Robert Conner studied Greek, Hebrew, some Aramaic and even Coptic back in the mid-70's at Western Kentucky University. He's written nine books, including Jesus the Sorcerer, The Secret Gospel of Mark and Magic in Christianity, as well as a number of articles and essays. If you want a primer on what the earliest critics of Christianity had to say about this new cult then I'm publishing an essay he wrote in several parts, with approval. This is the final part, number 7. To get up to speed follow this tag.
The Romans Meet Jesus
Extended and Revised, 04/2016
Christianity is antisocial and totalitarian.
Christianity makes a clear claim to absolute truth: “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” The reaction of their contemporaries to this claim, to the extent they bothered to react to it at all, has been summarized by Wilken: “non-Christians see the Christian community as a tiny, peculiar, antisocial, irreligious sect, drawing its adherents from the lower strata of society...religious fanatics, self-righteous outsiders, arrogant innovators, who thought only their beliefs were true.” “Christians insisted on historical particularity; they pressed the unreasonable claim that the divine had manifested itself uniquely through a specific person at a specific moment, and that not so long ago...It was intellectually embarrassing; it was at once parochial and presumptuous; it was irreducibly odd.” Harris voices what must have been a very Roman conclusion:
We have names for people who have many beliefs for which there is no rational justification. When their beliefs are extremely common we call them “religious”; otherwise they are likely to be called “mad,” “psychotic,” or “delusional”...clearly there is sanity in numbers.”
“Christians were constantly amazed to find themselves cast as enemies of the Roman order, but in retrospect we must admit that it was the Romans who had the more realistic insight...To Roman eyes, the obstinate and incomprehensible intolerance of Christians made them appear not only foolish but treasonable.” “Every convert to this novel superstition added to a growing number of persons intolerant of the beliefs of the majority and of those unwilling to adhere to the traditions that helped make the [Roman] empire great and insure its ongoing stability.” The insular nature of Christianity put it on a collision course with Roman society’s mos maiorum, the social mores than included traditional piety and respect for ancestral customs and family forebears, epitomized by the February festival of Parentalia—“to undermine the authority of masters over slaves, and paterfamilias over his household was about the most subversive attack that could be made on established society.”
Once entrenched, Christian political influence sought to place Christian believers above the law. When the abbot Shenoute (d. 466) and his monks were denounced as robbers after destroying the property of pagans, Shenoute famously replied, “There is no crime for those who have Christ.” Indeed, there is abundant historical evidence for warring gangs of Christian monks that caused so much social disruption and violence that Christian rulers and commoners alike turned on them and killed them in droves, resulting in “a general massacre of monks, or even of anyone who happened to look like a monk.” As soon as the Church acquired power, it turned on its traditional enemies; the Arians were condemned at Constantinople (381), “a vigorous onslaught [was] launched against pagan cults,” and the Serapeum with its library was destroyed by a Christian mob in 392. “By the beginning of the fifth century Jews were banned from the civil service.”
The nescience of Paul set the new standard for Christian thinking: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God.” The new Christian order, contemptuous of the empirical evidence that threatened its claims, inaugurated an era of sanctified ignorance. “The Athenian philosopher Proclus made the last recorded astronomical observation in the ancient Greek world in A.D. 475. It was not until the sixteenth century that Copernicus—inspired by the surviving works of Ptolemy but aware that they would make more sense, and in fact would be simpler, if the sun was placed at the center of the universe—set in hand the renewal of the scientific tradition.” The millennium of intellectual blight that transpired between Proclus and Copernicus can be attributed almost entirely to the ascent of Christianity.
In defense of its own indefensible claims, Christianity made a basic mistake: “Theism pushes the quest for intelligibility outside the world. If God exists, he is not part of the natural order but a free agent not governed by natural laws.” While this criticism captures the limits of transcendent Christian theism, it does not apply to ancient forms of panentheist or pandeistic philosophies such as Pythagoreanism, or immanentist theologies that conceive of the natural world as intrinsically both divine as well as conscious.
The Christian version of theism nearly erased centuries of inquiry that pre-ceded it. Greek philosophers, not Christian theologians, set themselves the task of observing and understanding the natural world and had made significant progress: Aristarchus, who grasped that the sun was much larger than the earth, was “the first to envisage a heliocentric solar system” and Eratosthenes, the first geographer, became “the first man to measure the circumference of the earth.” Eratosthenes (276-194 B.C.E.) calculated the circumference of Earth to within 1.6% of its true value without leaving Egypt, calculated the tilt of Earth’s axis, and developed an algorithm, the Sieve of Eratosthenes, to determine prime numbers two centuries before the birth of Jesus.
