I thought I'd post this just for the discussion (or disgustion?) value.When I think of cult members (i.e. Moonies, Heaven's Gate, Manson, "Satanic" cults, etc.), two words come to mind: Crazy Fanatics.
The first Christians were, of course, members of a cult, and because of that, I see them as crazy fanatics. And by "crazy fanatics", I mean the guy who would stand on a raised platform outside Jerusalem surrounded by his own feces as a testament to the Lord; or people who would mutilate themselves (usually their genitals) because they thought they sinned (or in the case Aebbe's nuns, to preserve their chastity); or never wash themselves because it was copying the infidels' practice of bathing, or chanting "to kill a Muslim is to do God's will" to passers by.
I would include the Apostles themselves in this group, as they may very well have encouraged this behavior. This was how the early Christians operated. Sure, there may have been some sane ones, kind of like there were some sane Branched Davidians who got out of the compound when they had a chance, but in the end they were your average cult members, like the Mithraists or cult of Isis who'd bathe in blood (washing away sins from the blood of the Lamb sound familiar?).
How can anyone doubt that these people would die for their faith? That's what faith does. It makes it easier to die.
Some early Christians even practiced forms of cannibalism, apparently taking literally "eat of my flesh and drink my blood". This tidbit of information I gleaned from a book called Among the Cannibal Christians by Earl Lee. And don't give me the Protestant copout excuse, "Communion is symbolism, it's just a cracker and some juice!"
Catholics and Orthodox, the descendents of the first church, literally think that eating the bread and drinking the wine is eating flesh and blood ... LITERALLY. Where'd they get that from?
Apparently, the church was formed early enough that there were people who knew the Apostles and these people could just ask them.
"Is this literally the flesh and blood of Jesus?"
And the Apostle's would say, "Yes. This is literally the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ."