Search results for: early-christian-martyr-stories

Early Christian Martyr Stories

Author : Bryan M. Litfin
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Personal narratives are powerful instruments for teaching, both for conveying information and for forming character. The martyrdom accounts preserved in the literature of early Christianity are especially intense and dramatic. However, these narratives are not readily available and are often written in intimidating prose, making them largely inaccessible for the average reader. This introductory text brings together key early Christian martyrdom stories in a single volume, offering new, easy-to-read translations and expert commentary. An introduction and explanatory notes accompany each translation. The book not only provides a vivid window into the world of early Christianity but also offers spiritual encouragement and inspiration for Christian life today.

The Myth of Persecution

Author : Candida Moss
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In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors. According to cherished church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because they refused to renounce Christ. These saints, Christianity's inspirational heroes, are still venerated today. Moss, however, exposes that the "Age of Martyrs" is a fiction—there was no sustained 300-year-long effort by the Romans to persecute Christians. Instead, these stories were pious exaggerations; highly stylized rewritings of Jewish, Greek, and Roman noble death traditions; and even forgeries designed to marginalize heretics, inspire the faithful, and fund churches. The traditional story of persecution is still taught in Sunday school classes, celebrated in sermons, and employed by church leaders, politicians, and media pundits who insist that Christians were—and always will be—persecuted by a hostile, secular world. While violence against Christians does occur in select parts of the world today, the rhetoric of persecution is both misleading and rooted in an inaccurate history of the early church. Moss urges modern Christians to abandon the conspiratorial assumption that the world is out to get Christians and, rather, embrace the consolation, moral instruction, and spiritual guidance that these martyrdom stories provide.

Divine Deliverance

Author : L. Stephanie Cobb
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"The author's readings of early Christian martyr texts suggest that Christians found the suffering self a useful discourse by which to construct their identities, distinguish their teachings, refute antagonistic claims, and retain believers. The author shows that in these texts, suffering is not embraced as an identity but presented as a problem to be solved. Pain is the experience of those who live apart from God. The author demonstrates that in the moments at issue in martyr texts--trial, torture, and death--the Christian self is decidedly not a sufferer. God's intervention miraculously transforms the physical experience. The torture that should hurt heals instead; the body that should be fragmented is, instead, made whole. The author concludes that in a world of sufferers, Christian martyrs serve as promises of another world where there is--existentially and not merely metaphorically--no pain"--Provided by publisher.

Early Christian Martyr Stories

Author : Bryan M. Litfin
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Personal narratives are powerful instruments for teaching, both for conveying information and for forming character. The martyrdom accounts preserved in the literature of early Christianity are especially intense and dramatic. However, these narratives are not readily available and are often written in intimidating prose, making them largely inaccessible for the average reader. This introductory text brings together key early Christian martyrdom stories in a single volume, offering new, easy-to-read translations and expert commentary. An introduction and explanatory notes accompany each translation. The book not only provides a vivid window into the world of early Christianity but also offers spiritual encouragement and inspiration for Christian life today.

Redeemed Bodies

Author : Gail Corrington Streete
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Why do religious people choose paths that lead to their deaths as martyrs? Why do some who are killed for their faith become known and revered while others do not? Gail Streete asks these important and disturbing questions in the context of early Christianity, looking at the stories of martyred women such as Thecla, Perpetua, and Felicitas--women whose stories helped shape Christian faith for centuries, yet are all but forgotten in the modern world. Streete reclaims these stories and relates them to tragic instances of martyrdom in our own world, pulling from stories as diverse as the victims of Columbine and female suicide attackers in the Muslim world. What do their deaths mean, and why do we find their stories so moving?

Getting to Know the Church Fathers

Author : Bryan M. Litfin
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A Trusted Introduction to the Church Fathers This concise introduction to the church fathers connects evangelical students and readers to twelve key figures from the early church. Bryan Litfin engages readers with actual people, not just abstract doctrines or impersonal events, to help them understand the fathers as spiritual ancestors in the faith. The first edition has been well received and widely used. This updated and revised edition adds chapters on Ephrem of Syria and Patrick of Ireland. The book requires no previous knowledge of the patristic period and includes original, easy-to-read translations that give a brief taste of each writer's thought.

