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Early Christians weren’t persecuted

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#31    Mystic Crusader

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 05:27 PM

View PostParanoid Android, on 14 March 2013 - 04:57 PM, said:

:wacko:

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Do you not despise me?

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#32    eight bits

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 05:45 PM

PA

Quote

Touche.  I'm sure you knew what I meant, though.

My reply wasn't entirely meant as a gotcha. If we take seriously that your idea "We become that which we despise" explains the persecutions by the Christians, then it says something very dark about these overblown myths about the persecution of Christians.

The Edict of Milan very substantially ended the persecution of Christians in 313. Even allowing for the time it took Constantine to enforce his rule on the Eastern fringe, the last time any Christian was persecuted under color of Roman state authority would have been in 324. Christianity didn't become the state religion until 380 under Theodosius.

That's at least 56 years, and for most of the Empire more than 65 years, since any Christian had been persecuted by an adherent of the Roman traditional religion.

These stories, these lies about people of a different faith, kept the hatred alive through two generations of peaceful coexistence and recognized legal rights. These "exaggerations" were a murder weapon.

I think that's important to point out.

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#33    Frank Merton

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Posted 14 March 2013 - 06:01 PM

If I read you right the martyrdom saints were nothing but an excuse for Christians to persecute others.


#34    Paranoid Android

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Posted 15 March 2013 - 06:07 AM

View PostHavocWing, on 14 March 2013 - 05:27 PM, said:

Do you not despise me?

:st
Not at all.  We don't always get along, but that's more to do with a personality clash than anything else.  I certainly don't despise you for not being of the same faith as I.

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#35    Codenwarra

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 03:35 AM

Reading through the Salon article, this is not exactly new to me.  I have here a copy of "The Great Sahara", a travel / history book by James Wellard, published 1964 [Hutchinson & Co (Publishers) Ltd.]   From about page 95 to 109 he deals with Perpetua and Felicity  and some of the other martyrs of the 200s. Then a brief account of the Donatists in the 300s.  Sources are cited at page 399.

"There were reports of fanatics deliberately seeking out the opportunity to die for their faith, including a mob that turned up at the door of a Roman official in Asia Minor, demanding to be martyred, only to be turned away when he couldn’t be bothered to oblige them."

According to Wellard, similar things happened in North Africa.


#36    Bluefinger

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 01:43 PM

View PostStill Waters, on 10 March 2013 - 07:40 PM, said:

The Romans did not target, hunt or massacre Jesus' followers, says a historian of the early church.

Moss, professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame, challenges some of the most hallowed legends of the religion when she questions what she calls “the Sunday school narrative of a church of martyrs, of Christians huddled in catacombs out of fear, meeting in secret to avoid arrest and mercilessly thrown to lions merely for their religious beliefs.” None of that, she maintains, is true.

http://www.salon.com...ent_persecuted/

As a Christian, I must say that I found the article interesting and informative.

I have found a modern comparison:  The Nation of Israel.  After those few years that millions of Jews were killed, the British felt it right to give them their own sovereign nation.  Today, antiZionism attempts to cloud that account.

It very well could be that the historical accounts were made up or overdraumatized.  I don't think that would change my opinion about the legitimacy of Christianity though, because Christianity was not born in the 300's, but much earlier.  And the Gentile Christians were not blessed after Constantine legalized our religion but much earlier, when the Jewish religious leaders were hiding from the Romans rather than resisting the spread of Christianity.

I have found the traditional stories of cruel and lasting persecution at the hands of the Roman State to be suspect too.  But that's based on my interpretation of Revelation.

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#37    Doug1o29

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Posted 14 May 2013 - 06:47 PM

View PostParanoid Android, on 11 March 2013 - 03:50 AM, said:

I'd be more interested in this if it was a peer-reviewed journal entry rather than a non-peer reviewed book written for the masses.  That's not to say it is wrong, just that there is no scholarly review behind it except her own opinion.
Somewhere I read that the actual number was around 2000.  I think there was a discussion on UM way back when.

