Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs

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One of the earliest Christian text in the Latin language is a court record concerning six Christians from the North-African town of Scilli. Brought before a provincial governor in Carthage, they were tried according to the procedure similar to the letters of Pliny the Younger.

The Latin text is mainly that of Antoon Bastiaensen (1987).

Acta Martyrum Scillitanorum The Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs Comments
(1) Praesente bis et Condiano consulibus, XVI Kalendas augustas, Karthagine in secretario inpositis Sperato, Nartzalo et Cittino, Donata, Secunda, Vestia, Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Potestis indulgentiam domini nostri imperatoris promereri, si ad bonam mentem redeatis. During the consulship of Praesens (second term) and Condianus, on 17 July, in Carthage, there were led into the governor’s office: Speratus, Nartzalus and Cittinus; Donata, Secunda, Vestia.

Saturninus the governor said: “You can have mercy from our lord the emperor, if you return to your senses.”

Rome had outlawed Private Religion and compelled everyone to sign up for their system of Public religion run through the Temples. These Christians were accused of violating that edict of government which was often at the center of the Christian conflict with Rome.
Saturninus said they may earn (promereri) a pardon (indulgentiam)from our lord the emperor (nostri imperatoris) if they would return (redeatis) to a sound mind(ad bonam mentem). What Saturninus wants the Christians to do is sign up at the government supported temples and take oaths to participate in what has been called the Imperial Cult of Rome.
(2) Speratus dixit: “Numquam malefecimus, iniquitati nullam operam praebuimus; numquam malediximus, sed male accepti gratias egimus; propter quod imperatorem nostrum observamus.” Speratus said: “We have never done wrong. We have stayed clear of treating people unfairly. We have never spoken ill of anyone. Instead, when treated badly, we have offered thanks, because we obey our own ruler.” Speratus seems to be distinguishing that their ruler is not Saturninus nor his "nostri imperatoris" but says "propter quod imperatorem nostrum observamus"[1] which is translated "because we obey our own ruler" which appears to be "another king, one Jesus".[2] Modern Christians often say they have no King but Jesus but the Pharisees said they had Moses but Jesus said they did not know Him nor Moses.
(3) Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Et nos religiosi sumus, et simplex est religio nostra, et iuramus per genium domini nostri imperatoris, et pro salute eius supplicamus, quod et vos quoque facere debetis.” Saturninus the governor said: “We too are religious and our religion is simple: we swear by the birth spirit of our lord the emperor and offer sacrifice for his health, which you must do as well.” Christ offered salvation by seeking the righteousness of Pure Religion in the Kingdom of God which He appointed to the apostles for the living. We were stop the taking of oaths and not being members of Judean or Roman systems of corban. "et pro salute eius supplicamus" "for the salvation of his welfare"
(4) Speratus dixit: “Si tranquillas praebueris aures tuas, dico mysterium simplicitatis.” Speratus said: “If you are prepared to listen to me, I will tell you a mystery of simplicity.” Sparatus is offering to explain a "a mystery of simplicity"
(5) Saturninus dixit: “Initianti tibi mala de sacris nostris aures non praebebo; sed potius iura per genium domini nostri imperatoris.” Saturninus said: “If you’re going to tell bad things about our sacred rituals, I will not listen to you. Rather, swear by the birth spirit of our lord the emperor.” But Saturninus refuses to hear and again says he swears by the "genium domini nostri imperatoris", genius[3] of our lord the emperor Caesar.
(6] Speratus dixit: “Ego imperium huius seculi non cognosco; sed magis illi deo servio, quem nemo hominum vidit nec videre his oculis potest. Furtum non feci; sed siquid emero teloneum reddo; quia cognosco dominum meum, regem regum et imperatorem omnium gentium.” Speratus said: “I do not acknowledge the authority of this world, but I rather serve that God whom no one has seen or can see with these eyes. I have never been guilty of theft, but whenever I buy, I pay the tax, because I acknowledge my lord, the king of kings and ruler of all peoples.” When Speratus does “not acknowledge authority” he uses the word imperium, “power, command”, which relates to Jesus' command "to call no man father upon the earth". So much for the misinterpretation of Romans 13 by the Modern Christians who do contrary to the Doctrines of Jesus.
(7) Saturninus proconsul dixit ceteris: “Desinite huius esse persuasionis.”

Speratus dixit: “Mala est persuasio homicidium facere, falsum testimonium dicere.”

Saturninus the governor said to the others: “Stop being of this persuasion!”

Speratus said: “Bad is the persuasion to commit murder, to bear false testimony.”

While Saturninus wants him to repent but Sparatus, who was not allowed to testify before the court by Saurninus while facing charges of a capital crime, points out that murder and false witness are bad.
(8) Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Nolite huius dementiae esse participes.”

Cittinus dixit: “Nos non habemus alium quem timeamus, nisi Dominum Deum nostrum qui est in caelis.”

Saturninus the governor said: “Stop being part of this madness!”

Cittinus said: “We have no other to fear but the Lord our God, who is in heaven.”

Clearly the trial is going bad. Saturninus not only refuses to let the accused offer an explanation he accuses Sparatus of madness, also translated folly (dementiae). But the real folly or madness is found in the Modern Christian who thinks they are saved even though they do not Keep the Commandments of Jesus and are workers of iniquity by praying to the Caesars of the world for their benefits.
(9) Donata dixit: “Honorem Caesari quasi Caesari; timorem autem Deo.”

