in first-century Judaea, which makes at least some connection to the governor quite likely.
In chronicling the history of the Roman administrators in Judaea, ancient Jewish writers Philo and Josephus describe some of the other events and incidents that took place during Pilate's tenure. Both report that Pilate caused near-insurrections among the Jews because of his insensitivity to Jewish customs. Josephus notes that while Pilate's predecessors had respected Jewish customs by removing all images and effigies on their standards when entering Jerusalem, Pilate allowed his soldiers to bring them into the city at night; when the citizens of Jerusalem discovered these the following day, they appealed to Pilate to remove the ensigns of Caesar from the city. After five days of deliberation, Pilate had his soldiers surround the demonstrators, threatening them with death, which they were willing to accept rather than submit to desecration of Mosaic law. Pilate removed the images. Philo describes a similar incident in which Pilate was chastened by Emperor Tiberius after antagonizing the Jews by setting up gold-coated shields in Herod's Palace in Jerusalem.
The shields were ostensibly to honor Tiberius, this time did not contain e
A martyr is someone who suffers persecution and death for advocating, refusing to renounce, or refusing to advocate a belief or cause as demanded by an external party. This refusal to comply with the presented demands results in the punishment or execution of the martyr by the oppressor. Applied only to those who suffered for their religious beliefs, the term has come to be used in connection with people killed for a political cause. Most martyrs are considered holy or are respected by their followers, becoming symbols of exceptional leadership and heroism in the face of difficult circumstances. Martyrs play significant roles in religions. Martyrs have had notable effects in secular life, including such figures as Socrates, among other political and cultural examples. In its original meaning, the word martyr, meaning witness, was used in the secular sphere as well as in the New Testament of the Bible; the process of bearing witness was not intended to lead to the death of the witness, although it is known from ancient writers and from the New Testament that witnesses died for their testimonies.
During the early Christian centuries, the term acquired the extended meaning of believers who are called to witness for their religious belief, on account of this witness, endures suffering or death. The term, in this sense, entered the English language as a loanword; the death of a martyr or the value attributed. The early Christians who first began to use the term martyr in its new sense saw Jesus as the first and greatest martyr, on account of his crucifixion; the early Christians appear to have seen Jesus as the archetypal martyr. The word martyr is used in English to describe a wide variety of people. However, the following table presents a general outline of common features present in stereotypical martyrdoms. In the Bahá'í Faith, martyrs are those who sacrifice their lives serving humanity in the name of God. However, Bahá'u'lláh, the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, discouraged the literal meaning of sacrificing one's life. Instead, he explained. Martyrdom was extensively promoted by the Kuomintang party in modern China.
Revolutionaries who died fighting against the Qing dynasty in the Xinhai Revolution and throughout the Republic of China period, furthering the cause of the revolution, were recognized as martyrs. In Christianity, a martyr, in accordance with the meaning of the original Greek martys in the New Testament, is one who brings a testimony written or verbal. In particular, the testimony is that of the Christian Gospel, or more the Word of God. A Christian witness is a biblical witness. However, over time many Christian testimonies were rejected, the witnesses put to death, the word martyr developed its present sense. Where death ensues, the witnesses follow the example of Jesus in offering up their lives for truth; the concept of Jesus as a martyr has received greater attention. Analyses of the Gospel passion narratives have led many scholars to conclude that they are martyrdom accounts in terms of genre and style. Several scholars have concluded that Paul the Apostle understood Jesus' death as a martyrdom.
In light of such conclusions, some have argued that the Christians of the first few centuries would have interpreted the crucifixion of Jesus as a martyrdom. In the context of church history, from the time of the persecution of early Christians in the Roman Empire, it developed that a martyr was one, killed for maintaining a religious belief, knowing that this will certainly result in imminent death; this definition of martyr is not restricted to the Christian faith. Though Christianity recognizes certain Old Testament Jewish figures, like Abel and the Maccabees, as holy, the New Testament mentions the imprisonment and beheading of John the Baptist, Jesus's possible cousin and his prophet and forerunner, the first Christian witness, after the establishment of the Christian faith, to be killed for his testimony was Saint Stephen, those who suffer martyrdom are said to have been "crowned." From the time of Constantine, Christianity was decriminalized, under Theodosius I, became the state religion, which diminished persecution.
As some wondered how they could most follow Christ there was a development of desert spirituality, desert monks, self-mortification, following Christ by separation from the world. This was a kind of white martyrdom, dying to oneself every day, as opposed to a red martyrdom, the giving of one's life in a violent death. In Christianity, death in sectarian persecution can be viewed as martyrdom. For example, there were martyrs recognised on both sides of the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England after 1534, with two hundred and eighty Christians martyred for their faith by public burning between 1553 and 1558 by the Roman Catholic Queen Mary I in England leading to the reversion to the Church of England under Queen Elizabeth I in 1559 and three hundred Roman Catholics martyred by the Church authorities in England over the following hundred and fifty years in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. More modern day accounts of martyrdom for Christ exist, depicted in books such as Jesus Freaks though the numbers are disputed.
