The Myth of Persecution
How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom
Central to the traditions of Christianity is the example of the early martyrs, crucified, burned and thrown to wild beasts because they refused to renounce their faith. Yet as this controversial study makes clear, the myth of persecution was greatly exaggerated. Drawing on both Christian and pagan sources, it shows that only during brief, widely separated intervals did believers suffer violence, and that for much of Roman history they prospered and even achieved high public office.