Greek anatomists in Alexandria made great strides in correlating structure and function: “Herophilus first described the linked functions of the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system, rightly relocating the center of thought from the heart to the brain...he established the heart as not the center of feeling but the center of the circulatory system, thereby anticipating William Harvey’s ‘discovery’ of the circulation of the blood by nineteen hundred years.” A humanist who may have extended these Greek discoveries, the Spanish physician Michael Servetus, was slowly burned alive at the stake in 1553 at the behest of John Calvin, a Christian theologian famous for his discovery of predestination and infant baptism—Servetus had the misfortune to question the doctrine of the trinity as well as the theological justification for dunking babies. In a treatise, Christianismi Restitutio, Servetus revealed the function of the pulmonary circulation, the first European to do so. Except for three survivors, all other copies of Christianismi Restitutio were destroyed, including the copy that burned along with its author, chained to his leg. Jesus’ followers had obviously settled for a literal reading of his words—“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”
A century before Jesus, the Roman Epicurean poet, Titus Lucretius Carus, described a naïve but basically accurate form of atomism based on logic and intuition, insights that would wait fifteen centuries to be rediscovered:
And what of odors? We sense them, but we never see them coming toward our nostrils; we do not look at heat, apprehend cold with our eyes, we are not accustomed to witness voices. Yet all these things, by nature, must be material, since they strike our senses. Nothing can touch or be touched, excepting matter...many things have elements in common, but differently combined...It is most important both with what other elements they are joined, in what positions they are held together, and their reciprocal movement. The same atoms constitute ocean, sky, lands, rivers, sun, crops, bushes, animals; these atoms mingle and move in different ways and combinations...All things keep on, in everlasting motion, out of the infinite come the particles speeding above, below, in endless dance. By nature space is deep and space is boundless, so that bright shafts of lightening could not cross it, given eternal time...there is too much space...no limit to that infinite domain...You look sometimes, you see the motes all dancing, as the sun streams through the shutters into a dark room. Look!—there they go, like armies in maneuver...Oh, infinitely smaller, beyond your sight, similar turbulence whirls...Those motes in the sunlight, by their restlessness, tell you there’s motion, hidden and unseen, in what seems solid matter...atoms have a finite number of differing shapes...Never suppose the atoms had a plan, nor with a wise intelligence imposed an order on themselves...No, it was all fortuitous; for years, for centuries, for eons, all those motes in infinite varieties of ways have always moved, since infinite time began...meet and combine, try every possible, every conceivable pattern, till at length experiment culminates in that array which makes great things begin: the earth, the sky, the ocean, and the race of living creatures.
The nascent sciences of Greco-Roman culture and the speculation they provoked during the Renaissance threatened to overturn the intense anthropocentrism of the Judeo-Christian mythos. “Where myth had shown that human action was bound up with the essential meaning of life, the new science had suddenly pushed men and women into a marginal position in the cosmos. They were no longer the center of things, but cast adrift on an undistinguished planet in a universe that no longer revolved around their needs.” The defeat of geocentrism and the vastly expanded vision of the universe that resulted reduced Yahweh to the category of just another ancient Canaanite storm god—“extol him who rides on the clouds”—no more important than Baal, Asherah, or Moloch. The newly minted ‘higher criticism’ of the 19th century threatened to return Jesus to his historical context, lowering him to the status of a delusional apocalyptic false prophet who, through a fluke of local circumstances, was transmogrified by a culture riddled with magic and superstition into a god.
Certainly no one would claim that the Greco-Roman world before Christianity was an intellectual paradise or that the Roman Empire, bent on conquest and consumed with defending its acquired territories, was much interested in what we would call pure science. Nevertheless, the rise of Christianity did, in fact, coincide with the violent end of a world, a loss only hinted at by discoveries such as the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient analog computer ably described by Jo Marchant:
It’s hard to overestimate the uniqueness of the find. Before the Antikythera mechanism, not one single gearwheel had ever been found from antiquity, nor indeed any example of an accurate pointer or scale. Apart from the Antikythera mechanism, they still haven’t... Whoever turned the handle on the side of its wooden case became master of the cosmos, winding forwards or backwards to see everything about the sky at any chosen moment. Pointers on the front showed the changing positions of the Sun, Moon and planets in the zodiac, the date, as well as the phases of the Moon, while spiral dials on the back showed the month and year according to a combined lunar-solar calendar, and the timing of eclipses. Inscribed text around the front dial revealed which star constellations were rising and setting at each moment, while the writing on the back gave details of the characteristics and location of the predicted eclipses.