There are claims that the numbers of Christians killed for their faith annually are exaggerated. Despite the promotion of ahimsa within Sanatana Dharma
Pontus is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day eastern Black Sea Region of Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region and its mountainous hinterland in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος Εὔξεινος Pontos Euxeinos, or Pontos. Having no specific name, the region east of the river Halys was spoken of as the country Ἐν Πόντῳ En Pontōi, "on the Pontos", hence it acquired the name of Pontus, first found in Xenophon's Anabasis; the extent of the region varied through the ages but extended from the borders of Colchis until well into Paphlagonia in the west, with varying amounts of hinterland. Several states and provinces bearing the name of Pontus or variants thereof were established in the region in the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods, culminating in the late Byzantine Empire of Trebizond. Pontus is sometimes considered as the home of the Amazons, with the name Amazon used not only for a city but for all of Pontus in Greek mythology.
Pontus became important as a bastion of Byzantine Greek and Greek Orthodox civilization and attracted Greeks from all backgrounds from all over Anatolia and the southern Balkans, from the Classical and Hellenistic periods into the Byzantine and Ottoman. These Greeks of Pontus are referred to as Pontic Greeks. Pontus remained outside the reach of the Bronze Age empires; the region went further uncontrolled by Hatti's eastern neighbours, Hurrian states like Azzi and Hayasa. In those days, the best any outsider could hope from this region was temporary alliance with a local strongman; the Hittites called the unorganised groups on their northeastern frontier the Kaška. As of 2004 little had been found of them archaeologically. In the wake of the Hittite empire's collapse, the Assyrian court noted that the "Kašku" had overrun its territory in conjunction with a hitherto unknown group whom they labeled the Muški. Iron Age visitors to the region Greek, noted that the hinterlands remained disunited, they recorded the names of tribes: Moskhians, Mares, Mossynoikians, Tibareni and Chaldians.
The Armenian language went unnoted by the Hittites, the Assyrians, all the post-Hittite nations. The Greeks, who spoke a related Indo-European tongue, followed them along the coast; the Greeks are the earliest long-term inhabitants of the region from. During the late 8th century BCE, Pontus further became a base for the Cimmerians. Since there was so little literacy in northeastern Anatolia until the Persian and Hellenistic era, one can only speculate as to the other languages spoken here. Given that Kartvelian languages remain spoken to the east of Pontus, some are suspected to have been spoken in eastern Pontus during the Iron Age: the Tzans are associated with today's Laz; the first travels of Greek merchants and adventurers to the Pontus region occurred from around 1000 BC, whereas their settlements would become steady and solidified cities only by the 8th and 7th centuries BC as archaeological findings document. This fits in well with a foundation date of 731 BC as reported by Eusebius of Caesarea for Sinope the most ancient of the Greek Colonies in what was to be called Pontus.
The epical narratives related to the travels of Jason and the Argonauts to Colchis, the tales of Heracles' navigating the Black Sea and Odysseus' wanderings into the land of the Cimmerians, as well as the myth of Zeus constraining Prometheus to the Caucasus mountains as a punishment for his outwitting the Gods, can all be seen as reflections of early contacts between early Greek colonists and the local Caucasian, peoples. The earliest known written description of Pontus, however, is that of Scylax of Korianda, who in the 7th century BC described Greek settlements in the area. By the 6th century BC, Pontus had become a part of the Achaemenid Empire, which meant that the local Greek colonies were paying tribute to the Persians; when the Athenian commander Xenophon passed through Pontus around a century in 401-400 BC, in fact, he found no Persians in Pontus. The peoples of this part of northern Asia Minor were incorporated into the third and nineteenth satrapies of the Persian empire. Iranian influence ran deep, illustrated most famously by the temple of the Persian deities Anaitis and Anadatos at Zela, founded by victorious Persian generals in the 6th century BCE.
The Kingdom of Pontus extended to the east of the Halys River. The Persian dynasty, to found this kingdom had during the 4th century BC ruled the Greek city of Cius in Mysia, with its first known member being Ariobarzanes I of Cius and the last ruler based in the city being Mithridates II of Cius. Mithridates II's son called Mithridates, would proclaim himself Mithridates I Ktistes of Pontus; as the Encyclopaedia Iranica states, the most famous member of the family, Mithradates VI Eupator, although undoubtedly presenting himself to the Greek world as a civilized philhellene and new Alexander paraded his Iranian background: he maintained a harem and eunuchs in true Oriental fashion.