"...an interesting book with numerous insightful details....vital for any discussion of early Christian martyrdom." The Journal of Religion
"...a significant contribution to the reawakened interest in the political and social dimensions of Christian martyrdom, as well as in the martyrological narratives themselves....argued with the clarity and magisterial command of the original sources that is characteristic of the author....a pivotal work in the impending debates over the meaning of Christian martyrdom." Brent D. Shaw, Catholic Historical Review
"This is a succinct yet engrossing study, appropriate for both general and specialist audiences." Craig L. Hanson, Church History
This book examines the historical context of the earliest Christian martyrs, and anchors their grisly and often wilful self-sacrifice to the everyday life and outlook of the cities (mostly Greek) of the Roman empire. By exploring the remains of contemporary documents of martyrdoms in the centuries before Constantine, it provides a historical explanation of why martyrdom occurred when and as it did, and thereby tries to expose the fundamental assumptions of a radical new form of religious and political dissidence that has been a powerful influence down to our own times.