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Perfect MartyrThe Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity$
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Shelly Matthews

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195393323

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393323.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
Perfect Martyr

Shelly Matthews (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the arguments of Boyarin, Lieu, and van Henten concerning martyrdom and identity construction among Jews and Christians, arguing that the death of Stephen should be considered through this theoretical lens. As supporting argument for considering Stephen alongside second-century martyrologies, it situates Acts as an early second-century text. Appropriating Castelli’s arguments concerning martyrdom in Christian cultural memory, it argues that scholarly assertions concerning the historicity of Stephen’s death are more indebted to the force of cultural memory than to the historical-critical method. While concurring with Penner that verisimilitude, not “historical accuracy,” is the coin of ancient historiography, it then moves to suggest that this is not a reason to abandon the historiographic project but rather to frame historical narrative differently, in terms of rhetoric and ethic, as has been long argued in biblical studies by Schüssler Fiorenza.

Keywords:   Boyarin, Castelli, cultural memory, dating acts, historical-critical method, identity construction, Lieu, Penner, Schüssler Fiorenza

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