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on 17 August 2013
The book I noticed is getting a lot of 'one-star' reviews from christians on amazon.com - naturally i guess as its questions the martyr stories but I found it well researched and definitely worth a read whether you're a christian or not and are open minded

A good and systematic analysis into the Christian mythology of persecution by the Romans and the various embellishments and half truths manufactured later to promote the new faith through the use of supposed martyrs. A considerable number of the martyr stories it seems were 'borrowed' from other religions of the time with little or no change. Others don't stand the test of logic while others obviously don't fit the period of history they're supposed to be from.

The Romans were actually very tolerant of other beliefs and the author analyzes why some (not most) early Christians got into trouble not because they were hated or feared as a community but because of their disdain and disrespect for their laws and practices.
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on 24 June 2014
My research coincides with Professor Moss' research in many areas, but the professor hasn't penetrated the literature as deeply as it is possible to do, thereby failing to notice the huge elephant standing in the middle of the living room. In fact, Professor Moss alludes to the elephant standing in the middle of the room, but it goes right over her head (and others too since the fall of the Western Roman Empire):

"If we give any credence to the apocryphal acts and believe that the apostles attracted large crowds, then we have to concede that the apostles might have been viewed as revolutionaries. If they were arrested, then the charges levied against them may have been insurgency or inciting unrest among the people. As the death of Jesus shows, Romans had no problems executing people who caused trouble or could potentially start a rebellion. They were taking elementary precautions." (p. 137).

The above quote is affirmed by New Testament professors for the PBS Frontline documentary "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians", who unanimously agree that Roman governors in Judea immediately executed charismatic persons that attracted large crowds (go to the comments section to this review below, where the first posting provides yet another New Testament professor's account of how Roman governors of Judea immediately behaved towards the various "Messiahs/prophets" they met up with)...

"Jesus would have represented a kind of activist and resister in Pontius Pilate's experience that he had been dealing with for years, and with varying degrees of success and effectiveness, obviously. Jesus would have been a blip on the screen of Pontius Pilate, because the unrest and the uprisings were so common, part of daily life for the Roman administration of Judea, that Jesus would have been seen, I think, as very little out of the ordinary."

and

"Now I don't for a moment think that Pilate would have been worried that Jesus could have challenged the power of the emperor. That's not the point. The point is, any challenge to Roman authority...any challenge to the peace of Rome would have been met with a swift and violent response."

This confirms Josephus' accounts as to what immediately happened to any person claiming to perform miracles in Roman Judea.

Between 44 and 46 CE, one Theudas caused some consternation with what may have been a claim to be the Messiah:

"It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem." -- [(Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98]

and

The Roman governor Festus, who was -according to recent research- in office from 58 until 60 CE, was confronted with another rebel:

"Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain impostor, who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also." -- [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.188]

Yet the Bible scholars interviewed for this PBS Frontline program fail to explain why Pontius Pilate failed for three years to swiftly deal with the threat of Jesus when if it had been anyone other than Jesus, that threat to the Roman Peace would have been immediately dealt with three years earlier!

The PBS Frontline program also fails to explain the similar three-year inaction of the religious leaders in Jerusalem (and Galilee/Perea) to execute Jesus for blasphemy under the Law of Moses, AND why for the next 37 years (before the fall of Jerusalem) Roman and Jewish religious authorities are still refusing to put to death Jesus' disciples and all Jesus Sect members (excepting for three fluke cases: Saint Stephen and the two disciples named James. In the case of Saint Stephen, he was pointed out to the religious leaders of Jerusalem by foreign Jews from what is today Turkey, who were in town for Passover. The religious leaders of Jerusalem were pressed into the arrest and stoning of Stephen by ignorant foreign Jews, otherwise Stephen would not have been arrested in the first place. See first embedded comment to this review for how the two disciples named James died.)!

In fact, when Paul and Peter, and their disciples, are roaming the eastern Roman Empire (outside of the Levant) they too are attracting large crowds, and what are the Roman governors doing about this sedition? Nothing. As with the ten Roman governors of Judea, they too refuse to immediately arrest Paul and Peter (and their disciples), then adjudicating and executing them for sedition.

