Opfertod und Todessuche als Exempel in Antike und Christentum

Zusammenfassung / Abstract

Self-sacrifice and the search for death as an example in antiquity and Christianity“ – Since Jesus’ questioning by Pilate the reactions of the pagans in view of the non-violent steadfastness of persecuted Christians were marketpd by incomprehension. While such behaviour seemed to the Roman authorities to be nothing more than obstinate, it is well known that Tertullian can speak of the seed of the martyrs’ blood burgeoning in the expanding church. But how, intellectually, was the ground prepared for this process, or which views stood in the way of its unfolding? Starting from remarks on the profane concept of μάρτυς/ μαρτύριον, the contribution traces the question under which premises the Christian willingness to suffer could be interpreted on the pagan side with particular emphasis on the accusation of suicide. Reciprocally to this it is discussed whether and, if so, in which way pagan ideas and figures offered points of contact for a specific Christian theology of martyrdom or could serve as a contrasting foil against the background of which corresponding ideas could be profiled in late antiquity. In this double perspective, so the basic assumption, one challenges not only the application of conventional derivation models to Christian martyrdom, thus keeping its proprium recognizable, but also better measures its radius of action in the midst of a non-Christian environment.

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