Dying to be Men

Author : L. Stephanie Cobb
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At once brave and athletic, virtuous and modest, female martyrs in the second and third centuries were depicted as self-possessed gladiators who at the same time exhibited the quintessentially "womanly" qualities of modesty, fertility, and beauty. L. Stephanie Cobb explores the double embodiment of "male" and "female" gender ideals in these figures, connecting them to Greco-Roman virtues and the construction of Christian group identities. Both male and female martyrs conducted their battles in the amphitheater, a masculine environment that enabled the divine combatants to showcase their strength, virility, and volition. These Christian martyr accounts also illustrated masculinity through the language of justice, resistance to persuasion, and-more subtly but most effectively-the juxtaposition of "unmanly" individuals (usually slaves, the old, or the young) with those at the height of male maturity and accomplishment (such as the governor or the proconsul). Imbuing female martyrs with the same strengths as their male counterparts served a vital function in Christian communities. Faced with the possibility of persecution, Christians sought to inspire both men and women to be braver than pagan and Jewish men. Yet within the community itself, traditional gender roles had to be maintained, and despite the call to be manly, Christian women were expected to remain womanly in relation to the men of their faith. Complicating our understanding of the social freedoms enjoyed by early Christian women, Cobb's investigation reveals the dual function of gendered language in martyr texts and its importance in laying claim to social power.

Perfect Martyr

Author : Shelly Matthews
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Recent studies have examined martyrdom as a means of constructing Christian identity, but until now none has focused on Stephen, the first Christian martyr. For the author of Luke-Acts, the stoning of Stephen-- even more than the death of Jesus-- underscores the perfidy of non-believing Jews, the extravagant mercy of Christians, and the inevitable rift that will develop between these two social groups. Stephen's dying prayer that his persecutors be forgiven-the prayer for which he is hailed in Christian tradition as the "perfect martyr" plays a crucial role in drawing an unprecedented distinction between Jewish and early Christian identities. Shelly Matthews deftly situates Stephen's story within the emerging discourse of early Christian martyrdom. Though Stephen is widely acknowledged to be an actual historical figure, Matthews points to his name, his manner of death, and to other signs that his martyrdom was ideally suited to the rhetorical purposes of Acts and its author, Luke: to uphold Roman views of security and respectability, to show non-believing Jews to disadvantage, and to convey that Christianity was an exceptionally merciful religion. By drawing parallels between Acts and stories of the martyrdom of James, the brother of Jesus, Matthews challenges the coherent canonical narrative of Acts and questions common assumptions about the historicity of Stephen's martyrdom. She also offers a radical new reading of Stephen's last prayer, showing the complex and sometimes violent effects of its modern interpretations. Perfect Martyr illuminates the Stephen story as never before, offering a deeply nuanced picture of violence, solidarity, and resistance among Jews and early Christians, a key to understanding the early development of a non-Jewish Christian identity, and an innovative reframing of one of the most significant stories in the Bible.

Martyrdom and Memory

Author : Elizabeth Castelli
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Martyrs are produced, Elizabeth Castelli suggests, not by the lived experience of particular historical individuals but by the stories that are later told about them. And the formulaic character of stories about past suffering paradoxically serves specific theological, cultural, or political ends in the present. Martyrdom and Memory explores the central role of persecution in the early development of Christian ideas, institutions, and cultural forms and shows how the legacy of Christian martyrdom plays out in today's world. In the pre-Constantinian imperial period, the conflict between Roman imperial powers and the subject Christian population hinged on competing interpretations of power, submission, resistance, and victory. This book highlights how both Roman and Christian notions of law and piety deployed the same forms of censure and critique, each accusing the other of deviations from governing conventions of gender, reason, and religion. Using Maurice Halbwachs's theoretical framework of collective memory and a wide range of Christian sources—autobiographical writings, martyrologies and saints'lives, sermons, art objects, pilgrimage souvenirs, and polemics about spectacle—Castelli shows that the writings of early Christians aimed to create public and ideologically potent accounts of martyrdom. The martyr's story becomes a "usable past" and a "living tradition" for Christian communities and an especially effective vehicle for transmitting ideas about gender, power, and sanctity. An unlikely legacy of early Christian martyrdom is the emergence of modern "martyr cults" in the wake of the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School. Focusing specifically on the martyr cult associated with one of the victims, Martyrdom and Memory argues that the Columbine story dramatically expresses the ongoing power of collective memory constructed around a process of rendering tragic suffering redemptive and meaningful. In the wake of Columbine and other contemporary legacies of martyrdom's ethical ambivalence, the global impact of Christian culture making in the early twenty-first century cannot be ignored. For as the last century's secularist hypothesis sits in the wings, "religion" returns to center stage with one of this drama's most contentious yet riveting stars: the martyr.

