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Anabaptist martyrdom: Imperatives, experience, and memorialization

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Chapter Summary

Early Anabaptism has long been inseparable from martyrdom, and Anabaptist martyrdom has long been inseparable from the Martyrs Mirror. No other work has played so large a role in shaping modern awareness of Anabaptist martyrs from the Reformation era. Anabaptist martyrdom in the Reformation era is a complex subject with many facets. The subject’s complexity and profusion of relevant sources precludes anything approaching a comprehensive treatment. For purposes of analysis and exposition, several of these aspects can be grouped under the related categories of imperatives, experience, and memorialization. Biblical directives within a religious and juridical context provided the parameters for martyrdom; men and women who refused to recant their convictions in this context were executed, and were recognized by fellow believers as martyrs; and their writings and experiences were memorialized in stories, songs, and print by sympathetic Anabaptists.

Keywords: Anabaptist martyrs; believers; imperatives; Martyrs Mirror; martyrs’ experience; memorialization; Reformation era



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