Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies by Candida R. Moss

By Candida R. Moss

The significance of martyrdom for the unfold of Christianity within the first centuries of the typical period is a question of putting up with curiosity. during this cutting edge new learn, Candida Moss deals a extensively new background of martyrdom within the first and moment centuries that demanding situations conventional understandings of the unfold of Christianity and rethinks the character of Christian martyrdom itself. Martyrdom, Moss indicates, was once no longer a unmarried inspiration, theology, or perform: there have been different views and understandings of what it intended to die for Christ. starting with an outline of old Greek, Roman, and Jewish principles approximately dying, Moss demonstrates that there have been many cultural contexts in which early Christian perspectives of martyrdom have been greatly at domestic. She then exhibits how specific and diverging theologies of martyrdom emerged in numerous historical congregations. within the technique she reexamines the authenticity of early Christian tales approximately martyrs and calls into query the dominant scholarly narrative concerning the unfold of martyrdom within the old global.

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Even if the arrival of Christ was deemed to have inaugurated a new age in human history, some writers self-consciously represented themselves as standing in continuity with those who had gone before them. The opening of the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas compares its subjects to the “ancient examples,” the biblical heroes who served as models of good conduct and sources of consolation and comfort (Passio 1). The text situates the martyrs and the Christian audience within a history of dying exempla.

As a history of martyrdom, it traces the contours of distinctive ideologies of martyrdom that arose in specific cultural settings. What intellectual and cultural influences shaped the expression of martyrdom in these locations? Given the ideological power that martyrs and exhortations to martyrdom wielded, how was power utilized, channeled, and controlled? ”63 In contrast to Lane Fox, however, it will argue that there was not one construction, but many interlocking, overlapping, and competing constructions of the martyr.

1 Cultural Contexts: The Good Death and the Self-Conscious Sufferer For much of the Christian era, martyrdom was viewed as particular to Christianity and as an indication of Christianity’s unique possession of religious truth. If Christians alone were prepared to die for their beliefs, it was thought, then there must be something special about Christianity. 1 Whatever the reason, until relatively recently Christianity held both a patent on and monopoly over the concept of martyrdom. With the advent of higher criticism in the nineteenth century, however, Christianity’s ingenuity began to be called into question.

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