Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy

Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy

Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy

Christian Persecution, Martyrdom, and Orthodoxy

Excerpt

The five essays collected in this section focus on persecution. Chapters 1 to 4 look at different aspects of the Christian persecutions up to the conversion of Constantine in 312. Chapter 5 examines the persecutions of pagans, Jews, and Christian heretics or schismatics in the Constantinian Empire. 'Aspects of the "Great" Persecution' and 'Why were the Early Christians Persecuted?' have already been published and are recognized classics of the Field; the three unpublished essays develop themes raised therein, and overlap to a limited extent with parts of The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World. We have arranged the essays thematically: Chapter 2 complements 'Aspects', strengthening its arguments against the criticisms of W. H. C. Frend; Chapter 4 expands the short discussion on voluntary martyrdom in 'Early Christians'; finally, Chapter 5 shows the direction of Ste. Croix's work from the late 1960s, which focused on the late Empire and persecutions in the name of Christianity.

There is always a complex of narratives to any long-standing historiographical problem, particularly one as ideologically charged as the early Christian persecutions. This has almost certainly been complicated by the long-standing disciplinary ambiguity of early church history, which continues to be subject to the competing claims of historians, classicists, theologians, and students of religion.

G. E. M. de Ste. Croix, The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World: From the
Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests
(1981; corr. imprint, London, 1983), esp. 445–52;
this overlap relates mainly to Ch. 5, 'Heresy'.

Perhaps the first of his papers systematically to develop this notion was 'Chris
tianity's Encounter with the Roman Imperial Government', in A. Toynbee (ed.), The
Crucible of Christianity: Judaism, Hellenism and the Historical Background to the
Christian Faith
(London, 1969), 345–51, with bibliography at 357. See also the
interview between Ste. Croix and D. Kyrtatas, A. Matthaiou, and G. Pikoulas,
Horos, 6 (1988), 123–33 at 130.

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