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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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Disrupting Acts

Disrupting Acts

Reading Stephen alongside James, the Brother of Jesus

(p.79) 3 Disrupting Acts
Perfect Martyr

Shelly Matthews (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the Stephen story alongside extracanonical narratives of the martyrdom of James, found in Hegesippus, Josephus, and the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27–71 to evoke a more complex historical narrative of violence, solidarity, and resistance among Jews and Christians under empire than the canonical Acts allow. It first underscores the thematic similarities between the death narratives of Stephen and Hegesippus’ James and concludes that these two texts are variations on a trope preserved by two authors making early attempts to distinguish Christianity from Judaism. It then considers how the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions depict a relatively more irenic relationship between Jesus believers and other Jews, borrowing from the Stephen pericope in Acts, while making no mention of Stephen himself. Finally, it argues that Josephus’ narrative of James’ death provides a useful counterpoint to Acts, especially in its depiction of solidarity between Jesus believers and other Jews.

Keywords:   Hegesippus, James the brother, Josephus, martyrdom of James, Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions 1.27–71

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