The “myth” of Christian persecution

by

Candida Moss’ new book “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom” addresses the exaggeration of claims of martyrdom in the early church, and the effect it has in modern circles concerning the way Christianity is taught and perceived.


Religion News Service, in an article by Lauren Markoe, interviews Moss about “the travails of early Christians, and how they are misappropriated in the public sphere today”.

Candida Moss is professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame.

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rosemary hannah
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rosemary hannah

Is it not generally true, however, that a direct attack makes people feel more vulnerable than they actually ARE? The numbers killed in terrorist attacks are small - even in 9/11 - compared to the numbers who die each year in RTAs, yet the deliberate nature of the attack leads to a sense of grief which is disproportionately larger. Living knowing that almost arbitrarily a governor or an Emperor might decide that the answer to his problems was to deflect blame on YOUR faith, and that one MIGHT need to decide to either become apostate or be tortured or die ... well the psychological impact of that must be huge. Deliberate myth making or not.

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tgflux
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tgflux

@ Jason Ballard: if you're going to link to Ephraim Radner (at "First Things" no less!), you might want to put into an HTML (so we don't go into it w/ a "Consider the Source" caveat)

That said, I opened it, and began:

The tedium of repeated déjà vu in this sad little volume did at least send me back to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. It is as if a publisher came to Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, with a proposal for a quick buck, relying on the political twitter of the times: “You’re an expert: Reframe Gibbon’s notorious chapter on the Romans and the Christians with some contemporary scholarship and cultural fillips, and we can put out a nifty pamphlet that’ll sell.”

Good heavens! Even for Radner... }-X

JC Fisher

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IT
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Why is it so important to Christians of a certain sort to feel that they are or have been persecuted?

Susan Forsburg

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Andrew Gerns
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Andrew Gerns

Jason Ballard's comment points to a review by Ephrahim Radner. Ballard characterizes the review as "thoughtful." Thank you for the link. I just read it.

Radner's review, in my opinion, is less than useful.

It is not useful to call the author names or to characterize the argument in ways designed only belittle the research.

Radner does nothing to refute or clarify the author's thesis. He does not enter into a discussion of the realities of persecution or the use of persecution language in our civic and religious discourse. To do that would be to discuss the heart of the author's purpose.

Instead he cites Gibbons and claims the author somehow sympathizes with Imperial Rome. I say again, not useful.

By using words like "sad" and resorting to name calling, what come out is a kind of unintentional irony. Because by calling the book a politically-motivated propaganda tool, and it's author a hack (a word he does not use but in his sarcastic tone certainly implies), he actually makes Moss' case for her.

To be fair, I am not sure that he really wanted to write a review in the truest sense. Rather, his intent was to amuse, rather than enlighten, the readers of a site whose aim is decidedly political.

Andrew Gerns

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Jason Ballard
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The Rev. Dr. Ephraim Radner has a thoughtful response up here:

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2013/04/unmythical-martyrs

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