Thursday, October 18, 4pm
Bryant Hall 209
Dr. Sarah Rollens
Assistant Professor of Religious Studies
The modern Catholic Church recognizes hundreds of martyrs who suffered or died for their loyalty to Christ. By the third century C.E., there had already emerged in the Roman Empire a distinct genre of stories about remarkable martyrs, which valorized the suffering of early devotees. However, the notion that suffering was a valuable, hence desirable, part of Christian identity can be found much earlier in the letters of Paul. The letters of Paul make up some of the earliest writings in the New Testament, and already by the time they were penned, suffering was being treated as an experience that one should seek out. This presentation will examine the “discourse of suffering” in Paul’s letters and identify the purchase that such currency could gain early Christ followers. Thus, rather than being an invention of later martyr accounts, the prestige of suffering characterized early Christian literature from nearly the beginning of the Jesus movement.