RESPONSE PAPER 1 - What better way to do this than by...

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RESPONSE PAPER 1 The Passion of St. Perpetua As I read, I couldn’t help but feel that Perpetua may have been slightly mentally unstable. I consider myself a spiritual person, but I don’t particularly believe in organized religion, and I certainly don’t understand Perpetua’s spiritual “visions.” They were so fantastical and so out of place that they seemed to be either the product of an overactive religious imagination or propaganda included after her death. Of course, it’s perfectly realistic that it was, indeed, propaganda. While the visions included fairly general Christian imagery, there’s no mistaking what could certainly be direct biblical references, and I find a hard time believing that this was either coincidence or divine intervention. Christianity was still very young at this point, and its main goals were, one, to spread quickly across the entire empire, and, two, to strengthen the faith of those believers already converted.
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Unformatted text preview: What better way to do this than by sharing accounts of countless martyrs’ tragically beautiful deaths and consequent ascensions to heaven? It gave Christians everywhere role models—mascots, if you will—of courage and strength. They were exemplars of true Christianity, and no doubt their tales brought communities of believers closer together. I can’t be sure whether Perpetua’s writing is genuine or not, but, frankly, I’m not sure how much difference it makes. The point is that it was a story used by early Christian leaders to make converts and add to the communal feel of Christianity. Nothing brings a group together or tears them apart better than persecution, and Christians were one of the most persecuted peoples of the time. They chose to use it a source of strength, and the result was a rapid spread of Christianity throughout the Roman empire....
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This essay was uploaded on 04/11/2008 for the course HIST 110 taught by Professor Hughes during the Fall '07 term at University of Michigan.

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