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

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posted on Apr, 6 2013 @ 12:42 AM
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reply to post by JesuitGarlic
 


Ok cool im not really attacking anyone except the scum and if your fighting them then cool the more the merrier as it needs a few more on our side to wake up maybe about 6 billion more maybe lol




posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 10:20 AM
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She needs to read Foxes Book of Martyrs.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 10:31 AM
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reply to post by texastig
 


Who? The author, the professor with a doctorate on the subject of Early Christianity?
Perhaps you need to read her book and weigh it against "Foxes Book of Martyrs". Ya know, the old "compare and contrast" technique from school? Or maybe they didn't teach that sort of critical thinking in your school. If not; what a shame.



posted on Apr, 8 2013 @ 11:03 AM
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religion.blogs.cnn.com...

"Christ was persecuted, but what about Christians"



According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.

But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories – with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua's – were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.


Here'a CNN bit about the very book of the OP.


Do Christians have a martyr complex today?

The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.

But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.

Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.

Yes. That's how I see it, too.
edit on 8-4-2013 by wildtimes because: highlight



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 08:33 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 



The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans

I'm not going to whiz away money on her book, but do you know what her basis for this statement is? Because it's either a misquote, a disingenuous definition of terms, or based on new evidence, because existing historical evidence, both Roman and non-Roman, is that there was, indeed, systematic persecution of Christians by the Roman government. Not one that lasted 300 years, but off and on over that period.

One can clearly see an agenda in that post you've cited -- Christians who feel "persecuted" in today's society (an absolutely valid claim, of varying degree -- from Christians slaughtered in Africa, to the church being forced by regulation to take actions that are contrary to their religious beliefs in the United States,) are wrong and foolish for even thinking themselves persecuted -- even the stories of such in the past are without basis.

Between this, the attempted historical revision on the part of liberal "Christians" such as the Jesus Seminar, and the current level of idiocy that is infecting the American Episcopalian church, there is an obvious push these days to revise what Christianity is. A preview, perhaps, of post-Christian Christianity.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:03 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 

Heya, adj.

No, I don't know because I haven't read her book yet. But the article from CNN linked above your post quotes several scholars. They are saying that there was definitely an exaggeration.

A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.


That's what I've seen in reviews and articles about her book. If there is a scholarly consensus, and as the article states, there has been for a long time, I don't intend to argue with those scholars. I just want to learn.

The stories of Christian persecution were so popular that they spawned a market during the first centuries after the crucifixion. The places where martyrs were born and died became early tourist stops. Towns competed with one another to draw rich pilgrims seeking martyr memorabilia, Moss says.
This is what she says. I have no reason to think she'd lie about it - but I also realize that some think her theory is dangerous.


Church leaders began to embellish and invent stories of martyrdom to inspire the faithful but also to settle theological feuds, Moss says. If, say, a bishop wanted to denounce a rivals’ theology, he spun a story in which a martyr denounced the same doctrine with his last breath, Moss says.

“Martyrs were like the action heroes of the ancient world,” Moss says. “It was like getting your favorite athlete endorsing your favorite brand of soda.”


Okay, that makes sense. She is in no way denying that persecution did occur, and that it was brutal; here's a couple more snips showing that she's aware of Nero and his sadistic insanity.

For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were often ridiculed and viewed with contempt. But Roman leaders spent about "less than 10 years" out of the first 300 actually persecuting Christians, Moss says.

There are only six reliable cases of Christian martyrdom before A.D. 250 out of “hundreds of stories,” including Perpetua’s, she says.

Many scholars have greeted Moss’ contention that Roman persecution of Christians was exaggerated with a shrug. They say it was common knowledge in the academic world.

“There weren’t that many Christians who were persecuted,” says Gail O’Day, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in North Carolina. “When you actually read the Roman historical records, the Christians just weren’t that important to them. Most Christians just got along with empire.”

When Roman persecution did occur, though, it was vicious. The Emperor Nero covered fully conscious Christians with wax and used them as human torches. Other Christians were skinned alive and covered with salt, while others were slowly roasted above a pit until they died.

She says there were only six reliable cases of martyrdom before AD 250, out of 'hundreds of stories.' It is her chosen specialty as an academic theological historian.

Biography
Candida Moss is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame. A graduate of Oxford University, she earned her doctorate from Yale University. Moss has received awards and fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the John Templeton Foundation. A frequent contributor to the National Geographic Channel, Moss is the award-winning author of several scholarly works on martyrdom, including The Other Christs and Ancient Christian Martyrdom. She lives in South Bend, Indiana.

Does that mean she's not got an agenda of some kind? By no means. It's pretty well established that universities now are liberally bent...but the awards and fellowships cited in the bio above are evidence that some people think she's got her act together well.
edit on 9-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:18 AM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by adjensen
 

Heya, adj.

No, I don't know because I haven't read her book yet. But the article from CNN linked above your post quotes several scholars. They are saying that there was definitely an exaggeration.

A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.



I dont think it matters all that much the intricacies of what may have transpired almost 2,000 years ago. I'm just curious, what other persecutions you feel were exaggerated or tall tales or do you have your own personal favorites?