Allow me to repeat Professor Moss' quote above:

"If we give any credence to the apocryphal acts and believe that the apostles attracted large crowds, then we have to concede that the apostles might have been viewed as revolutionaries. If they were arrested, then the charges levied against them may have been insurgency or inciting unrest among the people. As the death of Jesus shows, Romans had no problems executing people who caused trouble or could potentially start a rebellion. They were taking elementary precautions." (p. 137).

Firstly, inexplicably it wasn't Pilate who arrested Jesus, it was the Jerusalem Sanhedrin; secondly, Pilate allowed Jesus and disciples to move freely in Judea for three-years, including Jesus' disciples after Jesus' resurrection; and thirdly, Jesus' disciples continue to attract large crowds and claim to perform miracles under the administrations of the next nine Roman governors of Judea.

For the Romans Jesus was empirical proof that deities existed, hence (1) why ten Roman governors in Judea between 30 AD - 66 AD (the Jewish Revolt taking place in 66 AD) refused to execute Jesus and disciples/apostles (Pilate executed Jesus only when presented Jesus by the Sanhedrin, but both Pilate and the Sanhedrin refused to execute the remaining eleven apostles).

Those who aren't aware, Roman governors were tasked to immediately execute as rebels charismatic figures that attracted large crowds such as Jesus and His followers, but refused to do so in the case of Jesus, and after Jesus' death the next nine Roman governors are continuing Pilate's inexplicable stand down policy by refusing to arrest and execute Jesus' apostles who are still attracting large crowds and claiming to perform miracles. During the same period, however, other "Messiahs/prophets" are cropping up in Judea, who are summarily executed by mounted auxiliary Roman troops, including any unlucky followers in the presence of the "Messiah/prophet".*

The fact that ten Roman governors of Judea during this period (30 AD - 66 AD) all followed the same inexplicable stand down policy towards Jesus and disciples/apostles, informs one that the inexplicable policy adopted by each governor wasn't ad hoc but Imperial policy from the Emperor!

Between 66 AD - 313 AD Roman "persecution" of the Jesus Sect/Christians lasted all of twelve-years (and such "persecutions" were sporadic and lackadaisical), yet otherwise within the Roman Empire we see Christians (1) as civil administrators within Roman administration; (2) as rich business owners; and (3) building churches...

"They were, as the third-century Christian writer Tertullian tells us, able to succeed in politics, law, and business. They were not hiding, either in the catacombs in Rome or in general. On the eve of Diocletian's Great Persecution--which, beginning in 303, outlawed Christian scriptures, prohibited Christians from meeting, and razed places of worship­­­--a newly erected church nestled across from the imperial palace in Nicomedia in Turkey, a symbol of the confidence of Christians living in the Roman Empire." -- see "The Myths Behind the Age of Martyrs" by Professor Candida Moss; The Chronicle of Higher Education, (February 25, 2013).

That Christians were looked at askew by non-Christians is certainly true, but for a very good reason--Christians took Jesus' rebuke to Peter ("Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.") literally (the warning was to Peter exclusively, since Jesus wanted Peter alive after His resurrection) and abstained from volunteering for active duty in the Legions. With barbarians pressing on the empire from the north and Persia to the West, naturally resentment took its course, resulting in halfhearted "persecutions"; halfhearted because most knew that Christians were followers of Jesus, someone Romans knew as a deity.

It should also be added that in this period most Christians didn't go to Church, and there were, contrary to the vulgar anti-Roman propaganda put out by the early Christian fathers of the Church (who also cruelly maligned Jews, by the way**), plenty of churches one could go to. In fact, one such church was right across the street from the Imperial Palace in Nicomedia,*** when that city was the capital of the Eastern Empire!

