It can be said, almost without exaggeration, that martyrdom has
become one of the most pressing theological issues facing the
contemporary world. Since the attack on the World Trade Center in
2001, the world has had to face up to an Islamic manifestation of
martyrdom. Martyrdom has a long history; as long as individuals
have been dying for their faith or cause, others have been telling
and more importantly, interpreting their stories. These
martyrologies are essentially conflict stories. Whether a Christian
confessing her faith before a bemused Roman governor, or a suicide
bomber blowing himself up in a crowed cafe in Jerusalem, the way
these stories are recounted - positively or negatively - reflect a
wider conflict in which the narrator and his community find
themselves. Martyr narratives, whether textual, oral, or even a CNN
news report, do more than simply report a death; they also contain
the interpretative framework by which that death is understood -
again positively or negatively. When the death of a martyr is
reported, the way in which that story is told places that death
within a larger narrative of conflict, which may be regional,
global, or even cosmic. The martyr becomes a symbol of the
community's desires and hopes, or for that matter, their terrors
and fears, but in either case, the martyr is representative of a
larger struggle, and often martyrology contains the vision of how
the community envisages final victory over their enemy. This book
aims to illuminate the way these conflict stories have been told
and function (principally, though not exclusively) within
Christian, Jewish, and Islamic communities. Continuum's Guides for
the Perplexed are clear, concise and accessible introductions to
thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find
especially challenging - or indeed downright bewildering.
Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject
difficult to grasp, these books explain and explore key themes and
ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of
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