I am thoroughly enjoying your audio recording of Revelation & the End of the World. I am almost finished with my research but have reached a point of uncertainty concerning Domitian [the Roman emperor 81-96 AD]. I know you are probably aware there isn't any strong evidence that Domitian persecuted the Christians, at least not any worse than Nero did [64-68 AD]. There doesn't seem to be anything in the patristic writings to indicates widespread persecution focused on Christianity, or that the persecution prophesied in Revelation would be at its greatest point during Domitian's reign.
I am having trouble with this because I believe the Bible has always stood up history and history has supported much of the Bible. I do realize that God's Word reigns and secular sources are not as reliable as the Word itself. I am just wondering why there isn't stronger historical evidence for a tyrannical persecution of Christians during Domitian's reign -- like the evidence for Nero's persecution. I want to be prepared to answer if I am challenged with these kinds of historical questions. What do you say when people challenge you with the lack of evidence? -- Sharon Pascual (Honolulu, Hawaii)
I was basing my thoughts on Eusebius, church historian at the court of Constantine. Here John Oakes replies. I think his perspective is useful, though I too wish there were more hard evidence. His last point, that by the time of Pliny [c.112 AD] Christianity was illegal, is important. That legislation came from somewhere, and Domitian is a far better candidate than Nerva.
Yours was a good question, and I feel better prepared for when it next comes up. So... thanks!