I picked this book just for the history, and it turns out the author is quite Christian-sympathetic and -oriented. Here are some notes:
- Augustus (27 B.C. to A.D. 14) pushed for returned devotion to the traditional gods, restored old temples, was named “Pontius Maximus” (high priest), and so forth.
- Caligula (A.D. 37-41) had many anti-Jewish, (pro-) Greek freedmen advisors from Alexandria.
- The Roman victory over the Jews was a big deal to the Romans, too; the Emperor Vespasian’s son (and future emperor) Titus led the Romans; it was lucky (providential) that Christianity was becoming de-Judaized. (Ironically and controversially, Titus fell in love with a Jewess, Bernice — c. A.D. 75-79.)
- One of Marcus Aurelius’s legions was Christian (!).
- The author does not view Marcus Aurelius as being anti-Christian, really; but he does see Christianity as contributing to the Roman empire’s breakup.
By the way, in an audio-lecture I listened to on the decline and fall of the Roman empire, the point was made that St. Augustine, in The City of God, notes that God used Roman infrastructure to spread Christianity.
Note: I also photocopied longer passages from pages 82-124 (to be precise: 82, 85, 98-100, and 123-24, the latter discussing Marcus Aurelius and Christianity), regarding the second century.