No other aspect of early Christian misbehavior more vexed Rome than refusing to join the Legions in defense of the Empire, especially during periods of emergency, when barbarians in the north were pressing in on the Empire. Professor Moss notes this, however she fails to mention Christians taking this personal belief and inciting others to follow, which Roman judges would view as not only inciting rebellion against Rome, but actual rebellion against Rome:

"II. THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH CONSCIENTIOUSLY OPPOSED TO MILITARY SERVICE

A. General Historical Perspective

"The rise of Christianity led to a rapid growth of conscientious objection. Accordingly to A. Harnack, C.J. Cadoux, and G.J. Herring, the most eminent students of the problem, few if any Christians served in the Roman Army during the first century and a half A.D.; and even in the third century there were Christian conscientious objectors."5

"The many early Christians accepted the injunctions of the Sermon on the Mount quite literally is certain and their attitude brought them into much the same kind of conflict with the Roman authorities which conscientious objectors of our own time face in dealing with the military authority. G.C. Macgregor (The New Testament Basis of Pacifism) points out that `until about the close of the third quarter of the second century the attitude of the church was quite consistently pacifist.' Harnack's conclusion is that no Christian would become a soldier after baptism at least up to the time of Marcus Aurelius, say about A.D. 170 (Militia Christi, p.4). After that time signs of compromise became increasingly evident, but the pacifist trend continues strong right up into the fourth century."****

A Roman magistrate's sentence of death in such cases of inciting others to not join the Legions would not constitute persecution, but LEGAL prosecution, a prosecution that any non-Christian would also find himself ensnared in.

The above proves (1) the historicity of Jesus; and (2) that Jesus was indeed God, otherwise no Roman subject/citizen would have accepted such an otherwise known laughably bad forged Gospels'/Acts narratives, where (1) enemies of the state are cuddled by ten Roman governors of Judea; and (2) likewise cuddled by numerous other Roman governors outside of Judea/Galilee-Perea, where Paul, Peter and disciples are attracting large crowds!

----------------------------

*Which is why John the Baptist refused to ministry in Judea, and baptized on the Jordan River on the bank opposite of Judea in Perea, knowing what the fate of him and his disciples would be if he stepped one foot inside Judea attracting the usual large crowds he attracted outside of Judea.

**The Jewish leadership in Judea & Galilee knew who Jesus was even before His ministry began, but couldn't let on because there was a Roman occupation. And when Jesus began His ministry, performing real signs, the Roman governor had to pretend he didn't know Jesus and disciples/apostles were attracting large crowds, otherwise the governor on the scene would be duty bound to initiate Roman standard operating procedures for rebels/insurrectionists.

The Jerusalem Sanhedrin itself only arrested Jesus after Jesus' provocation towards Rome by entering Jerusalem with a mob. Realizing that the provocation was Jesus signaling to them that it was time for Jesus to die, the Sanhedrin still had to make sure that Jesus was indeed signalling that it was time for Him to die, so the Sanhedrin arranged three nighttime Q & A sessions to interrogate Jesus (these three nighttime Q & A sessions weren't trials, subject to the handing down of punishment, since under the Law of Moses trails can only take place during daylight hours). Jesus' silence throughout the proceedings proved that Jesus was indeed signalling that it was time for Him to die.

In fact, the only person "persecuting" early Jesus Sect members is Paul, but even Paul is restrained by the Jerusalem Sanhedrin from actually killing the followers of Jesus, sending him off on a wild goose chase to Damascus instead, where we're informed Paul has an epiphany. It was Paul who was the one causing "HAVOC" in Jerusalem, shouting deadly "THREATS" at followers of Jesus...

Acts 9:

9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples.
...

21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name?

Roman governors didn't care for "havoc", which is why the Jewish authorities sent Paul off to Damascus which was nominally independent of Rome, meaning Damascus had home rule; no Roman governor, though it was the headquarters of a Roman Legate who commanded two Roman Legions. The Legate in Syria was also the superior to governors in the region.

When Paul had converted and was spreading Jesus' message in what is today Turkey, he too was performing "rebellion" by attracting large crowds, but Roman governors are oblivious to Paul's provocations (as a Roman governor sees Paul's actions)...

Acts 11:26:

When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

Note that Jesus never asks the Jerusalem Sanhedrin nor Pilate why they are persecuting His followers, because they're not. Jesus only asks Paul because Paul is the only entity "persecuting" Jesus Sect members!

The execution of Stephen was a case of bad timing for the first martyr. If you recall, soon after Jesus' resurrection (either the next Passover or the Passover after that) Stephen was caught preaching the new faith in the Temple by foreign Jews in Jerusalem for Passover. Naturally they wondered why Stephen was still alive and took their queries to the Jewish authorities, who had no choice but to sacrifice Stephen rather than threaten the "Don't ask/Don't tell" policy the Jewish authorities played with Rome. If Stephen hand't met up with that particular group of foreign Jews ignorant of Jesus and followers, he wouldn't have been the first martyr.

*** Where did the precious monies come from to build such churches?

**** See the first comment to this review for the link to the citation.
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on 5 July 2013
A well written book giving insight into how persecution stories developed, creating a stereotype that persists into the present. I was previously unfamiliar with philosopher death stories as a genre, and I am now surprised that I did not recognise them for the myths they so clearly are in retrospect. A sobering read, particular in the current context when disagreement is so easily labelled as persecution.
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on 28 August 2014
Excellent, scholarly and well written, dispelling some of our myths
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VINE VOICEon 22 August 2014
Within the body of comments by those who support the notion that the persecution of early Christians is a myth it is not uncommon to find claims like this:

"The Romans were actually very tolerant of other beliefs and the author analyzes why some (not most) early Christians got into trouble not because they were hated or feared as a community but because of their disdain and disrespect for their laws and practices."

In reality this is an invalid conclusion based on a true, but CRUCIALLY INCOMPLETE piece of information.

It is true that the cults of both the Romans and the Greeks tended to be tolerant of other cults. and citizens might worship[ a variety of major gods as well as their household gods.

But the case against the Christian was not which god they DID worship, but the one god they WOULDN'T worship - the emperor. Likewise, and on this point the author is almost correct, based on they choice to follow the teaching of Jesus Christ, and the "12 Commandments" of Judaism, they believed in ONLY ONE GOD, albeit in three "persons." Which was correctly interpreted as implying that the entire hierarchy of Roman gods, including the emperor, were invalid.

As long as that kind of thinking was confined to the Roman empire in the Middle East it could be tolerated just as Judaism, another very exclusive religion, had been tolerated up until then. But when Christianity spread to Rome and began to attract a significant number of followers it became intolerable - coupled with the growing unrest amongst Jews in Israel - something had to give, and the Romans didn't tyhink it should be them.

Thereafter rather different conditions existed. The Jews had physical boundaries that could be dictated by the invaders. They had temples and synagogues which could be desecrated and razed to the ground. In short, they were immensely vulnerable. Christians, on the other hand, started out with no dedicated places of worship - their "churches" were their own homes or anywhere else they gathered together, even if only two or three came together at a time.

Then again, Jews, having geographical boundaries, and a religious membership based on inheritance, and religious ceremonies involving sacred ritual with material trappings. were disinclined to go seeking converts IN general, even where members of the faith went beyond the boundaries of their country. Christians, on the other hand, not only sought converts in the land where they started, they regarded themselves as being responsible for obeying Jesus; command to carry the gospel to the whole world.

Any way you look at it, the confrontation between Christians and the Roman state was absolutely fundamental, and inevitable.

The idea that Roman persecution is purely a myth is therefore itself a myth, based on telling only half the story. A technique that seems to be proving ever more attractive to modern critiques of Christianity.
As they used to say about newspapers - why let facts get in the way of a good story.
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on 24 June 2014
My research coincides with Professor Moss' research in many areas, but the professor hasn't penetrated the literature as deeply as it is possible to do, thereby failing to notice the huge elephant standing in the middle of the living room. In fact, Professor Moss alludes to the elephant standing in the middle of the room, but it goes right over her head (and others too since the fall of the Western Roman Empire):

"If we give any credence to the apocryphal acts and believe that the apostles attracted large crowds, then we have to concede that the apostles might have been viewed as revolutionaries. If they were arrested, then the charges levied against them may have been insurgency or inciting unrest among the people. As the death of Jesus shows, Romans had no problems executing people who caused trouble or could potentially start a rebellion. They were taking elementary precautions." (p. 137).

