I'm curious about Paul. As a casual observer, he seems like a highly dramatic guy; charismatic and always attempting to persuade. He's trying to convince people.
It seems like, along with his spectacular Road to Damascus conversion story, it might have been useful to the persuasiveness of his arguments if he exaggerated how opposed he was to Christianity prior to his conversion.
I've noticed this as a tactic in our time—preachers and evangelists will sometimes emphasize how bad and anti-Christian they were prior to "finding Jesus." It seems to serve as an effort to (a) relate to an audience and (b) create a logical inclusiveness to their offer; "if I, the worst sinner and most hardened atheist of all can be forgiven, then obviously you can be too!" (To be fair, I think atheists who have deconverted also use this tactic and emphasize how sincere a Christian they were. And this tactic likely exists outside of religion.)
Anyway, it seems like a universal tactic, but I don't want to be anachronistic in assuming this sort of thing would aid the persuasiveness of an argument in the historical context of Paul. Maybe, somewhat like today in politics, it was considered "flip-flopping" to change your religion, and it damaged your reputation?
Were there pagans who, for instance, defended the rights of Christians, or supplied them with food, shelter, etc., but did not themselves convert to Christianity? How did early Christians react to this kind of treatment?
Did pagans, for instance, defend the rights of Christians or supply them with food in prison? How did early Christians react to positive treatment from religious outsiders?
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