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Title: Martyrology : a critical examination of the role of theological traditions in the narrative construction of the martyr
Author: Rudzitis, Andris
ISNI:       0000 0004 8502 8079
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis presents a socio-theological analysis of the process by which a martyr is made and presents an analytical framework for a theological analysis of martyrdom, as well as demonstrating the fruits that such analysis can bring. Building on the social constructivist view that the martyr is a narrative construct and martyrdom a particular way of imagining an individual's death rather than an historical event, this thesis demonstrates the operation of theological conceptualisations of the meaning and significance of martyrdom, which it terms martyrologies. These martyrologies profoundly affect how the martyr is imagined and consequently the model of discipleship they represent to others. Martyrs have a unique power to validate a cause and to embody the possibility of extreme conviction and resistance in a way which can mobilise and radicalise their communities. This thesis argues that critical analysis of these martyrologies is therefore imperative if we are to understand their role in defining the martyr and therefore shaping the way that the martyr's community interpret and engage with their reality. Four martyrologies, rooted in the emergence of martyrdom in the early church, are presented and, through their critical examination, a methodological framework for their future analysis is exhibited and recommended. The theological ideas sustaining these martyrologies are shown to be radicalising, morally challenging, and logically and theologically incoherent. Most importantly, this thesis attends to the phenomenon of popular martyrdom, particularly prevalent in Latin America. It explains the martyrology responsible and, controversially, shows why this martyrology is in fact entirely orthodox, challenging the Church's opposition to it. It also shows, however, that its claim that the basis for martyrdom can be a political cause makes this martyrology not only a threat to political theology, but even a potentially radicalising tool.
Supervisor: Ward, Graham Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Persecution ; Radicalisation ; Witness ; Political Theology ; Martyrdom