The above quote is affirmed by New Testament professors for the PBS Frontline documentary "From Jesus to Christ: The First Christians", who unanimously agree that Roman governors in Judea immediately executed charismatic persons that attracted large crowds (go to the comments section to this review below, where the first posting provides yet another New Testament professor's account of how Roman governors of Judea immediately behaved towards the various "Messiahs/prophets" they met up with)...

"Jesus would have represented a kind of activist and resister in Pontius Pilate's experience that he had been dealing with for years, and with varying degrees of success and effectiveness, obviously. Jesus would have been a blip on the screen of Pontius Pilate, because the unrest and the uprisings were so common, part of daily life for the Roman administration of Judea, that Jesus would have been seen, I think, as very little out of the ordinary."

and

"Now I don't for a moment think that Pilate would have been worried that Jesus could have challenged the power of the emperor. That's not the point. The point is, any challenge to Roman authority...any challenge to the peace of Rome would have been met with a swift and violent response."

This confirms Josephus' accounts as to what immediately happened to any person claiming to perform miracles in Roman Judea.

Between 44 and 46 CE, one Theudas caused some consternation with what may have been a claim to be the Messiah:

"It came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain charlatan, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it. Many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them. After falling upon them unexpectedly, they slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem." -- [(Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.97-98]

and

The Roman governor Festus, who was -according to recent research- in office from 58 until 60 CE, was confronted with another rebel:

"Festus sent forces, both horsemen and footmen, to fall upon those that had been seduced by a certain impostor, who promised them deliverance and freedom from the miseries they were under, if they would but follow him as far as the wilderness. Accordingly, those forces that were sent destroyed both him that had deluded them, and those that were his followers also." -- [Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.188]

Yet the Bible scholars interviewed for this PBS Frontline program fail to explain why Pontius Pilate failed for three years to swiftly deal with the threat of Jesus when if it had been anyone other than Jesus, that threat to the Roman Peace would have been immediately dealt with three years earlier!

The PBS Frontline program also fails to explain the similar three-year inaction of the religious leaders in Jerusalem (and Galilee/Perea) to execute Jesus for blasphemy under the Law of Moses, AND why for the next 37 years (before the fall of Jerusalem) Roman and Jewish religious authorities are still refusing to put to death Jesus' disciples and all Jesus Sect members (excepting for three fluke cases: Saint Stephen and the two disciples named James. In the case of Saint Stephen, he was pointed out to the religious leaders of Jerusalem by foreign Jews from what is today Turkey, who were in town for Passover. The religious leaders of Jerusalem were pressed into the arrest and stoning of Stephen by ignorant foreign Jews, otherwise Stephen would not have been arrested in the first place. See first embedded comment to this review for how the two disciples named James died.)!

In fact, when Paul and Peter, and their disciples, are roaming the eastern Roman Empire (outside of the Levant) they too are attracting large crowds, and what are the Roman governors doing about this sedition? Nothing. As with the ten Roman governors of Judea, they too refuse to immediately arrest Paul and Peter (and their disciples), then adjudicating and executing them for sedition.

Allow me to repeat Professor Moss' quote above:

"If we give any credence to the apocryphal acts and believe that the apostles attracted large crowds, then we have to concede that the apostles might have been viewed as revolutionaries. If they were arrested, then the charges levied against them may have been insurgency or inciting unrest among the people. As the death of Jesus shows, Romans had no problems executing people who caused trouble or could potentially start a rebellion. They were taking elementary precautions." (p. 137).

Firstly, inexplicably it wasn't Pilate who arrested Jesus, it was the Jerusalem Sanhedrin; secondly, Pilate allowed Jesus and disciples to move freely in Judea for three-years, including Jesus' disciples after Jesus' resurrection; and thirdly, Jesus' disciples continue to attract large crowds and claim to perform miracles under the administrations of the next nine Roman governors of Judea.

