Imagine yourself as a follower of Jesus in the opening decades of the second century.
Nearly a century has passed since the first followers of Jesus claimed they saw their leader alive three days after they watched him die. The Christian faith has reached nearly every urban center in the Roman Empire. And yet, this faith—your faith—remains marginalized and despised. There is an ever-present risk that someone will accuse you of bearing the hated title “Christian.”
Despite this specter that shadows every segment of your daily life, you are deeply aware that your social position has improved since the days of Nero and Domitian. In many regions, allegiance to Jesus as your only God results in a death sentence only if you are accused of another crime as well. In Athens, there are even philosophers who openly pursue their love of wisdom from the foundation of their faith in Jesus. One of these philosophers is a man named Aristides of Athens.
In the winter of the year that we know as 125, it is Aristides who turns his philosophical capacities toward the goal of converting a king. The king is none other than Emperor Hadrian, lover of Greek culture and builder of the wall across Britain that is known by his name still today.