The Blood of Martyrs

Author : Joyce E. Salisbury
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In The Blood of Martyrs Joyce E. Salisbury chronicles the many spectacles of violent martyrdom that took place during the first three centuries of the Christian era, describing the role of martyrdom in the development of the early Church, as well as its continuing influence on many of today's ideas. Salisbury shows through the engaging stories of the martyrs introduced in each chapter, how their legacy continues to shape contemporary ideas. Discussing modern martyrdom the book elicits deep lessons for the present from the ancient past and outlining the possibility of a religious future without violence. In The Blood of Martyrs, Salisbury brings to life this tumultuous time in late antiquity and sheds invaluable light on religious violence, modern martyrs, and self-sacrifice.

Martyrdom A Guide for the Perplexed

Author : Paul Middleton
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It can be said, almost without exaggeration, that martyrdom has become one of the most pressing theological issues facing the contemporary world. Since the attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, the world has had to face up to an Islamic manifestation of martyrdom. Martyrdom has a long history; as long as individuals have been dying for their faith or cause, others have been telling and more importantly, interpreting their stories. These martyrologies are essentially conflict stories. Whether a Christian confessing her faith before a bemused Roman governor, or a suicide bomber blowing himself up in a crowed cafe in Jerusalem, the way these stories are recounted - positively or negatively - reflect a wider conflict in which the narrator and his community find themselves. Martyr narratives, whether textual, oral, or even a CNN news report, do more than simply report a death; they also contain the interpretative framework by which that death is understood - again positively or negatively. When the death of a martyr is reported, the way in which that story is told places that death within a larger narrative of conflict, which may be regional, global, or even cosmic. The martyr becomes a symbol of the community's desires and hopes, or for that matter, their terrors and fears, but in either case, the martyr is representative of a larger struggle, and often martyrology contains the vision of how the community envisages final victory over their enemy. This book aims to illuminate the way these conflict stories have been told and function (principally, though not exclusively) within Christian, Jewish, and Islamic communities. Continuum's Guides for the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material.

Ancient Christian Martyrdom

Author : Candida R. Moss
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The importance of martyrdom for the spread of Christianity in the first centuries of the Common Era is a question of enduring interest. In this innovative new study, Candida Moss offers a radically new history of martyrdom in the first and second centuries that challenges traditional understandings of the spread of Christianity and rethinks the nature of Christian martyrdom itself. Martyrdom, Moss shows, was not a single idea, theology, or practice: there were diverse perspectives and understandings of what it meant to die for Christ. Beginning with an overview of ancient Greek, Roman, and Jewish ideas about death, Moss demonstrates that there were many cultural contexts within which early Christian views of martyrdom were very much at home. She then shows how distinctive and diverging theologies of martyrdom emerged in different ancient congregations. In the process she reexamines the authenticity of early Christian stories about martyrs and calls into question the dominant scholarly narrative about the spread of martyrdom in the ancient world.

