Yale-educated University of Notre Dame professor of New Testament and early Christianity, Candida Moss has released a video promoting her new book, "The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom."
In the video, Moss discounts the accounts of early Christian martyrdom:
Contrary to traditional Church teaching, and popular belief, Christians were not systematically tortured and killed by the Romans merely because they refused to deny Christ.
Rather, these stories were exaggerated, revised, and forged, often centuries later, and the history of the Church was reshaped in order to combat heresy, to inspire and educate the faithful, and to fund Churches.
She describes the goals of her book as "getting the history right," and to "expose the dangerous legacy that these misunderstandings about Christian martyrdom have had for us today."
The rhetoric of martyrdom and persecution persists especially in the language of the religious and political right, and just as early Christians employed the martyrdom myth, this myth is still used to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of cultural warriors.
The idea that Christians are, by their very nature, persecuted, is grounded in an inaccurate history of the early Church. Christians were not relentlessly persecuted in the first few centuries, and they're not systematically and continually persecuted today.
Moss is delivering a lecture on the topic on March 21 at the Washington National Cathedral. The description of that talk says that "there is the troubling use of this heritage to silence the voice of those who act outside the perceived orthodoxies of the day."
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