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Perfect Martyr – The Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Perfect Martyr: The Stoning of Stephen and the Construction of Christian Identity

Shelly Matthews


This book situates Acts’ story of Stephen’s death within the emerging discourse of early Christian martyrdom, challenging the historicity of this narrative and arguing for its significance in constructing a social group of Christians, distinct from “the Jews.” It analyzes Stephen as the perfect martyr in terms of rhetorical fittingness, noting key aspects of the story perfectly suited to the rhetorical aims of Luke-Acts to denigrate nonbelieving Jews, to affirm Roman imperial views on security, and to introduce “marcionite” identity claims concerning the distinctiveness of Christian mercy. It ... More

Keywords: acts, Christian identity construction, clemency, enemy love, forgiveness, James, Marcion, martyrdom, Stephen

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2010 Print ISBN-13: 9780195393323
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2010 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195393323.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Shelly Matthews, author
Furman University
Author Webpage