Justin Martyr

November 8 2014

“You cannot fail to see that our having our heads cut off or being crucified or being thrown to the beasts or into bondage or to the flames or being subjected to all the other forms of torture does not make us abandon our profession of faith. On the contrary, the more of these martyrdoms that there are, the more we increase in numbers through the excess of conversions over martyrdoms.” – Justin: Dialogus, chap. 110 (Migne, J.-P.: Patrologia Graeca, vol. vi, col. 729).

At least the Christian martyrs were not murderers.

Candida Moss’s persecution-denying tract is The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom, Harper Collins, 2013. It may have some value, but it seems to be based in part on a false distinction between those executed really for political reasons, because they were traitors, and those executed because of their religion.

Wikipedia on persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire.

A Study of History, Vol VI, OUP, 1939 (footnote)

2 Responses to “Justin Martyr”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    It may just be reductionism. Holocaust denial, persecution denial, martyr denial, climate change denial, God denial: turning the face away from big things.

    I recommended the book to my friend Giovanni Caselli, who is less of an obscurantist than me. His comment:

    “Any opinion or point of view will be interesting. This issue is an important one. Especially today when martyrs seem to be coming back into fashion. Unfortunately.

    I have just read yet another essay about the myth of St James who died as a martyr in Jerusalem and ended up buried and worshipped in Galicia. There isn’t a more unlikely tale in the whole history of Christendom, and yet this started the first Crusade, and there are more pilgrims walking to Compostella than to Rome or Jerusalem where stories, myths and legends have a more solid grounding. It is all in the head.

    I am bombarded every day with letters from people wanting to know the best way to Compostella or Rome or Jerusalem. And these people go and return claiming to have undergone a ‘spiritual experience’. I am trying to understand what they really mean by that.

    The experience I had after my pilgrimages through Germany lately are of a more mundane nature: Lots of beer, roast pork shanks, enormous sausages and giant apple strudels …”

  2. davidderrick Says:

    Except that James or his cult did not start the first Crusade. And it’s Compostela not Compostella. And amusing as this is, I don’t think Giovanni would be the authority on pilgrimages that he is if he really had such contempt for pilgrims.

    And is “any” opinion or point of view interesting?


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