Radical Martyrdom and Cosmic Conflict in Early Christianity
Radical Martyrdom and Cosmic Conflict in Early Christianity

Radical Martyrdom and Cosmic Conflict in Early Christianity

in The Library of New Testament Studies

by Paul Middleton

Pages 224
Publisher T&T Clark
Published 2006
ISBN-13 9780567041647
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.

  • Table of contents
  • Preface
  • Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • Chapter One: Radical Martyrdom in Early Christianity
    • Death in Early Christian Perspective
    • Radical Martyrs
    • Radical Martyrdom and Scholarly 'Orthodoxy'
    • Rediscovering the Radical Martyrs
    • Pagan Perceptions of Christianity as a Death Cult
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter Two: Drawing Battle Lines: Christianity and Rome
    • Introduction
    • Caesar is Lord?
    • Domitian
    • Christians and Local Cults
    • The Emperor Cult
    • Clash of Realities
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter Three: Towards a Theology of Radical Martyrdom
    • Introduction
    • The Early Christian Presentation of Martyrdom
    • The Martyr's Cosmos
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter Four: The Origins of Christian Martyrdom
    • Introduction
    • The State of the Question
    • Judaism as a Source of Christian Martyrology
    • Noble Death
    • Christian Martyrdom as 'Something Entirely New'
    • Holy War and Cosmic Conflict in Judaism and Christianity
    • Conclusion
  • Chapter Five: Radical Martyrdom and Cosmic Conflict in the New Testament
    • Introduction
    • Paul
    • Cosmic Conflict
    • Taking up the Cross: A Call to Martyrdom
    • Discipleship and Death
    • The Apocalypse: A Martyr Charter
    • Conclusion
  • Bibliography

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