Douglas Boin, Coming Out Christian in the Roman World: How the Followers of Jesus Made a Place in Caesar's Empire
(New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2015), pp. 1-2 (note omitted):
I have a confession to make. For a long time, I've been uncomfortable
around early Christians.
In school, I was brought up on the adventure tales of Homer. In my
mind, I've struggled for honor on the battlefield with the greatest of the
Greek warriors, Achilles, and I've fought for my own survival while cast
away at sea, lonely and heartbroken for home, like Odysseus. I've listened
to the thunderous voices of men in togas and tuned in to hear political
shouting matches, in Latin, fought by some of Rome's most privileged
senators. From the dusty, sun-kissed streets of the Forum to the jeweled
dome of Rome, the Pantheon, I've always found the ancient world a
pleasant escape. Lyric poetry, Athenian tragedy, Greek comedy, even
Roman concrete: there's always been a surprise around every turn. Call me
a conservative, but I don't think there was ever anything wrong with the
ancient world. It was perfectly fine the way it was—before it changed.
And I knew whom to blame.
Everyone knows that early Christians were a ragtag bunch, tent makers
and philosophy teachers, daughters of wealthy Romans and sons of Roman
governors. To me, they've always seemed like an impenetrable clique,
obstinately different. Whether praying in their churches, greeting each
other with their secret signs, or practicing their favorite sport, dodging
wild animals, the pathological way they stuck together as a group made
me uneasy. I had my Rome, full of impressive aqueducts, packed
racetracks, and stately mansions. They had theirs, with tales of
resurrection and rebirth, many of which had been written in rather childish
Greek grammar. What could we possibly have in common?