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.



Another Glimpse Into the Past

Box 26.4  Legendary Confrontations with Pagans

As the Christian gospel spread throughout the Roman world, a number of legendary accounts appeared portraying the confrontations between Christian missionaries and their pagan opponents (see Box 9.6).  In these accounts, the Christians’ miracles trump the power of the pagan Gods.  One involves the apostle John in an apocryphal book called “The Acts of John.”

John arrives at the magnificent temple of the great goddess of the Ephesians, Artemis, and confronts a large crowd of pagans celebrating the goddess’s birthday, challenging them to a kind of spiritual duel: they should pray to their goddess to strike him dead.  If she proves unable to do so, he in turn will pray to his God to kill them.  Since everyone there knows that John is able to perform great miracles – he has already publicly raised the dead – they cry out for him not to do it.

John urges them to convert and prays that God will banish the pagan deity of the place.  Immediately the altar of Artemis …

To see the rest of this post, you will need to belong to the blog.  If you don’t belong yet THERE IS STILL HOPE!  Join today and thank your lucky stars until you pass off this mortal coil.  And remember you’ll be doing good — all fees go to charity!