Martyrology

Martyrology is the study of martyrs and the word also is used as a noun to describe a catalog or list of martyrs. There have been numerous Christian martyrologies written. There are also historical martyrologies which includes a short history or the martyrs.

The Actes and Monuments, popularly known as Foxe's Book of Martyrs, is a work of Protestant history and martyrology by John Foxe, first published in English in 1563 by John Day. It includes a polemical account of the sufferings of Protestants under the Catholic Church, with particular emphasis on England and Scotland. The book was highly influential in those countries, and helped shape lasting popular notions of Catholicism there. The book went through four editions in Foxe's lifetime and a number of later editions and abridgements, including some that specifically reduced the text to a Book of Martyrs.

Martyrs' Mirror or The Bloody Theater, first published in 1660 in Dutch by Thieleman J. van Braght, documents the stories and testimonies of Christian martyrs, especially Anabaptists. The full title of the book is The Bloody Theater or Martyrs Mirror of the Defenseless Christians who baptized only upon confession of faith, and who suffered and died for the testimony of Jesus, their Saviour, from the time of Christ to the year A.D. 1660. The use of the word defenseless in this case refers to the Anabaptist belief in non-resistance. The book includes accounts of the martyrdom of the apostles and the stories of martyrs from previous centuries with beliefs similar to the Anabaptists.

Next to the Bible, the Martyrs' Mirror held the most significant and prominent place in Amish and Mennonite homes.[1]

In 1745, Jacob Gottschalk arranged with the Ephrata Cloister to have them translate the Martyrs' Mirror from Dutch into German and to print it. The work took 15 men three years to finish and in 1749, at 1512 pages, was the largest book printed in America before the Revolutionary War.[2] An original volume is on display at the Ephrata Cloister.

The 1685 edition of the book is illustrated with 104 copper etchings by Jan Luyken. Thirty of these plates survive and are part of the Mirror of the Martyrs exhibit.[3]

The first English edition, translated from German by I. Daniel Rupp, was published by David Miller, Lampeter Square, Pennsylvania, in 1837.[4] An edition entitled A Martyrology of the Churches of Christ was translated and printed in England in 1850 in 2 volumes by Edward Bean Underhill under the auspices of the Handsard Knollys Society in England.[5]

The Martyrs' Mirror differs from Foxe's Book of Martyrs in that it only includes those martyrs which were considered nonresistant, while Foxe's book does not include many Anabaptist martyrs.

The Martyrs' Mirror is still a beloved book among the Amish, Old Order Mennonites, and Conservative Mennonites with a copy usually in every home and often given as a wedding gift to new homes.

There are many more martyrologies that have been written and more information can be found by searching the Internet.

FOOTNOTES:

1. Schmidt, Kimberly D. (2001). "'Sacred Farming' or 'Working Out': The Negotiated Lives of Conservative Mennonite Farm Women". Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies 22 (1): 79–102.
2. "News at the Ephrata Cloister: Committed to Print: Printing at the Ephrata Cloister". Ephrata Cloister. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
3. "The Mirror of the Martyrs". Kauffman Museum. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
4. "Martyrs Mirror: Prefaces". Retrieved 4 July 2012.
5. "A Martyrology of the Churches of Christ: date=1850".


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