The Myth of Persecution

The Myth of Persecution

How Early Christians Invented A Story of Martyrdom

Book - 2013
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Baker & Taylor
A leading scholar on Christian history reveals how the early church forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the legacy of martyrdom is used today to condemn others as enemies and opponents.


In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors.

According to cherished church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because they refused to renounce Christ. These saints, Christianity's inspirational heroes, are still venerated today.

Moss, however, exposes that the "Age of Martyrs" is a fiction—there was no sustained 300-year-long effort by the Romans to persecute Christians. Instead, these stories were pious exaggerations; highly stylized rewritings of Jewish, Greek, and Roman noble death traditions; and even forgeries designed to marginalize heretics, inspire the faithful, and fund churches.

The traditional story of persecution is still taught in Sunday school classes, celebrated in sermons, and employed by church leaders, politicians, and media pundits who insist that Christians were—and always will be—persecuted by a hostile, secular world. While violence against Christians does occur in select parts of the world today, the rhetoric of persecution is both misleading and rooted in an inaccurate history of the early church. Moss urges modern Christians to abandon the conspiratorial assumption that the world is out to get Christians and, rather, embrace the consolation, moral instruction, and spiritual guidance that these martyrdom stories provide.

& Taylor

A fresh new female voice in the world of academic religion, a leading scholar on Christian history reveals how the early church forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the legacy of martyrdom is used today to condemn others as enemies and opponents. 15,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : HarperOne, 2013
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780062104526
Characteristics: 308 p. ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
LRS1969 Feb 11, 2015

Discusses the myths and exaggerations of Christian persecution as portrayed in the early centuries of the Early Christian Church(es) as due to a Pauline coup of the teachings of Yeshua (Jesus), a coup that not only nearly subverted the teachings of Jesus (as proclaimed so strongly by none other than Thomas Jefferson) but was now based on a persecution complex.

While covering the persecutions of other religions (and even fellow sects of Christianity) to some degree, not nearly as strongly as it could (and should) have.

I would have liked to have seen coverage also of the extremely weird myth that exists amongst current day fundamentalist "Christians" that Christians in America are being persecuted routinely and severely (???)!!!

And it isn't just me... there's been a few articles in that regard published recently with both surprise (as I too have) at that "conclusion" - and some ideas as to why that is so.
(Excellent article)
(Yes, the list is empty)

Syria? Iraq? Nigeria?


America? Where the vast majority of the population IS Christian (over 80%???) and politically is Christian controlled?


(It was millions, including The Crusades, the 100-Year War, the 30-Year War, the genocide of North and South American natives)

John 8:32


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at SBL

To Top