High Strangeness wrote:
But why on earth would anybody decide to invent Jesus and Christianity and get themselves thrown to the lions?
What was in it for them?
This is what i mean about making sh*t up. No one was "throwing christians to the lions" for religious reasons. All Roman citizens were required to pay lip-service to the civic religion, so they would go down to the market and buy a chicken and take it over to the temple. The Romans practiced haruspicy, divinations with bird entrails. They'd get credit for following the civic religion, and the priests would have chicken soup--on a good day, they'd have roast chicken.
But Jews and christians would get all huffy and refuse, so their neighbors, not wishing to attract the negative attention of the authorities, would go round to see them, and if they still acted hard-headed, they might get beaten up and occasionally even killed. The letters between Pliny and the emperor Trajan make it clear that they were making problems for people who would otherwise have left them alone. Trajan's policy was basically a "don't ask, don't tell" policy. Pliny was to punish flagrant public defiance, but not to hunt them down. "Throwing them to the lions" is just the kind of bullsh*t that christians love, the aura of martyrdom; as long, of course, as they themselves don't have to suffer.
The first official "persecution" of christians was in the reign of Septimius Severus, from 193 to 211. And then they were rounded up not because they were christians, but because they had backed Severus' enemies. Christians never have been able to keep their noses out of politics.
People wanted to be christians because the religions as peddled originally promised pie in the sky by and by when you die, in a world which was very hard for most people. Of course, church leaders got to tell everyone what to do, and that's always been a popular pastime.
If christians didn't make sh*t up, they'd have nothing to talk about.