By the 4th century, Christians had predictably turned from the pagan population to persecuting each other. “Christian controversies mobilized individual congregations of believers within each city, provoking, on occasions, major riots, and frequent processions and counterprocessions. All over the empire, Christian factionalism led to a perceptible increase in the climate of violence...Ammianus Marcellinus understandably concluded that Christian groups behaved to each other ‘like wild beasts.’”
Within Alexandria as well as the rest of Egypt, Christian monks functioned as religious death squads. Referencing Libanius’ description of the destruction of shrines, Frankfurter notes,
By the end of the fourth century such militant destruction of native shrines and images had become epidemic around the Mediterranean world. By the middle of the fifth century monastic leaders like Shenoute, Makarios of Thôw, and Moses of Abydos were gaining a modest fame for burning temples, killing priests, and invading homes to destroy private shrines. And indeed, the impetus for such havoc came not from Roman edicts against ‘paganism’ but from the whims and machinations of bishops...And thus we find in the fourth and later centuries that monks, the soldiers assisting them on scaffolds, and the bishops in charge paid particular attention to the faces of gods in their endeavors to neutralize temples. Indeed, if one visits Egyptian temples today one finds scarcely a divinity that has not been meticulously hacked at...Christian leaders were evidently highly skilled at such negative dramaturgy. And immediately behind them stood not random passersby but Christian confraternities devoted to the leader’s authority and primed to respond to his charismatic displays, who would gather, serve, chant, and riot by avocation. Whether in Alexandria or Panopolis, popular iconoclasm meant joining a pre-set mob...A gang of monks could raze a local temple and its village, and assassinate the inhabitants as well...
MacMullen observes that “the role of the church leadership in exciting [religious mobs] is clear,” and notes that under Justinian (527-565), “a brutally energetic or energetically brutal” emperor who “pursued the goal of religious uniformity as no one before him,” and his successor, Tiberius II (578-582), the non-Christian population was subjected to mutilation—‘many who resisted he carved up, suspending their limbs in the main street of the town’—as well as beheading, crucifixion and being burned alive.” “There is considerable evidence from a much broader range of sources, with a variety of different agendas, that violent attacks on temples and synagogues, and other clashes with Christians and non-Christians, did in fact happen on numerous occasions and in nearly every corner of the Roman world, and that monks and holy men were often involved...Archaeology, meanwhile, has unearthed a massive accumulation of physical evidence for purposeful destruction of non-Christian cult objects and places of worship, and, in many cases, the construction of churches on their sites. Religious images were methodically hacked to pieces and thrown into wells, or mutilated by crosses carved into their faces—practices that can be understood in light of Christian beliefs about the demons that supposedly dwelled in such objects.”
Julian had adroitly exploited the mutual hatred of the Christian sects:
And in order to give more effect to his intentions, he ordered the priests of the different Christian sects, with the adherents of each sect, to be admitted into the palace, and in a constitutional spirit expressed his wish that their dissensions being appeased, each without any hindrance might fearlessly follow the religion he preferred.
He did this the more resolutely because, as long license increased their dissensions, he thought he should never have to fear the unanimity of the common people, having found by experience that no wild beasts are so hostile to men as Christian sects in general are to one another.
William Tyndale, strangled and burned at the stake in 1536 for translating the scriptures into English, could have attested to the truth of that observation, as could the last man to be hanged in England, in 1697, for denying the Trinity—in liberal Switzerland the last anti-trinitarian was strung up as late as 1782. “The Spanish Inquisition did not cease its persecution of heretics until 1834 (the last auto-da-fé took place in Mexico in 1850), about the time Charles Darwin set sail on the Beagle and Michael Faraday discovered the relationship between electricity and magnetism.” It was only in 1992 that the Catholic Church belatedly concluded that Galileo had been wrongly convicted. In 1633 the astronomer, old and ailing, had been forced to kneel before the inquisitors and recant his theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun in order to avoid being burned alive and spent the last eight years of his life under house arrest.
Although it was claimed by Tertullian that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” the enemies of the Church were its true nourishment. Its enemies united it, inspired it, and enriched it. From the persecution of heretics and apostates within its ranks, the Church turned again to pagans—“as late as 580 the emperor Tiberius [II, my note], launching a persecution of pagans, used the traditional Roman punishment of crucifixion (in the case of one pagan governor, Anatolius, after he had first been thrown to the wild beasts).”
