Voluntary Martyrdom in the Early Church *
Ste. Croix's published studies of the early Church advanced the thesis that volunteers for martyrdom constituted a significant element in the evidence for the persecution of Christians by Roman imperial governors. To underpin this thesis, Ste. Croix collected and analysed the evidence for volunteers in order to demonstrate the prevalence of such individuals among the wider body of martyrs, and to suggest that these enthusiasts actually contributed to the wider implementation of persecution by antagonizing Roman governors, most of whom were predisposed to be tolerant, and local populations who had clearly been able to co-exist with Christians before being disrupted by the antics of a minority of perfectionists. The largest single body of evidence concerns persecution in Palestine and was composed by the church historian Eusebius of Caesarea.
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