In Stone and Story

Early Christianity in the Roman World

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Chapter 8: Mysteries & Knowledge

Class Activities

Split the class into three groups: (1) a group of Jesus-followers, (2) a group devoted to a mystery deity, and (3) a group acting as a “court of opinion” made up of various imagined first-century identities. Have the members of groups 1 and 2 construct arguments as to why their form of devotion is best (making use of the content of chapter 8 and any additional resources). Have the members of group 3 adopt a persona, explaining their identities to the other groups before the other groups make their presentations. After the presentations have been made, have the members of group 3 articulate which group was most persuasive for their constructed personas.

Discussion Questions

  1. List some similarities and differences between the mystery religions and early Jesus-devotion. How would these similarities and differences have benefitted or stymied the rise of Christianity?
  2. Compare and contrast the use of the mind in Bacchus-devotion and Jesus-devotion.