For the Romans Jesus was empirical proof that deities existed, hence (1) why ten Roman governors in Judea between 30 AD - 66 AD (the Jewish Revolt taking place in 66 AD) refused to execute Jesus and disciples/apostles (Pilate executed Jesus only when presented Jesus by the Sanhedrin, but both Pilate and the Sanhedrin refused to execute the remaining eleven apostles).

Those who aren't aware, Roman governors were tasked to immediately execute as rebels charismatic figures that attracted large crowds such as Jesus and His followers, but refused to do so in the case of Jesus, and after Jesus' death the next nine Roman governors are continuing Pilate's inexplicable stand down policy by refusing to arrest and execute Jesus' apostles who are still attracting large crowds and claiming to perform miracles. During the same period, however, other "Messiahs/prophets" are cropping up in Judea, who are summarily executed by mounted auxiliary Roman troops, including any unlucky followers in the presence of the "Messiah/prophet".*

The fact that ten Roman governors of Judea during this period (30 AD - 66 AD) all followed the same inexplicable stand down policy towards Jesus and disciples/apostles, informs one that the inexplicable policy adopted by each governor wasn't ad hoc but Imperial policy from the Emperor!

Between 66 AD - 313 AD Roman "persecution" of the Jesus Sect/Christians lasted all of twelve-years (and such "persecutions" were sporadic and lackadaisical), yet otherwise within the Roman Empire we see Christians (1) as civil administrators within Roman administration; (2) as rich business owners; and (3) building churches...

"They were, as the third-century Christian writer Tertullian tells us, able to succeed in politics, law, and business. They were not hiding, either in the catacombs in Rome or in general. On the eve of Diocletian's Great Persecution--which, beginning in 303, outlawed Christian scriptures, prohibited Christians from meeting, and razed places of worship­­­--a newly erected church nestled across from the imperial palace in Nicomedia in Turkey, a symbol of the confidence of Christians living in the Roman Empire." -- see "The Myths Behind the Age of Martyrs" by Professor Candida Moss; The Chronicle of Higher Education, (February 25, 2013).

That Christians were looked at askew by non-Christians is certainly true, but for a very good reason--Christians took Jesus' rebuke to Peter ("Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.") literally (the warning was to Peter exclusively, since Jesus wanted Peter alive after His resurrection) and abstained from volunteering for active duty in the Legions. With barbarians pressing on the empire from the north and Persia to the West, naturally resentment took its course, resulting in halfhearted "persecutions"; halfhearted because most knew that Christians were followers of Jesus, someone Romans knew as a deity.

It should also be added that in this period most Christians didn't go to Church, and there were, contrary to the vulgar anti-Roman propaganda put out by the early Christian fathers of the Church (who also cruelly maligned Jews, by the way**), plenty of churches one could go to. In fact, one such church was right across the street from the Imperial Palace in Nicomedia,*** when that city was the capital of the Eastern Empire!

No other aspect of early Christian misbehavior more vexed Rome than refusing to join the Legions in defense of the Empire, especially during periods of emergency, when barbarians in the north were pressing in on the Empire. Professor Moss notes this, however she fails to mention Christians taking this personal belief and inciting others to follow, which Roman judges would view as not only inciting rebellion against Rome, but actual rebellion against Rome:

"II. THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH CONSCIENTIOUSLY OPPOSED TO MILITARY SERVICE

A. General Historical Perspective

"The rise of Christianity led to a rapid growth of conscientious objection. Accordingly to A. Harnack, C.J. Cadoux, and G.J. Herring, the most eminent students of the problem, few if any Christians served in the Roman Army during the first century and a half A.D.; and even in the third century there were Christian conscientious objectors."5

"The many early Christians accepted the injunctions of the Sermon on the Mount quite literally is certain and their attitude brought them into much the same kind of conflict with the Roman authorities which conscientious objectors of our own time face in dealing with the military authority. G.C. Macgregor (The New Testament Basis of Pacifism) points out that `until about the close of the third quarter of the second century the attitude of the church was quite consistently pacifist.' Harnack's conclusion is that no Christian would become a soldier after baptism at least up to the time of Marcus Aurelius, say about A.D. 170 (Militia Christi, p.4). After that time signs of compromise became increasingly evident, but the pacifist trend continues strong right up into the fourth century."****

A Roman magistrate's sentence of death in such cases of inciting others to not join the Legions would not constitute persecution, but LEGAL prosecution, a prosecution that any non-Christian would also find himself ensnared in.