Vestia dixit: “Christiana sum.”
Secunda dixit: “Quod sum, ipsud volo esse.”

Donata said: “Honor to Caesar in his capacity as Caesar, but fear to God.”

Vestia said: “I am a Christian.”
Secunda said: “What I am is exactly what I want to be.”

Caesar was an office. But the duty to the God the Father was being infringed upon. The gods of Rome were dependent upon the state taking the position of Father which was the imperium of society which these people did not accept.
[10) Saturninus proconsul Sperato dixit: “Perseveras christianus?”

Speratus dixit: “Christianus sum”; et cum eo omnes consenserunt.

Saturninus the governor said to Speratus: “Do you persevere in being a Christian?”

Speratus said: “I am a Christian”, and all uttered their agreement with him.

As Christians they admitted that they were members of a private religion and not the Imperial Cult of Rome.
(11) Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Numquid ad deliberandum spatium vultis?”

Speratus dixit: “In re tam iusta nulla est deliberatio.”

Saturninus the governor said: “Do you want some time to consider the matter carefully?”

Speratus said: “In such a just cause there is no need for careful consideration.”

These Christians did not pray or apply at the temples of Rome for the free bread of the Imperial Cult of Rome. Plutarch and Polybius had warned the people that their covetous practices of the Roman temples would lead to the loss of liberty and despotism. Christians were going another way.
(12) Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Quae sunt res in capsa vestra?”

Speratus dixit: “Libri et epistulae Pauli viri iusti.”

Saturninus the governor said: “What sort of things do you have in that case of yours?”

Speratus said: “Books and letters of Paul, a righteous man.”

Likely some of the epistles of Paul and possibly Matthew and I Peter. Christians went to the benefactors of the early Church who did not exercise authority one over the other nor require the people to take oaths. This was a major Christian conflict with the bankrupt Roman system of free bread.
(13) Saturninus proconsul dixit: “Moram XXX dierum habete et recordemini.”

Speratus iterum dixit: “Christianus sum”; et cum eo omnes consenserunt.

Saturninus the governor said: “Have a delay of 30 days and think things over!”

Again Speratus said: “I am a Christian”, and all uttered their agreement with him.

Modern Christians say they are Christians but they take oaths to the Caesars of their world to obtain benefits at the expense of their neighbor. Seeking welfare by the imperium of modern State which are covetous practices spoken of by Peter which makes men human resources and has cursed children.
(14) Saturninus proconsul decretum ex tabella recitavit: “Speratum, Nartzalum, Cittinum, Donatam, Vestiam, Secundam et ceteros ritu christiano se vivere confessos, quoniam oblata sibi facultate ad Romanorum morem redeundi obstinanter perseveraverunt, gladio animadverti placet.” Saturninus the governor read aloud the sentence from a tablet:[4] “Concerning Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Donata, Vestia, Secunda and the others who have confessed that they live according to the Christian religion: because inspite of the opportunity given to them to return to the Roman way of life, they have stubbornly persisted in maintaining theirs, I have decided that they be put to the sword.” To return to the Roman way of life was to sign up for the benefits offered by the temples of Rome. Modern Christians have returned to that way of Rome. They bite one another through the agencies of socialist governments which they have made for themselves. They pray at the temples of those governments for their free bread and daily ministration and the welfare.
(15) Speratus dixit: “Deo gratias agimus.”

Nartzalus dixit: “Hodie martyres in caelis sumus: Deo gratias.”

Speratus said: “We offer thanks to God.”

Nartzalus said: “Today we are martyrs in heaven. Thanks to God.”

The Christians of the early Church would die rather than sign up at the temples of Rome. Modern Christians make excuses to justify their covetous practices which makes them a surety for debt, merchandise and curse children.
(16) Saturninus proconsul per praeconem dici iussit: “Speratum, Nartzalum, Cittinum, Veturium, Felicem, Aquilinum, Laetantium, Ianuariam, Generosam, Vestiam, Donatam, Secundam duci iussi.” Saturninus the governor ordered a herald to declare his sentence: “I have ordered Speratus, Nartzalus, Cittinus, Veturius, Felix, Aquilinus, Laetantius, Januaria, Generosa, Vestia, Donata and Secunda, to be executed. To the objective student of the Bible the primary characteristic of the provisions for the needy is by freewill offerings and what we call charity. The primary difference between the government of Rome at the time of Christ or Nimrod or Cain or even Egypt and the Kingdom of God is that those governments of the world eventually used force to compel the contributions of the people to provide the care of widows and orphans along with other needy people of society. Real Christians will not, even unto death. That imperium of the State to force those contributions comes from the oaths and applications of the people who make the state their Benefactors by putting them in the position of their Father.
(17) Universi dixerunt: “Deo gratias.”

Et statim decollati sunt pro nomine Christi.

All said: “Thanks to God.”

And immediately they were decapitated for the name of Christ.

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  1. for the sake of that pay heed to OUR EMPEROR."
  2. Acts 17:7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, [one] Jesus.
  3. "genius loci. late 14c., "tutelary god (classical or pagan)," from Latin genius "guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth". This is not unlike the "cradle to grave" protection offered by FDR with Social Security.
  4. “a tablet”: a wooden plaque layered with wax to inscribe notes upon.