"In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors.
"I recently got my hands on a copy of Dr. Candida Moss's latest book, "The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom." As a person of faith and an academic, I was fascinated and challenged by some of her findings about how ancient Christian martyr stories continue to affect how many Christians understand their faith today, and I wanted to know more. What follows is an in-depth series of questions that I asked to Dr. Moss, who's a New Testament scholar at Notre Dame University:
So Dr. Moss, what led you to write this book?
"A new book says under the Roman empire, "Christians were never the victims of sustained, targeted persecution."
February 25, 2013 |
"1. I can be sure to hear music on the radio and watch specials on television that celebrate the holidays of my religion.
2. I can be sure that my holy day (Sunday) is taken into account when states pass laws (e.g., the sale of liquor) and when retail stores decide their hours (e.g., on Saturdays, they are open about 12 hours; on Sundays, they are closed or open for only a few hours).
3. I can assume that I will not have to work or go to school on my significant religious holidays.
"One route to understanding the nature of specifically religious violence is the study of past conflicts. Distinguished ancient historian Brent D. Shaw provides a new analysis of the intense sectarian battles between the Catholic and Donatist churches of North Africa in late antiquity, in which Augustine played a central role as Bishop of Hippo.
"Religion—the source of inspiration, hope, and basic values for most of humanity throughout history—has also been the motive for atrocious persecutions from antiquity to the present. In the Name of Heaven is a wide-ranging historical survey of religious persecution encompassing three millennia and a great diversity of cultures worldwide.
Cross-posted from Examiner.com with permission from the author.
The myth of Christian persecution in the United States