The above proves (1) the historicity of Jesus; and (2) that Jesus was indeed God, otherwise no Roman subject/citizen would have accepted such an otherwise known laughably bad forged Gospels'/Acts narratives, where (1) enemies of the state are cuddled by ten Roman governors of Judea; and (2) likewise cuddled by numerous other Roman governors outside of Judea/Galilee-Perea, where Paul, Peter and disciples are attracting large crowds!

----------------------------

*Which is why John the Baptist refused to ministry in Judea, and baptized on the Jordan River on the bank opposite of Judea in Perea, knowing what the fate of him and his disciples would be if he stepped one foot inside Judea attracting the usual large crowds he attracted outside of Judea.

**The Jewish leadership in Judea & Galilee knew who Jesus was even before His ministry began, but couldn't let on because there was a Roman occupation. And when Jesus began His ministry, performing real signs, the Roman governor had to pretend he didn't know Jesus and disciples/apostles were attracting large crowds, otherwise the governor on the scene would be duty bound to initiate Roman standard operating procedures for rebels/insurrectionists.

The Jerusalem Sanhedrin itself only arrested Jesus after Jesus' provocation towards Rome by entering Jerusalem with a mob. Realizing that the provocation was Jesus signaling to them that it was time for Jesus to die, the Sanhedrin still had to make sure that Jesus was indeed signalling that it was time for Him to die, so the Sanhedrin arranged three nighttime Q & A sessions to interrogate Jesus (these three nighttime Q & A sessions weren't trials, subject to the handing down of punishment, since under the Law of Moses trails can only take place during daylight hours). Jesus' silence throughout the proceedings proved that Jesus was indeed signalling that it was time for Him to die.

In fact, the only person "persecuting" early Jesus Sect members is Paul, but even Paul is restrained by the Jerusalem Sanhedrin from actually killing the followers of Jesus, sending him off on a wild goose chase to Damascus instead, where we're informed Paul has an epiphany. It was Paul who was the one causing "HAVOC" in Jerusalem, shouting deadly "THREATS" at followers of Jesus...

Acts 9:

9 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples.
...

21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name?

Roman governors didn't care for "havoc", which is why the Jewish authorities sent Paul off to Damascus which was nominally independent of Rome, meaning Damascus had home rule; no Roman governor, though it was the headquarters of a Roman Legate who commanded two Roman Legions. The Legate in Syria was also the superior to governors in the region.

When Paul had converted and was spreading Jesus' message in what is today Turkey, he too was performing "rebellion" by attracting large crowds, but Roman governors are oblivious to Paul's provocations (as a Roman governor sees Paul's actions)...

Acts 11:26:

When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

Note that Jesus never asks the Jerusalem Sanhedrin nor Pilate why they are persecuting His followers, because they're not. Jesus only asks Paul because Paul is the only entity "persecuting" Jesus Sect members!

The execution of Stephen was a case of bad timing for the first martyr. If you recall, soon after Jesus' resurrection (either the next Passover or the Passover after that) Stephen was caught preaching the new faith in the Temple by foreign Jews in Jerusalem for Passover. Naturally they wondered why Stephen was still alive and took their queries to the Jewish authorities, who had no choice but to sacrifice Stephen rather than threaten the "Don't ask/Don't tell" policy the Jewish authorities played with Rome. If Stephen hand't met up with that particular group of foreign Jews ignorant of Jesus and followers, he wouldn't have been the first martyr.

*** Where did the precious monies come from to build such churches?

**** See the first comment to this review for the link to the citation.
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