by Lied2NoMore 72 Replies latest jw friends

  • dazed but not confused
    dazed but not confused

    colbert eating popcorn

    Can't wait to see how this turns out...

  • JeffT

    This is a good example of the Watchtower's sloppy research efforts. "Those About to Die" is, at best, a secondary source with some problems. If it has footnotes, the person writing the Watchtower article should have gone to that source and quoted it. If "Those About to Die" is not footnoted it shouldn't be quoted at all. At least not by something purporting to provide scholarly research.

  • WinstonSmith

    I've heard The Da Vinci Code called historical fiction, I can't wait to see some WT quotes from that!

  • transhuman68

    LOL, the same quote is found in the 1969 WTS 'Aid to Bible Understanding' book, pg.828. which partly shows why the Aid book- despite its 1696 pages going from Aaron to Zuzim- is completely worthless.

  • soft+gentle

    I have always suspected that the society does art/theatre rather than religion - I wish they would let the congregations in on this to allow members more latitiude to relax and be entertained rather than to apply so literally and religously in their lives.

    edit: lied2tonomore, I think you are right to be shocked especially as the para question asks

    16, 17. Some early followers of Christ faced

    what test of faith, and how does this compare

    with the experience of certain Christians in our


  • Lied2NoMore

    Ok just a couple things to add to the controversy,...This book was REPRINTED in 2001 and entitled "The Way of the Gladiator" is a review of reprinted book which adds to my contention that this book is INDEED fiction:

    This book is a reprint of "Those About to Die," which was published back in the late 50's, when Mannix was in his heyday as a writer. I came to know Daniel P. Mannix through his many articles for the 50's publication "True: The Man's Magazine." He was a competent writer on many subjects, and his stories were always entertaining. "The Way of the Gladiator" is nothing if it is not entertaining. But it is NOT a piece of sober history.

    The book is not so much historical fiction as it is fictionalized history. Historical fiction is a make believe story told against the backdrop of historical events. Mannix takes historical events and relates them in "documentary" fashion, but unabashedly invents details and descriptions which, if they are accurate, are accurate only by accident.

    If you understand from the outset what you are dealing with, "The Way of the Gladiator" can be great reading. If you're looking for a well researched, scholarly study of gladiators, check out Michael Grant's "Gladiators."

    ALSO.....In the WT library I just uncovered a true gem regarding the author.......they actually referred to him as a HISTORIAN (TEACHER lr. Ch 27)...which no-where in his WIKI bio does it mention him as a "historian"...

    I think I can write an article for use on jwfacts / survey / struggle / others....which will appeal to someone still "in" and help them see how wrong and hypocritical it is for WT to use this reference.

    I'm just sayin.....

  • soft+gentle

    omg, omg is another quote from this book, Way of the Gladiator (lessons on History ) (also known as Those about to Die) by Daniel Mannix

    "Some of the most terrible persecutions of the Christians took place under Marcus Aurelius in 166 AD...As pacifists, Chrisitans refused to serve in the legions at a critical period when the barbarian hordes were breaching the defenses on all sides, they denounced wealth which made the Romans regard them as dangerous radicals, and they refused to sacrifice to the emperor's genius - roughly equivalent today to refusing to salute the flag, or repeat the oath of allegiance."

    no wonder the society quotes from this book.

    I agree lied2noMOre that the book is fictionalised history and that it does need reviewing and critiquing for Jehovahs witnesses. I've bought it on kindle for £4.37 and after just a brief glance through parts of the book I have noticed an important clue to the author's bias. He likes to talk disdainfully and dismissively (like the wts) about mob mentality, blood sports like boxing and mass entertainment that features violence and the ineffective people who like to see others getting hurt.

    There is factual stuff in the book but his interpretation betrays his focus and for me his focus is quite similar to that of Jehovahs witnesses in the way that they depict humanity as generally depraved and in need of salvation/civilising. The book has a modernist feel and he does not use the primary sources with enough care and context. But these are my first thoughts after a cursory reading on my kindle as I don't have a lot of time this morning.

