Personal narratives are powerful instruments for teaching, both for conveying information and for forming character. The martyrdom accounts preserved in the literature of early Christianity are especially intense and dramatic. However, these narratives are not readily available and are often written in intimidating prose, making them largely inaccessible for the average reader.
Early Christian Martyr Stories brings together key martyrdom narratives in a single volume, offering new, easy-to-read translations and expert commentary. An introduction and explanatory notes accompany each translation. The book not only provides a vivid window into the world of early Christianity but also offers spiritual encouragement and inspiration for Christian life today.
“Reflections on Christian martyrdom often either exaggerate or debunk. Bryan Litfin’s book on early Christian martyrs is different. It will satisfy not only academics looking for careful documentation but also readers in general, who should appreciate it for encouraging edification as well as solid scholarship.” – Mark Noll, University of Notre Dame
“This anthology of the most reliable early Christian martyr stories ought to be required reading for all disciples of Christ. It puts today’s Christian ‘witnesses’ in touch with our ancient spiritual role models, inspiring us to greater acts of faithfulness and courage.” – Douglas Sweeney, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“Professor Litfin, author of an authoritative introduction to the theology of the early Christians, now provides us with a guide to some of their lives–and deaths. Their witness was inspired by their faith in Christ’s glorious resurrection and their hope for the coming fullness of his kingdom.” – Matthew Levering, Mundelein Seminary
“An essential collection of martyrdom accounts freshly translated into lively and lucid English….Sensitive to exaggerated claims among uninformed believers as well as cynical suspicion by modern skeptics, Litfin steers a balanced course. Neither naïve nor incredulous, Litfin’s new collection of the great martyr stories is a timely retelling of timeless tales with power to both inform the faithful and transform their faith.” – Michael Svigel, Dallas Theological Seminary
Bryan M. Litfin (PhD, University of Virginia) is professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, Illinois. He is the author of several books, including Getting to Know the Church Fathers, and has written numerous scholarly articles and essays