Militancy was baked into Christianity well before the 4th and 5th centuries when Church unleashed its dogs of war. The authentic writings of Paul contain the metaphors of war: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of word God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” “Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?” In the centuries that followed, millions would die by the sword as Christians spread their “gospel of love.” After crushing the open practice of the pagan religions and the functional atheism of the atomists, the Church renewed its perennial persecution of Jews, which soon expanded to include witches, scientists, new heresies, Muslims, and Protestant ‘reformers’—who returned the favor by murdering Catholics.
Christianity is parasitic.
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Our Roman critics would certainly have agreed with that world-weary assessment, particularly when it came to Christianity. Apocalypticism had been done before, and with greater panache, by the author of the book of Daniel; Christian apocalyptic was a pale derivative. Although the Christians boasted of their moral revelations, Celsus observed, “They have also a precept to this effect—that you must not resist a man who insults you. Even, he says, if someone strikes you on one cheek, yet you should offer the other one as well. This too is old stuff, and was better said before them. But they expressed it in more vulgar terms. For Plato makes So-crates speak the following conversation in the Crito: ‘Then we ought never to do wrong.’ ‘No, indeed.’ ‘Not even ought we repay when wronged ourselves, as most people think, since we ought not do wrong under any circumstances.’ ‘It appears not.’”
Julian identified the dependency of Christian counter-polemic on Greco-Roman rhetoric and philosophy: “In the words of the proverb, we are stricken with our arrows. For from our own writings [the Christians] take the weapons wherewith they engage in the war against us.” Julian also noted that Christianity brought nothing of substance into the world, neither original philosophical insight nor any scientific discovery:
But has God granted to you to originate any science or any philosophical study? Why, what is it? For the theory of the heavenly bodies was perfected among the Hellenes, after the first observations had been made among the barbarians in Babylon. And the study of geometry took its rise in the measurement of the land of Egypt, and from this grew to its present importance. Arithmetic began with the Phoenician merchants, and among the Hellenes in the course of time acquired the aspect of a regular science. These three the Hellenes combined with music into one science, for they connected astronomy with geometry and adapted arithmetic to both, and perceived the principle of harmony in it. Hence they laid down the rules for their music.
Concerning the library in Alexandria, Greenblatt notes, “Euclid developed his geometry in Alexandria; Archimedes discovered pi and laid the foundation for calculus; Eratosthenes posited that the earth was round and calculated its circumference to within 1 percent; Galen revolutionized medicine. Alexandrian astronomers postulated a heliocentric universe; geometers deduced that the length of a year was 365¼ days and proposed adding a ‘leap day’ every fourth year; geographers speculated that it would be possible to reach India by sailing west from Spain; engineers developed hydraulics and pneumatics; anatomists first understood clearly that the brain and the nervous system were a unit; studied the heart and the digestive system, and conducted experiments in nutrition. The level of achievement was staggering.” Following the imposition of Christianity, any similar achievement was held in abeyance for well over a millennium.
Lacking originality, Christianity first pilfered from the Jewish scriptures for proof texts that established its messianic claims. Next it rummaged through Greco-Roman philosophical schools in order to concoct its own bastardized metaphysics, but given its disdain for empiricism, made no advances in science or mathematics. Current Christian fundamentalism fares no better; Mooney describes “the appropriation of scientific trappings and the masking of outwardly religious forms of argumentation” by advocates of “creation science”:
Even as they thumped their Bibles and denounced evolution, early American creationists sometimes made “scientific” arguments as well. Scopes trial advocate William Jennings Bryan even joined the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1924. But not until the 1960s and 1970s did creationists consciously style them-selves as practitioners of “creation science,” purging their writings and arguments of scriptural references and consciously recruiting Ph.D.s who were also fundamentalist Christians to their side. Not content with merely denying science, they increasingly began to mimic and abuse it.
“Creationism removes the follower from the rational, reality-based world. Signs, miracles, and wonders occur not only in the daily life of Christians, but also in history, science, medicine and logic...This insistence on the primacy of personal opinion regardless of facts destabilizes and destroys the primacy of all fact.” Charles Pierce comically describes his visit to the 50,000 square foot Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, “where stood an-other, smaller dinosaur. Which was wearing a saddle. It was an English saddle, hornless and battered. Apparently this was a dinosaur that performed in dressage competition and stake races.”
