Madeline spoke to us about the book The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom. The basic theme is that Christians perpetuate a belief that Christians were persecuted by the Romans throughout the history of Rome and that this is false. There was never sustained, targeted persecution of Christians by Rome. Official persecution of Christians by order of the Emperors was never more than isolated ventures except for one under Diocletian that lasted about 10 years. Nero blamed the burning of Rome on the Christians simply because they were a convenient scapegoat. Had it been a sincere belief, the Nero would not have eased off his attack on Christians after only a short time. Martyrdom stories were embellished, mostly by one man Eusebius of Caesareawho wrote a book about early Christianity around 300. The author claims that primary sources even in Eusebius’ time were not accurate historical accounts. Using analysis of language, she claims that they have been altered and re-written by subsequent generations of Christians.
Incidentally, I looked up some book reviews of the this book when I got home today and, not surprisingly, the Christian Press hates this book. I think that is going to be the inevitable result of when someone comes along and claims that earlier historians were doing less than rigorous work. Those historians are going to hate the new book.
Come hear for yourself.