I'd like to know what the author thinks of Polycarp and Justin.  They were supposedly martyred.  Even though many of the stories (like Nero's Christian-lit garden parties and Ignatius of Antioch being thrown to the lions) are probably myths, there are other accounts that are a little harder to dismiss.
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#38    Mr Walker

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:45 AM

View Posteight bits, on 14 March 2013 - 05:45 PM, said:

PA



My reply wasn't entirely meant as a gotcha. If we take seriously that your idea "We become that which we despise" explains the persecutions by the Christians, then it says something very dark about these overblown myths about the persecution of Christians.

The Edict of Milan very substantially ended the persecution of Christians in 313. Even allowing for the time it took Constantine to enforce his rule on the Eastern fringe, the last time any Christian was persecuted under color of Roman state authority would have been in 324. Christianity didn't become the state religion until 380 under Theodosius.

That's at least 56 years, and for most of the Empire more than 65 years, since any Christian had been persecuted by an adherent of the Roman traditional religion.

These stories, these lies about people of a different faith, kept the hatred alive through two generations of peaceful coexistence and recognized legal rights. These "exaggerations" were a murder weapon.

I think that's important to point out.
I am not sure I understand this. if christians were indeed systematically, persecuted, executed and used as sport in the colosseums and arenas around the roman empire then this had been happening for nearly  300 years before it was stopped.

it was an instituionalised and systemic cultural procedure. Hence when christians gained control of the roman empire both in numbers and in political influence they had a choice.

To completely change that institutionalised and sytemic  set of procedures  or to just continue it  for their own purposes, with a different set of victims. The roman populace was so used to "bread and circuses" that it might have proved difficult to cease this form of entertainment altogether, but i suspect christians proved just as vindictive and prejudiced as anyone else. Ethics, moralities, values and beliefs, were very different from modern ones, for all humans in those times.

Two generations is also nothing in terms of human memory, and many  modern hatreds such as those in the balkans came back with extreme violence as late as the end of the last  century (1990s) after  nearly fifty years of  unification as Czechoslovakia.

The historical persecution of christians was inconsistent and varied but the reasons they were persecuted were the same as the reasons why all disidents were persecuted by rome. A lot of the time the persecution did not result in death but  more in restrictions limitations and "injunctions" placed on christians and their practices.

indeed a remarkable parallel exists with how jews were later treated by christians. While occasionally there were pogroms and massacres, usually it was  considered enough to keep the jews under control through repressive and restrictive legislation. That is how rome also generally dealt with early christians and other disssident groups. And the christians were dissident because they strongly opposed one of romes central tenets as epitomised in their major temples.

That ALL religions are equal and may be worshipped.  Jews and particulary christians were abouthe only religious groups wh denied this premise and oppsed it actively They also placed "the one true god" above the emperor who was considered by others to be divine and a representative of the gods. Thus they were not just dissidents but blasphemers and enemies of the emperors divine status.
MAny peole talk of the lack of historical proof for christian persecution but of course  it is hard to find historical proofs for much of what happened  There exists in the colosseum evidence of christian "martyrs" in the names and comments scratched by them in walls and floors of the colloseum precinct  ( a quick google doesnt confirm this but i have read about it in the past in a number of books and articles)There also exist historical referenrces to such acts especially under a few particular emporers who were more paranoid then most.

Modern hollywood and indeed some ancient "histories" might exaggerate the numbers for their own purposes, but the persecution of christians created a genuine response in later christian believers and the emphasis on martyrs of the early church, as "resistance leaders for the faith", was a part of this response.

Edited by Mr Walker, 16 May 2013 - 11:10 AM.

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Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

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#39    Sherapy

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:21 PM

View PostMr Walker, on 16 May 2013 - 10:45 AM, said:

I am not sure I understand this. if christians were indeed systematically, persecuted, executed and used as sport in the colosseums and arenas around the roman empire then this had been happening for nearly  300 years before it was stopped.

it was an instituionalised and systemic cultural procedure. Hence when christians gained control of the roman empire both in numbers and in political influence they had a choice.

To completely change that institutionalised and sytemic  set of procedures  or to just continue it  for their own purposes, with a different set of victims. The roman populace was so used to "bread and circuses" that it might have proved difficult to cease this form of entertainment altogether, but i suspect christians proved just as vindictive and prejudiced as anyone else. Ethics, moralities, values and beliefs, were very different from modern ones, for all humans in those times.