Not only did Christianity bring nothing new to the world, it actively destroyed many of the intellectual advances made before its advent and lost others through neglect and incomprehension. The imposition of Christian theocracy resulted in nothing less than “the extinction of serious mathematical and scientific thinking in Europe for a thousand years.” Commenting on the very similar situation current in the regressive backwaters of Islam, the late Christopher Hitchens remarked, “Faith-based fanatics could not design anything as useful or beautiful as a skyscraper or a passenger aircraft. But, continuing their long history of plagiarism, they could borrow and steal these things and use them as a negation.”
In short, the claims of Christianity’s Roman critics would appear to be valid: the new sect advanced due to superstition and credulity, ignorance and illiteracy, it plagiarized crudely from Judaism, the mystery religions, magic and, finally, from Greek philosophy and Roman rhetoric. The Christian claim to universality was, prima facie, absurd, its prophecies manifestly false, its texts riddled with inconsistency and error. As Christianity insinuated itself into Roman politics, its doctrinal controversies further fragmented an empire already in danger of falling to pieces and it proved, in that sense at least, seditious.
Had the Romans of the first century foreseen the conditions of the fourth, there is no doubt they would have smothered Christianity in its cradle. So why didn’t they? Perhaps we should let a Roman answer that question. When Paul appeared before Festus, the Roman procurator of Judea, and described his conversion, “Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you’re raving! Too much learning (ta polla...grammata) is driving you out of your mind!” (Acts 26:24). The implication, elided by Luke, was that Paul’s obsession with scripture—ta iera grammata, “the sacred writings”—had unbalanced him mentally. Christianity reflected a crucial difference between Greco-Roman and Jewish religion:
Among the Jews, in the century or so before Jesus, [“enthusiasts and keen believers”] played havoc with authors’ meanings. They took their texts word by word and read them for the oddest senses; they over-interpreted the words, ignored their context and general gist... Nobody put critical, historical questions to the texts which they had inherited, and, as a result, they raped them...They also avoided the fundamental question: how much, if anything, was true?...Even the most religious types of [Greek] philosophy raised basic questions...As a result, in the first century BC ‘in Athens and Rome, thinking about religion usually made people less religious’; among Jews, however, ‘the more you thought about religion, the more religious you became’. The major reason for this difference was the Jews’ possession of scripture. They set the agenda for thought, absorbed it and were never questioned critically...The people who have been described as ‘obsessed with history’ had not a single historian among them with a critical idea of evidence.
It seems likely that Roman officials disregarded the threat of Christianity because they regarded its adherents as functionally insane—from the perspective of the 1st century Romans, the rise and triumph of Christianity would represent the classic case of the inmates taking control of the asylum. What is to become of this bizarre concoction of Jewish apocalyptic, mystery cult and ancient god talk called Christianity?
While the biblical literalists fight an increasingly desperate rear guard action, losing one engagement after another, ‘liberal’ Christians have cobbled together a formless, New Age-y, idiosyncratic or, rather, solipsistic vision of Jesus that can be anything or nothing. The ‘modern’ Jesus, the ‘relevant’ Jesus, has been tumbled in the stream of consciousness until He is as smooth and as rounded as a river stone. Some permutation of Jesus can be reliably co-opted by any cause, enlisted by any campaign, but even His secondary career as a shill seems to be fading. Granted, the New Testament continues to be read and even studied, its witness often wrested out of any probable or even possible context both by eager amateurs who know nothing of history and by cynical opportunists who stand to lose prestige and fortune should the walls finally fall. Like all things, gods live their allotted time and die, some by cataclysm and some by sheer attrition. Indeed, we may already glimpse a time when the ‘tombs of the Galileans’ are just that, relics of a dead past, as sparse and unattended as the temples of Zeus.
Allison, Dale E. “A Plea for a Thoroughgoing Eschatology,” Journal of Biblical Literature 113 (1994): 651-668.
Armstrong, Arthur H. (tr) Plotinus II, 1966, Harvard University Press.
Armstrong, Karen. The Battle for God, 2000, Alfred A. Knopf.
Aune, David E. Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World, 1983, William B. Eerdmans.
Bauer, Walter. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, R. Kraft & G. Krodel, eds, 1971, Fortress Press.
Benko, Stephen. Pagan Rome and the Early Christians, 1984, Indiana University Press.
Burkert, Walter. Ancient Mystery Cults, 1987, Harvard University Press.
Brakke, David. The Gnostics: Myth, Ritual, and Diversity in Early Christianity, 2010, Harvard University Press.
Brown, Peter. The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity, 1981, University of Chicago Press.
—. Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity: Towards a Christian Empire, 1992, University of Wisconsin Press.
