This book examines the historical context of the earliest Christian martyrs, and anchors their grisly and often willful self-sacrifice to the everyday life and outlook of the cities (mostly Greek) of the Roman empire. By exploring the remains of contemporary documents of martyrdoms in the centuries before Constantine, it provides a historical explanation of why martyrdom occurred when and as it did, and thereby tries to expose the fundamental assumptions of a radical new form of religious and political dissidence that has been a powerful influence down to our own times.
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