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

About the Book

A leading scholar on Christian history reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the legacy of martyrdom continues to inspire the religious right and today's conservative cultural warriors. THE MYTH OF MARTYRDOM introduces readers to the notion of historical martyrdom, and goes on to dissect the origin of persecution myths throughout the Christian tradition. According to early Christians, they lived in constant fear of persecution. The brutality of Roman treatment of Christians is shocking: girls sent to brothels to be gang-raped, young mothers stripped naked and thrown to wild animals, and fragile old men tortured and burned alive, all for no reason other than that they were Christians. Yet, despite these horrors, and out of love for Jesus, Christians stood resolutely against the might of the Roman Empire. They would not betray Christ; they would rather die than sacrifice their religious convictions. The problem with the idealisation of Christian martyrdom is that it isn't true. While some individual cases of martyrdom are authentic, there was no systematic persecution of Christians during the first three hundred years of the faith as is popularly believed. These martyrdom stories, rather, were exaggerated, invented, or forged many years later as evangelistic propaganda or as a fund raising technique to build churches. When modern Christians claim to be 'persecuted' they connect themselves to this earlier tradition. Moss argues that the rhetoric of persecution and martyrdom is a powerful way of silencing dissenters. Just as the early churches used martyrdom to exclude heretics, today martyrdom is used to condemn others as enemies and opponents. Yet the idea that Christians have always 'battled' others and been 'persecuted' by others is a myth.

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062104526
  • ISBN 10: 0062104527
  • Imprint: HarperCollins - US
  • On Sale: 05/03/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • List Price: 29.99 AUD
  • BISAC1: Humanities / Christianity

The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story ofMartyrdom by Candida Moss

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