Cameron, Alan. The Last Pagans of Rome, 2011, Oxford University Press.
Cameron, Ron. The Other Gospels: Non-Canonical Gospel Texts, 1982, The West-minster Press.
Caner, Daniel F. “The Practice and Prohibition of Self Castration in Early Chris-tianity,” Vigiliae Christianae 51 (1997): 396-415.
Canfora, Luciano. The Vanished Library: A Wonder of the Ancient World, 1987, Uni-versity of California Press.
Carroll, James. Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews, 2001, Houghton Mifflin Company.
Chadwick, Henry (tr). Origen: Contra Celsum, 1965, Cambridge University Press.
—. “Augustine on pagans and Christians: reflections on religious and social change,” History, Society and the Churches: Essays in honour of Owen Chadwick, D. Beales & G. Best, eds, 1985, Cambridge University Press.
Clark, Gillian. Christianity and Roman Society, 2004, Cambridge University Press.
Conner, Miguel. Voices of Gnosticism, 2011, Bardic Press.
Conner, Robert. Magic in the New Testament: A Survey and Appraisal of the Evidence, 2010, Mandrake of Oxford.
—. Magic in Christianity: From Jesus to the Gnostics, 2014, Mandrake of Oxford.
—. The Secret Gospel of Mark: Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and Four Decades of Academic Burlesque, 2015, Mandrake of Oxford.
Connolly, A.L. “kunarion,” New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity: A Review of the Greek inscriptions and Papyri Published in 1979, 1987, The Ancient History Document Research Center.
Driver, Tom F. Liberating Rites: Understanding the Transformative Power of Ritual, 2006, BookSurge.
Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, 1999, Oxford University Press.
—. Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew, 2003, Oxford University Press.
—. Apostolic Fathers, II, 2003, Harvard University Press.
Epp, Eldon J. “The Multivalence of the Term ‘Original Text’ in New Testament Textual Criticism,” Harvard Theological Review 92 (1999): 245-281.
—. Junia: The First Woman Apostle, 2005, Fortress Press.
Ericksen, Robert P. Theologians Under Hitler: Gerhard Kittel, Paul Althaus and Emmanuel Hirsch, 1985, Yale University Press.
Frankfurter, David. Religion in Roman Egypt: Assimilation and Resistance, 1998, Princeton University Press.
Fredriksen, Paula. From Jesus to Christ: The Origins of the New Testament Images of Jesus, 1988, Yale University Press.
Freeman, Charles. Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterra-nean, 1996, Oxford University Press.
—.The Closing of the Western Mind: The Rise of Faith and the Fall of Reason, 2003, Alfred A. Knopf.
Gaddis, Michael. There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire, 2005, University of California Press.
Gager, John G. Kingdom and Community: The Social World of Early Christianity, 1975, Prentice Hall.
—. Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World, 1992, Oxford Univer-sity Press.
Garland, Robert. “Miracles in the Greek and Roman World,” The Cambridge Com-panion to Miracles, G.H. Twelftree, ed, 2001, Cambridge University Press.
Goldberg, Michelle. Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism, 2007, W.W. Norton.
Grant, Michael. Jesus, 1977, Rigel Publications.
Greenblatt, Stephen. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, 2011, W.W. Norton & Company.
Greer, Rowan A. Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer, First Principles: Book IV, Prologue to the Commentary on the Song of Songs, Homily XXVII on Numbers, 1979, Paulist Press.
Haas, Christopher. “The Alexandrian Riots of 356 and George of Cappodocia,” Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 32/3 (1991): 281-301.
Harmon, Austin M. (tr). Lucian, III, 1921, Harvard University Press.
—. Lucian, IV, 1925, Harvard University Press.
—. Lucian, V, 1936, Harvard University Press.
Harris, Sam. The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason, 2004, W.W. Norton & Company.
Harvey, W. Wigan. Saint Irenaeus Bishop of Lyons’ Five Books Against Heresies, I, 2013, St. Irenaeus Press.
Hoffman, Joseph R. Celsus on the True Doctrine: A Discourse Against the Christians, 1987, Oxford University Press.
—. Porphyry’s Against the Christians: The Literary Remains, 1994, Prometheus Books.
Hofstadter, Richard. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, 1963, Vintage Books.
Holmes, Michael W. (tr). The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Transla-tions, 3rd ed, 2007, Baker Academic.
Humphrey, Hugh M. From Q to “Secret” Mark: A Composition History of the Earliest Narrative Theology, 2006, T&T Clark.
