More than a Memory: The Discourse of Martyrdom and the Construction of Christian Identityby J Leemans, Johan Leemans
Throughout its history, persecutions and martyrdom have been Christianity's faithful companions. Remarkably enough, Christians have always valued martyrdom in a positive way. This positive evaluation of martyrdom most certainly has to do with the absolute, uncompromising nature of it. The martyrs' lives and deaths represent the most uncompromising of answers to the divine call. The focus of the contributions in this volume is not in the first place on reconstructing the historical events of the martyr's life and death "wie es eigentlich gewesen ist," but on the discourse generated by this event as mediated in texts. More than a Memory aims to explore the reciprocal relationship between this discourse of martyrdom and the construction of Christian identity. It will do so by presenting a number of test cases in which this dynamic can be seen at work. They will lead the reader through the entire history of Christianity, starting with the Martyrdom of Lyons and Vienne in the second century and ending in the Latin America of the 1960's. Each article will present a test case of discourse-analysis, attempting to explore the issue of how a document or coherent group of documents contributed to create a distinct Christian identity. Taken together, the essays provide an array of examples of how martyrdom impinged on the way Christian identity has been negotiated in the Christian past. In doing this, the volume at the same time illustrates the sheer importance of martyrdom and the reflection and writing about it throughout the history of Christianity until today.
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