Skip to comments.Notre Dame Professor Tackles ‘Myth’ of Christian Martyrdom
Posted on 05/03/2013 10:50:36 AM PDT by marshmallow
Candida Moss, a professor of early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame and a practicing Catholic, wants to shatter what she calls the myth of martyrdom in the Christian faith.
Sunday school tales of early Christians being rounded up at their secret catacomb meetings and thrown to the lions by evil Romans are mere fairy tales, Moss writes in a new book. In fact, in the first 250 years of Christianity, Romans mostly regarded the religion's practitioners as meddlesome members of a superstitious cult.
The government actively persecuted Christians for only about 10 years, Moss suggests, and even then intermittently. And, she says, many of the best known early stories of brave Christian martyrs were entirely fabricated.
The controversial thesis, laid out in "The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom," has earned her a lot of hate mail and a few sidelong looks from fellow faculty members. But Moss maintains that the Roman Catholic Church and historians have known for centuries that most early Christian martyr stories were exaggerated or invented.
A small group of priest scholars in the 17th century began sifting through the myths, discrediting not only embellished stories about saints (including that St. George slew a dragon) but also tossing out popular stories about early Christian martyrs.
Historians, including Moss, say only a handful of martyrdom stories from the first 300 years of Christianitywhich includes the reign of the cruel, Christian-loathing Neroare verifiable. (Saint Perpetua of Carthage, pictured in the stained glass window above, is one of the six famous early Christian martyrs Moss believes was actually killed for her faith.)
(Excerpt) Read more at news.yahoo.com ...
Will she next tackle the myths of contemporary black and homosexual persecution?
Still holding your breath?
We know professors and faculty on college campuses aren’t martyrs..... that would screw their tenure.....
Why am I not surprised that one of the few martyrs she does find is a chick?
“Moss pointed to the new U.S. health care law’s requirement that insurance companies cover contraception as an example of a law that inadvertently targeted Christians but was interpreted as a direct attack on the faith.”
Money quote is here. This is interesting. The state, justifies persecution of Christians by accepting the Christian claim that this is ‘persecution’, and attacking the analogy on the other end by saying that ‘persecution’ isn’t something that’s significant.
Keep your heads up folks you’ll be seeing more of THIS argument.
While we're tackling myths, perhaps the good professor could explain exactly how Notre Dame is controlling the kind of health care to which she should have access. This is about how she spends other people's money, not her own. I think she knows this very well but prefers obfuscation.
It is true that most people have an exaggerated notion about the first 3 centuries. Persecution was horrific for 75 years from 250-325. Even then there were lulls. Before 250 AD it was sporadic. Christianity was illegal but Christians were not systematically sought out. Before 250, most persecution resulted from mob violence, ginned up animosities in a given city. (That’s the way it will be here too.)
All that is accurate history. Those who had the idea of constant, unrelenting persecution until Constantine the Great do need to have their myth debunked.
That martyr stories get inflated and are used for propaganda is also obvious. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is Protestant propaganda. The Anabaptists had their Martyrs’ Mirror.
Some reviewers think Moss goes further than debunking the common myth of unrelenting persecution. She may have invented a counter-myth, exaggerating the degree of propagandistic exaggeration by Christians. I haven’t read the book. I don’t think it deserves the kind of breathless condemnation it’s getting from Christian circles but it probably deserves scholarly critique.
Ephraim Radner’s scathing review in First Things raises some serious problems with the book, but he also may indulge in overkill.
Send Candida Moss to live with with ANY Christian community ANYWHERE in the muslim world.
I suggest Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iraq or Sudan.
Yes, that reminds me—Radner’s criticism was not so much that she’s wrong about the first 300 years—a myth about that does exist for a lot of people. Where she’s wrong, he says, is to assume that Christians’s present claims about being persecuted are largely propaganda and exaggeration.
That strikes me as legitimate critique. But debunking does need to be done on the first 300 years. It’s too bad she didn’t leave it at that.
At the same time, I am equally sure that many martyrs from that period died unremembered as well.
The number of documented Christian martyrs from the 20th century far outstrips any number of questionably documented Christian martyrs from the 3rd century.
They decided that if he joined the crowd in a rousing cheer of “Death to the Atheists!” they would let him go.
He pointed out to the crowd and shouted “Death to the Atheists!”.
They were not amused.
They put him to death.
Reports of a dove springing from his chest when they put in the sword were, IMHO, an exaggeration. ;)
Why doesn’t this revisionist spend as much energy debunking the myths of persecution BY Christians? Lies like those commonly told about the Crusades, the Inquisition, proselytes in the New World, etc..
It is also true that many early martyr accounts probably contain some exaggeration. But hagiologers for centuries have been able to sift the exaggeration from the historical foundation so a breathless claim that only now do we realize it was all exaggerated is
exaggeration that has a kernel of truth in it.
If she truly claims only a handful of accounts are reasonably accurate, then that seems exaggerated debunking.
On the other hand,
I would not trust this reporting of what she claims not to be itself exaggerated. Does SHE really say only a handful or is that the breathless exaggeration of this reporter???
I’m tired of everyone exaggerating everything, including conservatives exaggerating the sins of people like Candida Moss. I don’t mind faulting her where faulting is due. But people need to fight fair and I’m not convinced this breathless report of the eeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvvviiiiiiiiiiillllllllll Candida Moss book isn’t just
I guess these skulls are fake too.
Was St. Paul executed? Just wondering.
They always gave everyone a chance to escape death. That was part of the policy. It was far more effective a way to demoralize and defeat Christianity by threatening people into recanting than by actually killing them.
The scene where the martyr is given a half-dozen chances to escape death merely by renouncing Christ is standard. And it makes perfect sense from the standpoint of the persecutor.
So you get whacked by Rome because you refuse to sacrifice to their pantheon of gods for the simple reason that it runs counter to your Christian belief that does not permit worship of other gods, and that is NOT martyrdom????? The logic fails me.
Pretty apt, I’d say.
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