Humphries, Rolfe. Lucretius: The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura of Titus Lucretius Carus, 1968, Indiana University Press.
Jenkins, Philip. Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years, 2010, HarperOne.
Johnson, Luke T. Among the Gentiles: Greco-Roman Religion and Christianity, 2009, Yale University Press.
Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religion: The message of the alien God and the beginnings of Christianity, 2nd ed, enlarged, 1958, Beacon Press.
Jones, Christopher C. Culture and Society in Lucian, 1986, Harvard University Press.
Kannaday, Wayne C. Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition: The Evidence of the Influence of Apologetic Interests on the Texts of the Canonical Gospels, 2004, Society of Biblical Literature.
Kotansky, Roy. Greek Magical Amulets: The Inscribed Gold, Silver, Copper, and Bronze Lamellae. Part I: Published Texts of Known Provenance, 1994, Westdeutscher Verlag.
Kümmel, Werner G. The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Prob-lems, S.M. Gilmour & H.C. Kee, tr, 1972, Abingdon Press.
Lane Fox, Robin. Pagans and Christians, 1987, Alfred A. Knopf.
—. The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, 1992, Alfred A. Knopf.
Larson, Erik. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hit-ler’s Berlin, 2001, Random House.
Liddell, Henry G. & Robert Scott. A Greek-English Lexicon, 8th ed, 1901, American Book Company.
Lüdemann, Gerd. Heretics: The Other Side of Christianity, J. Bowden, tr, 1996, Westminster John Knox Press.
—. Paul: The Founder of Christianity, 2002, Prometheus Books.
MacDonald, Margaret Y. Early Christian Women and Pagan Opinion: The Power of the Hysterical Woman, 1996, Cambridge University Press.
MacMullen, Ramsey. Christianizing the Roman Empire (AD 100-400), 1984, Yale University Press.
Marchant, Jo. Decoding the Heavens: A 2,000-Year-Old Computer—And the Cen-tury-Long Search to Discover Its Secrets, 2009, DaCapo Press.
Marcovich, Miroslav. Origenes: Contra Celsum Libri VIII, 2001, Brill.
McGowan, Andrew. “Eating People: Accusations of Cannibalism Against Christians in the Second Century,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 2/3 (1994): 413-442.
McKechnie, Paul. The First Christian Centuries: Perspectives on the Early Church, 2001, InterVarsity Press.
Miller, Patricia C. “In Praise of Nonsense,” Classical Mediterranean Spirituality, A.H. Armstrong, ed, 1986, Crossroad.
Moberly, R. Walter. “Miracles in the Hebrew Bible,” The Cambridge Companion to Miracles, G.H. Twelftree, ed, 2011, Cambridge University Press.
Mooney, Chris. The Republican War on Science, 2005, Basic Books.
Mount, Christopher. “1 Corinthians 11:3-16: Spirit Possession and Authority in a Non-Pauline Interpolation,” Journal of Biblical Literature 124 (2005): 313-340.
Murdoch, Adrian. The Last Pagan: Julian the Apostate and the Death of the Ancient World, 2008, Inner Traditions.
Netz, Reviel & William Noel. The Archimedes Codex: How a Medieval Prayer Book Is Revealing the True Genius of Antiquity’s Greatest Scientist, 2007, Da Capo Press.
Ogden, Daniel. In Search of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice: The traditional tales of Lucian’s Lover of Lies, 2007, The Classical Press of Wales.
Pagels, Elaine. The Origin of Satan, 1995, Random House.
Penton, M. James. Apocalypse Delayed: The Story of Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1985, Uni-versity of Toronto Press.
Petersen, Anders K. “Paul and Magic: Complementary or Incongruent Entities,” Studies on Magic and Divination in the Biblical World, 2013, Gorgias Press.
Pierce, Charles P. Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, 2010, Anchor Books.
Plummer, Eric. “The Absence of Exorcisms in the Fourth Gospel,” Biblica 78 (1997) 350-368.
Pollard, Justin & Howard Reid. The Rise and Fall of Alexandria: Birthplace of the Modern Mind, 2006, Viking.
Preisendanz, Karl. Papyri Graecae Magicae: Die Griechischen Zauberpapyri, I, 2001, K.G. Saur.
Posner, Sarah. God’s Profits: Faith, Fraud, and the Republican Crusade for Values Voters, 2008, Polipoint Press.
Rudolph, Kurt. Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism, 1987, Harper San Francisco.
Rutherford, Richard. Classical Literature: A Concise History, 2005, Blackwell.
