This book examines the historical context of the earliest Christian martyrs, and anchors their grisly and often wilful self-sacrifice to the everyday life and outlook of the cities of the Roman empire. Professor Bowersock begins by investigating both the time and the region in which martyrdom, as we know it, came into being. He also offers comparisons of the Graeco-Roman background with the martyrology of Jews and Muslims. A study of official protocols illuminates the bureaucratic institutions of the Roman state as they applied to the first martyrs; and the martyrdoms themselves are seen within the context of urban life (and public spectacle) in the great imperial cities. By considering martyrdom in relation to suicide, the author is also able to demonstrate the peculiarly Roman character of Christian self-sacrifice in relation to other forms of deadly resistance to authority.
This book examines the historical context of the earliest Christian martyrs, and anchors their grisly and often wilful self-sacrifice to the everyday life and outlook of the cities (mostly Greek) of the Roman empire. Throughout, new light is shed on the concept of martyrdom, which has been such a powerful form of dissidence down to the present day.
Preface; 1. The making of martyrdom; 2. The written record; 3. The civic role of martyrs; 4. Martyrdom and suicide; Appendixes; Bibliography.
"...an interesting book with numerous insightful details....vital for any discussion of early Christian martyrdom." The Journal of Religion"...a significant contribution to the reawakened interest in the political and social dimensions of Christian martyrdom, as well as in the martyrological narratives themselves....argued with the clarity and magisterial command of the original sources that is characteristic of the author....a pivotal work in the impending debates over the meaning of Christian martyrdom." Brent D. Shaw, Catholic Historical Review"This is a succinct yet engrossing study, appropriate for both general and specialist audiences." Craig L. Hanson, Church History
A concise examination of the historical context of the earliest Christian martyrs in the Roman empire.
Cambridge University Press