Martyrdom: A Guide for the Perplexed

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Martyrdom A Guide for the Perplexed
Martyrdom A Guide for the Perplexed.jpg
AuthorPaul Middleton
PublisherT&T Clark

The book Martyrdom: A Guide for the Perplexed is about contested nature of martyrdom, particularly the way martyrs are created by the retelling of their stories and aims to illuminate the way these conflict stories have been told and function (principally, though not exclusively) within Christian, Jewish, and Islamic communities.

About the author[edit | edit source]

Dr. Paul Middleton is Senior Lecturer in New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Chester, UK. He is a Scottish academic working at this university, where he teaches courses and supervises research students in the areas of Biblical Studies and Early Christian History. His particular research interest is martyrdom, and has written several books and articles on the phenomenon in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book published in T&T Clark; 1st edition (August 4, 2011), has 224 pages and best sellers rank of 2,470,360 in Books.

This study explores the nature of martyrdom through the ages in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It begins with the claim that martyrdom is one of the most important, yet neglected, contemporary issues in the study of religion. Dr. Middleton tries to demonstrate that a careless distinction between the three monotheistic religions should be abandoned. The martyrological traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have far more in common than separates them. He also hopes to begin a conversation among the small but growing band of specialists in martyrdom.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Chapter One: Making Martyrs[edit | edit source]

The author in this chapter argues about martyrdom and its definition. He believes that martyrdom is essentially created when a narrative about a death is told in a particular way and the central character is not the most important element in the creation of martyrdom; it is the narrator.

Chapter Two: Persecution and Martyrdom in Early Christianity[edit | edit source]

This chapter describes the phenomenon of early Christian martyrdom. They idealized martyrdom even to the extent of voluntarily seeking it out. The author turns to the way in which Christians responded to persecution. He reminds the fact that until Decius, there was little in the way of official state-sponsored persecution. Nonetheless, the texts produced by Christians seem to imply the opposite Attitudes to and interpretations of martyrdom varied among the early Church from enthusiastic embrace to outright denial of its value.

Chapter Three: The Theology of Martyrdom in Early Christianity[edit | edit source]

Having described the phenomenon of early Christian martyrdom in previous chapter, the author in this chapter turns to its explanation. He examines theologies of suffering and martyrdom that sustained the Christians in their promotion of martyrdom, and in particular, the symbolic world they created that made radicalized death a preferred option for Christians who might be called to give their lives for their faith.

Chapter Four: Christian Martyrdom in an Era of Christendom[edit | edit source]

This chapter is about Christian martyrdom and its beginning over the last 200 years when people suffered from ambiguities of definition. Many commentators were concerned that their deaths were political rather than spiritual, that they could have avoided the situation they found themselves in, and even if their motivations were religious, their deaths did not mirror the demand to confess or deny Christ. In the Reformation period Martyrdom has always been a contested concept, and one’s claim to martyrdom would be only as strong as the martyr narrative it produced. In this period (the era of Christendom), the persecution ends, but spiritualization of martyrdom in the mind of Christian remains.

Chapter Five: Martyrdom in Judaism[edit | edit source]

This chapter provides a framework for examining martyrologies in later Judaism. Similarly, Jewish martyr history begins in the Deuteronomistic tradition of Holy War. The Maccabean martyr stories take place in the midst of battle and appear to affect the outcome of that war.

Chapter Six: Martyrdom in Islam[edit | edit source]

This chapter examines martyrdom in Islam. Dr. Middleton believes that Islamic martyrdom is a sensitive topic, and as he began his historical examination of martyrdom and Holy War in the Islamic tradition, he is anxious not to be misunderstood. He has already rejected as inadequate any attempts to define martyrdom. Therefore, he will make no distinction between what the West might consider acts of terrorism from acts of martyrdom.

Source[edit | edit source]