How an apocalyptic plague helped spread Christianity
By Candida Moss, special to CNN
(CNN) Archaeologists in Egypt have unearthed relics from an apocalyptic plague that some Christians believed heraldedthe end of the world an idea that likely helped spread the faith centuries ago.
A team from the Italian Archaeological Mission to Luxor unearthed the remains in pandora bracelet discount a funerary complex in the ancient city of Thebes. (The city is now known as Luxor.)
As archaeologists excavated the site earlier this month, they found remnants of bodies covered in a thick layer of lime. The lime was significant, as it was used in the ancient world as a form of disinfectant to prevent contamination.
Nearby, there was evidence of an enormous bonfire, used to incinerate the remains of plague victims, and three kilns used for lime production.
Pottery located in the kilns enabled the scientists to date the discovery to the middle of the third century, the time of a gruesome epidemic known as the "plague of Cyprian."
Cyprian, the mid third century bishop of Carthage, provides us with the most detailed description of the plague's terrible effects. In his essay "De mortalitate" ( Mortality Cyprian wrote:
"The intestines are shaken with a continual vomiting; the eyes are on fire with the infected blood; that in some cases the feet or some parts of the limbs are taken off by the contagion of diseased putrefaction."
In many cases, Cyprian went on to say, blindness and deafness would ensue.
At its height the epidemic is estimated to have killed 5,000 people a day in the city of Rome alone. Among them were two Roman emperors: Hostilian and Claudius II Gothicus.
The effects were just as extreme elsewhere in the empire. Sociologist Rodney Stark writes that as much as two thirds of the population in Alexandria, Egypt, died.
Modern scientists may believe that the disease was smallpox, but to Cyprian it was a portent of the end of the world. Interestingly, this belief may have actually helped the spread of Christianity.
Cyprian noted that Christians were also dying from the plague, but suggested that only non Christians had anything to fear.
His compatriot Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria one of the most hard hit areas wrote that it was a period of unimaginable joy for Christians.
The fact that even Roman emperors were dying and pagan priests had no way to explain or prevent the plague only strengthened the Christian position.
The experience of widespread disease and death and the high probability that they themselves might die made Christians more willing to embrace martyrdom.
And that, somewhat paradoxically, helped the faith thrive,providing early publicitythat Christianity is worth dying for.
Add to this the fact that the epidemic coincided with the first Roman legislation affecting Christians, and martyrdom became both a possibility and a more reasonable option: When death is always around the corner, why not make yours count?
As the martyr Apollonius is reported to have said at his trial, "It is often possible for dysentery and fever to kill; so I will consider that I am being destroyed by one of these."
The harrowing images of putrefying bodies and burning pyres of corpses also influenced early Christian descriptions of hell and the afterlife, which were already filled with fire and brimstone.
With the spread of the plague, these threats seemed increasingly real. Now that hell had become a place on earth, Christians were increasingly eager to avoid it in the afterlife. I read entirely as a believer and as not. It full of violence and threats by a supposed god who is so afraid of people that it can have them speak the same language. It has a god that works with its supposed arch enemy to kill more people after all of the people who opposed this god were killed (Revelation 20 21) and after its supposed ruled on earth for an eon. The Confessions of St. Augustine is by a man who says that it perfectly okay for children to be sent to hell if they were born in the wrong place at the wrong time and weren baptized in the way.
I understand faith fine, it belief in something that has no evidence to support it, like Santa Claus. Grace is the entertaining idea that one god picks and choose who gets to go to heaven with no concern with what the person did and send people to eternal torture on a whim. Your god is no different than any other Iron/Bronze Age gods, all very powerful and very human, stupid, petty, ignorant and ridiculous. A god that kills someone for keeping its magic box upright (see Uzzah), A god that says that it okay to commit genocide, but hey, if you want to keep the little girls as virgins for your own use, why that fine. A god that says slavery is fine, that it okay to force a man to choose between freedom and his family.
I quite happy that I know what Christianity is and how horrible it is. I was a Presybyterian, those lovely folks who are sure that predestination is the way to go and who are sure that Catholics are Satanists along with all other Protestant denominations. I am quite glad that I can see that none of you, Catholic or Protestant, Hindu or Muslim, Shintoist or Wiccan, have anything true at all. You all form your gods in your own image and want to pretend that some magical being agrees with you and only you. Pity that none of you can show any evidence that your gods exist at all. of New Testament pandora jewelry shop and early Christianity well there you have it folks, a professor of history rewrite who says persecution of Christians and more specifically the early church never the jewelry factory happened! of course anyone who knows church history will learn nothing from this woman. it obvious a publisher came to her with a lucrative offer to make money and of course she said yes.
for organized persecution by the Roman Empire, she says that Christians died as the result of the imperial government only immediately following the burning of Rome in 64, briefly during the reign of Valerian 257 258 and during what is called the "Great Persecution" under Diocletian 303 305 pandora gold bracelet sale with an renewed period under Maximus Daia between 311 and 313.
That all the apostles died as martyrs cannot be verified. from the national catholic reporter review.
so we are supposed to now believe that somehow there was absolutely no persecution in between these admitted periods of persecution? simply incredulous.
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