Šedina, Miroslav. “Magical Power of Names in Origen’s Polemic Against Celsus,” Listy filologické 136 (2013), 7-25.
Seely, Rachael Ann. “St. Peter’s Basilica as Templum Dei: Continuation of the An-cient Near Eastern Temple Tradition in the Christian Cathedral,” Studia Antiqua 4/1 (2005): 63-80.
Setzer, Claudia J. Jewish Response to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30—150 C.E., 1994, Fortress Press.
Smith, R. Morton. Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark, 1973, Har-vard University Press.
—. Jesus the Magician, 1978, Harper San Francisco.
—. “How Magic Was Changed by the Triumph of Christianity,” Studies in the Cult of Yahweh, II, S.J.D. Cohen, ed, 1996, E.J. Brill.
Stanton, Graham N. “Jesus of Nazareth: A Magician and a False Prophet Who De-ceived God’s People?” Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ: Essays on the Historical Jesus and New Testament Christology, J.B. Green & M. Turner, eds, 1994, Wm. B. Eerdmans.
Taylor, N. H. “Apostolic Identity and the Conflict in Corinth and Galatia,” Paul and His Opponents, II, S.E. Porter (ed), 2005, Brill.
Thee, Francis C.R. Julius Africanus and the Early Christian View of Magic, 1984, Mohr Siebeck.
Twelftree, Graham M. “Introduction: Miracle in an age of diversity,” The Cambridge Companion to Miracles, G.H. Twelftree, ed, 2011, Cambridge University Press.
Unger, Dominic J. St. Irenaeus of Lyon’s Against the Heresies, I, 1992, The Newman Press.
Volp, Ulrich (tr). Makarios Magnes Apokritikos: Kritische Ausgabe mit deutscher Über-setzung, 2013, De Gruyter.
Watts, Edward J. The Final Pagan Generation, 2015, University of California Press.
Wilken, Robert L. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, 2nd ed, 2003, Yale Uni-versity Press.
Williams, Frank. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book I (Sects 1-46), 2nd ed, revised & expanded, 2009, Brill.
Wright, Wilmer C. (tr). The Works of the Emperor Julian, II, 1913, Harvard Uni-versity Press.
—. Philostratus and Eunapius: The Lives of the Sophists, 1921, Harvard University Press.
—. The Works of the Emperor Julian, III, 1923, Harvard University Press.
 John 14:6, NIV.
 Acts 4:12, NIV.
 Wilken, The Christians as the Romans Saw Them, xix, 63.
 Fredriksen, From Jesus to Christ, 64.
 Harris, The End of Faith, 72.
 Gager, Kingdom and Community, 27-28, 124.
 Kannaday, Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition, 206.
 Frend, The Rise of Christianity, 179.
 Gaddis, There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ, 224.
 Freeman, Egypt, Greece and Rome, 509.
 1 Corinthians 3:19.
 Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind, xix.
 Nagel, Mind and Cosmos, 26.
 Pollard & Reid, The Rise and Fall of Alexandria, xvii.
 Ibid, 68.
 For the story of Servetus, his murder, and his book, see Out of the Flames by
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone.
 John 15:6, NIV.
 Humphries, The Way Things Are: The De Rerum Natura, 43, 48, 55, 65, 172.
 Armstrong, The Battle for God, 68.
 Psalm 68:4, for example.
 Marchant, Decoding the Heavens, 40, 260.
 Brown, Power and Persuasion in Late Antiquity, 90.
 Frankfurter, Religion in Roman Egypt, 278, 280, 282-283.
 MacMullen, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries, 13, 27-
 Gaddis, There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ, 157.
 Ammianus Marcellinus, Roman History, V, 3,4.
 Harris, The End of Faith, 85-86.
 Tertullian, Apologeticus, 50.
 Freeman, Egypt, Greece, and Rome: Civilizations of the Ancient Mediterranean,
 Ephesians 6:11-17 (NIV).
 1 Corinthians 14:8 (NIV).
 Ecclesiastes 1:9.
 Chadwick, Contra Celsum 443 (VII, 58).
 Wright, The Works of the Emperor Julian, III, 299.
 Julian, Against the Galileans 178A-178B (translation of W.C. Wright, Julian III,
 Greenblatt, The Swerve, 87.
 Mooney, The Republican War on Science, 37.
 Heges, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, 117-118.
 Pierce, Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free, 2.
 Freeman, The Closing of the Western Mind, 340.
 Hitchens, God is Not Great, 280.
 2 Timothy 3:15.
 Lane Fox, The Unauthorized Version, 107-108, 116.