The Disease that Nearly Killed an Empire

The Disease that Nearly Killed an Empire

-Historian Kyle Harper proposes that a certain virus in 300AD had a major role in the fall of the Roman Empire commonly called as the ‘Cyprian Plague’-Everyone thought that Rome was so powerful and nothing can defeat her.

-Cyprian wrote: “the strength of the body is dissolved (fatigue), the bowels dissipate in a flow (bloody stool); that a fire that begins in the inmost depths burns up into wounds in the throat (fever); the eyes are set on fire from the force of the blood (conjunctival hemorrhaging)” Epidemiologists equate this with “Pandemic Influenza”

-but Cyprian saw the pestilence as an opportunity to put their beliefs to action. He was the leader of a group called “Followers of Yeshua of Nazareth”

-instead of panicking and fleeing, the early followers of this “Yeshua” beatifically remained and cared for the sick, ang gave proper burials for the dead

-On the other side of the religious divide, the pagans were overwhelmed with fear. The Roman priests saw it as a displeasure from the gods. 

-An Athenian historian claimed that 5,000 died each day and that the “disease was transmitted through the clothes or simply by sight.”

-the plague “eroded the social fabric of the pagans” while the “orderly response of the followers of Yeshua, especially the burial of the dead, presented a stark contrast.”

-Kyle Harper argues that the disease “placed the last nail to the coffin of the Roman Empire” but stood as a milestone for the growth of Christianity. Both pagan and Christendom manuscripts confirm these accounts. 

-For early Christians, they saw the disease as an opportunity. Faith thrived in apocalyptic plague. For followers of Roman Empire, they saw it as nothing but the end of the world.

-TAKEN FROM THE BOOK: Climate, Diseases and the End of an Empire by Kyle Harper; Quoted in THE ATLANTIC, NOV 2017 

-REFLECTION: Epidemics leads us to contemplate “to what Kingdom do we belong? An empire that can be killed by a plague, or to a Kingdom that even “the gates of hell cannot prevail.?’” (Matt 16:17-19)” “How could one shine as a ‘light of the world’ when a world falls to pestilence?”

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