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Pagan Rome and the Early Christians [Paperback]

Stephen Benko


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Book Description

1 July 1986
As perceived by the average Roman citizen, the early rites and behavior of Christians laid them open to charges of cannibalism, immorality, and the practice of magic and conspiring and fomenting rebellion aganst the state. The early church fathers rejected these accusations and portrayed pagans as victims of misinformation or perpetrators of ill will. Benko proposes to give the pagans the benefit of the doubt and analyzes their charges against Christianity under the premise that they may have been right within the context of the times. He has provided a persuasively argued and refreshing if controversial perspective on the confrontation of the pagan and early Christian worlds.


Product details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; Reprint edition (1 July 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253203856
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253203854
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,679,621 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We're not that different from ancient Romans 27 Jun 2001
By Sandra Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One of the things that was impressed upon me by this book is that Romans were horrified by the early Christians in much the same way many people in this day and age are horrified by groups with seemingly "different" ideas. To most ancient Romans the Christians were people who skulked around at night and performed cannibalism. To the more enlightened, who honestly tried to understand what it was that Christians believed, the Christian belief system still didn't make sense on a philosophical basis. This book teaches us that Christianity spooked a lot of ancient Romans because the worship of Roman gods was so tied to Roman patriotism. If you didn't worship the Roman gods then how could you be a good Roman? Despite this, Romans were amazingly tolerant of most other belief systems which adds even more weight to how radical early Christians had to have been.
This is a well-written, well-researched and interesting book. I think that perhaps inadvertently it is also a good book about human nature. In particular it reinforces the importance of keeping the church and the state separate.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roman Perspective for Great Insights 10 May 2012
By E. Pichon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Well worth a read if you are interested in early church history. By examining the early church from the Roman perspective, it turns the usual evil-Romans-persecuting-good-Christians narrative on its head. He basically argues, by citing contemporary writings, that the negative reaction of the Romans was based on moral, philosophical and ethical principals, and not knee-jerk hatred.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rome 8 Mar 2007
By N. Lynch - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book presents the view of early Christianity from the Roman side, by focusing on the work of several early writers and commentators. The insights are quite interesting and the view of Roman society is rather different from that one hears in Christian circles. I recommend the book, but wish it went into a bit more depth in places, and explained some things more fully.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good, concise discussion of the subject. 18 Aug 2008
By Robert James Ball - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The book is well outlined so the subject matter is not difficult to follow. The print is clear, easily read, and the font is a good size to read though not large print. Those interested in the subject matter will find this book an interesting, informative, and beneficial read. The notes and bibliography alone are worth the price of the book. Benko, the author of the book, is to be commended for a job well done.
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