March 21, 2013 7:30 PM
“You’re Such a Martyr!”: The History and Controversy of Persecution in the Early Church
According to cherished church tradition, early Christians were uniquely and systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire. Vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions or routinely tortured or burned alive. In spite of these horrors, so the story goes, these heroes of the early church chose to die rather than renounce their faith in God. Such stories form part of the teaching of the church to the present day, inspiring some to acts of like courage in the face of modern hardships. Yet there is also the troubling use of this heritage to silence the voices of those who act outside the perceived orthodoxies of the day.
In this lecture, Professor Candida Moss will address the true history of persecution in the early church, and show how this history includes exaggerations and forgeries that eventually became part of the rhetoric of the church. Moss will also address the question of the legacy of this history; a legacy that has animated the acts of some within the religious world to exclude those who would challenge their hegemony.