Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title page, Copyright page

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. i-iv

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. v-vi

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-viii

Authors often fill several pages at the beginning of a book with the expression of their gratitude toward all those colleagues, students, professors, friends, family members, universities, foundations, libraries and so on who or which helped them during their work and contributed to the success of their project. I am in a privileged position of having to write a very short list. Thus, my thanks go...

Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-12

Martyrdom is one of the most controversial and incomprehensible phenomena of early Christianity. In the Roman Empire which, as we know, was quite tolerant in religious matters a great number of people (though much less than suggested by ancient sources) succeeded in dying for their religious convictions. Our feelings about this can be very different: we may admire the unbending courage and heroism of the martyrs or be irritated by their stubbornness, or even feel disgusted at the fanaticism with which they strove for...

read more

1. Human Sacrifice in the Old Testament

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 13-30

Human sacrifice in ancient Israel is a much debated subject and we need not enter into detailed discussion. For our purpose it is not really important whether the human sacrifices mentioned in the Bible really took place or not, and if they did, whether only to “pagan” gods or also to YHWH. We are interested rather in the question what kinds of human sacrifices were known to the biblical authors, how they understood them and, first and foremost, why these sacrifices were offered. We shall now briefly survey from this...

read more

2. Greece, Rome and Carthage

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 31-72

In exploring the roots of Christian martyrdom in classical tradition, we must examine three different, yet more or less interrelated topics: human sacrifice, heroic death for others and noble death. From the start, I would like to emphasize that these three kinds of death are fundamentally different and therefore to be distinguished, even if they show some similarities. To make this clear, we must define these expressions as exactly as possible....

read more

3. Early Judaism

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 73-98

As stated in chapter 1, the idea of “dying for” is unknown in ancient Israel. There are no instances in which somebody is ready to offer his life for some noble cause or in order to save others (the only possible exception being Isa 53, which at least could be understood in this way).1 But in the Hellenistic period the situation begins to change. During the persecutions of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the king prohibited Jewish religious practice, some Jews (probably not in very great number) openly refused to obey the command...

read more

4. The Death of Jesus

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 99-116

Faith in the redeeming and expiatory sacrifice of Christ constitutes the foundation of the Christian religion: Jesus Christ is the Savior who, with the sacrifice of his death, redeemed humanity. If, however, we seek to understand the exact meaning of this statement we face several problems. It is not our purpose here to resolve the theological difficulties concerning the redemptive death of Christ, neither shall we attempt to treat the immense literature written upon this topic. We shall merely review in brief the paradigms (both OT...

read more

5. The Martyr’s Sacrifice: Case Studies

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 117-156

As I have stated before, we are interested in the relation of martyrdom to human sacrifice; so we shall now investigate which paradigms of human sacrifice were used by the hagiographers to describe and understand the martyr’s death (I repeat again that we are not dealing with the historical facts themselves, but with their hagiographic descriptions and theological interpretations). As an aside, I want to challenge the well-established topos that martyrs are the imitators of Christ: even if they expressly declare themselves...

read more

6. The Models of the Martyr

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 157-170

It is a well-known fact that martyrs had to be made: to become a ‘martyr’ it was not enough to die for Christ (sometimes not even necessary, see e.g. Thecla), the story had to be told by the hagiographer who was able to present the (actual or fictive) death of a (real or imaginary) person as a heroic public act accomplished for Christ. The martyr as the new Christian hero was intended to replace all former ones, and to achieve this the hagiographers used various devices. In this chapter we shall concentrate on a special...

read more

7. The Meaning of the Martyr’s Sacrifice

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 171-206

In the previous chapter we examined martyrological texts which conceived the martyr’s death as sacrifice and we argued that if it is a sacrifice it must be a human one.
In this chapter we shall try to evaluate the martyr’s sacrifice: what does it mean? Why is it necessary? What is its aim? Who benefits from it? Our analysis will be based, on the one hand, on the texts treated earlier (we shall quote other martyrological texts, too, when necessary); on the other hand, we...

read more

Epilogue: The Developments of Martyrology after Constantine

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 207-212

The problem of Julius of Aqfahs was: how does one become a martyr when there are no more persecutions? Our question is somewhat similar: what directions could martyrology take when there were no more martyrs? With the Constantinian turning point the time of the martyrs is over but the underlying ideology survives: the conviction that Christians have to sacrifice themselves to God/Christ; that God/Christ expects from them this sacrifice and rejoices over it; that special rewards are awaiting those who die for God...

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 213-226

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 227-251