Radical Martyrdom and Cosmic Conflict in Early Christianity

Author : Paul Middleton
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Several view of martyrdom co-existed in the early Church. The 'orthodox' position, generally accepted by scholars, was that a Christian should choose martyrdom rather than deny the Faith, but should not, on any account, court death. Although it has been recognised that some in the early Church did seek a glorified death, by giving themselves over to arrest, most scholars have dismissed such acts as differing from 'the accepted attitude to martyrdom' in the early Church. Therefore, instances of volitional, or radical martyrdom, have been largely overlooked or sidelined in scholarly investigations into the theology and origins of Christian martyrdom. Paul Middleton argues that, far from being a deviant strand of early Christianity, 'radical martyrdom' was a significant, and widely held idealised form of devotion in the late first to early third centuries. Christian martyrdom is placed within the heritage of Jewish War tradition, with each martyr making an important contribution to the cosmic conflict between Satan and God. Radical Martyrdom re-examines the presentation, theology, and origins of Christian martyrdom up to the beginning of the Decian persecutions in the light of new perspectives on the subject.

Wiley Blackwell Companion to Christian Martyrdom

Author : Paul Middleton
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A unique, wide-ranging volume exploring the historical, religious, cultural, political, and social aspects of Christian martyrdom Although a well-studied and researched topic in early Christianity, martyrdom had become a relatively neglected subject of scholarship by the latter half of the 20th century. However, in the years following the attack on the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, the study of martyrdom has experienced a remarkable resurgence. Heightened cultural, religious, and political debates about Islamic martyrdom have, in a large part, prompted increased interest in the role of martyrdom in the Christian tradition. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Christian Martyrdom is a comprehensive examination of the phenomenon from its beginnings to its role in the present day. This timely volume presents essays written by 30 prominent scholars that explore the fundamental concepts, key questions, and contemporary debates surrounding martyrdom in Christianity. Broad in scope, this volume explores topics ranging from the origins, influences, and theology of martyrdom in the early church, with particular emphasis placed on the Martyr Acts, to contemporary issues of gender, identity construction, and the place of martyrdom in the modern church. Essays address the role of martyrdom after the establishment of Christendom, especially its crucial contribution during and after the Reformation period in the development of Christian and European national-building, as well as its role in forming Christian identities in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. This important contribution to Christian scholarship: Offers the first comprehensive reference work to examine the topic of martyrdom throughout Christian history Includes an exploration of martyrdom and its links to traditions in Judaism and Islam Covers extensive geographical zones, time periods, and perspectives Provides topical commentary on Islamic martyrdom and its parallels to the Christian church Discusses hotly debated topics such as the extent of the Roman persecution of early Christians The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Christian Martyrdom is an invaluable resource for scholars and students of religious studies, theology, and Christian history, as well as readers with interest in the topic of Christian martyrdom.

Donatist Martyr Stories

Author : Maureen A. Tilley
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The Donatist Church of North Africa was known as "the Church of the Martyrs", yet its martyr stories are virtually unknown. The stories included in this book provide a unique opportunity to glimpse the daily life of the church.

On This Day in Christian History

Author : Robert Morgan
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Amazing stories of faith from twenty centuries of church history. From the Roman Empire to the Reformation, St. Valentine to St. Francis, Martin Luther to Billy Graham, On this Day introduces readers to a parade of preachers, popes, martyrs, heroes, and saints from 2,000 years of Christianity. This introduction to 365 of the most interesting men and women of faith brings a year's worth of inspiration and spiritual challenge and offers an enjoyable glimpse into church history. Each day includes a related Scripture reading and a simple, colorful story about history-making events in the lives of people who loved God wholeheartedly.

