Journals Higher Education



Published: 12 July 2012

240 Pages


ISBN: 9780199924653

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Perfect Martyr

The Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity

Shelly Matthews

  • Brings the story of the stoning of Stephen into conversation with recent important work on martyrdom and collective Christian consciousness.
  • Calls into question reigning orthodoxies about the usefulness of the historical-critical method in recovering historical kernels of truth from the Acts' narrative, exposes the circularity in widely held scholarly arguments that the stoning of Stephen reflects "indubitable historical reality, " and argues for reframing historical narrative in terms of rhetoric and ethic.
  • Unmasks the violence imbedded in early Christian rhetorics of superlative mercy as contained in the Sermon on the Mount and the dying forgiveness prayers.
  • Through comparison with related traditions of the martyrdom of James, this book disrupts the singularity of the canonical version of "the parting " of Christians from Jews.
  • Calls into question reigning orthodoxies concerning Luke as a Gospel of Peace by noting this Gospel's usefulness in refuting the marcionite view that vengeance lies in the realm of the Old Testament God alone.
  • Refines the hypothesis that both the introduction to Luke and the canonical Acts were written to address the Marcionite heresy.

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