The Martyrs: A Study in Social Control

The Martyrs: A Study in Social Control

The Martyrs: A Study in Social Control

The Martyrs: A Study in Social Control

Excerpt

It is hoped that this study of the early Christian martyrs may be useful for at least two purposes which are of contemporary interest. It is a notable feature of the modern study of religion that its psychological basis is familiarly known and that practical use of this knowledge is being made in social applications. Religion is increasingly regarded as one of the forces of social control. It is therefore desirable to study any set of phenomena which may throw light upon the processes, techniques, and methods of religion as such a force. Obviously the experiences of the martyrs furnish relevant data for such a study. These findings may be useful not only as an exhibit of religion as an agency in social control but as practical data for those who propose to utilize religion as a social force in modern situations.

The present study is, therefore, new. To be sure, the martyrs and the persecutions have been voluminously studied. However, it was other motives which have prompted the immense literature about them. A dispassionate approach, without theological bias or apologetic interest, which regards the persecutions of the Christians as group conflicts and which sees the deeds of the persecuted as the results of attitudes socially produced, is not only new but timely.

Second, the recent years have brought to articu-

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