The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom

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posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 02:21 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 



Moss, however, exposes that the “Age of Martyrs” is a fiction—there was no sustained 300-year-long effort by the Romans to persecute Christians.

If that's the extent of her point, it's not a new one, and anyone who knows anything, beyond the superficial, of early church history knows it. Persecutions came in waves, usually predicated on either conditions at the time, or on the impulse of whoever was Emperor at the time.

Roman religious law was explicit -- you could worship any god that you wanted, so long as you also accepted the Roman gods and (at times) the divinity of the Emperor. There was one specific exception, the Jews, who were exempted by edict because they were so adamant in their monotheism that it was in the empire's interest to just give them a pass.

But, because this was an exception, it could be taken away from Jews who weren't "Jewish enough", and as Christianity moved from the Jewish community to the Gentiles, that began to be the case for Christians. So the exception was given or eliminated as the government saw fit in the time, ebbing and flowing over the years between Nero and Constantine.

So not exactly groundbreaking news, and most definitely not a claim that there were no Christian martyrs in that era -- that would be akin to saying that there was no Holocaust, as there is significant documentation, from both Roman and non-Roman sources, to demonstrate that thousands of Christians died for their beliefs.

One of the things that I really, really hate about American academics is the "publish or perish" nature of certain fields. Sensationalistic works like this wouldn't likely exist if people didn't need to make a name for themselves in order to succeed in their careers.




posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 02:30 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Sensationalistic works like this wouldn't likely exist if people didn't need to make a name for themselves in order to succeed in their careers.

Sensationalist works?
So, are you saying (and I'm not dismissing the idea) that modern academia has an agenda here? Yes, professors at universities are expected to publish, and many of them have "nonconformist agendae", but why simply ignore the material presented?

She's not a mega-church pastor, she's a historian.
Do you think she's been given only "biased" sources into which she can look?
Actual question, not just defensive.

I'm not her, I didn't write the book.
What, in your opinion is going on with academia?
I'm really, really bothered that major universities are "omitting" classical studies and liberal arts/humanities undergrad curricula. I think it's wrong.....
but, that's just my "nobody" opinion.

edit on 2-3-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 02:42 PM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by adjensen
 


Sensationalistic works like this wouldn't likely exist if people didn't need to make a name for themselves in order to succeed in their careers.

Sensationalist works?
So, are you saying (and I'm not dismissing the idea) that modern academia has an agenda here? Yes, professors at universities are expected to publish, and many of them have "nonconformist agendae", but why simply ignore the material presented?

I think that the results are indicative of what I explained.

If one is a scholar of history, or ancient linguistics or New Testament studies, or whatever, unless something new gets uncovered (which is not the case here,) then the only opportunity for "original research" is to either speculate based on flimsy evidence (as we saw in last year's "Gospel of Jesus' Wife") or to write about something already known in a sensationalist manner (as appears to be the case here.)

How many more Bible commentaries on The Gospel of John do we really need? Or works on the dietary habits of the Romans? Or the social proclivities of Benjamin Franklin? And yet, I have no doubt that there is, today, someone out there working on those or similar subjects, just because the confines of their job requires them to produce something "original."



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 02:46 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


If one is a scholar of history, or ancient linguistics or New Testament studies, or whatever, unless something new gets uncovered (which is not the case here,)

But, who is credited with the "uncovering"?
Perhaps her specialty and immersion in the subject gives her license to speak on it.
No?



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 03:00 PM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by adjensen
 


If one is a scholar of history, or ancient linguistics or New Testament studies, or whatever, unless something new gets uncovered (which is not the case here,)

But, who is credited with the "uncovering"?
Perhaps her specialty and immersion in the subject gives her license to speak on it.
No?

She's uncovered new evidences in texts that are up to 2,000 years old and have been scrutinized by historians for centuries? And those evidences are in congruence with what those of us who have studied early church history already know?

I'm not sure that there's a strong case there, sorry.

Here's my real issue. There were real Christian martyrs, people who held their beliefs so strongly that they were willing to die for them. Even discounting the human factor, that can be incredibly inspirational, and not just to the religious. These were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, who were brutally murdered by a government who found them a convenient scapegoat.

Now, here we come with a book (and a thread) called "The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom", which is a fairly condemning title. We are aware how little some people read, think and discern, so it is not unlikely that there are those who will file that title away without the slightest consideration of what it means, apart from some vague "the church lied about the Romans killing them", and then, if the subject ever comes up, they're likely to say something like "oh, I heard all those martyr stories are BS, no one really died."

That's my issue.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 03:06 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Now, here we come with a book (and a thread) called "The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom", which is a fairly condemning title. We are aware how little some people read, think and discern, so it is not unlikely that there are those who will file that title away without the slightest consideration of what it means, apart from some vague "the church lied about the Romans killing them", and then, if the subject ever comes up, they're likely to say something like "oh, I heard all those martyr stories are BS, no one really died."

That's my issue.

Fair enough.

