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.
You know, this is foolish. She is debunking the first 300 years. Otranto has nothing to do with it.
The reaction here on FR is childish. There’s plenty to criticize in the book. But the ignorance on display here is disgusting.
Yeah, Chick prof just randomly picks a chick martyr as legit.
She is not saying that that is not martyrdom. She’s saying that some stories portray that as the cause of the execution when other factors were the real cause.
And she’s right, in some cases, that did happen. The issue is whether it happened in most cases or only a few.
Stop shooting from the hip.
This gal seems clueless about the process of bringing a people to subjection. Every step along the way to the Holocaust could be minimized and excused using her rationale.
The idea of government REQUIRING that Christian organizations provide coverage of birth control and abortion but those groups simply trusting that their employees would never actually use it is sort of like government saying that companies have to provide the date-rape drug to their employees but trust that the employees will never use it.
Why make Christian groups pay for something they consider to be immoral, if they’re never going to use it?
Because even if their employees didn’t use the date-rape drug, forcing companies to pay for it ensures that date-rape drugs will still be manufactured and used by SOMEBODY. IOW, the money that Christians throw into the date-rape-drug “pool” may not be used by their own employees, but it WILL be used by SOMEBODY.
Christians are thus forced to pay for others to sacrifice their own children. They are being required to pay for Molech’s altar, on which other people’s children will be offered as sacrifices. They don’t have to do the actual kiling themselves, they just have to watch silently and pay Hitler’s salary while he gets others to do the killing.
If this gal is too stupid to understand that, then she misunderstands all of history. Why would the church hire somebody that stupid?
“Radners criticism was not so much that shes wrong about the first 300 years”.
Let me guess. Southron Baptist?
Gosh, it’s like bias is difficult to find.
but its of no consequence to me....we see with our own eyes how Christians/Catholics are murdered around the world....we don't have to SUPPOSE that the very same thing didn't happen back in the days of pagan society...
Radner is a conservative Episcopalian. Your prejudice is showing.
“THere were so many prominent women martyrs, genuine women martyrs that to accuse her of randomly picking a woman is calumny.”
Right. I’m arguing that a chick prof just magically came up with a list of six, and only six martyrs that passed her mystical ‘sniff test’, they mention this chick and none of the other six. I think they call that serendipity. It’s good that we have such exceptional and insightful professors adding to our vast store of knowledge of the past.
I gathered that she was episcopalian.
They also kind of like that whole ‘sacred feminine gig’.
No, I was talking about you. Southron Baptist?
I’m very familiar with this topic and this lady is crazy but of course the reason she is doing this is because she knows this will be repeated as a preface disclaimer in the msm media when this topic comes up because we all know that one liberal prof trumps hundreds of years of scholarship to the contrary.
Article also makes sure to say that Candida is a ‘practicing’ Catholic. So now she’s fair game for us. :)
I’m interested enough by Houton’s defense to see what I can find out about her.
Well, he did get crosswise with the Roman authorities....
Radner is episcopalian. Moss is Catholic. Do you know how to read?
I think this video of hers should be enough to discard that whole ‘practicing Catholic’ argument.
Who supports abortion and homosexuality. She’s an CINO, really an episcopalian.
Anyways, as for you - you’re a Southron Baptist?
And there’s something else too. If any Christian wanted to speak out against the Holocaust after already having been complicit through silence, the Holocaust supporters could always call them hypocrites for eventually speaking out. If everybody is forced to take a bite out of that sacrifice to Molech, they are already stained.
It’s a way of demoralizing a people.
I cannot earn a wage without helping to pay for the crap that Kermit Gosnell has been doing. My government ensures that the only way I can be totally innocent of those babies’ blood is if I never earn a wage.
Again, the methods of demoralizing (removing the moral fiber of) a people are all about incrementally increasing the involvement that people were OK “compromising” with.
This gals’ whole premise is flawed. Seriously flawed. And dangerous. She is a boiled frog and is upset that we don’t want to join her. That area of “compromise” is precisely the process that the Muslims who easily kill “infidels” all over the world right now have said they will get America to the same point of sharia.
Specifically, they intend to use our intention to be accepting and loving toward other cultures as a way to FORCE sharia on the whole country. The initial push starts when there is perceived weakness and/or when the Muslim population reaches about 8%. At 10$ the push toward sharia is REQUIRED of all Muslims. But at about 8% they start claiming that their religion REQUIRES things like not touching or eating pork, not riding in a car with a dog, etc. And they use the Christian society’s “niceness” as a way of forcing companies to make special provisions for Muslims. That establishes a legal precedent which is then used to get elements of sharia embedded within a supposedly “religiously-neutral” government. Once the laws provide exceptions for Muslims you set up 2 different tracks - one for Muslims, and one for infidels.
I’m not sure what this gal is claiming as the way that historic truth is “verified”, but I do know that what she is saying about compromise is downright dangerous, because it is the precise method the Islamists have said we will get from America to Iran.
And it is precisely the way that Israel in the Old Testament was handed over to be destroyed by the Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, etc. The Lord gave them over to defeat because they were constantly joining in with the Baal, Molech, and Asherah worshipping of the people around them, as they intermarried with them and forgot all about the Word of God that made them a separate - and blessed - people.
So this gal misunderstands Biblical history, secular history, and current events.
That's telling right there.
Fact, Candida is a liberal pro-abort prof who supports Obama and Obamacare, and is using this book to advance her pro abort and yes, feminist agenda.
Call me an ignoramus if you will, but I’m right here.
What better way than to eliminate all the men who died for Christ? I wonder if Stephen even made the cut. It is curious the article never bothers to list which six. Do you not wonder why that is?
Excuse me, but what right do you have to tell Catholics what they can believe or not believe? I wasn’t aware the Pope Francis I was a member of FR.
Yes, it is. Chick prof, chick martyrs.