Two generations is also nothing in terms of human memory, and many  modern hatreds such as those in the balkans came back with extreme violence as late as the end of the last  century (1990s) after  nearly fifty years of  unification as Czechoslovakia.

The historical persecution of christians was inconsistent and varied but the reasons they were persecuted were the same as the reasons why all disidents were persecuted by rome. A lot of the time the persecution did not result in death but  more in restrictions limitations and "injunctions" placed on christians and their practices.

indeed a remarkable parallel exists with how jews were later treated by christians. While occasionally there were pogroms and massacres, usually it was  considered enough to keep the jews under control through repressive and restrictive legislation. That is how rome also generally dealt with early christians and other disssident groups. And the christians were dissident because they strongly opposed one of romes central tenets as epitomised in their major temples.

That ALL religions are equal and may be worshipped.  Jews and particulary christians were abouthe only religious groups wh denied this premise and oppsed it actively They also placed "the one true god" above the emperor who was considered by others to be divine and a representative of the gods. Thus they were not just dissidents but blasphemers and enemies of the emperors divine status.
MAny peole talk of the lack of historical proof for christian persecution but of course  it is hard to find historical proofs for much of what happened  There exists in the colosseum evidence of christian "martyrs" in the names and comments scratched by them in walls and floors of the colloseum precinct  ( a quick google doesnt confirm this but i have read about it in the past in a number of books and articles)There also exist historical referenrces to such acts especially under a few particular emporers who were more paranoid then most.

Modern hollywood and indeed some ancient "histories" might exaggerate the numbers for their own purposes, but the persecution of christians created a genuine response in later christian believers and the emphasis on martyrs of the early church, as "resistance leaders for the faith", was a part of this response.

I think all 8ty is pointing out,  is that based on his research-- that propaganda kept Christian persecution alive far longer then it actually needed to be-- to glean a viable point. For me, these type of situations serve as a reminder of how the strength of propaganda can encourage people to think and act in ways that are not productive. Perhaps this is why he mentioned the "christian" supposed to version of forgiveness(forgive and forget ) as it is a great idea if practiced; it is growth oriented and progressive as opposed to limiting and futile.  I for one find 8ty's point one worth looking at. Some of our growth as a humanity  has come from moving forward, and revising based on what we have learned from our mistakes.
One saying is not enough to encapsulate the whole tale, sometimes we are "doomed to repeat our mistakes" and sometimes we find a better way because of them.

Edited by Sherapy, 16 May 2013 - 04:20 PM.




#40    Frank Merton

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 03:32 PM

I think if I had been a Roman Emperor I would have perceived Christianity as an extremely serious threat.  This is of course with the hindsight my position in time gives me.  I think the Romans saw them as a mosquito.


#41    Sherapy

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 04:16 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 16 May 2013 - 03:32 PM, said:

I think if I had been a Roman Emperor I would have perceived Christianity as an extremely serious threat.  This is of course with the hindsight my position in time gives me.  I think the Romans saw them as a mosquito.

I can say that you are well founded in your concerns in some cases, if we were to apply hindsight-- that is.

Edited by Sherapy, 16 May 2013 - 04:17 PM.




#42    eight bits

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 05:42 PM

Thank you, Sheri  I liked your summary.

Perhaps I was unclear, and that explains Mr Walker's belated question. There were two generations with no presecutions, during which the practice of all peaceful religions was lawful. We are not discussing the Balkans, or some other place where there is an unbroken chain of reciprocal outrages, and the problem is how to break the cycle of violence and reprisal. The cycle had halted, and not because some secret police suppressed everybody by menace.

Two generations of religious tolerance suffice that no living Christian persecutor of non-Christians had been personally persecuted. Two generations suffice that no non-Christian victim of Christian persecution had personally been a persecutor.

What was kept alive across those two generations was not a plan for reparations, and certainly not a plan to ensure that atrocities in the name of a state religion would never happen again. What was kept alive across those two generations was not the unvarnished truth, either.

