Did Superior Health Care Lead to the Dominance of Christianity?

Interesting question from a recent member of the blog:

 

QUESTION:

In the August 5/12 New Yorker, a review of a new book, “The mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator.” In this review, this sentence: “In the third century, malaria epidemics helped drive people to a small, much persecuted faith that emphasized healing and care of the sick, propelling Christianity into a world-altering religion.” I realize that medical history is not your thing. If nonetheless you’d care to comment, any warrant ...

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But WHY Doesn’t Torture Hurt?? Guest Post by Stephanie Cobb

This now is the final of Stephanie Cobb’s posts on the painlessness of martyrdom, as explained more fully in her recent book.  And now we get to the heart of the matter: if it doesn’t hurt, uh, why is that???

Again, Stephanie has graciously agreed to answer your questions — so ask away.

If you were a member of the blog, you would get access to all the posts, five times a week, instead of just one occasionally.  It’s terrific ...

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How Could Torture Not Hurt?? Guest Post by Stephanie Cobb

Here now is the second of three posts by Stephanie Cobb on her recent book about early Christian accounts of the martyrs.  As you’ll see, she makes some rather astonishing and counter-intuitive claims.  But I think she’s completely right.   This is fascinating material….

 

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In the previous post, I detailed the reasons martyr texts ought to focus on the suffering and pain of early Christians experiencing torture and being executed for their faith. I also, though, noted that despite those ...

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Did It Hurt to Be Martyred? The Surprising Answer. Guest Post by Stephanie Cobb.

One of my most accomplished former students is Stephanie Cobb, now the George and Sallie Cutchin Camp Professor of Bible in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Richmond.   While doing her PhD at UNC, Stephanie became deeply interested in the accounts of martyrdom in early Christianity, leading to a dissertation with one of the best titles ever (it really does describe the book but it’s unusually clever): Dying to be Men: Gender and Language in Early Christian ...

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Interview for “Letters & Politics” on The Triumph of Christianity

Here is an interview I did on my book The Triumph of Christianity, back on December 25th, 2018, with host Mitch Jeserich.  The program was called “Letters & Politics,” for FM 94.1 KPFA. The theme of my book, as you know, is how the Christians took over the religions of the Roman Empire to become the dominant religion of the west.  Mitch wanted to know about that.  Many years ago, when I started thinking about my book, so ...

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What Kind of Book Was Papias Writing? Guest Post by Stephen Carlson

This is the second part of Stephen Carlson’s guest post on the important but now-lost work of the early-second century Christian author Papias.  In the previous post he talked about the mind-boggling abundance of wine and wheat there would be in the kingdom, based on Papias’s reporting of a “word of the Lord.”    Now he explains that saying, and in doing so develops a bold way of understanding what kind of book Papias actually was trying to write.   Most of ...

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The Passion for Origins

After I had engaged for a couple of months doing some real research and thinking seriously about my scholarly book on visions of and journeys to the realms of heaven and hell (tentatively entitled, for now, Otherworldly Journeys: Katabasis Traditions in Early Christianity), I thought I might start it all by doing a kind of history of research.   This is how scholarly books commonly used to start – especially books of German scholarship and American dissertations.  Chapter one would be ...

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The Original Obsession with Trips to the Afterlife

I have been interested in the early Christian texts that describe tours or visions of heaven and hell for a long time – I suppose since, when in graduate school, I first heard about the Apocalypse of Peter, which I have described on the blog before.   That’s not the sort of text we would have been reading at Moody Bible Institute.  (!)   But its description of the torments in hell – brief, yet lurid accounts of what will happen to ...

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Deciding on Which Books Should Be in the New Testament

I am in the midst of a thread in which I explain why it is puzzling that the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament, when the book of 2 Peter did.   So far I have talked about both books, as well as the Gospel of Peter, another Petrine book that did not “make it.”  Now I need to explain how church fathers decided which books would be accepted as official scripture and which not.  I’ve ...

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How Christianity Grew and Grew

This will be the final post on the new boxes in my Introduction to the New Testament; both of these are on a related topic, tied to my book The Triumph of Christianity, so I will include them both there.  One has to do with how miracles allegedly led to conversions of pagans to the new faith; the other charts the rate of growth that it appears the Christian church experienced in the early years.

 

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Another Glimpse ...

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