Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies and Traditions

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Ancient Christian Martyrdom

Search Bibliography Browse Alphabetically - click on a letter below. Anchor Yale Bible 24a. New Haven: Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

  1. Ancient Christian martyrdom: Diverse practices, theologies, and traditions [Book Review].
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In both cases, Moss examines the textual history and date of composition, attempts to isolate a coherent literary construction, and then analyzes that construction to establish its ideology of martyrdom—a method repeated in the other chapters. Moss argues that in the Roman context, there was a prevailing notion of the philosopher-martyr, who sees Christianity as the greatest philosophy and employs the latest apologetic trends to make that case to non-believers.

Her readings are convincing, but this is not surprising given her focus on Justin, whose famous self-presentation as a philosopher would have likely been reflected in his selection of exemplary martyrs and echoed by the later encomiastic texts of his students. She presents the story briefly and notes points of similarity between it and the Justin texts, but leaves it to the reader to make the full connection between Paul and the apologetic philosopher-martyr.

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  • Nonetheless, the differences we see between the martyrdom narratives of Rome and those of Asia Minor are substantial and significant. Here, exemplary behavior and philosophical contests replace christomimesis and sacrificial language.

    Moss highlights again the value of regional and thematic comparison as she argues, persuasively, that Gallic Christianity and its corresponding ideology of martyrdom had a tenor quite different from that of Asia Minor, rejecting in the process the current scholarly practice of treating Irenaeus and the community in Lyons simply as representatives of Asiatic Christianity.

    North African martyr-texts have often been taken as documentary, and Moss dismantles that notion, arguing convincingly in Chapter Five for the literary production of both the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs and the Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicitas.

    Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, And Traditions

    The Gospel of Judas , meanwhile, though found in the same codex as James , argues against martyrdom, or, at least, against seeing it in a sacrificial light. Ancient Christian Martyrdom is intriguing, fresh, and thought-provoking. Ostensibly about martyrdom, its implications reach all of ancient Christianity. Moss takes every available opportunity to assert correctives that would be of broad significance. The book does leave a few desiderata.

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    Without further explanation, it seems as if her textual history is not incorporated into her evaluation of Ignatian martyrdom. Finally, Moss occasionally enters into scholarly debates without identifying who her interlocutors are, even via footnotes. While this makes for concise reading for scholars, it may be perplexing for the educated non-specialist the Anchor Yale Bible reference library seeks to reach.