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:28 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


Here's the problem. Can you see the difference between these two statements?


The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans


A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.

The first is a definitive "it never happened", while the second is "it did happen, but was a bit exaggerated." So, if the scholarly consensus is that it did happen, then that first statement is an outright lie, and yet that is what people seem to be picking up on.

As I said, it seems to be an instance of historical revisionism, and one has to wonder what the point of it is. Combined with other efforts in the same direction, it would appear that there is an organized effort on the part of some to "rescue" Christianity and redefine it as something that it is not, but which is more palatable for those who are doing the rescuing. That they are not rescuing it from crazy extremists, but rather from all non-radical Christians, should be disconcerting, even for those who are not Christians.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:32 AM
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reply to post by Malcher
 


I don't have 'feelings' about it either way, really, I'm just learning and continuing to study religious history from every angle I can. At this point I'm entirely uncertain if ANY of it is accurate or invented. Obvious things like the stories of Noah and Jonah have never made a bit of sense to me - likewise the "Garden of Eden" and the snake - even the resurrection - from my very earliest ability to think about these things, I had trouble with 'believing' it. Have always been skeptical of the miracle stories, too. So far nothing has convinced me otherwise, and I'm doing my best to study it with an open mind.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:37 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 



The first is a definitive "it never happened", while the second is "it did happen, but was a bit exaggerated." So, if the scholarly consensus is that it did happen, then that first statement is an outright lie, and yet that is what people seem to be picking up on.

You didn't notice the 'systematically' part of the first statement? None of them are saying "it never happened".

All of them are saying yes, it happened (see my above reference to Nero's activities if you can stomach reading them)....just not to the degree that some have claimed. They are saying that clearly a large portion of the stories were invented, and have 'proven' that to their satisfaction, and that it was not all-out assault against the Christians every day, relentlessly hunting them down and martyring them.

Adj, is it possible you didn't read the entire post before replying? Did you read the article? There is quite a bit more information included in it, as well as quotes and remarks from other theologians who don't quite agree with here.

It seems to be inconclusive for now, but certainly arguable that it has been exaggerated, as indicated by the "general consensus shrug" -- stating that it wasn't a big shock to most academics in the field "already knew that."
edit on 9-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:40 AM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by adjensen
 



The first is a definitive "it never happened", while the second is "it did happen, but was a bit exaggerated." So, if the scholarly consensus is that it did happen, then that first statement is an outright lie, and yet that is what people seem to be picking up on.

You didn't notice the 'systematically' part of the first statement?

Of course I did, but the records show that the persecution WAS systematic, methodical, planned, it just wasn't SUSTAINED. If that statement "There was never a sustained, 300 year, persecution", that would be valid, but the statement is that "A systematic persecution never happened," and that is patently false.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:43 AM
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Originally posted by wildtimes
reply to post by Malcher
 


I don't have 'feelings' about it either way, really, I'm just learning and continuing to study religious history from every angle I can. At this point I'm entirely uncertain if ANY of it is accurate or invented. Obvious things like the stories of Noah and Jonah have never made a bit of sense to me - likewise the "Garden of Eden" and the snake - even the resurrection - from my very earliest ability to think about these things, I had trouble with 'believing' it. Have always been skeptical of the miracle stories, too. So far nothing has convinced me otherwise, and I'm doing my best to study it with an open mind.


I think the main thing we are discussing here is history.

I dont see why there is a religious qualifier.

My point is that if you are skeptical of this then what else do you question regarding persecutions that we read about?

Are there many exaggerations or tall tales?

Do we get our history stories from coffee table paperbacks? - my answer to that is yes some people actually do.

Do you think that history is what we want to believe and what validates our own states of existence?

Now if we take this one instance as possible then i am interested to know what else you feel is not accurately told or basically tall tales, lies etc.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:47 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Well, that's fair enough, but I'd blame that misstatement on the writer of the article or the editors at CNN (which is certainly not an unbiased news source - although I can't tell what their general slant is like it's easy to do with Fox News vs MSNBC, or the Huffington Post)!

It's from the "belief blog", and there are lots of different points of view that are included in that blog.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 09:52 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 

That's why I asked if you knew what the source of it was -- whether it was a quote from the book -- because I'm curious to know if that is something that the author of the book is saying, implying, or if the author of the article mistakenly came to that conclusion. The modus operandi of the Jesus Seminar crowd is to intentionally misrepresent conjecture as fact, and I was wondering if this was another instance of it. As I had mentioned earlier in the thread, the title of the book is an intentional misstatement, but book titles are not always reflective of their contents.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 10:02 AM
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reply to post by Malcher
 


I'm probably more confused since joining ATS than I was before. It's been over two years now...
as for specifically persecutions, I have another thread or two going....

here and here but I shoot my mouth off in plenty of threads.


To encapsulate, I think that the Evangelicals and Fundamentalists exaggerate and actually prompt "persecution" by being loud and obnoxious and then they can turn around and say 'You're persecuting me!' It's disingenuous. Like kicking a resting dog and then acting surprised when the dog snaps or growls reflexively.