Perpetua

Author : Barbara K. Gold
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Perpetua was an early Christian martyr who died in Roman Carthage in 203 CE, along with several fellow martyrs, including one other woman, Felicitas. She has attracted great interest for two main reasons: she was one of the earliest martyrs, especially female martyrs, about whom we have any knowledge, and she left a narrative written in prison just before she went to her death in the amphitheater. Her narrative is embedded in a tripartite telling of the arrest and deaths of these martyrs, the Passio Sanctarum Perpetuae et Felicitatis. The other two parts of her tale were written by Saturus, a fellow martyr and probably her teacher, and a nameless editor or confessor, who introduces her circumstances and group and then tells of her death after she stops writing. Her story is steeped in mystery, and every aspect of her life and death has generated much controversy. Some do not believe that she herself could have written the narrative: the circumstances of her imprisonment and the limitations of her ability to write such a rhetorically complex tale are inconceivable. Some believe that her editor was none other then Tertullian, the famous 2nd-3rd century church father and Perpetua's fellow north African. Some, including Augustine, wonder why the feast day was named only for Perpetua and Felicitas and not for her fellow male martyrs. Some believe that these martyr tales were largely fabricated or constructed in order to generate publicity for the early Christians. This book will investigate and try to make sense of all aspects of Perpetua's life, death, and circumstances: her family and life in Carthage, Christians and Romans in Carthage and in the Roman empire in this period, the comparisons of martyrs to athletes, the influence of these martyr tales upon the Acts of the Apostles and the Greek novel, the reactions of later church fathers like Augustine to her story and her popularity, and the gendering of this text.

The good fight or More than conquerors stories of Christian martyrs and heroes by J Hunt and others

Author : John Hunt
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I Am A Christian

Author : Anthony P. Schiavo, Jr.
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"Jesus never existed." "The Bible is a book of fairy tales." "Accounts of Christian persecution are fables." Christians of today face ridiculous claims of this type on a regular basis. These charges gain traction in the modern world because the average person has practically no knowledge of the Church's ancient past. I Am A Christian: Authentic Accounts of Christian Martyrdom and Persecution from the Ancient Sources aims to remedy this deficiency. The works collected in this book represent some of the most trustworthy first-hand accounts of the triumphs and travails of the early Church that have survived antiquity. These include several authentic transcripts of Roman legal proceedings against Christians, along with obscure but fascinating historical works that are unfamiliar to even the most informed Christians of today. In several cases, readers will be presented with the actual words of the martyrs themselves. In others, they will read accounts penned by eye-witnesses or authors writing within the living memory of the events themselves. Taken together, these works form a glorious record of early Christian zeal and fortitude in the face of aggressive state persecution. When reading them, one notices a common refrain: when questioned, the accused would cry out: “I am a Christian,” which was the equivalent of saying, “I am guilty as charged.” In an era when such an admission carried a death sentence, these authentic testimonies provide a convincing answer to modern skeptics who will find them as baffling as did the ancient Roman emperors, proconsuls and magistrates of nearly two millennia ago.

Bearing Witness

Author : Charles E. Moore
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Since the birth of Christianity, the church has commemorated those who suffered for their faith in Christ. In the Anabaptist tradition, especially, stories of the boldness and steadfastness of early Christian and Reformation-era martyrs have been handed down from one generation to the next through books such as Thieleman von Braght's Martyrs' Mirror (1685). Who are today's Christian martyrs? The stories of more recent Christian witnesses are often unknown, even within their own faith communities. This book brings together dozens of accounts from around the world of believers who gave witness to Christ in the face of intense persecution, even if it cost them their lives. From the stoning of Stephen to Nigerian Anabaptists persecuted by Boko Haram today, these stirring accounts will inspire greater faithfulness to the way of Jesus, reminding us what costly discipleship looks like in any age. Bearing Witness tells the stories of Stephen, Polycarp, Justin Martyr, Agathonica, Papylus, Carpus, Perpetua, Tharacus, Probus, Andronicus, Marcellus, Jan Hus, Michael and Margaretha Sattler, Weynken Claes, William Tyndale, Jakob and Katharina Hutter, Anna Janz, Jacob Hochstetler, Joseph and Michael Hofer, Emanuel Swartzendruber, Regina Rosenberg, Eberhard and Emmy Arnold, Johann Kornelius Martens, Ahn Ei Sook, Jacob Rempel, Clarence Jordan, Richard and Sabina Wurmbrand, Tulio Pedraza, Stanimir Katanic, Samuel Kakesa, Kasai Kapata, Jimmie Lee Jackson, the Meserete Kristos church of Ethiopia, Alexander Menn, Jose Chuquin, Katherine Wu, and members of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria. This book is part of the Bearing Witness Stories Project, a collaborative story-gathering project involving Anabaptist believers from many different traditions and locations.