"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


Just published by the European academic publisher Peter Lang is a new book looking at a phenomenon as old as Christianity itself: martyrdom.

Jakob Engberg et al., eds., Contextualising Early Christian Martyrdom (Peter Lang, 2011), 275pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
This collection of essays examines Christian martyrdom by locating it in different historical, cultural and social contexts. Chronologically, the book analyses traditions predating the Christian martyr literature and ideology proper, and studies an example of how this ideology was transformed in the post-Constantinian era. Within this chronological span the following contextual themes are discussed: the arena and the values represented by gladiatorial combat and executions; the reaction of 'others' to Christian martyrdom and martyr ideology; how Christians differentiated suicide from martyrdom; the relationship between Christian apologetic literature and martyr literature; and the conceptions of gender and sexuality in Jewish and Christian martyr literature in their Greco-Roman setting.

The contents:
  • Anders Klostergaard Petersen/Jakob Engberg: Finding Relevant Contexts for Early Christian Martyrdom 
  • Niels Willert: Martyrology in the Passion Narratives of the Synoptic Gospels 
  • Stefan Krauter: The Martyrdom of Stephen 
  • Jesper Carlsen: Exemplary Deaths in the Arena: Gladitorial Fights and the Execution of Criminals 
  • Jakob Engberg: Martyrdom and Persecution - Pagan Perspectives on the Prosecution and Execution of Christians c. 110 210 AD 
  • Jesper Hyldahl: Gnostic Critique of Martyrdom 
  • Nils Arne Pedersen: «A Prohibition So Divine» - The Origins of the Christian Ban on Suicide 
  • Judith Lieu: The Audience of Apologetics: the Problem of the Martyr Acts 
  • Anders Klostergaard Petersen: Gender bending in Early Jewish and Christian Martyr Texts 
  • Dayna S. Kalleres: Imagining Martyrdom During Theodosian Peace. John Chrysostom and the Problem of Judaizers.

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