The Myth of Persecution:
How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom
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by Candida Moss?
HarperOne, 320 pages, $25.99

The tedium of repeated déj vu in this sad little volume did at least send me back to Gibbon’s Decline and Fall . It is as if a publisher came to Candida Moss, a professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Notre Dame, with a proposal for a quick buck, relying on the political twitter of the times: “You’re an expert: Reframe Gibbon’s notorious chapter on the Romans and the Christians with some contemporary scholarship and cultural fillips, and we can put out a nifty pamphlet that’ll sell.”

And Moss has read her Gibbon. It’s all here, borrowed from the eighteenth-century master of an English prose far more wicked in its irony than Moss’s: the fraudulent numbers of the persecuted and killed, the “artful pen” of later Christian tricksters who embellished both the past and the inner vices of the early Church’s faithful, the self-serving formation of a culture of righteous resentment and hostility by pusillanimous Christians, and, of course, the proposal that the fictions and attitudes they engendered turned the Church into the world’s worst persecutor . . . . Continue Reading »

Articles by Ephraim Radner

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