1,765 years ago today – a father and his 2 children, a local temple, assembled witnesses… (P.Oxy.iv.658)

Exactly on this day, 1,765 years ago, in a small town in central Egypt, a father accompanied by his daughter and son entered the local temple and there, in front of assembled witnesses including at least one magistrate, offered a sacrifice to the gods on behalf of the Roman Empire and its new Emperor. This act appears to have been triggered by a campaign of enforcement to ensure that every member of the Empire participated in these sacrifices. Evidence suggests that, in June 250 C.E., an enforcement teamĀ was sent to investigate the scattered villages and towns of central Egypt. Those suspected of non-compliance were ordered to provide a certificate (libellus) of proof, signed by official witnesses, of their participation. For Christians living in this area, these were troubling times and potentially life-threatening choices lay ahead…

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