Too many of them have adopted a "persecution complex" as some kind of badge of honor, and it's annoying mostly because they mostly don't know the real "history" but only the pieces they like or WERE TAUGHT. As you said, the coffee-table paperback variety. If all a person reads is Jack Chick Tracts, they don't have a clear understanding of the history to know they are being lied to - and then when others try to disabuse them of the false ideas, they get angry and tell the one who wants to clear up their error that they'll go hell.

Lots of people only investigate far enough to feel their opinions are truth, and when challenged they get huffy and defensive, or shut down altogether and claim "I'm not interested in reading that source."

Yes, there are outspoken people like Jack Chick that I am not interested in reading - but the first time I came across it I read it. After that I knew it was warped thinking. Recently a member told me I should read a book Glenn Beck wrote - I said no, not interested. Someone else recommended Lee Strobel. I looked up who Lee Strobel was (I already knew who Beck was and despise him for what he is) and based on reviews and descriptions of him, declined to read his book also. I'm past the point of needing that kind of reading....quite some time ago. Life's too short to waste on listening to what fanatics with an agenda write or say. I'm here to encourage critical thinking and further education, and to expand my own knowledge.

What really chaps me is that people are teaching their children these things when they have only the barest, superficial knowledge of what they are talking about, and don't understand the centuries of theological and religious thought evolution.

Sadly, it's true that, as Plato said, and others have said, some people don't have the capacity to think abstractly or philosophically, nor the background or training to wrap their heads around the more esoteric ways of looking at things. Therefore, they are fed the "child's food" without understanding adult fare. And then they teach their kids the same thing.

edit on 9-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 10:16 AM
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reply to post by Malcher
 



I think the main thing we are discussing here is history.

I do, too. It's just history...whatever it is - whatever really happened - is what I want to know. Lately I read an expose about Thomas Jefferson that negated a lot of what we were taught about him. My views changed. I'm not passionate about him, so it doesn't really matter to me either way, but I want to know when they discover things and clear up misleading information. I want to know if I've been given misinformation, whether deliberate or unintentionally. I will not remain willfully ignorant in the face of such research and discovery/revelation of important issues like our nation's beginnings or our education system.


I dont see why there is a religious qualifier.

I don't either. Unfortunately, in matters of religion many people cling very dearly to the doctrines and stories on which they lean for strength and support, or use to manipulate others. They are the ones who feel threatened by religious "transparency" and the possible 're-writing' of history upsets them very much. So much that they become 'rabid' instead of just saying, "Oh, really? Hmmm. Did not know that! That's interesting."

edit on 9-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 10:20 AM
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reply to post by wildtimes
 


I could care less about Jack Chick, I never mentioned this person and have zero opinion on that.

Can you answer the questions i asked? As far as i can see and if we were going to be honest there seems to be a some real flimsy evidence when people write these books. I am not commenting on this specific book since I have not read it.

Just to give you but a few examples and we will expand on them and other events:

How do we know the "bad press" the Romans got is accurate? After all they gave us so much of what we use even to this day and the art work was amazing/

How do we know Caligula did this or he did that?

What if he was victim of a smear campaign?

If one story is made up then why not others?



edit on 9-4-2013 by Malcher because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 10:21 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Yes, the article is ambiguous in that statement, especially since it does include direct quotes by Moss and others. So I don't know.



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 10:40 AM
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reply to post by Malcher
 


Can you answer the questions i asked?

I'm trying, though!
Sorry if I misinterpreted them.



As far as i can see and if we were going to be honest there seems to be a some real flimsy evidence when people write these books. I am not commenting on this specific book since I have not read it.

Just to give you but a few examples and we will expand on them and other events:

How do we know the "bad press" the Romans got is accurate? After all they gave us so much of what we use even to this day and the art work was amazing/
We don't.


How do we know Caligula did this or he did that?

What if he was victim of a smear campaign?

If one story is made up then why not others?

Therein lies the rub. How do we know? We don't. We can only go by the words of others who study the stuff with a fine-toothed comb and listen to what they have to say....
if they are respected scholars and held in high regard and do have evidence, I feel they ought to be heard out.

that said, one of my mottoes is "The Truth is not Determined By a Show of Hands."

and another line I've adopted is a quote from a movie: "some things are true whether you believe them or not."

We just don't really know, and probably never will. It's all a social construct of some kind, and our entire lives are shaped by things we are taught.
edit on 9-4-2013 by wildtimes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2013 @ 11:04 AM
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This is fascinating. It give real incite into how the human mind works.

I think for some that books replace the lollipops we were given as children in the sense that we gravitate towards what makes us feel good and really we look for validation of our own beliefs and the truth is damned. I think they call that "preaching to the choir".

Well I will check on this thread later to see if we can reveal some other things relating to false persecutions etc. Question is have we been lied to? Because if we have been lied to here then ONCE AGAIN where else have we been? Stands to reason that must have been on many occasions.

Now if we concentrate on the big ones, do we really have evidence that even one tenth of what we read is true?

I will throw out a softball and ask: How about the so called "witch trials" what do we even know about these events? Aside form the movie of the week etc.







 
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