(The thread title is the book's title).....
so, it's 'condemning' of whom?
Yes, we are aware of how little some read, think, and discern......
are you suggesting that we don't dare bring these publications to the public, because some will just accept the title as "truth" without reading it and considering the evidence?

How, my friend, is that any different than saying the Bible is "the true word of God"?

The author did not claim that no one really died!! I was even careful to include the parts of the review that said she is confirming that some people died as a result of pros/persecution.....

But, it's not worth reading? Or even considering? If not, why not?

edit on 2-3-2013 by wildtimes because: condemning, not 'condeming' doh



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 03:29 PM
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It wouldn't matter how good the evidence was, or how scholarly and objective this author tried to be. The Christian community wouldn't accept it if God himself were to tell them. To them, this, in and of itself is persecution. And you are party to it from their perspective.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 03:34 PM
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reply to post by Klassified
 


To them, this, in and of itself is persecution. And you are party to it from their perspective.

Wow.
Bummer.

Thanks again, Klassified. It's quite disturbing to me. I doubt we will ever know the real truth.
It's too well buried and obfuscated.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 03:35 PM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
are you suggesting that we don't dare bring these publications to the public, because some will just accept the title as "truth" without reading it and considering the evidence?

Now, I know that you're not intentionally misrepresenting what I've said, so let me reiterate:
  1. In my first response, I said that if the author's thesis was predicated on there not being a 300 year continuous persecution of Christianity, it wasn't anything not already known
  2. In same post, I complained that this sort of sensationalism (turning a known fact into "The Myth of Persecution") was regrettable
  3. In a subsequent post, I noted that the reason it's regrettable is that too many people have superficial views of such subjects and will take the sensation as fact, rather than the actual facts
Never once did I say that this sort of thing shouldn't be undertaken, or not read, I just said that, for someone who has studied early church history, this is a clear example of sensationalism.


How, my friend, is that any different than saying the Bible is "the true word of God"?

When have I ever said that the Bible is "the true word of God"?


But, it's not worth reading? Or even considering? If not, why not?

Again, I never said that.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 03:38 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 




When have I ever said that the Bible is "the true word of God"?

LOL!!! Touche, my friend.
I apparently read it into your replies. Yeah, I knew this thread would bring [PREEMPTIVE SNIP] down on me.

I get your point. Thanks for your contributions.

edit on 2-3-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 03:57 PM
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The Romans were brutal and oppressive to everybody, including other Romans. It should come as no surprise that early Christians were victims to the general policies of brutality and oppression. Many of the early Christians were people who lived on the fringe of Roman society like poor people and slaves. In Rome, as in every other society in history, people on the fringes got more than their fair share of brutality, oppression, and injustice. So it should come as no surprise Christians got more than their fair share of brutality, oppression, and injustice.

So perhaps the best way to look at the early Christians is that they were victimized more because of their socio-economic status and not because of their religion. Most Christians thrown to lions were thrown to lions not for their beliefs, but because they were poor people some sadistic and cruel tyrant wanted to make an example out of to terrify his subjects. Christians went to catacombs not because their beliefs were considered dangerous, but because Roman authorities would have been suspicious of any group of lower-class people meeting.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 04:03 PM
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reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 


The Romans were brutal and oppressive to everybody, including other Romans. It should come as no surprise that early Christians were victims to the general policies of brutality and oppression. Many of the early Christians were people who lived on the fringe of Roman society like poor people and slaves. In Rome, as in every other society in history, people on the fringes got more than their fair share of brutality, oppression, and injustice. So it should come as no surprise Christians got more than their fair share of brutality, oppression, and injustice.

So perhaps the best way to look at the early Christians is that they were victimized more because of their socio-economic status and not because of their religion.

Very interesting thought.

I freely admit I'm still a "lay-learner" and not a theologist.
Victimization and discrimination is not new.....it's ancient. When, do you think, will we all be able to let go of "labels" and "legend", in order to come to a common understanding of how separated and divided we are?

Do you think this book has no value? Or is it possibly worthy of considering?
edit on 2-3-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 04:13 PM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


If you are interested in a subject, any book on the subject is worth considering if you have the time to read it. I think the truth lies in between. Bad things did happen to the early Christians and early Christians, due to their socio-economic status in Rome, may have had more than their fair share of injustice.

The idea that Christians were somehow singled out solely because of their beliefs may be false. Romans of all faiths were subject to brutality and injustice.

Could Christianity have been a factor in early Christians persecution? Perhaps. I can see some Roman official saying, "Let's throw Timothy to the Lions. He is an orphan, he comes from a poor family, he associates with people we think are petty thieves, and he happens to be one of those people that worship Jesus." The fact Timothy was a Christian may have weighed in on the decision to throw Timothy to the lions, but the other factors like his orphan status, his family background, and his associates weighed heavily as well.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 04:18 PM
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reply to post by hotpinkurinalmint
 



If you are interested in a subject, any book on the subject is worth considering if you have the time to read it. I think the truth lies in between.