  • AnnOMaly

    OK, so Mannix's book may be 'fictionalized history.'

    Yes, he has been quoted a few times over the decades in WT literature and this latest WT article is merely recycling old quotes.

    Yes, it is a little dumb to use comments from a semi-fictional work as if they were authoritative historical facts. Did the WT writer know anything about the book? Apparently not.

    However, were Mannix's comments historically inaccurate?

    “Very few of the Christians recanted,” wrote Daniel P. Mannix, “although an altar with a fire burning on it was generally kept in the arena for their convenience. All a prisoner had to do was scatter a pinch of incense on the flame and he was given a Certificate of Sacrifice and turned free. It was also carefully explained to him that he was not worshiping the emperor; merely acknowledging the divine character of the emperor as head of the Roman state. Still, almost no Christians availed themselves of the chance to escape.”—Those About to Die.

    Other sources verify the substance of Mannix's words.

    Follow the outside links given in Wikipedia articles HERE and HERE.

    The book While Men Slept: A Biblical and Historical Account of the New Universal Christianity (K. F. Fannin Ph.D.) discusses this period too, and it's possible that even Eusebius of Caesarea obtained a certificate of sacrifice and went free while many of his fellow Christians were martyred.

    The part that still needs verifying is whether the authorities used the reasoning that it wasn't really worshipping the emperor. I don't think the idea is far-fetched.

    Also, were there really 'almost no' Christians compromising or were there, in fact, 'many'? If the early church had to grapple with the issue of whether or not to forgive the compromisers and let them back into the fold, it suggests to me that there were considerable numbers who did give in.

    (Where's Leolaia when you need her?)

    Ah, something else. According to an online Catholic Dictionary under 'Libellus':

    Certificate of sacrifice, testifying that a person during the Roman persecutions had offered sacrifice to the pagan gods. The officials were requited to superintend the sacrifices on a fixed day, receive in writing a statement from the person, and countersign the testimony in the name of the emperor. Many Christians apostatized; others bought certificates or had them procured by pagan friends. There seems to have been wholesale connivance by the officials. Those who refused to sacrifice were sentenced to prison or even death.

    Mexican cartillas, anyone?

  • Sulla

    Ann, the Decian persecution seems to have been aimed more at an innovative sense of national unity than a strictly anti-Christian edict (and it was an edict). This, according to Rives, "The Decree of Decius and the Religion of Empire," (Journal of Roman Studies, 1999), (which I can send to you, if you like) may have had a a negative effect on Christians as a sort of bonus rather than an important aim.

    The Valerian, Diocletian, and Galerian persecutions seem to have been more directly aimed at Christians.

    The Donatist controversy involved people who gave in to some forms of the persecution. But, even here, most of the problems with the traditors seems to have been collaboration in turning over scriptures to the authorities. Near as I can tell, even the collaborators thought those who actually offered sacrifices in this way were really bad.

    Actual sacrifice by Christians clearly happened some. There was a Church decree in Spain (searching for a reference) holding that those who sacrificed could be re-admitted to the church only after extensive pennance and, even then, only provisionally.

  • Apognophos

    Thanks for bringing this back on track AnnOMaly. It's important to get the facts straight on this kind of issue or else we all look like fools for doing the same thing we're accusing the Society of doing, which is not checking sources properly. The substance of the quote seems historically accurate, then, yes?

    As transhuman68 confirmed, it seems that someone in Writing simply recycled a long-used quotation. They no doubt assumed that if it was good enough for the Aid and Insight books, it's good enough now, rather than taking a more rigorous and professional approach to the job and going back to the source. So if anything can be learned from this, it's that (1) someone was sloppy in the 1960s Writing Department and (2) the modern writers are too trusting in the old literature and a tad lazy.

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