So, what we have, Mr Walker are lies, told with the intention and effect of inciting to murder. I am unsure what part of that is unclearly wrong. I am sure that it's a crime where I live.

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#43    Sherapy

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 09:24 PM

View Posteight bits, on 16 May 2013 - 05:42 PM, said:

Thank you, Sheri  I liked your summary.

Perhaps I was unclear, and that explains Mr Walker's belated question. There were two generations with no presecutions, during which the practice of all peaceful religions was lawful. We are not discussing the Balkans, or some other place where there is an unbroken chain of reciprocal outrages, and the problem is how to break the cycle of violence and reprisal. The cycle had halted, and not because some secret police suppressed everybody by menace.

Two generations of religious tolerance suffice that no living Christian persecutor of non-Christians had been personally persecuted. Two generations suffice that no non-Christian victim of Christian persecution had personally been a persecutor.

What was kept alive across those two generations was not a plan for reparations, and certainly not a plan to ensure that atrocities in the name of a state religion would never happen again. What was kept alive across those two generations was not the unvarnished truth, either.

So, what we have, Mr Walker are lies, told with the intention and effect of inciting to murder. I am unsure what part of that is unclearly wrong. I am sure that it's a crime where I live.

Perhaps MW will look at bit deeper into the topic. I think Candide Moss makes a good point when she says that "there is a difference between persecution and prosecution." The Roman's did prosecute for quite a bit and I can bet many a christian and others came up for infractions punishable by death in those days fairly regularly.  I took a class 6 or 7 years ago about Martyrs and there were a legitimate few and their stories are worth reading as it can help us appreciate that in those days to die a good death (noble)was a goal.Where as nowadays so many are all are trying to avoid death LOL and the few that embrace the idea want it pain free and quick, if we think about it at all.

Edited by Sherapy, 16 May 2013 - 09:28 PM.




#44    Mr Walker

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Posted 16 May 2013 - 10:46 PM

View Posteight bits, on 16 May 2013 - 05:42 PM, said:

Thank you, Sheri  I liked your summary.

Perhaps I was unclear, and that explains Mr Walker's belated question. There were two generations with no presecutions, during which the practice of all peaceful religions was lawful. We are not discussing the Balkans, or some other place where there is an unbroken chain of reciprocal outrages, and the problem is how to break the cycle of violence and reprisal. The cycle had halted, and not because some secret police suppressed everybody by menace.

Two generations of religious tolerance suffice that no living Christian persecutor of non-Christians had been personally persecuted. Two generations suffice that no non-Christian victim of Christian persecution had personally been a persecutor.

What was kept alive across those two generations was not a plan for reparations, and certainly not a plan to ensure that atrocities in the name of a state religion would never happen again. What was kept alive across those two generations was not the unvarnished truth, either.

So, what we have, Mr Walker are lies, told with the intention and effect of inciting to murder. I am unsure what part of that is unclearly wrong. I am sure that it's a crime where I live.
How do you know they were lies and more to the point how do you know the people of the time  knew them to be lies? The balkans shows how "racial memories" persist over a long time. As far as I am aware, under the communist regime of czechoslovakia there was little if any overt violence between its very differnt peoples. But once that repression/ imposed order was lifted it soon resumed. Violence and conflict comes from difference,  and fear.  And the christians were different to all other roman religions, and at several times they were strongly persecuted by emperors who saw them as a threat to public order and to the divine right of the emperor.
Perhaps even more significanlty they were a prosylethising religion. The jews were persecuted and executed but the christians perhaps even more so because they really annoyed the heck out of the average roman citizen and opposed their long held beliefs..
It worked against them as a minority and they enforced their own belief as a majority or when in control Eventually they solved the state/church divide by inventing the concept of the divine right of kings, ie that kings /emperors, were divinely appointed and sanctioned by god.

Edited by Mr Walker, 16 May 2013 - 10:49 PM.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world..

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

#45    eight bits

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Posted 17 May 2013 - 08:28 AM

Mr Walker

It is obvious that you and I have a fundamental disagreement about the criteria for justifiable homicide. This severly limits the scope of useful further discussion between us. We have each had our say, and there the matter will rest.

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