Yep!
So do I. Thanks for your contribution....
I know lots of us don't have time to read. That, IMO, is one of the problems of modern society. People are caught up in the rat-race of modern capitalism and those who are just trying to get by are at a disadvantage.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 04:21 PM
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I`ve always believed that the whole persecution drama was just hogwash.

Early christianity and early christians were no threat to anyone or anything so it doesn`t make a bit of sense why anyone would be persecuting them.
who could possibly feel the need to persecute a bunch of fisherman and prostitutes who were preaching a new upstart religion?
surely prophets and new religions were a dime a dozen back then so if they were persecuted it wasn`t because they were christians it was more likely because they weren`t believers in the popular religion of the day, whatever religion that might have been.
edit on 2-3-2013 by Tardacus because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 04:47 PM
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untill the book comes out, this may be of intrest to read.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 05:12 PM
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Originally posted by Tardacus
I`ve always believed that the whole persecution drama was just hogwash.

Early christianity and early christians were no threat to anyone or anything so it doesn`t make a bit of sense why anyone would be persecuting them.
who could possibly feel the need to persecute a bunch of fisherman and prostitutes who were preaching a new upstart religion?

Because refusal to obey Roman religious laws was committing treason, pure and simple. As I noted, there was an exception for the Jews, because they were violent in their opposition to it, to the extent that it was in Rome's best interests to "give them a pass", but this exemption did not extend to Jewish Christians (there was an effort on their part to claim that they were the "true Jews" in accepting Christ as the Messiah, and thus entitled to the exception, but this was refused by the Empire -- see the concept of "Religio licita" in Tertullian's Apology.)



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 06:28 PM
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reply to post by tinhattribunal
 


What? The link is just a blank reply screen from this site.



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 07:55 PM
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interesting topic.
it reminds me of something i read years ago, about what kick started the enlightenment period.
the story goes thusly:

rome had moved the seat of the papacy to germany. german universities were the pentultimate place to go for higher education. wealthy families from all over the world, sent their children to learn there. the professors and scholars were all devout catholics, who's responsibility was to teach what the papacy felt was viable information. this meant everything was filtered thru their lens. this exclusive view of the world was the impetus for something called HIGHER CRITICISM.

higher criticism was a scholarly field of endeavor. the premise was to dissect ancient texts and compare their legitimacy to papal interpretations of the biblical text. in effect, prove the papal interpretation of the bible, was the most accurate view of the ancient world.

during this time, the universities had been revisiting classical works, such as homer's troy. a higher critic named frederick wolfe, concluded that the ancient greeks could not write, during the time their texts were said to be written. so troy never existed and someone else, later in the timeline, wrote the story of troy, according to wolfe. he reached this conclusion without any archaeology to back up his position, because archaeology was not yet a science.

at this point, the entirety of ancient greek records were removed from historical consideration, including epics, annals, even official records and matters of state that had been recorded during the period in question. this caused a flurry of similar higher criticism on the ancient texts of all the surrounding cultures. it had a snowball effect. without the lynch pin provided by greek records, other ancient texts had unsupported moments, resulting in them being removed from historical texts, as well, due to lack of authenticity. soon the entire ancient world had been pitched in the proverbial garbage can, with the exception of ancient egypt (still buried at this point in the timeline) and the papal interpretation of the bible.

now all eyes turned to the bible. without the support of the rest of the ancient world, and with most people assuming that papal interpretation was equivalent to what the text actually said, the bible was the last piece of ancient information to meet its grizzly end in the garbage can of higher criticism. so what started out as rome trying to prove its superiority, ended with the enlightenment period, in which people were flying blind, with no historical support to work with and no archaeology yet either.

flash forward. archaeology becomes a science and the educational institutions descend on ancient egypt to glean a timeline. a new timeline was necessary because the old one had been thrown away. it takes precisely 40 years, for archaeology to discover that the ancient greeks could write after all, and that the evidence that ancient greeks couldn't write, was incorrect.

they never redacted it. reason given-- do you want to go back to believing in fairies?

this, i think, is evidence that people basically have the same problems, regardless of their world view.

edit on 2-3-2013 by undo because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 2 2013 @ 09:50 PM
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Originally posted by hotpinkurinalmint
reply to post by wildtimes
 


If you are interested in a subject, any book on the subject is worth considering if you have the time to read it. I think the truth lies in between. Bad things did happen to the early Christians and early Christians, due to their socio-economic status in Rome, may have had more than their fair share of injustice.

The idea that Christians were somehow singled out solely because of their beliefs may be false. Romans of all faiths were subject to brutality and injustice.


Christains were known for causing finacial losses to those that made money from the pagan end of the game. There is even one silversmith of note that lost so much money from the lack of sales of his idols that he sought legal action. In another case a certain sect of pagans made a great fire out of all their pagan books and many converted. All of this and more was sending shock waves through the Roman world. Many in positions of influence and power were bent on reversing these loses and set about bringing any sort of ills they could down on the heads of christians.





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